Saturday, July 30: Numbers 36- Inheritance & daughters.

Certainly the Old Testament world was patriarchal. However, for its day, God worked into the laws some important fairness for women/daughters as we see in our reading for today.

Daughters who inherit the land are not to lose it to their husband’s family. Inheritance stays with the family of origin!

It is certainly not that daughters are on a par with sons, but the family line will not lose its inheritance if there are no male heirs.

I found myself thinking about the Lord and how He is just.

I also found myself thanking God that I am a child of the New Covenant where it removes distinctions, saying there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, etc. The Lord sees the heart, not gender or status or nationality.  God sees the heart!

What does God see when He looks at your heart? Does He see one who is committed to Jesus? I pray so…

Lord… my prayer is that You will help me tell others about Jesus so that they can commit their lives to Jesus and be seen by God as a beloved child and heir rather than an outsider and enemy. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Friday, July 29: Numbers 35- Truth and cities of refuge.

I am touched by the concept of a city of refuge. Long before the US and other governments talked about due process of law for people charged with a crime, God instituted cities of refuge. They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that anyone accused of murder may not die before they stand trial before the assembly (12).

What a statement by the Lord.

God cares for justice, not simply vengeance. Justice suggests that truth comes out and people are judged according to the truth. Cities of refuge were a place where someone charged with murder could run to and find a safe haven until they are tried and the truth could surface. In verse 30, God accentuates the desire for truth, requiring more than one witness to convict someone of murder. Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.

Again, truth is essential…

Especially in a world where a close relative could exact vengeance for a crime bound only by an eye for an eye, cities of refuge kept vigilante justice at bay and enabled truth to become the standard for justice.

Life is better when we listen to the Lord. Life is better when it is built on truth.

God, thank You for the gift of cities of refuge.  Thank You for caring about truth and restraining human desires to ‘get even’ or get ahead. In Jesus’ name. Amen.



Thursday, July 28: Numbers 34- Boundaries.

Moses lays out the boundaries of the Land.

My devotional thoughts struggled to find a thought to latch onto, so I sat and stilled my heart. In my stillness the word “boundary” continued to rise in my consciousness.

Boundary. Boundaries…

God established boundaries for the land. And God had laid out boundaries for the faith. I found myself pondering the 10 Commandments… the primary faith boundaries in God’s first covenant.

Boundaries protect us. Boundaries mark danger areas. God ordained boundaries help keep followers from much pain and suffering…

Boundaries truly are gifts from God.

Lord, thank You for Your Word, the most comprehensive boundary You have provided. Your word guides my thinking and keeps me within safe bounds. Your word inspires me to live a life of meaning, purpose and faithfulness. Your word inspires me toward love and good deeds. Thank You, Lord God, for Your Word and the safety it offers to my life and all who will listen to it. I thank You and praise You through Jesus, my Lord. Amen.


Wednesday, July 27: Numbers 33- It is good to remember our 'history'.

On the plains of Moab shortly before Israel was to enter the Promised Land, a new chapter in their life, Moses records and reminds the people of their history.

It is good to remember and recount our history.  One great time to do this is as you begin a new season of life. New seasons are not always discernable at the start, but when they are, it is a good time to recall where you have come from so you can see where you are going.

Not long ago my church transferred denominations and we took a Sunday to recall the process, which took a long time. We remembered where we came from and looked forward to the adventure the new denomination will open for us.

Personally, I recently went through the exercise of writing my spiritual autobiography. Looking back over my life, I noted ways the Lord was working in my life long before I gave my heart and soul to following Jesus. I also remembered many of the times the Lord orchestrated things in my life. I saw God’s activity in the lowest times of life and in my darkest days. It was a powerful experience for me and a great way for the small group I was with to get a brief on my life in Jesus. This spiritual autobiography was much more comprehensive than a standard testimony and the fullness of the story was one of the highlights for me and for the others.

