Sunday, 29 November 2015

You 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 32.23

Sin is sneaky. It is insidious. It never seems as bad as it is. We get lulled into a false sense of security when we think that our sin is not really all that bad. Sin can sort of just lie dormant in our hearts and lives while we carry out and act like Christians and go to church and act right and all of that. We really, truly, honestly think we can get away with it.

Israel thought that. They thought they could get away with ingratitude and rebellion and complaining.

But God told them ‘you have sinned.’ Okay, that was obvious. They knew that.

‘And be sure your sin will find you out.’

No one is going to get away with sin forever. God is not going to make us change. He gives us free will and that free will has the capacity to get us in big trouble. We may coast along making foolish choices and allowing sin in our lives and ‘get away with it for a while.’


But be sure your sin will find you out. For non-believers that is obviously true. Unless cleansed by the blood of Christ sin will send them to a Christless eternity. All of the sin they revelled in for so long will find them out and eternal suffering will be the result.

But it is also true for believers. God will allow us to carry on in our sin. He is patient, but He is not going to force us to change. But our sin will find us out. In order to bring about the ‘fruits of righteousness’ God may have to chasten us to bring us into line. Sometimes His chastening might be obvious and clear. But sometimes God may chasten us by just letting our sinful choices have their natural result.

No matter what we can’t mess around with sin and not get burned.

Wouldn’t we be much better off the lay aside that weight and the sin that so easily besets us? 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Except Joshua and Caleb

And the LORD'S anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying, Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me: Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD. And the LORD'S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed. – Numbers 32.10-13

Israel proved themselves through the years. They never did get it. They never learned to trust God to meet their needs. So, since they never got it God let them suffer the consequences. He did not forsake them. He met their needs. He protected them.

But none of them would see the Promised Land. God had them wander for forty years until a whole generation died off.

Except Joshua and Caleb.

Joshua and Caleb were different than all the rest. They followed God. They trusted God. They looked at the promises of the land instead of the problems. They believed that God would do what He said would do.

And they were rewarded. While everyone else would have to die off before they could see the Promised Land Joshua and Caleb would be allowed to enter the land because they alone believed God.

Things don’t change a lot. Those who really trust God and ‘wholly follow’ Him are going to be few. That kind of stand might be lonely, but it is the stand that honours God and a stand that God will honour.

We need more Joshuas and Calebs. May I be one of them. 

Friday, 27 November 2015

Are you just going to sit there?

And Moses said to the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben: “Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here? Now why will you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord has given them? Thus your fathers did when I sent them away from Kadesh Barnea to see the land. For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, so that they did not go into the land which the Lord had given them. – Numbers 32.6-9

The time was about to come to enter the Promised Land. There was a lot of discussion about who was going to get what and how the land was going to be divided.

Not everyone wanted to go. Gad and Reuben decided to stay on the east side of the Jordan River. That was okay except for one thing. There were battles to be fought in the land and Reuben and Gad had to do their bit.

Moses said ‘are you going to let your brethren go to war while you sit here and do nothing? Are you going to discourage them by not helping them?’

There is a problem here that never changes.

Let somebody else do the work.  

How often do we find ourselves sitting in the pews while a handful of people do the work. Rueben and Gad agreed to send men over with their brethren, then they could return – but they had to go and help.

The work needs to be done – even if it is not ‘our job.’ The church is a team. We are a unit. The work of one is the work of all. We can’t afford to sit here while everyone else is at work. 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

God is not a man - thank God

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? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.  – Numbers 23.19-20

I have been privileged to know many great and godly men in my lifetime. There are a lot of men who have played a role in making me the man I am today. I am grateful for the many great men who I have known.

But not one of those men was perfect. They all were flawed and they all made mistakes. I saw some of those flaws and mistakes. It only proved that even the best men are still men.

That’s why I am glad that we read a verse that says ‘God is not a man.’

God is not a man – he cannot lie.
God is not a man – he cannot reverse His promises
God is not a man – he will do what he says
God is not a man – he will make good on his promises

God is not a man. What a blessing. That means that God cannot fail in His promises. He will do what He says.

