Friday, 30 September 2005

Regarding the poor

“If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.” - Deuteronomy 15v7-8

Throughout the word of God it is obvious that God has a high regard for the poor. Some things are a part of the Law that carries on into New Testament teaching. Regarding the poor is one of these teachings.

There are two basic instructions here; 1) Do not harden your heart, and 2) do not shut your hand. We can see here that the instruction is twofold; it is a heart matter as well as a hand matter. It is not good enough to just have sympathy and have pity on the poor. Jesus makes this clear when He gave the illustration about how those who mistreated the poor actually showed they mistreated Him.

James makes it clear that having regard to persons is sin. In too many churches and in too many lives meeting the needs of the poor has taken a back seat to other church activities. We have plenty of time and money for fellowships, activities, ladies, men, and youth meetings, retreats, conferences, etc. How much time and expense is taken to meet the needs of the poor? Are people going hungry while we feast at our “fellowships”?

Let each of us carefully consider our hearts to see if we have hard hearts and closed hands in regard to the poor.

Thursday, 29 September 2005

Dealing with false teaching

“Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” - Deuteronomy 13v3

God warned the nation before they entered the Promised Land that they were going to encounter false teachers. God was going to allow the false teachers for a purpose; to test the hearts of the people to see if they were REALLY sold out to Him. In those days when a person was shown to be a false prophet he was to be stoned to death. God no longer calls on us to kill false prophets, but we still encounter them today, and each time we face a test to see where we really stand.

We live in a day of a wide variety of false teachers. Many of them appeal to our flesh and our pride. Sometimes false teaching appeals to us because we feel like we have discovered something no one else has.

How do we respond in the face of false teaching? Do we even recognise it as such? The Bereans set a proper example for us. The Bible says that they searched the Scriptures daily to see if the things they heard were so.

We are certain to encounter many false teachings along our way. They are everywhere and are of a wide variety. Lets be sure that we truly love the Lord with all of our hearts and souls so that when we face the false teacher test, we pass with flying colours.

Wednesday, 28 September 2005

Doing what is right in your own eyes

“Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes”. - Deuteronomy 12v8

Moses gave a commentary on the way of life of the people as they prepared to enter the land. “When you go over, do not do like you are doing now, where every man does that which is right in his own eyes.

“Doing what is right in your own eyes” has been a common problem for man all though his history. It caused a disastrous series of events during the time of the Judges. The nation when through several cycles of sin – the people fell into sin, they spent a time of supplication where they begged God for help, God sent a saviour, then there was a time of silence. This happened over and over as man continued to do what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17v6).

It is clear that we leave in a “everyman doing what is right in his own eyes” world today. Men have chosen to ignore God and His word and do things his own way. It is a clear recipe for disaster. Man’s way, or our own way. Which is best?

Tuesday, 27 September 2005

Circumcision of the heart

“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” - Deuteronomy 10v16

“Fear God, walk in His ways, love Him, serve Him, and keep His commandments.”

These are some of the commands that God gave to His people as they prepared to enter Canaan. All of these are good instructions, and are indeed commands by God.

However, God’s instructions go beyond these instructions and really cut to the “heart of the matter.” God makes it clear that the externals are not enough. God says to “circumcise the foreskin on your heart, and stop being stubborn.” Physical circumcision is a cutting away of the flesh. Spiritual circumcision is a cutting away of the fleshly nature of the heart. It is obvious that this is associated with being stiff-necked and stubborn.

It is clear that what is really important to God is the condition of our hearts. If we could keep in mind the importance of having a circumcised heart every thing else would fall into place. What is it our hearts that we need to cut away so that we can serve Him?

Monday, 26 September 2005

Not because of your righteousness

“Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD swore unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” - Deuteronomy 9v4-5

As the people prepared to enter Canaan God knew that there would be a temptation to think that there was something good they had done to deserve this blessing. Moses wanted to make it clear that this was not the case so he laid the facts out clearly to the people. God told the people, “Don’t think that you are receiving this land because you are so righteous. The reason is because these nations are wicked and I am going to keep the promises I made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Whatever God gives us is not due to anything we can do to deserve it. All of man’s righteousness is as filthy rags. Man’s best attempts at righteousness are only wickedness in His sight. We can’t do anything to earn anything from God. Everything He gives is based in His love and His mercy.