Both my church and I went through a dedicated time of remembering and recording our histories similar to what Moses did in Numbers and Deuteronomy.

I am so glad I did this exercise. It helped confirm and remind me how the Lord has been active in my life in the past… giving me faith that He will continue to do so in the future.

I commend the exercise of recounting your spiritual autobiography… and so live out what God did through Moses on the plains of Moab.

Thank You, Lord, for being there with and for me all of my life, for moving and working and drawing me to You. I love You, Lord, and I offer my life to serve You and Your kingdom until my final earthly breath. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


If you want to know more about writing your Spiritual autobiography, drop me an email. I found some helpful resources that I can pass on to you.


Tuesday, July 26: Numbers 32- Community First.

In a surprising request some of the Israelites ask to have their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan. Understanding that rivers could become a barrier and there was a possibility that these people were choosing the easy way out - not having to fight alongside everyone else in conquering the land - Moses is at first upset.

Then as things get talked out and the opportunity is fleshed out, Moses lays out an option that provides a winning situation for everyone.

The keystone of the agreement is that the men will cross the Jordan and will fight for all Israel in the conquest to come. In essence Moses says, “We are a community, a family first. Let’s put the community first above our individual and personal needs”. Everyone agrees.

In my 21st century ‘me first’ world, I struggle to understand ‘community first’ thinking. “Does it still hold?” I wonder.  Paul’s comments about the body in 1Corinthians 12 and 13 tells me that in God’s eyes, ‘community first’ still holds in the church or at least it should.

And this launches an entire line of thinking in me.  How might I serve the church? And then on the flip side, in what ways do I hold back myself from my church family? In what ways do I continue to put ‘me first’ to the detriment of my church family?

Brooding and pondering this carries me in my time with Jesus today.

Lord, what would You have me do to put Your family higher up in my priority list? Are there ways I can give and serve that I am holding back on? Show me, Lord, how to more fully be a part of Your body, to use what You have given me for Your body’s sake and to hurt when part of Your body hurts. This I pray in Jesus name. Amen.


Monday, July 25: Numbers 31- War, just war and Jesus' ultimate win.

War is an ugly event; death, casualty, families torn apart, homes, villages and towns destroyed. It is a sad fact of life.

I recently read a book about the US Generals of World War II; Patton, MacArthur and Marshall. These men played an enormous role in the Allies winning the war. The win came with a huge cost in lives and in destruction. War, it seems, always does.

When is it right to go to war and when is it morally wrong? There is no easy answer to this question.

Today we read about the total destruction of the Midianites. In the account recorded by Moses, the Israelites went to war on the orders of the Lord. It was not a human decision but God’s.  When you have someone like Moses, who is in face to face communication with God, one can know God has decreed the war. War will still be ugly and cost much in human life but any doubt as to morality is settled. The Lord decreed.

In our day we have no such intermediary with God, such as Moses, so decisions about when war is just and justified are much more suggestive. St. Augustine put forth his understanding that Christians could be soldiers of good conscience as long as they maintain proper attitudes and character. Thomas Aquinas later described his Just War Theory.

But since we see through a glass dimly (1Cor 13 NN), decisions about war remain a ‘theory.’ And Christians to this day are divided on what, if anything, constitutes a ‘just war.’

I cannot imagine what it would be like to strike down another human being, especially in the Israel context of hand-to-hand fighting. I shudder at the thought of spearing or ‘swording’ someone to death.

I readily admit I have lived a sheltered life and my sheltered life is possible because many have given their life and limb so that I can be free and safe. I am grateful for the sacrifices these soldiers have given.

I know, too that someday the Lord will come with His armies to vanquish evil for good. That day will be the bloodiest yet and on that day it will not be nationality that sets the battle lines but faith. Those who love and serve Jesus standing and reigning with the Lord and people who are opposed to the Lord (did not believe in Him) on the other ‘losing’ side.

Oh, God, in the time remaining before the end… may I be granted courage to advance Your name so that more people come to faith in Jesus and live with You in glory forever. Through Christ, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, July 23: Numbers 30- A tough chapter.

