Leading with Humility versus Pridefulness

May 8, 2023

This week we started reading the book of Numbers chapters 1-12. The actual name of the book is from the Greek translation and based on the census lists in chapters 1 and 26. The book documents the 40-year journey of the Israelites from Mount Sinai to the border of Caanan. This was a trip that could have taken 11 days but ended up taking almost 40 years because of the Israelites rebellion and refusal to go into the promised land when they first came upon the area (chapter 13).

Throughout the journey, the LORD spoke to Moses, who was then to deliver messages to the people. Moses’ siblings were also leaders in the tribe. In Micah 4 God says to the Israelites, “I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.”

The first time we see Miriam, she was a young girl or teenager. She was Moses’ older sister. who stood and watched as their mother put Moses in the basket and sent him down the river (Exodus 2:4). After Pharoah’s daughter found Moses in the basket, Miriam was also the one who asked in Exodus 2:7, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said yes, and Miriam retrieved their mother to nurse Moses.

Nothing is said in the Bible of Miriam as Moses is growing up, but after the Exodus through the Red Sea, we find that she was a prophetess and led the women in a celebration worship of singing and dancing. Exodus 15:20 says, “20 Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing…”

We then see Miriam in Numbers 12. She went from a leader and prophetess to a jealous gossip. Verse 1 and 2 says, “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. Has the LORD spoke only through Moses? They asked. Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the LORD heard this.”

Commentators say that Miriam’s name is first because she was the one who started the conversation. She grumbles about Moses’ wife, but then says she and Aaron had spoken to the LORD as well. She was jealous that Moses had a better relationship with the LORD and wanted what he had.

Remember in verse 2, “The LORD heard.”

Verses 3-16 says, “(Now Moses was a very humble man, humbler than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So, the three of them went out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, he said, “Listen to my words:

“When there is a prophet among you,
    I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
    I speak to them in dreams.
But this is not true of my servant Moses;
    he is faithful in all my house.
With him I speak face to face,
    clearly and not in riddles;
    he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
    to speak against my servant Moses?”

The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.

10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous[a]—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”

13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”

14 The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.

16 After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran.”

Thus, the LORD called Miriam, Aaron, and Moses together. He talked with them about the role and relationship of the prophet and how this differed from his relationship with Moses. He said that he spoke face to face to Moses because he was faithful. He did not say he spoke to Moses for any other reason, such as, “he was a good speaker.” We knew he wasn’t. It was because Moses was faithful.

The LORD’s anger burned because Miriam and Aaron did not fear talking about Moses. They spoke poorly about him, even though he was the one chosen by the LORD. This indirectly showed they did not trust God with the leader He had in place.

Because of God’s anger, he allowed Miriam to become leprous. When Aaron saw this, he pleaded with Moses to pray to the LORD. Moses could have held a grudge and not prayed, but that was not who Moses was. He immediately prayed to the LORD for healing. Then the LORD said she still had to go outside of the camp for 7 days. When she came back into the camp she was healed.

What do we learn from this story?

  1. No matter your position, you can still succumb to sin. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Timothy 6 says, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
  2. Be respectful of those in authority. God gave the person this leadership position. This person may be the president or other government official, a boss, a church leader, or a husband.  The LORD may not have had him/her appointed because they are great in a certain area, but because of their faith in the LORD or some other potential the LORD sees in them. Whatever the case, we must respect the leaders the LORD has placed above us. This is not because of the person in leadership, but because the position was given by God. Romans 13:1 says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” David was a good example of this type of respect. King Saul was jealous and doing terrible things. He was even trying to kill David. David honored King Saul as “God’s anointed” in 1 Samuel 24;6.
  3. Stay humble. Miriam and Aaron were prideful and jealous. They wanted the relationship with the LORD that was only given to Moses. Luke 14:11 says, “11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Jesus was the ultimate example of humility. Philippians 2:3-11 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
  4. Watch your tongue. Remember verse 2 said, “God heard.” Miriam was only talking to Aaron, but God heard you too. She was rebelling against Moses’ leadership. James 3:3-6 says, “3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
  5. Realize God and people are merciful and gracious. Even though Miriam sinned, she was given forgiveness by Moses and by God. She had to pay the consequence of her sin by going outside the camp for 7 days, a rule found in Leviticus 13:5, but she was able to return to the camp afterward, but she was still forgiven. In the New Testament we have forgiveness as a free gift if we believe in Jesus Christ. Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

How are doing in this area of leading with humility? Are you happy with the gifts God has given you or do you wish God would have gifted you differently? Are you respectful of the authority God has put over you?