God said He would save me and He did. He said He will take me to heaven and He will. He said He will take care of me. He has and He will. He said I need not worry about the future and I need to not worry.

God is not a man. He cannot let me down.

Today is Thanksgiving in America. I have a lot to be thankful for, more than I can name. But for the purpose of this reflection might I say that I am thankful that my God is not a man. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

How can I curse?

And he took up his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel. How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied? – Numbers 23.7-8

Once Balaam got his heart right he really got it right. God told him that if he went on to Balak God would give him the words to say. But when he got there Balak told Balaam what to say. ‘Curse Jacob for me and defy Israel.’

I love Balaam’s response – ‘how shall I curse who God has not cursed or how shall I defy whom the Lord has not defied?’ As a prophet Balaam knew he was God’s mouthpiece. He knew he could not decide who to curse and who not to curse.

I think we could all learn from that. There are plenty of Christians who are more than happy to jump on the bandwagon and to speak evil of people just because they don’t like their culture or politics or nationality or whatever.

I think especially about politics. Anyone on the ‘other side’ is fair game for our curses and taunts and name-calling and condemnation. The union of politics and faith causes too many to ignore Bible principles when it comes to politics.

How can we use our pulpits to curse those political figures with whom we disagree? We had better be sure that we ‘preach the word’ and not our political cursings and condemnations. 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

More stubborn than a jackass

And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way. But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again. And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay. Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
(Num 22:23-31)– Numbers 22.23-31

Sometimes when we read the scriptures one would think that God has a sense of humour. When I read this and imagine it in my head it makes me chuckle. It is the account of how God use a dumb ass, the epitome of stubbornness, to deal with an even more stubborn man.

Balaam had chosen to not go where God told him to go. He was headed in another direction because he thought he knew best. Balaam was a stubborn guy, and he was about to learn a lesson in stubbornness.

As he headed on his way his donkey suddenly stopped. Balaam was too stubborn to see the angel but his dumb ass did.

Then things really got weird. The donkey stopped and Balaam hit him. Three times it happened. Then the donkey spoke ‘why do you keep hitting me?’ That’s bad enough, but Balaam talks back to the donkey. After what must be one of the strangest conversations in history God opened Balaam’s eyes and he saw the angel.

Eventually Balaam admitted his sin and obeyed God.

Crazy story, huh? But how often are we too stubborn to do things God’s way. How often does God have to go to extraordinary measures to get our attention? I have never had a donkey talk to me, but there are times I can be so stubborn that God directly intervenes to wake me up and get me on the right track.

Praise Him that He cares enough to do it. S

Monday, 23 November 2015

As Moses lifted up the serpent

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. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. – Numbers 21.8-9

No one who was there could possibly have imagined the importance of this event as a picture of the future. The Israelites were punished for their incessant sin by having venomous servants released would dii. But, in the midst of God’s wrath he showed mercy.

God told Moses to make a fiery serpent and set up on a pole. If anyone was bitten by the snakes he could lift up his eyes and look at the serpent and he would live.

It was a simple as ‘look and live’ to be delivered.

Jesus made the application in His dialogue with Nicodemus in John 3. He shared how the way of salvation today was the same as it was for the Israelites in the wilderness. 

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.’

There was nothing the Israelites could do to be saved but look up the serpent. There is no way of salvation today except to look up to Christ on the cross believing that He paid the price for our sin.

There is a great old hymn that I haven’t heard in ages. It is a lovely reminder of the worlds, and our, need to look and live.

I’ve a message from the Lord, hallelujah!
This message unto you I’ll give,
’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”

“Look and live,” my brother, live,
Look to Jesus now, and live;
’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”

I’ve a message full of love, hallelujah!
A message, O my friend, for you,
’Tis a message from above, hallelujah!
Jesus said it, and I know ’tis true.

Life is offered unto you, hallelujah!
Eternal life thy soul shall have,
If you’ll only look to Him, hallelujah!
Look to Jesus who alone can save.

I will tell you how I came, hallelujah!
To Jesus when He made me whole—
’Twas believing on His name, hallelujah!
I trusted and He saved my soul.