My, has the world changed for the better in this regard, I hope but it has certainly changed. I do not know how to handle this chapter personally.

In its ancient context of a patriarchal world it makes perfect sense and offers good order and clear understanding. However, connecting it to today and my life… not so much.

I am so glad that I am a Believer in the Second Covenant, the Covenant of Jesus, where there is no distinction due to ethnicity, gender or social status. (see Gal 3:28). Each and every person will stand before the Lord and be evaluated for their own life and behavior.

While it seems appropriate that children, both male and female, are under the care and guidance of their parents, the goal of parenthood, as I understand it, is not to control. It is to mold their children into God-fearing, wise adults who make good decisions and take responsibility and ownership for their own actions.

Lord, I pray that my wife and I succeeded in the parenting adventure. I pray for my children, all adults, that the faith planted would be owned and guide them. I pray that they be responsible, loving people who add value to their world and live lives empowered by You yielding Your fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) all the days of their lives. Amen


Friday, July 22: Numbers 29- Beware complacency.

The recounting of feasts continues. It is important for Israel to maintain her connection with the Lord as she enters the Promised Land, the feasts and sacrifices are her connection with the Lord.

It hit me that when our hopes and dreams come true, when God provides what we imagine and more than we can imagine, that we can fall prey to satisfaction and complacency. Implicit in reiterating these sacrifices and feasts, God is saying to His people, “As you come into the land, don’t forget about Me.”

I have seen this happen in the present day, too. People walk with the Lord and then financial and personal prosperity comes, the good times arrive, and need for and thoughts of the Lord dwindle and sometimes cease.

How sad it is when God’s blessings move us away from the Lord rather than toward Him.

Today’s reading is a warning for me… stay close to the Lord. Don't forget about the Lord as my station in life and my security in life increases…

This might be a word for those who read this chapter, too.

Lord, may my life and service continue to be a pleasing aroma to You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Thursday, July 21: Numbers 28- Continual offering of praise.

As their days in the desert wind down, the Lord begins to prompt Moses to remind the people of important practices of the faith. In today’s chapter the reminder is about sacrifices.

The heart of piety in Israel was her sacrifices and offerings. The Lord deserved constant praise. God did then and does today.

Today we don’t have to sacrifice animals, those blood sacrifices ended when Jesus offered His life as the once for all sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9:26).

However, we are right in continually offering praise to the Lord… praise in the form of worship, prayer, devotions, Scripture, meditation and service…

Lord, I bow before You, Maker of heaven and earth. You deserve all honor and glory. May my life be a praise offering to You. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, July 20: Numbers 27-Faithful to the end; a heart for the people.

Reading the opening books of the Old Testament and following, in particular, Moses, I am blessed and amazed how deeply faithful Moses was a leader and man of God. Years ago he blew it and sinned. At the time God told him that he would not see the fulfillment of God’s promise. He would not cross into the Promised Land. Moses never pouted, whined, or complained. He understood sin had consequences and that the Lord is right and righteous in His judgments.

Moses continued to lead the people with a heart for them and for the Lord.

Now on the edge of the Promised Land God’s judgment is about to be meted out and Moses learns this is his end. Again, no whining, complaining or back talk, Moses’ sole comment is for the people, that God would appoint someone to lead them. These are the people who complained, challenged Moses’ call and leadership, and who never appreciated Moses for all he did. And yet Moses was magnanimous as he went to his grave…

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites. After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.” (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.)

Moses said to the LORD, “May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd” (12-17).

Moses inspires me, a man of faith, a man of conviction, a man of honor and forgiveness…

Lord, I sit this morning asking You to grace me with an abundance of character You gave to Moses. Lord, by Your sovereign call I lead a band of Your people and I pray for the character of Moses in leading, despite being human and making mistakes.  I will honor You and Your judgments in all things, that I will accept any and all consequence of my own sin with utter humility before You, that I will be faithful all the days of my life and that I will love and care for the people You have placed under my care until my last breath. No matter what Your hand ordains for me… I pray to be Yours without reservation. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, July 19: Numbers 26- Standing the test of TIME.