God requires total righteousness for us to enter heaven and enjoy eternity with Him. How is this possible when not one of us is righteous? Abraham showed this when he believed God and his faith was accounted to him as righteousness. He could not make himself, but God counted his as righteous because of His faith. Romans 4v5 makes it clear that we cannot work for righteousness, but only by believing.

Praise God that our eternal fate is not conditional on our righteousness, but on the righteousness which was accounted to us by our faith in Christ.

Sunday, 25 September 2005

The Lord your God chastens you

“Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.” - Deuteronomy 8v5

Nobody likes chastening at the moment. No child likes being chastened or disciplined while the chastening is taking place. Here God tells His people that God will chasten His people the same way that a father chastens his children. The purpose of chastening, as opposed to punishment, is to alter a course and is based on loving guidance.

Of course this reminds us of Hebrews chapter 12. God tells us here that we are not to despise chastening and that while it is not “joyous for the moment,” afterwards it “yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” We can also take comfort from the fact that whereas human fathers can make mistakes in discipline, God is never wrong when He chastens us. His chastening is ALWAYS for our good.

Remember that God always chastens for good. It is an act of His love. Let us not despise it, but rejoice that He loves us enough to chasten us.

Saturday, 24 September 2005

God is faithful

“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;” - Deuteronomy 7:9

Faithfulness is a rare trait. It seems to have gone out of vogue. It seems that people have a hard time be faithful to jobs, friendships, marriages, and even sports teams.

God calls for us to be faithful to Him at all times. Yet, because we still dwell in the flesh we often fall short of being faithful to Him. Doubts, fears, anxieties, and selfishness are among the reasons that we can at times lack for faithfulness.

God is never unfaithful. To those who love Him and keep His commandments He promises t be faithful for “a thousand generation,” in other words, forever.

How is God faithful? Here we see that He is faithful in two areas. He is faithful in keeping His covenants and He is faithful in His mercy. When we were saved God promised to save us forever. He promised to show us His mercy. Praise God for His faithfulness and His mercy to a thousand generations!

Friday, 23 September 2005

Beware lest you forget

“And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” - Deuteronomy 6v10-12

Why is it that people tend to only remember the Lord when they need His help? When things are going well, folks tend to almost take it for granted that things are going to go well for them.

God knew this tendency. As Israel prepared to enter the land, God told them of the blessings they would receive:

Cities they did not build

Houses full of provisions

Wells they did not dig

Trees they did not plant

God was giving gifts they did not work for; they were given only by His grace. But He knew the temptation – “Beware lest you forget the Lord.” He knew that with prosperity comes a tendency to self-sufficiency. When they “had it all” they would be tempted to forget Him.

Men do not change. Nations that once honoured God for His grace and mercy to them have not forgotten Him. Churches that once had to rely on God to meet every single need, now operate as multi-million dollar businesses dependent on “profit margins” between income and outgo.

Sadly, Individuals can do the same thing. Once we saw God take care of every single need, depending on Him to pay every bill and meet every need. As time goes by we are able to get by. When that happens we can forget what it means to depend in Him. We stop relying on Him and begin relying on our own resources and abilities.

God is not against prosperity, but in our prosperity may we consider the words to Israel? “Beware, lest you forget the Lord.”

Thursday, 22 September 2005

Teach them diligently

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” - Deuteronomy 6v6-9

What is the most important thing that we can do to express and carry on our faith? Moses seems to give a very clear answer to this here in Deuteronomy chapter 6.

There are two clear steps listed here.

1) Keep them in your heart

2) Teach them diligently to your children

The first is obvious. We can do nothing with God’s teachings if we do not first make them a part of our lives. God’s word must be more than just something we take in at church or in our devotions and then leaved it aside.