I know I was very convicted this week about this topic and asked God to forgive me for my pride and disrespect when thinking of those in authority over me. I pray this has helped you as well.

I will be going on vacation for 2 weeks so I will not blog until 5/29/23. You should be able to read the rest of Numbers by that point. Have a blessed 2 weeks.

Ideas taken from sermons by Jim May and Richard Tow.

God Cares About All Aspects of Your Life

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April 30, 2023

This week we finished Leviticus. There are lists of rules for the Israelites to follow in chapters 16-27. These rules include how to avoid disease, what to do when a woman is on her monthly cycle, how to treat others, fidelity, who one can marry, how the priest is wear his hair and the clothes he is to wear. He reviews the 10 commandments, and talks about the different “feasts.”

It is easy to get bogged down while reading the book of rules. Something we can glean from the reading is that God wants to be involved with all aspects of our lives both big and small.

I think this important to remember when we pray to the LORD. Some people may feel that what is in their heart to pray about is too small, and the LORD would not want to hear about the issue. This is untrue. God wants us to pray about all things, big and small. Phillipians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” 1 John 5:14-15 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

Have you ever hesitated to pray for something because you thought it was not significant enough for God. That he was too busy answering more important prayers. God wants you to pray about everything. Nothing is too insignificant.

Next week we will read Numbers 1-12.

Have a blessed week!

The Ultimate Sacrifice

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April 23, 2023

Leviticus 1-15

This week we began reading Leviticus. This book is about the duties of the Israelites which concerns worshipping the LORD at the tabernacle. The focus is about the holiness of God and of man. According to Leviticus 11:44, the LORD is holy. It says, “44 I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.”

While God is holy, man is not. From the beginning, Adam and Eve sinned. According to Christianity Today, the word In the Bible for sin, (khata), means to “miss the mark; God’s mark.” It is deviating from obedience to God’s character or will. 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”

When we sin, it separates us from God. Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God, your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”

 Because the LORD is holy and man is not because of sin, there is a separation in relationship. God still wanted a relationship with the Israelites. Thus, the LORD set up a system of sacrifice to be holy in His presence. The sacrifices were either an animal or grain offering given by a priest who stood in mediation between the sinner and God. There was a burnt offering, a grain offering, fellowship offering, sin offering, and guilt offering. Some of the sacrifices were voluntary, but the sin and guilt offering were mandatory.

This system was put in place to show the Israelite’s devotion to God, relationship with God, and a way to have forgiveness of sins. After the sacrifice, as seen in Leviticus chapter 9, the presence of the LORD was upon them. Lev 9:22-23, “22 Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down. 23 Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.”

How are the sacrifices talked about in Leviticus relevant to us today? These sacrifices are a foreshadowing of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. The LORD still requires holiness to be in his presence. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Romans 3:23 says,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 7:23 says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

What does it mean that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus? God sent his son Jesus to be a sin offering for the world. Jesus was not forced, he sacrificed himself willingly for the forgiveness of sins.

When an animal was taken to the tabernacle to be sacrificed for a sin offering, he had to be without blemish. Jesus was perfect and without sin (blemish). When the person who brought the animal, he was to lay his hand on the animal and this symbolized the transferring of sin from the man to the animal. This was only symbolic, and only for the current sin. If a person sinned again, they would have to bring another animal in for sacrifice.

When Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, he bore the sins of the world; past, present and future. No other sacrifice was needed after his death. When Jesus died he said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30).

Christ is our perfect priest who is always the mediator between God and us. Hebrews 2:15 says, 17 For this reason he had to be made like them,[k] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”  Hebrews 8:1 says “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, uone who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,”

Christ is sitting at the right hand of God and he is now our permanent mediator. Hebrews 9:14-15 says, “14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,[c] so that we may serve the living God! 15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Thus, when we believe in Jesus, and are saved from our sins, we no longer have separation from God. We have access to God anytime through Jesus Christ.

Have you asked Christ to forgive you of your sins? Are there any barriers between you and God? Psalm 139-23-24 is a great prayer to find the answer.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting

  Next week we will read Leviticus 16-27.