An unnamed actor in the last 13 chapters of Numbers (since chapter 13) had been Time. Without ever mentioning it, 40-years of time has passed.  As Israel stands again on the threshold of the Promised Land, God takes a census of the people. According to verses 63-65 the faithless generation, who first stood on the edge of the Promised Land, were dead and buried.  

These are the ones counted by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they counted the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai. For the LORD had told those Israelites they would surely die in the wilderness, and not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.

Time is always on its silent march. Day folds into days, weeks, months, years and decades do the same. Time never stops, never rests, always ticks…

Israel paraded for 40 years. Babies were born, others died. Two of the original escapees from Egypt held to their faith in the Lord…Caleb and Joshua.

The examples of Caleb and Joshua burned into me… men who kept the faith, brothers who held onto the truth, examples who show it can be done. They have years to go, people to lead, and cities to take.

Time marches for all of us. I have recently crossed the 40 years ‘walking with the Lord’ mark. There can be no letting up, no placing life in neutral. To keep the faith I, too, must march forward and take on every task my Lord will give me. What they will be I do not know. What I do know is that the Lord, who has been with me, will be with me and by His Spirit I will have the strength and the wherewithal to do everything He charges me to do.

I want to be a Caleb or Joshua, a person who stands strong in my faith through every obstacle, living into every promise and blessing God has for me. To do so I need to live each day, one faithful day at a time.

Lord, give me strength to be faithful today… and then all of my todays for Your honor and glory. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, July 18: Numbers 25- Sex and worship.

Verses 1-3: While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the LORD’s anger burned against them.

So many betrayals begin with sex. Sex is a root from which so many people drift or turn from the Lord. I thought about so many clergy fallen on the sword of illicit sex. Even more I contemplated the link between sex and worship. More than mere intercourse, this sex was somehow connected to Baal worship, to sacrifices to Baal of Peor and in indulging, the text says, they had yoked themselves to Baal of Peor. 

The Greeks, too, mixed sex and idol worship.

Maybe it is the self-abandoning of sex or the intimacy, two becoming one, that conjoined sex and worship for the ancients.  Maybe as one of the strongest appetites, demons know sex is an easy lure for hapless humans.  I don’t know. Certainly other possibilities exist. I am left to wonderings because Scripture is silent as to the connection.

As I close my eyes and wander between pondering and prayer, I see so many lives and many a person’s faith destroyed on the bed of illicit sex.

As my culture strays further and further from God’s design for sex (one woman + one man in marriage for life), I see the pile of damaged lives growing exponentially.

A faint smile grows on my face as my thoughts shift to God’s warnings, Do not commit adultery, do not covet, flee sexual immorality and so on**. The Lord warned us of sex’s lure and danger. God erected a fence to protect us but we climb over, we tunnel under, and lately we work to dismantle God’s fence.

My redeemed heart and eyes see God’s rules, His laws not as cages to contain us but guardrails to protect us from tragedy and even death –physical and spiritual.

In my heart grows gratitude for God who loves me, loves us…

Oh, God, who is love, my heart sings Your praise. Thank You for protecting me… forgive me for the many times I misunderstood your protection and scorned You for ‘rules’. Help me to see the beauty of life lived Your way. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


**7th & 10th commandments, 1Corinthians 6:18 and so many more places in Scripture)



Saturday, July 16: Numbers 24- Absolutely sovereign.

I marvel at the way the Lord can use even pagan priests, like Balaam. For his first 2 oracles, Balaam used divination or sorcery to get his word from the Lord, something specifically forbidden for Israel (see Lev 19:26). And yet like Cyrus, the pagan Persian King, God can move any heart to His bidding.

So today I see the sovereignty and power of God at work.