The second thing is a bit more challenging. We are told to teach them to our children. The primary responsibility of teaching our children is up to us. How are we to teach them?

1) When we sit at home

2) When we go out

3) When we lie down

4) When we get up

In other words the teaching of God’s word is something that must be always ongoing. It is far more than Sunday School or family devotions. Our teaching must take place no matter what we are doing. It must be constant and consistent, always before us. As parents there is no more important task than teaching our children. Let’s do it diligently, or “pointedly” as the Hebrew word implies. We must make of point of doing is constantly.

Wednesday, 21 September 2005

Love God completely

“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might”. - Deuteronomy 6v5

This command, modified in the New Testament with the words, “and your neighbour as yourself” is the summation of all the Law. How can these few words sum up all the law?

If we totally love God we will serve Him.

If we totally love God we will trust Him.

If we totally love God we will honour Him.

If we totally love God we will obey Him.

If we totally love God we will be content with what He provides.

If we totally love God we will be willing to present our bodies as living sacrifices.

If we totally love God we will we will tell everyone about Hi.

If we totally love God we will go anywhere, do anything, and give up anything for Him.

If we totally love God we will be willing to give up all for Him.

How do we know how much we really love Him? Do our lives reflect the fact that we love Him totally and absolutely above all else, with all our heart, soul, and might.

The way I walk today will always reflect how much I truly love my Lord.

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Such a heart

“O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!” - Deuteronomy 5v29

“Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe” says the refrain on a children’s song. Indeed the very best way to show that we believe in someone is to obey when called upon.

Obedience is not always properly motivated. Sometimes we obey out of terror, because we are afraid of being punished, or fear the consequences. Obedience does is not always the result of having a proper heart attitude.

What kind of obedience does God desire from His people. He says “O that there were such a heart in them…” It is amazing how often God refers to the heart rather than to simple obedience. Here, God had just repeated the Ten Commandments and then expressed His desire that people would have a heart which revered and honoured Him by obedience.

There is so much that keeps us from having a right heart. If our heart is inclined towards popularity and possessions than we will never have a right heart. We decide what to do with our hearts. Are we going have heart of flesh that is pliable and mouldable to His direction, or are we going to have a heart of stone that is hardened to His will.

O that there were such a heart in US, that WE would fear God and keep all His commandments always.

Monday, 19 September 2005

There is no other

“Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.” - Deuteronomy 4v39

“Know this great truth,” God says, “and consider it, mull it over in your heart, that Jehovah is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath, there is no other god.”

There has never been a lack for false gods. Sometimes they are statues and idols, sometimes they possessions, and sometimes they can be relationships or status. All of these gods will vie for affection in our lives.

God knows our inclination to be drawn away by false gods. We are no more immune to them than Israel was. God tells us to consider the truth that He is the only God in our hearts. When other gods cry out for attention let us remember that the Lord is our only God. He demands that unique place in our lives. Let us give Him all that He is due and our only true God.

Sunday, 18 September 2005

Whole-hearted seeking

“But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” Deuteronomy 4v29

We are no place promised in the word of God that our life was going to be one of ease. We are going to face struggles; they are part of the natural course of life. There are going to be times when we just don’t seem as near to God as we would like.

The problem is that in those times we often don’t want to seek God on His conditions, we want to seek Him on our conditions. Often Christians seek God half-heartedly, trying to reserve things for themselves.

How do we find God in the dark, troublesome hours? How do we restore that closeness to Him?

We must learn to seek Him with ALL our heart and ALL our soul. We must ne willing to let everything go in our desire to find Him, His presence, and His leadership.

In every situation may we seek God whole-heartedly.

Saturday, 17 September 2005

Take heed to yourself

“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons; “ - Deuteronomy 4v9

God’s directions to Israel were not just for the body as a whole, but were intended for each individual as well. Look how personal God makes this injunction – “Take heed to yourself, keep your soul diligently, don’t forget the things you have seen, don’t let them depart from your heart, teach them to your sons, and your son’s sons.”