Zechariah’s Prophesy

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April 16, 2023

These past 2 weeks we read Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. They were all books of the Bible written by prophets, but our focus today is on Zechariah.

The setting: Remember from previous readings that the Israelites were conquered, and the remaining Jews were exiled to Babylon. Babylon was eventually conquered as well by Persia, and the Persian king Cyrus issued a decree that the Israelites that were in exile could go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. The foundation of the temple was laid, but the building stopped. God used the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage and motivate the Israelites to continue with the building of the temple. Through Zechariah, God said so much more. He saw God working at the time, in the future during Christ’s life, and at the end of times on the “Day of the Lord.”

Zechariah came from a family of priests (1:1) and he started his ministry as a young man (2:4). His name means “Jehovah remembers.” He is one of the most quoted Old Testament books in the New Testament.

The first 8 chapters are visons from the LORD. The purpose of these visions is explained in 1:3, 5-6: Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

Chapters 9-14 are future prophecies, and these are the topics we will discuss this week.

Chapter 9:1-8 was a prophesy about Alexander the Great before he ever came on the scene. Zechariah talked about the destruction of cities that were against Jerusalem. These were listed in order of destruction in the book of Zechariah, and this was lived out 200 years after Zechariah prophesied. In fact, the route of destruction by Alexander the Great was in the exact order as Zechariah prophesied.

There are many prophesies about Jesus in. the book of Zechariah. I will review them below.

  • Jesus the Branch: Chapter 3:8: ““‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch.” And Chapter 6:12, “Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD.”
    • The Branch is a title for the Messiah. An example is Jer 23:5  “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,  “when I will raise up for David[a] a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” Other scripture that talks about the Branch is Isaiah 4:2.
  • Jesus the King: Chapter 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
    • This is a prophesy about Jesus from Matthew 21:1-5: “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
  • Jesus the stone, cornerstone, and Savior: Chapter 3:8, “See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it, says the LORD Almighty, and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.”
  • Chapter 10:4: “From Judah will come the cornerstone,”
    • It is believed the stone and cornerstone are referring to Jesus and references are from 1 Peter 2:4-8, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”[b Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”[c] and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”
  • Jesus sold for silver: Chapter 11:12, “I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So, they paid me thirty pieces of solver. And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter” – the handsome price at which they priced me! So, I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter.”
    • This is from Matthew 26-27, when Judas paid 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus, and then,” he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” What is that to us? They replied. That’s your responsibility. So, Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So, they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s filed as a burial place for foreigners.”
  • Jesus pierced: Chapter 12:10, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced,”
    • This is talking about the time on the cross that Jesus’ side was pierced in John 19:34, “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.”
  • Jesus the Shepherd: Chapter 13:7, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd “against the man who is close to me! “Declares the Lord Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered…”
    • Jesus was known as the Good Shepherd. This is what Jesus said just before he was arrested, “31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:” ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
  • Jesus Reigns: Chapter 14:1-4, 9, 16-17. These verses are all about the Day of the LORD. The final day of Armageddon. This is the ultimate time when Christ will reign and be king. Verse 9 says, “The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

Jesus our Shepherd, the Branch rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, peaceful, was sold and pierced for our sins. Because he rose from the grave, he reigns. He is the spiritual cornerstone for those who believe. We have not yet seen his full glory at the second coming of Christ during the end of times, but that prophecy is still to come. “On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.”

Do you know the “one Lord?” Are you ready for His return? All you have to do is accept Jesus as LORD and believe he rose again, and you will be saved. It is not good to wait because 1 Thess 5:1-2 says, “Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”

Next week we will read Leviticus 1-15. Have a blessed week!

Happy Easter

I hope you had a blessed day celebrating the most important day for Christians. Christ’s resurrection is what separates us from other religions. He chose to die for you and me. He rose from the grave, Whoever believes in Him is be saved and has eternal life in heaven with Him.

We will not discuss anything this week about the reading, but will discuss Zachariah next week.

God’s Love and Mercy Shown in then Book of Jonah

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April 2, 2023

This week we read the books Jonah, Micah, and Nahum. We will focus on Jonah this week.

Jonah was a prophet during the time of king Jeroboam, which was 800-750 B.C. During this time, Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. It was a large, up and coming city located on the Tigris River. Today, it is Mosul, Iraq.

