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Be Zealous, Not Jealous

19th Sunday after Pentecost

Be Zealous, Not Jealous

Text: Numbers 11:16, 24-29

It was a mess out in that wilderness.  The people of Israel were whining.  Again.  They were thirsty.  God miraculously sprang forth water out of a rock.  They were hungry.  God dropped manna out of the sky.  Still not good enough.  Now they were complaining that they had no meat.  “If only we had meat like when we were in Egypt.”

Finally, Moses could hardly take it any more.  The pressure was building.  His blood was boiling.  In the verses right before the first lesson this morning Moses erupted in frustration:  “What have I done, Lord?  Why do I have to deal with all this?  I can’t carry this burden by myself.  If this is how it’s going to be, you can go ahead and take my life.”

Moses was overwhelmed and overworked.  But our gracious God had a plan to help.  First, he was going to drop quail out of the sky, so many birds  in 30 days that God said it would be coming out of their nostrils.  Then for Moses, God had this plan in the first verse today:  The LORD said to Moses: ‘Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people.  Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you.”  God was going to assemble a leadership team to help Moses with the two million-some Israelites in the wilderness. Read the rest of this entry

Lost in Sin . . . Found in Grace

4th Sunday in Lent

Lost in Sin . . . Found in Grace

Text:  Judges 10:6-16

After all that God had done for his people!  If you read the Bible books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua straight through, you will be impressed with a time period when God miraculously intervened more than any other time in Israel’s history.  The accounts of God’s interactions with the Israelites during the days of Moses and Joshua are truly amazing.

You may be able to do a quick survey of stories in your head.  First God sent the 10 Plagues on Egypt so that Pharaoh would let his people go.  Then he led two million people out of Egypt and through the middle of the Red Sea on dry ground—the same sea he used to destroy their enemies.

While in the desert the Israelites whined and complained and moaned and groaned.  Yet God provided water for them, sometimes miraculously turning bitter water sweet or bursting water out of a rock for them.  He dropped bread called manna and birds called quail out of the heavens for them to eat every day.  He revealed his glory and might on Mt. Sinai.  He defeated countless enemies.  He brought them to the Promised Land of Canaan that did not belong to them and defeated all those enemies.  He made the impenetrable walls of Jericho fall down when Israel marched around them and even made the sun stand still for a day so general Joshua and Israel had more time to rout the enemy.  Read the rest of this entry

God Bless President Obama and God Bless Us!

Barack Obama is President of the United States (POTUS) again. On Tuesday the Commander in Chief was reelected to remain in his office for four more years.

If you look at the voting statistics, it was a fairly close vote. Maybe it wasn’t as close as some people thought it would be, but it was by no means a landslide victory.

So now what? What will all the Republicans do? More importantly, what will conservative Christians do? As I shared in a previous post this week, there are a number of things that are concerning about what the Democrats are trying to do. There are things being approved and proposed that are contrary to our faith and beliefs. Thus, many conservative Christians might have been left frustrated and disturbed after Obama was reelected on Tuesday.

What are Christians to do? How are we to react?

With respect and honor! Once again, we review two key Bible verses:

Romans 13:1-2  Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

1 Peter 2:13-14, 17  Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right . . . honor the king.

No matter who is the President of the United States–or even if we live in a country with communism and a dictator!–we owe our government respect and honor. That doesn’t mean we have to agree with every policy or platform. But that does mean we ought be humbly respectful.

God is in control of this entire universe. He created it. He preserves it. Thus, it was according to his holy will that Barack Obama is the one he has allowed to become president.

Why?

Only God knows.

But we do know these things:

  • God promises never to leave us or forsake us
  • God promises that all things work for our good
  • God promises that his kingdom and his Church cannot be defeated

Thus, humbly we accept God’s will and move forward. Maybe Obama was your vote. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter any more. God allowed  Obama to retain his office. God’s will was done.

Therefore, we are to respect our President. We are to pray for our President. We are to pray for our country. And, if we want to make some real changes in our lives and in our country, then we can be resolved to vow what Joshua did in the Old Testament:

Joshua 24:15  But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD!

That crystial-clear focus will bring real change in our lives, our communities, and our country.

God be with President Obama. God be with the United States of America. God be with us.

May his will be done. May his kingdom spread.

Daily Devotion on Numbers 11:16,24-29

Text: Numbers 11:16, 24-29

“That’s no fair!”

If I had a dollar for every time I hear that every day of the week from my children, I would be writing this devotion from my vacation home in Tahiti right now.

“That’s no fair! How come I don’t get to stay up late?”

“That’s no fair! How come I don’t get three chicken nuggets?”

“That’s no fair! How come I don’t get to sit next to Daddy for supper?”

Half the time the requests and complaints are senseless and pointless. Yet the argument for “fairness” is made nevertheless. Children naturally are wired for jealousy because children naturally are sinful, too.

Unfortunately, our jealousy only gets worse as we get older. How many times have you watched a TV show that tours celebrity homes and thought, “That is no fair! How come I can’t have a life like that?” Maybe it’s just as simple as being jealous over what your neighbor has, “Why can’t I get a nice lawnmower, too?” or being jealous of your coworker, “Why should she get a raise instead of me?”

Moses would have had every right to be jealous when some of the Israelites also started prophesying. He was God’s chosen leader! General Joshua thought it would be best if they stopped, for the sake of Moses. Yet Moses rejoiced in the gifts and abilities of his fellow Israelites and encouraged their activity. Rather than a heart of jealousy, Moses had a heart of love and thanks.

When you happen to glance at the lifestyles of the rich and famous, or even the lifestyles of your semi-rich neighbors, be thankful for what God has given them. Be thankful for all the other gifts and abilities that God gives to other people.

But then, with a loving and content heart, be thankful for what God has given you, too!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, you pour out so many blessings upon me–more than I could ever count! Help me to recognize all that you give and to rejoice in the many things I have. Give me contentment to be pleased with whatever you bless me with. Give me thanks for all the blessings you give to others. In your name I pray, Amen.

The Bible in a Year, Week 8: Joshua

This is the eighth weekly reading in the plan for reading your Bible in one year. The assignment for this week is the book of Joshua. It should only take about 10 minutes a day, or about four chapters a day to complete the assignment.

Here are some comments to help you grow in knowledge and faith as you read Joshua:

Background: Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim, a son of Joseph. He was born in Egypt and was a young man when they left. He was appointed general of the army by Moses, was one of the 12 spies that went to Canaan, and was one of only two spies (Caleb the other) that gave a favorable report.  Joshua was later chosen by God as Moses’ successor.  His name was originally Hoshea which means salvation.  Joshua means The LORD is salvation and is a root of the name Jesus.

Whereas Moses took the people to the doorstep of the Promised Land of Canaan, Joshua led them into Canaan. The book can be divided well right down the middle into two parts: The conquest of Canaan (1-12) and The Distribution of the Land and Farewell of Joshua (13-24).  The timing for these events would be right around 1400 B.C. It may be that Joshua wrote some or most of the book, or that an elder or advisor finished writing it shortly after his death.

Finally, the book of Joshua is a reminder of how the LORD always keeps his promises. He promised to Abraham that he would give his descendants the land of Canaan.  He fulfilled that promise. In the same way, as he also promised to Abraham that he would send a Savior from his line, so this entering into the Promised Land was a reminder that he would fulfill that promise, too. As we know from the rest of Scripture, he did indeed keep that promise! Read the rest of this entry