Looking To The Future

Numbers 36:7
“So the inheritance of the children of Israel shall not change hands from tribe to tribe, for every one of the children of Israel shall keep the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.”

The children of Gilead, from the tribe of Manasseh, brought an interesting case to Moses. The father of one of the families had died without having any sons, as a result they were concerned with what would become of the family inheritance if the daughters married outside of their tribe. If the land became the property of the husband’s tribe, it would not be long before some tribal inheritance was lost. Moses sought the Lord and determined that an ordinance be put in place where the land would not pass from tribe to tribe. To ensure this, a woman without brothers would need to consider her inheritance and marry within her tribe.

Clearly, this particular rule is not in play under the New Covenant. As a follower of Jesus, we have no promise of receiving land, nor of that land being passed on as an inheritance to our children. That being said, I think this passage brings to light a much bigger principle; when we are determining who we should marry, we need to keep our inheritance in mind.

Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers that they would know the hope of their calling (Ephesians 1:18). This is an important truth for all of us. We need to know that we have been called to leave the world behind,  to follow Jesus, and serve Christ. When it comes to determining who we will date and ultimately marry, we must keep our calling in mind. Too often, we find believers neglecting their inheritance for the sake of a relationship. They pursue a person because they are attracted to them physically, without giving any consideration to that person’s walk with God, or calling. The Bible clearly teaches that a follower of Jesus should not be in a relationship with someone who is not following Christ; but there are other things to keep in mind as well. What evidences does this person show that they are a disciple of Christ? How are they currently serving Jesus? What part does the Word of God play in their decision making? Do they have the same long term goals of serving the Lord that you have?

We can avoid a lifetime of difficulty if we keep our inheritance in mind, before entering into a relationship.

Pastor Jim

 

Innumerable Promises 

Numbers 34:2
“Command the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance—the land of Canaan to its boundaries.”

Israel stood on the brink of entering the promised land. For almost five hundred years the people had heard stories of the land of their fathers. They referred to it as the land of milk and honey, and longed to settle down and enjoy its fruits. Before entering in, Moses reminded them of how vast the land was; He spoke of its borders from the far northern hills to the southern dessert and from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. The land represented the abundant life God desired for His people to walk in, but before they could enjoy any of it, they had to be willing to do battle. The land was given as a promise, but received through continuous warfare.

The Christian life is a lot like that. We have been given great and precious promises that result in a life that surpasses any and all circumstances. We are promised peace that passes understanding, joy unspeakable, love shed abroad in our hearts, power to overcome sin and fear, and a life filled with the fruit of righteousness. We are told we can have a marriage that honors God, testifies to others, and blesses us. We are told we can have children who will rise up and call us blessed, and that we can leave a righteous heritage behind for them to follow. We are told, our lives can be a witness to others so they can see our good works, glorify our Father in heaven, and be drawn into a relationship with Christ. The promises of God are almost innumerable, but just as the promise given to Israel, much of these are only received through continuous warfare. If we are going to walk in the abundant life God has promised, we must be willing to fight for it.

This fight is not against others, but against the desires we have within ourselves for things that God forbids. Some of the attacks are continuous. There are certain easily besetting sins we must always be aware of and resist. Other attacks seem to come from no where. We are suddenly and unexpectedly hit with fear, depression, guilt, unworthiness, or some other intense emotion that tells us to flee from the battle and cower like Gideon in his cave. If we are going to win the battle and walk in the promises of God we must fight. We must learn to counterattack the enemies of faith with the promises of God.

Whatever you are facing today, take some time to dwell on the love, grace, mercy and power of God. Don’t look your enemy straight in the eyes, but look at him through the glorious promises and power of the God who loves you and died for you.

Until we all taste the sweet victory of walking in abundant life,

Pastor Jim

 

Abundant Life

Numbers 33:52
“. . . then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places; . . .”

God described the land He was giving Israel as a land that flowed with milk and honey. He was of course speaking figuratively of the blessed life that the children of Israel would experience within the land. This blessed life was conditional upon their obedience to Him, and their obedience included some driving out, and some demolition. They were instructed to tear down all of the images and the places where the false gods were worshipped. They were to leave nothing that would serve as a source of temptation. Moses went on to explain,

“. . . those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.” 

Sadly, as the story unfolds, we will learn that Israel failed to drive out and demolish, and for centuries struggled with the temptation of the sins they allowed to remain in the land.

It is not difficult to draw a parallel between their experience and our lives. In order for us to experience the abundant life that Jesus offers, we also must do some driving out and some demolition. There are things that cannot remain in our lives if we are going to successfully walk with Christ. Those things include anyone or anything that will be an irritant, tempting us to sin and leading us away from the ways of God. Israe failed to obey this command partly due to the fact that they liked having some of those things around. They placed value on what God had banned and it was not long before they were caught in sin.

Stand back for a moment and examine the things in your life. Is there anything that needs to be removed? The way to do it is to go to the cross and lay it at the feet of Jesus, asking for His pardon, and strength to never pick it up again.

Pastor Jim

 

God Is Just

Numbers 31:1-2
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Take vengeance on the Midianites for the children of Israel. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.’”