The Ninevites were vicious. They cut out the tongues of their victims, they built pyramids of human skulls when they conquered a city, they sacrificed children, and worshipped other gods.  The Israelites did not like the Ninevites.

God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach about its wickedness so the Ninevites could turn from their evil ways and trust God. Jonah disobeyed. He went as far away from Nineveh that he could and ended up on a ship headed for Tarshish.

While sailing, the LORD sent a great wind, and the ship almost tipped over. The sailors were afraid and started praying to their gods and nothing happened. Jonah, however, was sleeping. The captain shook him awake and asked him to pray to his god. They cast lots to see whose was responsible for this tragedy, and the lots showed that it was Jonah. They asked Jonah what to do and he told them to throw him overboard. The sailors did not want to this so that started paddling. They got nowhere. Afraid, they prayed to the LORD that nothing would happen, and threw Jonah overboard. The storm immediately stopped. The men now feared the LORD and began to offer sacrifices and vows to him.

Jonah was then swallowed by a large fish for 3 days and nights. It may or may not have been a whale. The Bible really does not say. While in the fish, Jonah prayed for deliverance from death in the sea, and the fish vomited him onto the shore.

God told Jonah again to go to Nineveh. This time he went. He proclaimed that in 40 days Nineveh would be overturned. The people and the king fasted and put on sack cloth and called upon the LORD. They gave up their evil ways. God saw this and did not bring about destruction to the Ninevite’s.

We next learn why Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. When God did not bring about destruction to Nineveh, Jonah was angry. He said to God in 4:2-3, “…Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

The Israelites, including Jonah, took joy in seeing God’s wrath put upon their enemies. Jonah said he would rather die than see the Ninevite’s saved. But here, God rebuked Jonah, and showed his mercy to Gentile nation of Nineveh.

Before we go any further, we should look at the definition of mercy. According to the Cambridge dictionary, mercy is: “kindness that makes you forgive someone, usually someone that you have authority over.”

God showed his mercy 3 times in the story of Jonah. Let’s look at them.

  1. Jonah: God was merciful with Jonah after he disobeyed God and ran toward Tarshish to avoid talking to the Ninevites. He was also merciful to him when he had a temper tantrum about God giving mercy to the Ninevites.
  2. The Ninevites: It was evident that God was merciful to the nation of Nineveh after they fasted, put on sack cloth and gave up their evil ways.
  3. The sailors on the boat: The sailors were gentiles who prayed to other gods. After they threw Jonah overboard the storm stopped. They learned about the One True God. Chapter 1:16 says, “At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.”

It is evident that the LORD loves us all and shows compassion to all. Jesus said this in John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Thus, we see that the story of Jonah is much more than a story about a whale. It is a story of love, compassion, mercy, grace and repentance.

Where are you in this story?
• Is God telling you to do something, and you are rebelling against Him?
• Are you someone who will tell others about Christ?
• Are you someone who does not know the LORD like the Ninevites?
• Do you feel others do not deserve God’s mercy?

Wherever you are in life, I pray that you will come to a saving knowledge of the LORD. He is “a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”

Next week we will read Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.


God Restores

March 26, 2023

The reading this week was Joel, Amos, and Obadiah. These are 3 of the 12 minor prophets and remember they are called minor prophets because their book is short.

These prophets, along with the other minor and major prophets, warn the people of Israel about God’s judgement because of their sin. They talk about the type of sin and the type of judgement God has for them as well as a call to repentance because God does not want to punish them. They end with a promise of deliverance.

The sin: The only sin that Joel mentions in his book is drunkenness. According to the commentaries, this implies a time of indulgence. Chapter 1:5 says, “Wake up you drunkards, and weep! Wail all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lip.”

The judgement: Joel sees in his vision great destruction in the land from locusts. Joel 1:4 says, “What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locust have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten.” These locusts have brought about devastation to the land. Joel 1:7 says, “It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white.” Joel 1: 10 and 12 say, “The fields are ruined, the ground dried up, the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails…grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree-all the trees of the field are dried up.”

As in other prophecy such as Isaiah, the prophecy is about something that will happen soon, and about something that will be fulfilled in the future. Here, Joel sees the destruction of Israel by Assyria, and sees in the far distant future and talks about the judgement at the end of time. He talks about the “day of the LORD.” Joel 2:1 says, “Bow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand.”

