Monthly Archives: February 2016

Feb 29 – Tough Questions From Five-Year-Olds

I was talking to a couple of mothers of young children recently. The mother of a kindergartener said her son came home and asked, can boys marry boys? He told his mom, “Johnny’s dad wears dresses.”

The mother of a four-year-old said he asked her who he should marry. Could he marry his cousin?

When is it appropriate to talk to your kids about life in the twenty-first century? I pray for all the parents out there. Your child will grow up in a world where homosexual marriages are as common as divorce. (I say that because when I was growing up you rarely heard about people getting a divorce, especially among Christians. Today, you hear it all the time.)

I’m not going to tell you how to raise your children. But I would suggest you sit down today with your spouse and decide what you are going to say to your kids when they come to you with those hard questions. Get out your Bibles. Read what God has to say about the issues. Prepare in advance to hear those hard questions. Because they will come.

I would encourage you to not meet those questions with horror. And always, always make prayer a part of any of those conversations. You might even ask your five-year-old to pray that God will guard his heart, that God will give him the ability to know the truth according to Scripture and honor God with his own choices. Help your children to separate the sin from the sinner, so they can demonstrate God’s love to people who are different without accepting their choices.

Get ready, parents. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. But God is able to give you the words to encourage  your children, to answer them in a way that will honor God.

I’m praying for you. You’ve got an enormous responsibility there in your home.

I’m praying for your children. I’m praying that God will raise up children who will continue to live for Him, regardless of where the world is heading.

Dear God, I do pray for parents today. Our world is spinning out of control, and unless we anchor our kids, they will get caught up in its craziness. Give parents wisdom, clarity concerning your Word. Help them to raise loving children who aren’t swayed by popular opinion. Walk with us in an observable way today, and may Jesus be seen in us no matter our age.

 

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Feb 28 – Dear God, Waa, Waa, Waa

Numbers 11-13

Do you ever complain to God? Do you ever tell Him He’s not fair because your life isn’t like that person’s down the street? Or you wish you had a husband like Suzie’s? Or that you deserve that promotion at work?

Be careful, dear one. God just might give you what you’re crying about.

The Jews were tired of manna. Give us meat, they cried! We want meat!! They went as far as to tell God that, at least while they were still in Egypt, they had plenty of meat.

So God sent meat. Lots of meat. Quail surrounded the camp, and everyone gathered bunches. Finally, they ate their fill of meat, and had plenty leftovers besides.

But the meat they demanded from the LORD ended up making many of them sick. Some died as a result.

Has anyone ever told you to be careful what you wish for? I’d go a step further and say, be careful what you’re complaining to God about.

You might not know that the guy down the street who you’re so jealous of is dealing with an addiction. You might not know that Suzie’s husband, who is the kids’ soccer coach and always brings Suzie flowers, belittles and mistreats her behind closed doors. You might not realize the promotion that went to someone else, would have placed you next to a coworker who would have broken up your marriage.

I don’t think this passage in Numbers is telling us not to pray about things we’d like. God said we could make our requests known. But I think the lesson here is to be careful about making demands.

Philippians 4:6&7 says: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

You know, I think I’ll trust God to handle the details of my life.

Feb 27 -Decisions! Decisions!

Numbers 8-10

How do you go about making decisions? I know some people who think about a situation to death, then never decide. I have been known to jump at a decision depending on how I feel at the moment. Both extremes are cause for regret.

We can learn decisions-making skills from Moses. In chapter 9, when some men posed a request concerning Passover, Moses replied, “Wait, and I will listen to what the LORD will command concerning you.” (vs 8)

The entire nation of Israel followed God’s lead every step they took on their journey to the Promised Land. If the cloud moved, they moved. If it stopped, they stopped.

So how does that translate into life in 2016? God doesn’t speak audibly, nor does He exist in a cloud. But He does communicate through His Word, He nudges us while we pray. His voice might sound like your friends’ voice while you are sitting together over coffee.

The idea for this blog came to me during my daily Bible and journalling time in December of 2012. At first it was a fleeting thought, and it was an idea that I quickly disregarded. But God had planted a seed, and the thought came again and again as I read His Word. I even found myself thinking about it during the day, so I began to pray about it. First I told God why I thought it was a bad idea. Eventually, I prayed that if this is something He wanted me to do, I’d let the outcome up to Him.

I think, according to what I read this morning in Numbers, that’s how God would like us to make our decisions. I am reminded God WANTS me to succeed in the tasks He gives me. He WANTS what’s best for me. He WANTS to use me to share Him with others.

I wish I could say I make all my decisions following this example. I’m a work in progress. And I have no idea who, if any, have been blessed or challenged by this blog over the years. That’s totally in God’s hands. I just know, for myself, I followed His lead.

I am challenged this morning to go to God first when faced with a decision. Moses said, Wait. I need to lean how to do that better. Moses went to God. I need to be reminded that no decision is too small for God to have an opinion. And I need to be obedient when He begins to move.

Where He leads me I will follow. That’s my decision.

Feb 26 – And The Winner Is…

Numbers 7

I’m not sure how it started, but we have a playful competition among me and my sisters when it comes to gift-giving. If I put $25 in a birthday card for one of the kids, one sister might put $26 in hers, and another sister might give $26.50. I’ve been known to pull out my wallet and throw an additional $5 at a nephew if a sister out-gave me just so I will be the “good” aunt. One time, I was the highest gift-giver by a penny in a card to our dad.

Silly, I know. But we always get a good laugh out of it. And my nieces and nephews just shake their heads and roll their eyes.

Reading Numbers 7 is repetitious. I could have condensed this chapter to about  six verses:

Every tribe gave exactly the same thing when it was their day to bring the sacrifices to the temple: one silver dish…”

However,  God inspired the writer of the book to repeat the identical list twelve times. It’s tempting, because they are all the same, to skim over 90% of this chapter. Yet God wanted it to be written this way.