Our God is the one true Sovereign Lord of the Universe. My heart and mind is drawn to awe and wonder for my God.

No profound ‘ah-ha’, no new learning or thought, but a wonderful solidification of God’s supremacy and sovereignty, a wonderful devotion and thought on the eve of weekly worship.

Thank you, Lord, for the reminder of Your absolute might and power. Your will, will be done because you have so decreed. And Your Word is dependable. Thank You and bless You, through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen. 


Friday, July 15: Numbers 23- The Lord's protection.

There is an interesting line to open Balaam’s first message. Then Balaam spoke his message: “Balak brought me from Aram, the king of Moab from the eastern mountains. ‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me; come, denounce Israel.’ How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the LORD has not denounced? (7-8).

Balaam, speaking words for the Lord says, How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the LORD has not denounced?

There are things of the Spirit I wish I understood better than I do. One is the idea of blessings and curses. And this line has me wondering about curses. I know words carry certain power. People who constantly speak negatively about themselves, or people who have had a parent, for example, constantly speak negative words to them carry deep wounds, wounds which affect their lives negatively. It is not uncommon for these people to require prayer ministry and counseling to gain victory over these wounds.

Is this negative speech ‘cursing’ and, if so, how can I understand this cursing in light of the word the Lord spoke through Balaam?

I work regularly in Africa among people who were raised in African Tribal Religions filled with witchdoctors, incantations, and various cult and occult practices. These tribal healers have power, not power from the Lord, but power nonetheless.

Does today’s sentences from God’s Word mean that as a child of God, I am protected from curses… particularly the curses of people who want to harm me? It certainly seems as if this is so.

Wisdom reminds me not to be reckless and to venture into or take on spiritual powers that are beyond my spiritual maturity.  But this passage offers a counter truth, reminding me that God’s protection is over me as a follower of Jesus and heir with Jesus of God’s Kingdom (Romans 8:15, Ephesians 1) and I need not fear the curses of the enemy, How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the LORD has not denounced?

Lord, I trust that You have my life in Your hands. Even though I do not fully understand curses and how they work, I hold on to this word You spoke through Balaam’s lips. I will not fear the curses of those who seek to war against You and harm me in the battle. I will maintain my strength in You, trusting You, living and serving You, who reigns forever and ever. Amen.



Thursday, July 14: Numbers 22- Looking for answers?.

Today a small feature of this story caught my attention. Verses 4-5 read: The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.” So Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, who was at Pethor, near the Euphrates River, in his native land. Balak said: “A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me.

The words I bolded and put in red caught my attention. While no one is quite sure where Pethor is located, most scholars put a probable location on the Euphrates, as the text says about 400 miles from Moab. Four hundred miles requires 3+ weeks of travel.

Two things hit me. Balak was frantic to find a way to combat the coming Israelites and Balaam’s reputation had traveled far and wide.

It never ceases to amaze me to what lengths people will go to contact some medium or spiritualist who can help them “know” the future or affect the future. Today people don’t call for Balaam, but they look to horoscopes and mediums; they dive into ‘religions’ like Scientology (while on vacation in Amsterdam I walked by a bookstore with a huge display of Hubbard’s introductory book Dianetics.) A recent expose reveal how fraudulent Scientology can be. Other people will travel to a guru in India in search of meaning.

How sad I felt, because the God of the Scriptures has all the answers we need for life here and in eternity. We don’t have to travel to exotic places in the world or spend gobs of money, all we need to do is reach out to Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). He alone has everything a person needs.

If you are searching for peace and answers, reach out to Jesus today… I did 40+ years ago and I have been walking with Jesus ever since. He won’t let you down.

Thank You, Jesus, for finding me so many years ago and for being with me every day since. I love You. In Your name, Jesus, I pray. Amen



Wednesday, July 13: Numbers 21- A picture of life.

Pausing after reading this chapter, I thought, “What a picture of life… victories, failures, and movement from one place to another.”