- William A. Ogden, 1887

Sunday, 22 November 2015

When we cried to the Lord

And when we cried unto the LORD, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border: - Numbers 20.16

As Moses looked back he recounted all the history of the Israelites in Egypt. They were slaves and their captivity just kept getting worse. They were giving more work and fewer supplies. The Pharaoh who ‘knew not Joseph’ was trying to reduce their numbers because he feared them.

The people were desperate and God sent Moses as the deliverer. They went through all the plagues and then, according to this verse, they cried out to the Lord.

And when he cried out to the Lord he heard their voice and delivered them. They were freed from their captivity in Egypt. They were no longer slaves. They were brought forth out of Egypt.

When I read this my thoughts are drawn to the verse in Romans that says ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ When we do God hears us and delivers us. We are freed from captivity to sin. We are no longer slaves to our own passions. We are brought forth out of the power of the old man.

‘Call on the Lord’ is the answer. Just like Peter called out as he sank beneath the waves ‘Lord save me’ when Egypt cried out God saved them and when we cry out God saves us.

Praise God that He hears our cries and delivers! 

Saturday, 21 November 2015

You did not believe me

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. 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 spake 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 20.7-12

Once again I have to say ‘poor old Moses.’ If I did not believe in the absolute justice of God I would wonder about what happens here. Moses had led the people for nearly forty years. He prayed for them. He interceded for them. He led them. He put off with their griping and complaining.

And now, when the journey is just about over he blows it. And he blows it so badly that he is not allowed to enter the Promised Land.

The nation was short of water again, and, as usual, the people complain. Moses talked to God nd God said ‘speak to the rock and it will provide water.’ Moses talked to God about it and God said ‘just speak to the rock and it will provide water for your needs.’

But Moses got just a little brash. Who knows why he did what he did next. Maybe he was frustrated with the complaining. Maybe he had a little flair for the drama. Whatever the reason he did not just speak to the rock, but he struck it and said ‘do I have to draw water out of this rock?’

Why is this such a big deal? It is really simple. Moses disobeyed God. It doesn’t seem like much, but it was disobedience and because Moses disobeyed he would not be able to enter the Promised Land. Though it was a tough lesson for Moses it teaches us the consequences of even one act of disobedience. Moses did not lose his eternal reward, but disobedience did affect this life. Moses did not obey because he did not believe.

Our lack of obedience always comes because we don’t really believe God. We give Him lip service but we don’t believe Him with our actions.

May I have the strength of God to believe him and obey him with my actions and not just my words. 

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Lord sent me

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 16.28

Korah and his rebellious followers were pressing their opposition. They were planning a coup against Moses and his godly leadership. God is going to punish their rebellion, but first Moses tries to persuade them away from their sin.

Since they doubted his God given authority he reminded them that he did not come in his own power. We have the benefit of hindsight so we know he was reluctant about leading the people. He definitely was not there because he wanted to make a name for himself. He did not want to go. God had sent him there and he obeyed.

Like Moses we must all be ready to follow God’s leadership. It may mean that we have to leave our comfort zone. We may wreck our own plans. It may not always be comfortable. It may mean we are going to be opposed.

But when we follow God’s leadership we can rest in the truth that He sent us and have the strength to stand true when the hard times or the opposition comes. 

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Who do you think you are?

And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face: And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him. – Numbers 16.3-5

Poor old Moses. Very few men could claim to have been called to a crowd which was more rebellious and more stubborn than Israel. For more than forty years they balked at nearly everything Moses said or tried to do.

Korah was a bad guy. Jude speaks about the rebellion of Korah as an example of how false teachers behave.

Korah, true to his nature, here leads a great rebellion against the man that God put in authority.

What makes you think you are so special Moses? You are no better than any of the rest of us. Everyone is holy and you set yourself up over us.

Korah’s unwillingness to submit to human authority is a real issue and it is one that the word of God addresses regularly. Throughout the Bible we are reminded of the importance of obeying and respecting those in authority. We are told to obey our parents, our bosses, our political leaders, and our pastors. To disregard their authority is to disregard God’s authority.