While our faith stresses looking outward to edify and help others, it must be looking inward when dealing with obeying Christ and our Christian walk. Our primary focus must be on our own Christian walk, our own obedience, and our own children.

I wonder how much the body of Christ would change is we focused primarily on making sure that our won walk with the Lord was right?

God’s simple instruction for today – Take heed to yourself!

Friday, 16 September 2005

Live what you learn

“Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” - Deuteronomy 4v6

There are many reasons for us to follow the Lord’s direction for our lives. There are some obvious ones. The Lord only wants what is best for us so we can trust Him to tell us what is best. Since His way is best, following Him assures what is best for us.

Yet there are other reasons for living what we learn. The people of Israel were about to enter into a totally pagan land, where the people did not know the Lord at all. The people themselves would be the first way that Jehovah revealed Himself to the Canaanites. The testimony of Israel was vital in God’s revelation of Himself in the new land.

What do people say when they see us? Like Israel we are in a strange land. Do they say of us that Christians are a “wise and understanding people?” For us to be a testimony to the world around us we to must be willing to keep and do the word of God. We may be the only testimony some people will ever see of the Lord.

Thursday, 15 September 2005

Don’t add to my words

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” - Deuteronomy 4v2

The most important instruction God could give was His Word. As Moses prepared the people to enter the land he told some things regarding God’s Word. One was to obey it, the other not to add to or take away from it.

Man has always been tempted to add to God’s words. Eve did it first when she added a requirement that they not touch the tree as well as not eat it. In Revelation man is warned not to add to or take away from God’s word. As this command is repeated several times it is one that we must always be aware of.

Why is it so important that we not add to God’s word? The answer is simple really, when we do so we equate ourselves with Him. We put ourselves in His place, we elevate ourselves to godhood for we claim that our word is equal to His.

The Pharisees were guilty of adding to God’s word. Sometime Pharisees and legalists today can do the same. The question in every situation must be, “What sayeth the Lord?” His word is sufficient, we must NEVER be guilty of adding to it.

Wednesday, 14 September 2005

I know your trudging

“For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking [trudging] through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.” - Deuteronomy 2v7

Forty years is a long time to do anything. It would be an almost unbearable time to wander through the land waiting for God to allow entrance into the Promised Land. It is true that even in our minds the people “deserved” to wander for ignoring the advice of God’s men and allowing their fear to overcome their faith.

Yet, what about Moses, Joshua, and Caleb? These were men of God. All were faithful, even Moses who in a moment of fleshliness lost his opportunity to enter Canaan, truly strove to follow God. How did they see the forty years of wandering? Why did they have to “suffer”?

God gives us an answer in Deuteronomy 2v7. God told them:

· I have blessed you and your works

· I know your trudging

· I have been with you

· You have lacked nothing

What a wonderful encouragement! Sometimes in our lives we go through times of just trudging along. The word “walking” also aptly depicts this for us. We do not always get to run along celebrating great victories. Most of our Christian lives are just spent in a daily walk, trudging along. How wonderful it is to note that in those every day times God is blessing, He knows all about it, He is with us, and we will lack nothing.

Thank you Father for a special encouragement today!

Tuesday, 13 September 2005

God carrying us

“And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bore thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.” - Deuteronomy 1v31

I love the word pictures in the Bible. As Moses told the children of Israel about their wanderings in the wilderness he used a beautiful illustration and one every parent can relate to – “God carried you like a man carries his son.”

As our children were growing I remember often hearing the phrase, “Carry Daddy” always said with outstretched arms. Think of when we carry our children. We do it when they are tired, fearful, or sometimes even when they are just lazy.

This is such a precious picture, of a father carrying his child. If I were a poet I could wax eloquent and paint a beautiful word picture. Nonetheless, God has chosen a great illustration for us.

What did Israel do when God carried them? The Bible says that they still rejected Him and refused to acknowledge Him. They seem more a like bold child who wants out of Daddy’s arm to run and get into mischief.