The call to repentance (meaning sincere regret or remorse): Joel 1:13-14 says, “Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God. Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the leaders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.”

Returning to the LORD: Joel says in 2:12-13, “Even now, declares the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD you God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” In Joel 3:14, God says, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.” This decision is the one God will make about us at the end of time.

The deliverance or restoration: After we return to the LORD, we are restored. Joel 2:25-26 says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten – the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm – my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.” Then in Joel 2:28-32, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.”

How does all of this relate to us today?

Joel and the other prophets were talking to Israel about repenting from their sin and returning to the LORD. Since that time, Jesus has come and the way we come to the LORD looks different but has the same principles.

Like the Israelites, we have all messed up in some way or another and sinned against God. Romans 3:23 says, “For we all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Because of that sin, there is judgement. Romans 6:23 says, “…For the wages of sin is death;” This is not only physical death, but spiritual death too. In order to prevent this eternal death, God calls us to repentance. Mark 1:15 says, “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” The deliverance comes once we repent or our sins and accept Jesus as our LORD and Savior. Romans 10:9 says, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” God did something amazing when he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Are you ready to be delivered? I posted a prayer last week if you want the salvation that only the Lord can give. Follow the steps above, pray and ask forgiveness of your sins, ask the Lord into your life and you will be saved.

Next week we will read Jonah, Micah, and Nahum. Have a blessed week.

Hosea’s Unconditional Love

Photo by Jasmine Carter on Pexels.com

March 19,2023

This week we read Hosea. He was a prophet from Israel (northern kingdom) who talked about God’s judgement to come by the Assyrians. His family life was symbolic of what was happening in Israel. God had told Hosea to marry an adulteress woman. He married Gomer who had affairs with other men. Chapter 2:5 says, “Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.”

Gomer went after other men for the money and the “things” they could give her. She forsake the covenant vows to her husband Hosea, and had adulteress relations with other men.

The physical adultery that Gomer committed was like the spiritual adultery Israel committed toward God. Chapter 4:12-13 says, “A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God. They sacrifice on the mountaintops and burn offerings on the hills, under oak, poplar and terebinth, where the shade is pleasant.” The Israelites were looking to other Gods, and thanking other Gods for their blessings, and not the one true God.

Hosea stayed married to Gomer, even though she was unfaithful. She had three children and God told Hosea to name the children names that were symbolic with His relationship with Israel at the time (Chapter 1). Their names were: (1) Jezreel which means God will scatter (he would scatter the Israelites); (2) Lo-Rwhamah, which means no longer pitied (God would no longer pity the Israelites but send them into captivity; (3) Lo-Ammi, which means not my people (God would not recognize Israel as His people).

Thus, because Israel worshipped other Gods, they would go through a period of exile. However, the Lord still loved them and wanted to bring them back into relationship with Himself and fulfill the covenant he had with them from the time of Moses. In Chapter 2:23 God says to the Israelites, “…I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one. I will say to those called ‘Not my people, You are my people; and they will say, You are my God.” Then God charges Hosea to reconcile with his wife. Chapter 3:1-3 says, “The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though se is loved by another and is an adulteress. Lover her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raison cakes.”

God wanted Hosea to show his love to Gomer, even though she continued to have adulteress affairs (3:3). Hosea had to buy her back as 3:2 says, “So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a home and lethek of barley.”  

We see an unconditional love that Hosea had for Gomer and that God had for the Israelites. The good news is that God has that unconditional love for all of us as well. He only asks that we turn away from our own spiritual adultery, and look toward the ultimate redeemer, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This means that you do not have to change in order to be loved by Christ. He loved and died for you just the way you are. John 3:16-17 says, “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Are you ready to turn from your “spiritual adultery?” Below is a prayer you can say.

A sinner’s prayer by Pickled_Newt https://www.flickr.com/photos/pickled_newt/

Next week we will be reading Joel, Amos and Obadiah. Have a blessed week and let me know if you prayed this prayer.

Daniel the Prayer Warrior

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

March 12, 2023

This week we read the book of Daniel. The book is rich with history, miracles, dream interpretation, and prophecy. The topic we will talk about this week is Daniel’s prayer life from chapter 6.