We can’t forget that God puts others in places of authority. Korah’s lesson is going to be pretty tough, but it shows how important submission is to God because the only thing that gets in the way of submission is pride. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God. – Numbers 15.40-41

There are a lot of things that we are supposed to forget. We are to forget the things that are behind and press forward to our high calling. We are to forget offences. We are to forget about ourselves and put God and others first.

Here though we find something we are supposed to remember. Moses was preparing to take the people on their long journey in the wilderness and God gave him some key things to think about.

Remember to keep my commandments
Remember to be holy
Remember what I brought you out of
Remember that I the Lord your God

All of those things are still good advice. As we try to serve God in our present world we need to remember to live according to His word. This is not going to save us or even keep us saved, but it is going to help us as we make our way through life.

God wants His people to live in holiness. Christians have been declared holy in Christ’s holiness and our lives should strive to match up in practical holiness.

If we remember all that God has delivered us from we are motivated to trust Him. He has done it before and He will do it in the future.

But most of all we must remember that He is the Lord our God. He is good. He is on control. He is all powerful, all knowing, and all wise. There is no place where He is not. He walks by our side. He knows that we are going through.

When I face a hard time or a fearful future I must remember who my God is. If I could just do that things would not be nearly so scary. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A different spirit

But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it. – Numbers 14.24

This was pretty much a faithless generation of people. When things went well they trusted God and when things went the wrong way they turned against God. They had a wrong spirit in them. There spirits constantly strove with God’s spirit. That was the way with the vast majority of the people.

But there was a man named Caleb. God said of Caleb that he had a different spirit in him.

Caleb is one of my heroes. Every time we see him he is standing out for his faith and obedience and loyalty. He is one of two men who stand up against the majority and recommend the nation go into Canaan despite the opposition. When they get into the land and start dividing it up Caleb says ‘Give me that mountain!’ It is later said of Caleb that he ‘wholly followed the Lord.’

That is the kind of different spirit that I want to have. I don’t want to go along with the crowd just because it is the easy way to go. I long for a Caleb spirit in my own life. I would love to have a spirit that stands out as different from the norm.

Caleb was different because he followed God fully. May God give me the strength to do the same and follow God fully so that my spirit is different from the norm. 

Monday, 16 November 2015

How long?

And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? – Numbers 14.11

If God were a man you could almost sense the frustration in this question. Time after time God had proved Himself and time after time God’s people failed to trust Him. They made their choice regarding Canaan. The decided to walk by sight and not by faith.

How sad. How tragic. How hard to believe. How much like us today.

There is a sadness in the words of the Lord here – ‘how long are they going to provoke me? How long will it be before they believe me?’

After all that the Lord had done for them they still could not or would not trust Him enough to obey Him. They could not believe that God’s way was the best way. God had proven Himself over and over again, but they still did not have the faith to follow his direction.

When we look at the Old Testament we find ourselves wondering how they could not trust God. I is obvious from our perspective.

But the really puzzling thing is why we don’t have any more faith than they did. Year after year God proves Himself faithful and yet the next time we face a challenge we doubt his ability to take care of us and we too walk by sight and not by faith.

It makes me sad to think that God might say ‘how long is Roger going to provoke me? How long before Roger believes for all that I have already done for him?’

Are you and I any better than these Israelites?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

When people won't listen

And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.  – Numbers 14.6-9

This is really sad. Despite the Joshua and Caleb about all the milk and honey in the land and the wonderful fruit that is there the people decide not to go. Sight wins out over faith.

But let’s take a moment to look at Joshua and Caleb. Even though they did not win they are wonderful examples of faith and trusting God. Their words are a challenge to us.

Now remember the task seemed impossible. Ten of the twelve spies came back saying ‘It can’t be done.’

Despite being outnumbered Joshua and Caleb, and especially Caleb, said ‘let’s go.’

It’s a good land
If the Lord is with us He will give it to us
Don’t rebel against the Lord
Don’t be afraid
The Lord is with us

Since Joshua and Caleb could not convince the people to go I suppose there is only on lesson for us – if are speaking the truth we need to do it no matter what everyone else says. Just because people aren’t going to listen doesn’t mean we should keep our mouths shut.

Joshua and Caleb will be rewarded for doing right and trusting God. We also need to speak the truth and do right and trust God with sorting the rest out. 