Think of all the time God has carried you through a dark and troublesome situation. Over and over in our lives He has lovingly scooped us up. The wonderful poem called “Footprints in the sand” comes to mind. These are the words of the last lines:

"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
you, you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me."

The LORD replied:

"My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."

Remember today that we have a loving God Who longs to carry us along the way. Don’t struggle to flee from His arms. Let Him carry you along.

Monday, 12 September 2005

Go up and possess the land

“Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.” - Deuteronomy 1v21

As the book of Deuteronomy opens Moses gives instructions for the conquest of the land. The instructions he gives up are very clear – “Go up and possess it…fear not and don’t be discouraged.”

We find the principle all through the word of God. God gives an instruction involving a promise, then He simply instructs His people to obey is instructions and “do it.” With that however God always gives words of encouragement – “Don’t be afraid and don’t be discouraged.”

Fear and discouragement are not of God, but they are very real. At one time or another each of us have faced, are facing, or will face one or both of these challenges. We can take great comfort in the fact that God Himself will tells us not to be afraid or discouraged. The great truth is that God is on our side as He was with Israel. We need never be discouraged or afraid because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

With God on our side we have nothing to fear. “Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.”

Sunday, 11 September 2005

Be sure your sin will find you out

But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out. - Numbers 32v23

Reuben and Gad had convinced that they would indeed assist in the conquest of the land. Moses made it very clear, “if you do so, fine, but if not you have sinned against the Lord and be sure that your sin will find you out. Moses wanted the tribes to know that their sin, like all sin, would be against God and that their sin would be found out. They would not get away with their sin.

It is easy to think that we can hide our sin. Many Christians live an entire life of deception. We can become so used to deceiving others and ourselves that we think we can deceive God in our sin.

Several times in Scripture God makes it clear that we cannot hide our sin from Him. One of the clearest passages is in Galatians 6v7 – “Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” In the book of Zephaniah we read about God searching out the streets of Jerusalem with a candle to discover the sin of the people.

“Be ware,” God warns us, “your sin will find you out.” Is there sin in your life today that you are thinking you can hide from God? Be sure, your sin will find you out. “

Saturday, 10 September 2005

They wholly followed the Lord

“Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD.” - Numbers 32v12

It is hard to imagine that out of all the men of Israel when they left Egypt only two would be permitted to enter the Promised Land. Here in chapter 32 God is giving a history of the wanderings in the wilderness and tells that all but two man would ide before seeing Canaan.

The reason they were permitted to see the land is telling. Joshua and Caleb “wholly followed the Lord.” This passage has already stood out to me and was the reason that our fourth child Caleb. The concept of wholly following the Lord challenges me every time I read it.

When we think of Joshua and Caleb and their report of Canaan we get a glimpse of what it means. When everyone else said there was no hope, they said “let’s go up, we are well able to take the land.” Caleb never wavered in that motivation and desire.

Wholly following the Lord means simply that we follow Him not matter what and no matter where. It means being content in whatever situation he places us. If our lusts and desires are allowed to reign we are not wholly following Him, but are trying to follow both Him and us. Oh to be a Caleb and have it one day said of me that “He wholly followed the Lord.”

We need to ask ourselves daily what we are following. If we are not wholly, totally, completely, and absolutely following the Lord we must lay aside the idols of our lives, whatever they are, and follow Him and Him alone.

Friday, 9 September 2005

Being a discourager

“And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?” - Numbers 32v7

The time was drawing close for the crossing of the river into Canaan, God’s promised land. As Moses was giving directions for entering the land the leaders of two tribes, Gad and Reuben decided that the land where they were was better for their cattle. They approached Moses and asked to be permitted to settle there.

Moses had a couple of related problems with their plan. One was that they would not be able to help fight for the land. Everyone knew that the conquering the land would be a challenge. They needed every man for the task.

This was related to another problem. Moses asked the leaders, “Would you discourage the hearts of the children from going over into the land?” Moses knew that the task was immense and he also knew the dangers of discouragement. Discouragement, as pointed out here, affects the heart.