It can be exhilarating when we get it right and the ‘battle’ goes our way. We feel as if we are on top of the world but life never stays static. As much as we may want to bottle a particular moment, season or time, life never stands still. Life is always in motion.

Israel defeats Arad, annihilates them literally. This must have felt wonderful especially after the disastrous defeat after they sinned against the Lord by not believing Caleb and Joshua.

But they can’t stay there, so they move on and the next season is not so good. Impatience breaks out and whining erupts as supplies dwindle and hardship grows. God judges them.

Isn’t that life? We feel like we are on the top of the mountain and the next step we are knocked down… whether through personal failure or meeting up with a stronger opponent, we find ourselves flat on our back.

Movement comes; we don’t stay in any place forever. Oh, it might feel like forever, especially when it is a place of failure or defeat… but eventually movement comes. Our movement might be slow and almost imperceptible or dramatic.

Life always involves movement.

As I rolled these thoughts around in my head, questions regarding faithfulness formed. During the movements of my life…

Was I faithful? Did I honor God in all things? Did I thank God for the victories and confess my wrongs in failure? Did I recognize God’s grace when victory came even when I was not so brilliant or when failure and defeat could have been so much worse than it turned out to be? Did I ask for and rely on God’s presence in my life or try to manage life on my own?

Was I faithful to my God in all seasons?

Life will change. Ebbs and flows will occur. One constant is the Lord.   Will I honor Him through all my days?

This is where the Lord took me this morning. Where did the Lord take you?

Oh, God, Father Almighty, Lord Jesus, my Savoir, Holy Spirit, my counselor, thank You for never abandoning me or forsaking me. Thank You for offering Your counsel and wisdom in all times, whether I reached out and accepted it or not.

I sit still before You this morning, honoring You above all and rededicating myself and my life to You, Who are Lord of All. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.



Tuesday, July 12: Numbers 20- The story behind the story.

As I was reading today, it occurred to me that the author gives us only the barest of information. Chronicling the amount of history that Moses did, we couldn't expect otherwise. But still we read only snippets of what went on.

I wondered, for example, how a scriptwriter or a novelist might fill in the account we read about in verses 2-5: Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD! Why did you bring the LORD’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

I tried to imagine the story behind the story, pondering these questions:

·         How did the people gather in opposition to Moses? Were there late night gatherings speaking against Moses? Did the leaders of clans confront him? Were there crowds of people chanting and yelling at him? Was the opposition ruly or unruly? Was it one large demonstration or a series of demonstrations? Was it a day, a week?

·         And as for the quarreling, we hear only the briefest of conversation.  What was it like? Was there shouting, yelling and screaming? How did Moses reply? Did he yell? Were there violent threats? Did Moses fear for his life? Did the people bring clubs?

And so my musings went, trying to get into the story.

However the full account played out, there was more to it than a couple of sentences can convey. Very likely Moses’ heart was still beating fast as he stood before the rock. Adrenalin may have been flowing; latent anger against the people may have been brewing. After all, the text says they came after Moses and they certainly seem angry.

Trying to catch the back story, I feel for Moses and I understand how in a moment he and Aaron could have cried out, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” (20)

I am not condoning Moses’ sin, just understanding it.

Those same kind of self-preservation instincts rage in me and when I feel threatened I, too, lash out. I can justify it with my mind, but yet Jesus’ Words about turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) should apply.

I am human and I have weaknesses. Moses was human and he had weaknesses.  In our weakness even the best of us sin and this is why we need a savior. Because we cannot live perfectly righteous on our own. We simply cannot, sin is mixed into our DNA.

Identifying with Moses, I am so thankful I live under the New Covenant covered by the blood of Jesus through faith in Jesus…

O, O praise Him. O, O praise Him. Halleluiah. Halleluiah. Halleluiah!

Yes, Jesus, I will praise You with every fiber and every breath because You are my Lord and God and Redeemer. Amen.