Daniel was appointed head of the administrators to help rule the kingdom. The other administrators that he was leading were jealous and wanted to find something wrong that Daniel had done so he would be in trouble and lose his job. Verse 4-5 says, “they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

The men had a plan to get Daniel in trouble. They went to the king and had him put into place a decree that no person could worship any god except for the king for 30 days. Daniel knew about this decree, but he was not going worship the king. He would only worship God. It says in verses 10 it says, “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the window opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lion’s den?”

The men told the king about Daniel and his prayer. Because the king liked Daniel, he was distressed, but the decree stood. The king gave the order to have Daniel thrown in to the lion’s den. He said to Daniel in verse 16, “May your God, whom you serve continually rescue you!”

The next morning the king went out and found Daniel untouched by the lions.

Verses 19-28 say, “At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions? Daniel answered, “May the king live forever!  My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: May you prosper greatly! I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

“For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus[b] the Persian.”

What can we learn from Daniel’s prayer?

  1. God was number 1 and central in his life. He had respect for the king, but he revered God and would only pray to Him. And, he did not care if his prayers caused him trouble. Verse 10 says, “He went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem.”
    1. During this time in Babylon there was no temple because it was a pagan land. It was custom for the Jews to open their window that faced Jerusalem and pray, because this was the place that God dwelt.

This is exactly what Daniel was doing when he prayed. He did not try to hide his faith in God. He was not ashamed of his relationship with the Lord. He could have shut the curtain to pray or just not prayed at all. He could have knelt and prayed to the king. He did none of these even though he knew the consequences.

  • He prayed regularly.  Verse 10 says, “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before”
    • He prayed 3 times per day and had been praying in the past. This was not something he did one time because he was in trouble or needed something. He regularly prayed to God.
  • He gave thanks to God. “…giving thanks”
  • He asked God for help. Verse 11 says, “then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.”

Are you like Daniel?

Do you make prayer a priority even when other people or things are pulling you in a different direction?

Are you praying regularly?

What do your prayers consist of? Are they just requests, or are you giving thanks in all situations?

Are you asking God for help, or are you trying to do things on your own?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 John 5:14–15 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

Next week we will read Hosea 1-14. Have a blessed week.

Giving Life to Dry Bones

Ye Dry Bones! Taken by Lawrence OP on Aug. 16, 2015 https://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/22639836515

March 5, 2023

The past few weeks we finished the book of Ezekiel. He was exiled to Babylon with other Israelites and received word from God that he would be a prophet. The first 24 chapters he told of God’s judgement on Israel and the fall of Jerusalem.  He also spoke of the judgement that occurred on 7 other nations. Once Jerusalem had fallen, Ezekiel’s message was one of hope (chapters 33-48). We will focus our study on chapter 37 this week.

37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

In this text, the LORD was giving hope to the Israelites when they felt hopeless. Their nation had been assaulted by Babylon, and those who were left were in exile.

The great many bones symbolized the entire Israelite community that was in exile. The dryness of the bones symbolized the hopelessness and despair of the people. They felt they were far gone and beyond rescuing. They had brought about this discipline. God had Ezekiel prophesy to the bones about coming back to life. The bones came together, as did the tendons and skin, but there was no breath. So God had Ezekiel prophesy to the breath, and breath entered the people and they were alive.

The word for breath in Hebrew is “ruah”. This is the same word used in Genesis 1:2 when talking about the Holy Spirit. “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Thus, the breath that entered the people was the Spirit of God. They were dead in their sins, but the Spirit of God brought them back to life.

This vision came true 70 years later when the Jews went back to Jerusalem. It further came true when Jesus came to the earth to die for all so that we may live. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 says, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”

Before becoming a Christian, the Ephesians 2:1-10 says that we are dead in our sins. But through Christ we are alive. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Like the people that Ezekiel saw in the valley, we were dead, but by the Spirit’s power, we can come alive in Christ.

D. Marion Clark preached, “It is by the power of God that the work of redemption was accomplished, and it is by the power of God that the dead are given the power to believe and be saved.”

Question: Do you feel spiritually hopeless and dried up like the Israelites? Do you feel that you are too much of a sinner for God to redeem you? Have you backslid? Guess what? So did the Israelites, and yet God gave them life and a future.

Ezekiel 36:25-26 says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

God loves you and wants a relationship with you. There is nothing you have done that He won’t cleanse. In John 11:25-26 Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”

God did not give up on the Israelites, and he has not given up on you. Trust in Him, and he will take your dry bones and bring them back to life.