Saturday, 14 November 2015

To go or not to go

And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. – Numbers 13.27-30

Canaan was the ultimate goal for Moses and the people of Israel. Moses sent twelve men into Canaan to check out the land.

They came back with a mixed report. The land was indeed wonderful. It was ‘flowing with milk and honey’ and the grapes were so big they had to be carried by two men. Canaan was indeed the Promised Land. The majority of the men admitted that it was wonderful there.

But there was also a problem.

These guys saw giants in the land. All they could see was the problems and the opposition. They forgot that God was on their side. The giants blocked their view of God.

But Caleb said ‘let’s go, we are well able to take the land.’

So the question was would they go or would they not. Would they walk by faith or by sight? Would they trust God or trust their own power?

Those are the questions we face every day. We see giants in our way on a regular basis. Do we see the opposition or the opportunity?

Do we go or do we stay? 

Friday, 13 November 2015


And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb. And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.  – Numbers 12.10-13

God punished Miriam for her sin of attacking God’s man, and with him God’s plan. God gave her a leprous hand in punishment. 

She and Aaron could have done a few things. They could have cried about her condition. They could have complained about God being unfair or unjust. They could have continued in their rebellion. They could have tried to usurp Moses’ authority.

Or, they could have done what they did.

‘We have acted foolishly. We have sinned.’

Confession is the only solution when we have sinned. No excuses, no blame shifting, nothing else works but confession. For us to move on from sin we can only confess it and forsake it. Healing comes when we confess our sin because God is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Moses prayed for Miriam’s healing and healing came. God will do the same for us when we confess and move on. 

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The meekest man alive

And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. – Numbers 12.1-4

If you had asked me before I studied this passage who the meek men of the Bible were I am not sure who I might have listed. Moses seems brash and easily stirred to anger and frustratable and dynamic.

But at the same time we do know that Moses was meek. When we think back to his call he did not think he could do it. When I read that passage my thoughts are that he is being fearful and not willing, but perhaps, in the light of this passage it really was his meekness and humility that led him to respond the way he did.

Moses’ meekness here is mentioned because Miriam and Aaron are complaining that Moses as too much power. He had the gall to marry and Ethiopian woman and his brother and sister felt like he overstepped his bounds.

God’s answer is that there was no one alive more meek than Moses. It was not his pride that led him to marry this woman. Aaron and Miriam were guilty of judging Moses’ motives.

Moses makes it clear that meekness is not weakness and that meekness does not make one a Caspar Milquetoast. It is not the guy who speaks softly and gets hit with a big stick. Meekness is power that is under control. Moses was not weak. He talked to God and led the people for forty years, but he did not make a show of his power. He simply did what God told him to do. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Let them speak

But two men had remained in the camp: the name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were among those listed, but who had not gone out to the tabernacle; yet they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” So Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, one of his choice men, answered and said, “Moses my lord, forbid them!” Then Moses said to him, “Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” – Numbers 11.26-29

Eldad and Medad were interesting characters. They were not in the mould of the rest of the prophets. I am not sure about the significance, but they ‘had not gone out to the tabernacle, but still prophesied in the camp.’

Joshua was bothered by this. ‘Moses, stop them from speaking!’ Joshua was one of the official prophets. He held the office and was a bit zealous, or maybe jealous, or maybe bothered by the fact that Eldad and Medad were not part of the group and they still dared prophecy. ‘Stop them’ he said. ‘that’s our job.

But Moses said ‘I wish all of the Lord’s people were prophets.’ He was glad that there were more prophets.

Ministry envy appears to be nothing new. Those in vocational ministry can be quite jealous of our ministry. We can get so focused on our work and even proud that God has called us that we get upset when someone else encroaches on ‘our’ territory.

There was a time when Jesus’ disciples complained about someone working miracles in Christ’s name but was not a part of their group. They wanted Jesus to make him stop, but Jesus told them ‘he who is not against us is for us, let Him continue.’

In Philippians Paul talks about some preachers who were opposed to him and some were even preaching for their own gain. Paul said he was just glad that Christ was being preached.

