Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Blessed Christmas!

(I am publishing my weekly post a couple days early this week because of the Christmas season.  I also will not be posting next week.  The next post will be on or around January 7.  Use this time to read some of the older posts.)  

Friday will be Christmas.  It is a day when we celebrate the birthday of our Savior.  It is a day when we worship Him as our Lord and King.  It is a day when we remember that He left the glories of heaven to come to this earth to live a perfect life for us and then to die on the cross to pay for our sins!

In my blog I am slowly working through passages of both the Old and New Testament alternating between the two of them.  Since it is Christmas week, however, I am going to direct you to a post that I already published in October.  It is based on the passage in Matthew 2 about the Wise Men coming to seek the new born child, Jesus, the Savior.  You can either scroll done to the October 22 post or click the link below to read this.  May the Lord bless you with a blessed Christmas and new year, dear reader.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Numbers 13 and 14

"We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes." Numbers 13:3b
"If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us-The Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them."  Numbers 14:8-9

If we put our trust in the Lord and follow His leading for our lives, we need to fear nothing.  He will protect us, and He will be with us at all times.  The Lord has a perfect plan for our lives, and we can rest unafraid and at peace in our Lord.

In Numbers thirteen and fourteen God's Old Testament people, the Israelites, were at the border of the land of Canaan.  It was God's will for His Old Testament people that Canaan would become their new homeland.  Before they were to go in and possess the land, however, God said, "Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.  From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders." (Numbers 13:2)  Because of God's command twelve spies were sent out to search out the land of Canaan,

The spies found the land of Canaan to be a very fruitful land.  In fact, at one point in their explorations of the land "they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes.  Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs." (Numbers 13:23) The size of this grape cluster alone should have indicated to the spies the goodness and trustworthiness of the Lord who had promised to give them this new land.  What an exciting and encouraging report about God's provision and goodness these spies could have brought back to God's people.

Sadly, this is not what happened, however.  Two of the spies did bring back an encouraging report, but ten of the spies returned defeated and fearful.  These spies said, "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it did flow with milk and honey!  Here is the fruit.  But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large." (Numbers 13:27-28)

Caleb, one of the good spies, tried to encourage the people; but the ten spies continued to insist that God's people could not go in and possess the land.  They said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are---- All the people we saw there are of great size---We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." (Numbers 13:31,32b-33)

The two faithful spies continued to try to encourage the people and said, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.  If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and He will give it to us---The Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them." (Numbers 14:7b-9)  The people chose to heed the words of the ten spies and to ignore the words of the two spies, however.  Hence, because they lacked faith in the Lord's provision; God's people had to wander around in the wilderness for forty years.  It was not until that generation died and their children were grown that God's people were able to enter and possess the land of Canaan.

Are you and I looking at the giants in our lives, or are we looking at our Lord who can overcome the giants in our lives?  Ten of the Old Testament spies looked at the giants of the land and were overcome with fear.  Two of the Old Testament spies saw the same giants of that land, but they looked to their God in faith.  They knew the giants of the land were large, but they also knew they served a God who was far greater than any giant.  They also knew they served a God who was faithful to His promises to always be with His people.  Relying on our own resources causes us to see the giants in our lives.  If we are looking to the Lord in faith and resting in Him, however; we have certain victory over the giants of our lives.  Our God is faithful!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Numbers 9:15-23

God was leading His Old Testament people to a new land which He was providing for them.  In order to reach this new land they had to go through the wilderness.  While God's people were in the wilderness the way was unknown to them, and the Lord had to guide and direct their steps. God had promised His people that He would always be with them, and God kept His promise. God gave them daily food from the sky in the form of a kind of bread called manna.  God also directed them and guided their every movement.  God directed them with a cloud by day and a pillar of light at night. The cloud was always above their tabernacle, and it was a symbol of the Lord's presence.  The tabernacle was their tent church which could be picked up and moved when they were directed by the Lord to move.

"Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped.  At the Lord's command the Israelites set out, and at His command they encamped.  As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in the camp.  When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord's order and did not set out." (Numbers 9:17-19)  God's people had to depend on the Lord day by day  and moment by moment for His direction and guidance.

We too as God's people are walking through the wilderness of this life.  We are headed for our eternal home!  The Lord knows and has planned every detail of our lives, and He is directing and guiding our every step along the way.  We can be absolutely certain of His guidance each and every day of our lives.  He says to us in Hebrews 13:5b, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you."  He also promises us in Psalm 32:8, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.  I will counsel you and watch over you."

It is important that we follow and wait for the Lord's direction, and we must not seek to solve a problem situation in our lives in our own way.  We also must not lag behind the Lord, and we must not delay to act when He has made His will clear to us.  We will have a greater sense of the Lord's guidance, as we spiritually grow in Him.  Hence, we need to spend time in prayer and reading God's Word.

There are times in the wilderness of this life when we will be asked to wait.  The Israelites must have become impatient at times, when God made them just wait.  Numbers 9:22 tells us that "whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out."  The wilderness was obviously a less than desirable place for the Israelites to be, but in spite of their impatience they needed to wait for the Lord's direction to move on.

Sometimes we are kept waiting by the Lord also.  We may be in the midst of a very difficult situation or trial in our life.  Perhaps with every fiber of our being we desire that difficult situation to be resolved.  We must not run ahead of the Lord, however, and seek to resolve the situation with our own resources.  We must wait in submission on the Lord.  Sometimes this waiting on the Lord is a short period of time.  Sometimes it can be years in duration.

The Lord knows what He is doing by sometimes allowing certain difficult situations and circumstances in our lives.  Through those difficult times we often grow the most spiritually.  We must be submissive to the Lord's will and rest in Him.  We also must move out in obedience when the Lord clearly directs us to do so.  Sometimes this involves leaving our comfort zones for other areas of service.  God's will is always best, and we must follow it.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Matthew 5:13-16

"You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Salt was a precious and very valuable commodity in Jesus' day.  Especially at that time in history salt was valuable as a preservative against decay.  It was also valuable as an antiseptic or a healing agent.  Even today salt is considered valuable as a seasoning.  Salt adds flavor and zest to our food.

Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth.  Jesus says to us in Matthew 5:13a. "You are the salt of the earth."  As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we are a valuable preservative against evil in this world. We also need to be an agent of healing in this world.  Our Christ-like influence should be making an impact for Jesus Christ on those who do not know the Lord.  As salt adds flavoring and zest to food, our lives should radiate our joy and zest for serving the Lord and for bringing glory to His name.

Yet another quality of salt is that it makes one thirsty.  Are we making others thirsty for a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?  Finally, salt is poured out of a container.  We also need to pour out our lives in service to God and others.  If we lose our "saltiness" we will become worthless, however.  Matthew 5:13b reminds us "if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." If we seek to blend in with the world and to become just like the world in our values, attitudes, and life styles; we lose our "saltiness" or influence for God in the world.

Jesus also says to us in Matthew 5:14a, "You are the light of the world."  We must shine like bright lights for Jesus Christ in this dark world of sin.  In fact, the darker the world becomes in sin; the brighter the lights of our lives must be in comparison.  There are many different kinds of lights used for many different purposes.  We must shine for Jesus Christ wherever we have been placed in our small corner of the world.  We must not seek to hide our lights.  Jesus says to us in Matthew 5:16, "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."  We must not seek to adopt the world's standards and values.  You and I must let the joy, purpose, and light of our personal relationship with the Lord shine before others.  Others must see Jesus Christ in us through our words, actions, and our character.

May it become our passion to be "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world."  May we never lose our "saltiness" or seek to hide our lights for Jesus Christ.  May others truly see Jesus Christ in us!