Many times we face a potentially discouraging task. The last thing we need is someone to discourage us. Discouragement leads to despair and possibly defeat. Let us be sure that our words and actions are not going to discourage others. Our task is to edify, not to discourage.

Barnabas means “the son of encouragement.” Let’s be sure that we are more like Barnabas than Gad and Reuben.

Thursday, 8 September 2005

Making a vow

“When a man voweth a vow unto Jehovah, or sweareth an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.” - Numbers 30:2

We live in a day when keeping vows and promises has gone out of vogue. There always seems to be a reason why we can’t keep a vow or promise. Wedding vows, for example, seem to have become meaningless. In this passage in Numbers God intends that promises both to Him and others are to be kept.

This is more than just a part of the Old Testament Law. This is one of the principles that Jesus repeated. The Jews had taken vow making seriously, but had set up a complicated system of taking an oath on all kinds of things. Jesus’ teaching was clear, don’t make any kind oaths, just let your yea be yea and your nay be nay.

The principle is clear. Christ wants us to be people whose actions back up our words. When we make a promise, we simply must keep it. This applies to both God and man. This is part of what truly saddens me today.

The matter is simple. Do what you say you will do. Keep you r promises. They is no excuse for doing otherwise.

Wednesday, 7 September 2005

God is not a man

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”

- Numbers 23v19

These are the words of Balaam when confronted by Balak. These men were apparently used to their false gods heeding to their beck and call. These professional prophets could word things and work them out so it looked like they controlled the gods like they could another man.

Balaam was dealing with a different kind of God this time. The reason? This God was the only true God! Balaam told these very clear words to Balak.

  • God is not a man
  • God cannot lie
  • God will not change His mind
  • God will do what He says He will do

Balak was looking for a blessing from Jehovah, but He was not about to be cajoled into giving it. God is not some kind of genie in a lamp who responds to a rubbing of the lamp.

There are Christians today who act like they think God is the kind of god that Balak though He was. God is still not our genie in a bottle. He is not going to lie, He is not going to change His mind, He will do what He says. We pray to bring our discern His will and to bring our will into line with his.

Tuesday, 6 September 2005

I will say what God puts in my mouth

“And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.” - Numbers 22:38

Balaam is an interesting character to say the least. From other passages of Scripture we learn that he was at best a professional soothsayer. Some passages of Scripture indicate that he was a false prophet. Apparently he claimed the ability to speak for several gods.

Balaam had a track record. What he cursed was cursed and what he blessed was blessed. He was hired by the Moabites to go and curse Israel. At first he refused. A second invitation was sent. This time he went, but his journey was interrupted by his balking, talking donkey.

Balaam was given permission to go on, but God said that he must only speak the words of the Lord.

When Balaam got to Balak he repeated his words. “I can only speak what the Lord puts into my mouth.”

For all of his faults Balaam had one thing straight. We don’t know why or how God would use a prophet who also prophesied for false gods, but God did use him in this case.

I a professional soothsayer could see the importance of only speaking God’s words, should we not do the same. Our conversation, our teaching, and our preaching should always reflect God’s Word in our lives. To do less is to truly fail in our task.

Monday, 5 September 2005

Look and live

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” - Numbers 21v8

The people of Israel never got over their complaining, even after almost forty years. Once again they complained about the lack of water. Their minds were so corrupted that they said it would have been better to have died in the Korahite rebellion. The dissatisfaction angered God and He sent fiery serpents to bite the people with a fatal bite.

However, God’s judgement is always mixed with His grace. He told Moses to make a brass serpent and that all who looked up to the serpent would be healed from the serpent bite. “Every one who is bitten and looks up to the serpent will live.”

The people did not know it yet, but the brass serpent is an example of Bible type. God uses typology when he uses an incident in the Bible to illustrate another truth, In John 3v14-15 we read, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

The people of Israel had been bitten by the scorpion of sin. They had no hope on their own, Their only hope was God’s solution to the problem as they believed and looked up to the raised serpent. Jesus was lifted up on the cross of Calvary. Today all men have been bitten by sin. Man’s only hope today is look up to Jesus, seeing Him lifted up on the cross, confessing their sin as Israel did, and realising that eternal life only comes God’s way.