So I read every word this morning. And when I did I thought about my family’s little competition. It occurred to me that there can be no competition when we come to the Lord.

God leveled the playing field so no one can say they are the “good” child for bringing more. God says ALL have sinned. God says no one comes to Him except through His Son Jesus. God says unless a man is born again he will not see heaven.

Here’s what God expects of us, what He demands we give Him: everything!

We must all empty ourselves in humility, confess our sins, and ask  Him to forgive us by the blood of Jesus. We can’t buy our way into redemption with money or talent or good intentions. And someone isn’t more saved than another by virtue of the level of their sacrifice.

And, here is what I love about the seventh chapter in Numbers. God accepted every sacrifice equally, whether given the first day or the twelfth. It tells me that today, every time a sinner repents, even if he’s the 1,000 sinner redeemed in a day, God accepts that soul with as much joy and love as though he or she were the only one.

So the winner is us. It’s we who have received God’s gift of salvation through Jesus. It’s those of us who have emptied ourselves and allowed God Himself to fill us up. I am the apple of God’s eye. But so are you, if you know Him. And we both received His forgiveness exactly the same way.

 

Feb 25 – Restitution

Numbers 5&6

God instructed that a person who committed a sin against another person was to first confess that sin. Then, they were to make restitution in full for the sinful act, plus add another 1/5, and give it all to the person who had been wronged. It wasn’t enough to pay for the damage. You had to pay the damage, and a little more.

I’ve sinned against God. I’ve confessed my sin. But there is no way I can make restitution. I am totally unable to pay the penalty for sin, which is death. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) I can’t do that, much less die plus add 1/5.

So the One I sinned against, paid it all for me Himself. Inconceivable. I can stand before God, account paid, guiltless of the sins I’ve committed against Him because Jesus shed His own blood and died in my place.

I will not suggest that I can, by being a good person, ever repay God for sending Jesus to the cross for me. Jesus’ grace isn’t a loan.

Yet because of what He did for me, I WANT to live my life to honor Him. I find myself wanting to resist temptation, to spend time in His Word, to talk to and about Him, share Him with people who don’t yet know Him.

I want my life to stand out from the crowd because I want people to see this amazing Savior in me.

No, there’s no need to pay restitution to God when Jesus has already done that. But I want my life, the choices I make, to show Him how much I love Him, how grateful I am that He paid it all for me.

And blesses me every day with Himself.

Feb 24 – His Holiness

Numbers 3-4

What does it mean when we say God is holy? I’m not sure we can grasp the whole of it, but Scripture does give us a glimpse at the truth of God’s holiness.

The Levites were appointed keepers of the tabernacle, the carrying of it, the assembly of it, the priestly duties inside it. Some parts of the temple were considered holy so that even the Levites could not touch them with their bare hands. Those things had to be covered first to prevent even an accidental touch, resulting in the death of the one whose skin touched a holy object.

And don’t even think about getting too close if you’re a layman. That was a death sentence, too.

God’s Presence had made the temple holy, including the ark, the veil, the table, dishes, pans, all the furnishings of the sanctuary. And all these things were untouchable by virtue of their holiness.

This picture from Numbers reminds me that God is not our equal. In light of His holiness we can only bow before Him. It’s such a blessing to know that Jesus has provided a way for us to approach our Holy God. He’s not the God to be worshiped from afar like He was in the Old Testament.

We are even invited, as children redeemed by Jesus’ blood, to come boldly into God’s throne room.We are privileged to have the Spirit of our Holy God living in us.

But let’s not mistake this Holy God for our buddy. Don’t reduce Him to one of the good old boys.

Grasp His holiness. He is no less holy than He was when the Levites were covering the spoons, knowing if they touched one they’d die.

Our Holy God, we can only fall to our knees in Your Presence. You are Holy. You are awesome, powerful, perfect. We are nothing in comparison. Forgive us if we gloss over the fact that You are holy, holy, holy. May we worship You today with the measure of understanding you’ve given us. You are holy. There is no one like you. You are eternal. You were, are, and are to come. We give you all our praise.

Feb 23 – Protecting The Presence

Number 1&2

It took a great amount of organization to navigate the Israelites through the desert. Clearly a million or so people weren’t going to get to the Promised Land if they were going at it a million ways. As it happens, God is a good organizer.

God broke it all down in manageable bits. His plan, if followed, would make the journey more enjoyable, and guaranteed its success.

You’ll notice in these chapters that everyone camped with their own family, and they set out with their own family. Reuben’s ancestors stayed together, as did Judah’s and Gad’s, as did each of the rest of the twelve tribes.

The Levites, who were in charge of caring for and transporting the temple, and who had no warriors among them, were always surrounded by the other tribes for protection.

You do know I think this is more than just nice little history lesson, right? The temple was where God abided on earth at that time. Today He abides in the hearts of those of us who are saved by His grace, through the blood of His Son.

So as I look at how God instructed the Jews to surround the temple, to protect it from all sides, I wonder what I am doing to protect God’s Presence in my own life.

Reading the Bible and praying, going to church, listening to Christian music are all good and useful. Resisting sin, being selective about the TV I watch or the books I read, standing up for the Truth of Scripture, sharing Christ with the lost, surrounding myself with Godly friends, serving, giving, are other ways of protecting Christ in me. The Bible tells us to put on the whole armor of God. (Ephesians 6)

I am reminded there is an enemy in Satan who would destroy the Presence in me. I believe God is encouraging me today to be organized in my defense, to make purposeful choices to protect this place where He lives. If I do, it will make my journey through this life more enjoyable, and guarantee its success.

After all, Christ in me, the hope of glory! That’s worth protecting!