Monday, July 11: Numbers 19- We have a calling and commission.

I don’t truly understand the cultural need for cleansing after coming in contact with a dead body, maybe it had something to do with prevention of disease. It also seems as if some of the Canaanites had superstitions about the dead but none of these connect with me and my life.

I can certainly understand that it was important to make sure everyone understood the rules about dead bodies since quite a few people died only a few chapters earlier. So the issue was likely on the minds of the people and the author.

Still devotional connection with this chapter is scant.

In attempting to understand more of the background, one author referenced Hebrews 9:13-14, which reads: The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 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, so that we may serve the living God!

Now there is a word that speaks to my heart.

All the cleansing rituals in this chapter make a person outwardly clean, but Jesus’ sacrifice makes us inwardly clean. Jesus’ sacrifice washes away sin and its affects. What a glorious truth!

No amount of outward cleansing can ever clean the inside of a human person. However, what we cannot do for ourselves, Jesus can do for us when we place our faith in Him.

What a blessing! What a gift!

Here we have the beauty of the Christian faith… cleansing of sin, “acts that lead to death.

I love that the author of Hebrews goes even further. Not only does Jesus cleanse us from acts that lead to death, He does so, so that we can serve God, our Father. Through faith in Jesus we have a calling and a commission to love and serve God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Thank You, Oh, God, for all You have done for me. Fill me with Your Spirit, so that I may serve You with vigor and excellence. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, July 9: Numbers 18- The tithe, good for the heart.

Instead of receiving a land inheritance the Levites lived off the people’s tithe but even the Levites were to tithe 10% from what they received (25-26).

Hmmmm… even those who live off the tithe are to tithe to the Lord.

I found myself thinking about giving of my first 10% to the Lord.

Why is the tithe so important? What did it do? What did it teach?

From this passage, the tithe provided for the families who cared for the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle, and later the Temple, was the heart of Israel. It was God’s home among the people, the place of worship, sacrifice and atonement. The tithe kept the Tabernacle sacrifices going by providing for the people who kept the Tabernacle going.

SO, one reason for the tithe was to keep the worship of God visible and alive in Israel.

The tithe also taught dependence on God. Everyone depends on God for provision. It may not feel that way. We may feel like we ‘earned’ it, but when I pause for a moment or two to think about this, the Lord is the one who gave me the aptitudes and opportunities to make the living in the first place. By giving back to the Lord the first 10%, I am thanking God for all He has given me and I am recognizing that I cannot live without Him. I am also learning that I do not need everything I have, instead I can use some of what I have to help others.

As I ponder this ,I realize the tithe… it is good for the heart!

Lord, thank you for the people who taught me to tithe. Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of the tithe. I am blessed to provide for worship of You and I am delighted to help spread Your name around this globe through the tithe.

Lord, God, to partner with You in this world is a delight!  Bless You and thank you, Lord. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Friday, July 8: Numbers 17- Grumbling.

No running away from it… the word for the day from the text is grumbling. The Israelites grumbled incessantly against Moses and against the Lord.

Have you ever been around people who grumble? It is exhausting. They are masters at finding fault with the way other people do things and they let everyone know it. They moan and complain and point fingers and jabber about this and on and on it goes.

Grumbling is exhausting for people in leadership but it is also exhausting for everyday people. If you have ever been in a work environment where coffee break conversations are filled by certain people and their grumbling you know what I am mean.

Grumbling is like the constant drip of a leaky faucet.

Even though God gave a clear sign about who was in charge, the whining and grumbling didn’t cease. The final words of the chapter are more drips from the grumbling faucet: The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the LORD will die. Are we all going to die?” (12-13). Uugh!

As I considered and pictured this scene, the Lord, not so subtly, reminded me that when I complain without being willing to be part of the solution I, too, am a dripping faucet.

The Lord went on to show me that when I talk about others’ faults or the church’s or an organization’s faults and problems without recognizing his or its strengths, I am a dripping faucet.