I am reading a J.C. Ryle book about British preachers of the 18th century who God used to bring revival to the land. Some were Calvinists and some were Armenians. Some were in the Church of England, some were Methodists, some were dissenters, and others had any number of preferences. They did not agree on all kinds of issues. But Ryle picks up on the point that the gospel of Christ was so important that they were not fighting and squabbling over their differences. Ryle himself chooses to praise them for their good instead of condemning them for where they differed from him.

We have to stand for Biblical truth. We cannot compromise with error. But too often our squabbles are over petty stuff that doesn’t really matter. Rejoice in those who are faithfully preaching the true gospel – even if they don’t do it just like us. 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Are God's arms cut off?

And Moses said, “The people whom I am among are six hundred thousand men on foot; yet You have said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat for a whole month.’ Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to provide enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to provide enough for them?” And the Lord said to Moses, “Has the Lord's arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not.” – Numbers 11.21-23

Moses was looking at an impossible situation. God was sending them on their journey and promised to provide for them. No one os sure how many people had to be fed daily, but there were 600,000 men that we walking on foot. Chances are that there were 2-3 million men, women, and children on the journey.

How was God going to provide for that many people? Were there enough sheep and goats to feed them? Were there enough fish in the sea? What was God thinking? This was surely too much even for God. So Moses talked to God about it. And remember, Moses had no notion that it was going to take 40 years – he was only talking about a month of travel.

I can understand that. It is not always easy to see how we are going to get through difficult situations. Sometimes they seem impossible. Sometimes there does not seem to be any kind of human answer. There are a couple of situations in my life where I just can’t see how they are going to be sorted. Can God really take care of it?

God asks the question ‘has the Lord’s hand been shortened?’

We might ask it this way – ‘has God had His arms cut off?’

When I look down the road and see some things that I can’t figure out and wonder if God can REALLY do it I forget who He is. No one has cut off God’s hands. He is the same God who said ‘let there be light’ and who parted the Red Sea. Has something happened since then to cut off His power?

Of course not. He is still God and no one has cut off His arms. God went on to provide for Israel in the wilderness for forty years. He met every need.

And His arms are still not cut off today. He can take care of me – ‘now I will see’ if He will do what He says He will do. And He will. 

Monday, 9 November 2015

We miss our cucumbers

Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and when Moses prayed to the Lord, the fire was quenched. So he called the name of the place Taberah, because the fire of the Lord had burned among them. Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” – Numbers 11.1-6

The Israelites were a fickle bunch. When things went well they rejoiced and followed God happily. When things went poorly they complained and blamed God.

Yet again here they find themselves in trouble. Their sorry attitudes have brought God’s wrath but instead of confession and repentance we see complaining and rebellion.

‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt Moses? We had it so much better in Egypt! We had all we wanted. All we have now is this manna! We want our cucumbers!’

They looked back to a time when they were slaves – with longing in their hearts! They wished they had never been delivered from Egypt.

I hope we never go that far – but don’t we find ourselves far too often looking back to the things God has delivered us from? Freed from sin as our master we choose to go back to the draws of the world. We miss our cucumbers of fleshliness. Not content with what God gives us we want more.

The people of Israel were not content with what God gave them. They wanted to be slaves again just to satisfy their desires. How sad when we do the same.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

A special prayer of blessing

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. – Numbers 6.24-26

Most of what we have been looking at here for a long time has been all about the Law and the people’s disobedience and rebellion and it has been pretty negative seeming stuff. When we look at all this it is obvious that man can never, ever, in no wise, no way meet up to God’s standard of perfection. It makes it clear that only Christ could ever be the answer to man’s troubles.

But right here in the middle we read the beautiful Aaronic blessing. It is a blessing that has stayed popular not only in synagogues, but also in many churches.

May the Lord:
Bless you
Keep you
Shine His face on you
Be gracious to you
Lift up His countenance upon you
Give you peace.

This blessing is a prayer to know God better. It is a prayer that God will look on His people with favour. Matthew Henry comments on this passage, saying that “we may take the blessing to ourselves, as if our names were inserted.”

Let’s try that – feel free to insert your name.

‘May the Lord bless Roger, shine His face on Roger, be gracious to Roger, lift up His countenance on Roger (or may Roger see God’s favour), and give Roger peace.’

Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t it wonderful knowing that is how God wants to treat me?

Rejoice in Aaron’s priestly blessing. Let’s pray it for our lives, our families, our churches, and for others around the world. 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

They set forward

They set forward

And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses: so they pitched by their standards, and so they set forward, every one after their families, according to the house of their fathers. – Numbers 2.34

It was time to go. No one knew exactly what was going to happen. No one knew how they were going to do it. But it was time to go.

After all the rebellion and complaining and questioning and crying and doubting it was indeed time to move.

Leaving, no matter where you are leaving from, can be a scary thing. It reminds me of the quote where Frodo in quoting Bilbo he is beginning his classic journey. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."

Israel, no matter what, had to take that first step onto the unknown road. They could have had no idea where that first step would take them.

And, in a moment of faith and obedience, they set forward in obedience to the Lord and to Moses. They were on their way. They had struggles and trials disasters ahead, but they were on the road.

There are times in our lives when we are called on to take that first step and set forward. The road may not be clear. We may very well be called into the great unknown. We have to set out in faith.

And just like Israel our road might be hard and troublesome and we are going to slip up on the way.

But we have to take that first step. 

Friday, 6 November 2015

Holiness part 2

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you. – Leviticus 20.7-8

Sanctification and holiness are basically the same thing. Both mean the same thing and they are virtually interchangeable. Both have the idea of being set apart from the world and set apart to God.

Without going into a whole lot of theology there are three aspects of sanctification. Positional sanctification is what happened at salvation. When I got saved I was forever and always set apart to Christ as His own. I was declared holy with the holiness of Christ. This has nothing to do with me or my works or anything else. It is settled.

Perfect sanctification, or perfect holiness, is what will happen one day. When I get to heaven holiness will have its perfect work and I will have the full holiness of Christ with me.

But in between we have where we live today. Declared holy with the holiness of Christ I don’t always live holy. I am hopefully growing in holiness, but am not there yet. This is what we call practical sanctification. This is the ‘sanctify yourselves, be ye holy.’ By the grace of God we make holy choices that set us apart from the world. It is a growing process, that’s why we often refer to this as ‘progressive sanctification’ – we progress, we don’t get there in a day.

Christians are declared holy with the holiness of Christ. One day our holiness is going to be perfected. Meantime, are we growing in holiness, one day at a time? 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Be holy

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy. – Leviticus 19.1-2

Holiness is a constant theme of scripture. We know that God is a holy God. He is pure and separate and pure. His holiness transcends heaven and earth.

And because God is holy the requirement for personal holiness in His people transcends Israel and the church and Old Testament and New.

‘Be holy for I am holy says the Lord.’

Why is holiness so important? Why are we told to be holy in every area of our lifestyle? Why are we called to be ‘without spot or blemish?’ Why is ‘true religion’ marked by being ‘unspotted by the world?’

God is holy. For some we as Christians may be all they know about God. Some will never open a Bible. It is not too much to say that our lives represent God on earth. If we want the world to see the reality of a holy God we need to live holy lives ourselves. Our lives need to show the difference God can make in a life.

We must be holy because God is holy. We reflect His holiness in our holy living. We, of course, are never going to totally holy, but we can present a reflection of His holiness to the world around us.

Be holy - because our God is holy.  

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Stop giving!

And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. – Exodus 36.5-6

And we we are talking about giving again. While we don’t talk about it a lot today it is a Biblical principle. Over and over in the Old Testament during building projects we read ‘the people gave’ or about how people brought in their jewel and precious metals and precious stones to build God’s house. And they always gave.

Now, in the age of grace it is a topic we don’t like to broach. I know there are some cases where giving is one of the primary teachings and some false teachers say things like ‘the more you give the more you get.’ I realise there is a lot of false teaching on giving and there are some others who preach for their own profit.

That kind of preaching can be kind of ‘put-offish’ because people see the abuse of giving by these churches. It is not Biblical. It makes giving man centred.

But here we have a proper example. These folks just gave, and they gave, and they gave, and they gave to the extent that they had to be told to stop giving. We had a hint a few days ago when we saw how the people gave out of their own free will. When we follow their example and are cheerful givers our churches will not have needs.