Sunday, 4 September 2005

Because you did not believe me

“And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.” - Numbers 20v10-12

Whenever I have read the story of Moses and the rock I kind of felt sorry for Moses. I can certainly understand his frustration. Most scholars say that this incident happened thirty-eight years into the wanderings in the wilderness. Once gain the people complained because of a lack of water. They even said they would have been better to die in the Korahite rebellion than to die now. Moses and Aaron went to God again and God told Moses to speak to the rock go get fresh water.

When Moses gathered the people together he did not listen to God. Instead he clearly allowed his flesh to take control, “Must [b]we[/b] fetch water out of the rock?” Then he struck the rock instead of speaking to it.

There are some real problems with this. He took the credit on himself and felt like he had to act his way to accomplish his task. God says that Moses did not believe Him. We don’t see that, but God knew His heart. Moses did not believe God, He did not sanctify God before the people, he claimed credit for himself and Aaron for providing water out of the rock, and disobeyed God by striking the rock. His punishment? He would not get to enter the Promised Land.

What are the lessons for us? Trust God when He says what He will do. Makes sure He gets all the glory for what is accomplished. Obey Him completely. God is a holy God, who demands obedience so He is the One Who receives the glory.

Saturday, 3 September 2005

I am your inheritance

“And the LORD spoke unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.” – Numbers 18v20

As the promises of the future land inheritance were being handed out Aaron his sons were told of a special inheritance for them. “You will have no inheritance in the land. I am your part and your inheritance,” God told Aaron.

What a special blessing for Aaron and his family. They would not have any land, but they would have God as their share and as their inheritance. In a secular, materialistic society, where so much is based on what we have we think of material things as being the most important. We simply can’t escape it. Possessions are the things that are seen and they have cried out for our attention since the serpent was in the garden.

Adam and Eve walked with God, He was all they needed, but they though they had to have more. Belonging to God and being His children and His people is the greatest possession of all! That is all we really need.

How can we possibly be discontent in this life? God had made us go heirs with His Son Jesus Christ. He has given us an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, that will never fade away!

Praise the Lord for our Wonderful Inheritance!

Friday, 2 September 2005

Not my will

And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.” - Numbers 16v28

Poor Moses. Of all the leaders I have studied he surely had one of the roughest jobs possible. Trying to lead 4 million complaining, discontent, selfish people would try the patience of the best.

By the time we get to Numbers 16 open rebellion has broken out. A group of leaders come to Moses with a coup d’etat in mind. They are disgruntled with the way things are going and are demanding a change.

The problem here was not a rejection of Moses – it was a rejection of God. Moses was not doing his own work, or even his own will. Remember what happened when God first called Moses? All Moses could do was to try to “get out of it.”

When we serve God and follow His word and His way there is going to be opposition. We can just expect it. We can take comfort in what Moses said, “I have not done this of my own mind (will)”

Thursday, 1 September 2005

Going without God

“Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.” - Numbers 14v42

One could easily weep as he reads Numbers 14. In spite of all that God had done for them, these people still did not trust Him. He had allowed 12 men to see the wonders of the Promised Land. They had returned with glowing reports of what was there, but there fear overwhelmed their faith.

When God judged their lack of faith by telling them that they would have to wait forty years to go into the land, they were belatedly sorry for their sin and decided that they would go ahead and enter the land.

Moses warned the, “Don’t go, God is not going with you, you will be defeated.” As usual they decided to act based on their own wills and desire instead of based on God’s direction. They went ahead an invaded the land. This tragic chapter ends with these words – “Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them.”

There are lessons for us in virtually every situation faced by these people. The New Testament tells us that the things that which are written for written for our learning. God has given us His Word, which is full of His directions and His blessings. We often expect His blessings without following His directions. We can be assured, that when we step outside of God’s Word to do something on our own, we cannot expect His blessings to follow.