Webster defines vengeance as, “the act of doing something to hurt someone because that person did something that hurt you or someone else.” Some synonymous would include payback, reprisal or even revenge. We seem to be fascinated with the concept of vengeance. It is the premise behind famous works of literature like; The Iliad, Hamlet and The Count of Monty Christo. It seems that the idea of paying back those who have wronged us resonates within the heart of man. This is probably due to the fact that all of us have felt wronged one time or another and wished that we were able to do something to get back at the ones who hurt us. There seems to be an innate cry in the heart of all men for what we perceive as justice. We have all heard children complain that things are not fair, and we see adults, young and old, rallying behind politicians who have stirred in them the desire to get what is theirs.

When it comes to the concept of divine vengeance it is vital to realize some very important distinctions between the judgment of God and the judgment of men. First off, the very definition is different. Instead of being a form of payback for being hurt, divine vengeance would better be seen as, “punishment inflicted in retaliation for an offense.” God does not lash out in a fit of rage, nor does He seek to get back at those who have hurt Him. Instead, God metes out perfect justice upon those who have violated His laws. Throughout Scripture we find that the vengeance of God does not come without warning and long periods of forbearance  with the rebellious ways of mankind. The Canaanites were given over four hundreds years before judgment came, Egypt received numerous plagues before the angel of death arrived, the judgments recorded in the book of Revelation are distributed in waves.  God gives every individual numerous opportunities to turn to Him before ever pouring out His wrath.

While judgement is not our favorite subject to meditate upon, it is important for us to realize there is a time coming for every individual, and for the world as a whole, when we will give an account to God for the life we lived, and the decision we made regarding His Son. There is no way to avoid that day, but there is a way to avoid the judgment. The Bible teaches that, apart from Christ, we are all under the wrath of God, but when we receive Christ, wrath is replaced with mercy. Instead of facing judgment, we can receive the free gift of eternal life. One thing we can count on is that God will be fair. If we want to avoid punishment and receive reward, we must allow Christ to take the judgment we deserve.

Pastor  Jim

 

“To Be Honest…”

Numbers 30:2
“If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”

A vow is a form of a promise. The person taking the vow is promising certain actions will follow. This whole chapter is emphasizing the need to be faithful to the promises made to the Lord and to others. The basic idea is that God wants His people to be honest.

Honesty is a foundational principle for healthy relationships. If a person lies they cannot be trusted, and it becomes impossible to build or even maintain relationship with them. As parents, it is critical that we instruct our children on the value of honesty. This is done by both setting an example and establishing certain guidelines. We lie because we think the truth will get us into trouble. We need to encourage truth from our children and help them see that lying is, in many ways, only delaying the inevitable and making things worse.

Honesty is also a critical part of our walk with the Lord. We are easily deceived, and in many cases, not honest with ourselves. When we sin, we are very good about blaming circumstances or other people. We need to take an honest evaluation of ourselves and make the proper changes so we don’t end up falling into the same sin over and over again.

Let’s be sure to allow the Lord to examine us, be willing to confess our faults to Him, and receive His grace to move beyond them.

Pastor Jim

 

Mornings And Evenings 

Numbers 28:4
“The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, the other lamb you shall offer in the evening”

As a nation, Israel was required to offer sacrifices to the Lord, daily. Each day started and finished with the sweet aroma of a burnt offering being dedicated to God. This is a pretty good pattern for every Christian to follow. Our walk with Christ will be richly enhanced if we start the day by offering ourselves to the Lord and finish by doing the same. The beauty of beginning our day with Jesus is that we receive both direction and strength for what the day holds. Those who spend their mornings in the Word of God can attest to how often they have found that the passage they read had a real life application in their day.  In some cases, it actually led to ministry opportunities in the life of others. The beauty of ending the day with the Lord is we are able to enjoy His mercy and grace for the areas where we have slipped or fallen. We do not have to carry the guilt of sin into the night, nor do we have to continue with whatever ungodly attitude may have been developed in us, through the experiences we encountered that day. Our evening time becomes a time of confession and cleansing, and we can sleep the sleep of the righteous.

Let’s make a commitment to give the Lord our mornings and our evenings, and see what a beautiful transformation takes place in our walk with the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Friendship

Numbers 25:1-3
“Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel.”

A dangerous and all too common cycle is exposed in these verses. Some of the men of Israel were drawn into unhealthy relationships, which led to ungodly practices. Their sin led them out from under the blessings of God and into a place where they were chastened by the Lord. Unhealthy relationships are one of the chief causes of sin throughout Israel’s history. Whenever they were drawn to the nations around them, it was not long before they were involved in the practices of those nations. After years of this cycle repeating itself, Solomon wrote,

Proverbs 12:26 “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

There is another cycle that we also see repeated in Scripture and in life. When a person chooses to surround himself with those who are committed to, and living for, the Lord, he will find that he grow more quickly and serve more faithfully. Joshua found that to be true by spending time with Moses, David was bettered by his relationship with Jonathan, Timothy developed into a mighty man of God, through the time he spent with Paul.

The relationships we choose to invest in are the ones that will forge us into the person we become. While it is true that we live in the world, and God wants to use us to bring others to himself, it is also true that many Christians have slipped away from the Lord because of the worldly friendships they have chosen to keep. If you are involved in a relationship that is pulling you away from the Lord, perhaps it is time to establish some new relationships, with those who are committed to following after and serving Christ.

Pastor Jim