When we see giving as an act of worship our churches ought never have want.

Can you imagine a day when a pastor gets up and says ‘folks, we have too much so we are cancelling the offering?’ 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The ability to teach

And Moses said to the children of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship. “And He has put in his heart the ability to teach, in him and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen, and of the weaver—those who do every work and those who design artistic works. – Exodus 35.30-35

Aholiab and Bezalel and mentioned here again. I knew I liked these two. We learn a little more about them here when the Bible says that God ‘put in their hearts the ability to teach.’

Teaching is special to me. I love everything about teaching, including doing it. I am a teacher. So it thrills my heart whenever I get to read about teachers in the Bible.

Aholiab and Bezaleel were skilled craftsmen and their skill was a gift of God. But the skill was not just for them. He gave them the ability to teach their skill to others.

Teaching is a gift of God. It is a gift which continues into the New Testament. God gave teachers to edify the church. God told Paul to take what he had learned, pass it on the men like Timothy, and teach them how to teach it to others.

Thank God for giving the ability to teach to His people. Thank God for Holy Spirit filled teachers who taught me. May He continue to give me the grace to teach others. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Free will giving

The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses. – Exodus 35.29

Giving is one of the most touchy subjects in the church. I find it one of the hardest things to teach on. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. Folks who don’t understand giving usually think the preacher is begging and always talking about money. People who don’t understand Biblical giving often have a very hard time doing. Some folks are happy enough to let everyone else pay the bills and support missionaries and give to the poor. It can be like pulling teeth to get some folks to give.

That’s what makes this story challenging. When it came time to build the Tabernacle it was clear that the costs would be huge. It was going to take precious metals and jewellery and costly woods. The resources were not going to magically appear.

So the people gave. They gave their resources and they gave their time to build the Tabernacle. But the challenging thing is that they gave out of their own free will. They had willing hearts and their willing hearts led to willing hands.

God’s people today should never have to be begged and cajoled and scared into giving. If we would stop and thing about what God did for us we would have no issue with giving. Think about how we would give if we really according to how God has blessed us. If we contemplate the gift of salvation we would have no problem with free will giving and free will working. In fact we would fit the New Testament standard where God’s love a cheerful giver.

Do we give freely and cheerfully to do God’s work? These folks did it without knowing the blessing of salvation – what a challenge for us today.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Jealous God

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: - Exodus 34.14

A jealous God. Just seeing that doesn’t sound quite right does it. We only think of jealousy as a bad thing. When we think of jealous we think of being jealous of someone else because of what they have we think of the definition – ‘feeling or showing an envious resentment of someone or their achievements, possessions, or perceived advantages.’ It is more like envy or covetousness.

This kind of jealousy, the one we think of the most, is not the of jealousy that God talks about here. Just like anger can be good or bad so can jealousy.

We know that is true because God says ‘I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.’

Spurgeon said this about godly jealousy - We find the Apostle Paul declaring to the Corinthian Church, "I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, for I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." He had an earnest, cautious, anxious concern for their holiness, that the Lord Jesus might be honored in their lives. Let it be remembered then, that jealousy, like anger, is not evil in itself, or it could never be ascribed to God; his jealousy is ever a pure and holy flame.

We can get a picture of what good jealousy is. There would be something seriously wrong if some man were making advances on my wife and I had no response. I found the following online and I think it words it perfectly.

Perhaps a practical example will help us understand the difference. If a husband sees another man flirting with his wife, he is right to be jealous, for only he has the right to flirt with his wife. This type of jealousy is not sinful. Rather, it is entirely appropriate. Being jealous for something that God declares to belong to you is good and appropriate. Jealousy is a sin when it is a desire for something that does not belong to you. Worship, praise, honor, and adoration belong to God alone, for only He is truly worthy of it. Therefore, God is rightly jealous when worship, praise, honor, or adoration is given to idols. This is precisely the jealousy the apostle Paul described in 2 Corinthians 11:2, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy...”

God is jealous for our affection. He doesn’t like it when we flirt with the world or the world flirts with us. His jelousy over us is because of His love for us.