When I only see life through the lens of ‘what’s in it for me’, I can very easily slide into grumbling…

Oh, God, forgive me. Forgive me for tearing down rather than building up… forgive me for being part of the problem rather than the solution… forgive me for NOT trusting You, Oh, Lord.

Thank You, Jesus, for loving me despite how I act many times. I pray in Your name, Jesus. Amen.


Thursday, July 7: Numbers 16- God is sovereign.

Korah is an infamous name in Israelite history. Korah led a rebellion against the Lord by challenging the Lord’s tribal design. Korah wanted the status of priest. Korah disregarded God’s Word and planned to establish a rival priesthood.

The Lord dealt with this rebellion swiftly and decisively!

As I think on this, I realize that it is one thing to struggle with the plain meaning of what God has spoken, but it is another level entirely to lead a rebellion against God’s clearly stated way. Korah understood what God had said, but he challenged God’s way and led others to disobey God’s way.

The Lord doesn't always act so decisively, but it is in God’s prerogative to act decisively whenever He chooses. Korah, Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), Herod (Acts 12:23) are other examples.

Where my heart and mind goes with this story is to recognize that God is the ultimate judge and He will judge in accordance with His Word.  Blatant disregard for God’s Word, especially when it leads others astray, will reap God’s wrath.

Therefore, I need to be constantly checking my beliefs against God’s Word. Am I always willing to adjust my thinking and my behavior to fit what God says? This involves a lifelong endeavor to know more and more fully and follow more and more closely God’s Word.

Am I studying to know God’s Word so that I (you) can live faithfully? Are you?

Am I willing to follow God when His way is different that the way my culture says is the way to live? Are you?

Is there anywhere I know I need to make an adjustment to align with God’s way? How about you?

Oh, Lord, lead me, show me, teach me… Your way. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, July 6: Numbers 15-Sabbath breaking?!.

While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. The LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses (32-36).

I tried and tried to avoid this paragraph. But it was no use. These words kept beckoning me to think on them.

I don’t think I could do it. I don’t think I could be party to stoning someone. Gruesome and horrible are two words that come to mind immediately. I know life was rougher and more earthy back then. People slaughtered their own animals. Death was part of life. You buried your own dead. However, to kill someone through stoning is unimaginable for me.

God was certainly driving home a point.  The Sabbath was not to be broken. It was God’s day and work was forbidden. Spend time with the Lord. Spend time with family or clansmen and friends. Rest, sleep, nap, and relax but NO work.

The Sabbath was special and set apart for the Lord. It was different than every other day.

I still cannot get over the severity of the punishment. I wonder if this is a case of defiant sin (see 30-31). I cannot say for certain, but it is plausible, especially since there was no sacrifice for defiant sin.

Whatever the reason, death by stoning makes a statement! Also, having the entire community take part in the stoning certainly underscores the statement. Everyone will understand the sanctity of the Sabbath.

We don’t treat the Sabbath with anything near this reverence today. Then again, we don’t treat any of the 10 Commandments with this reverence.

Where does this take me?  God expects us to keep His Word. And a breach of His Word carries a punishment. Unintentional sinning can be atoned for; defiant sin garners a severe punishment. All of this causes me to be so thankful for Jesus who carried all our sin to the cross. All of it!

Faith in Jesus makes all the difference…

Thank You, Lord, God –Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit –thank You for forgiveness, atonement, restoration, renewal. Thank You for Your grace!  I am eternally grateful because I have fallen so short of desires and Your commands. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, July 5: Numbers 14- Consequences.

Actions have consequences… this is a difficult lesson for many people to learn. Too many people these days want a free pass.

This chapter, if it teaches anything, teaches that God holds people accountable for their actions. The Israelites rebelled by not trusting and believing that God would be with them and fight for them as they entered the Promised Land, so God declared that not one adult 20 or older who rebelled would see the Promised Land. The people of Israel would wander the desert until everyone in that generation was buried.

I admit I am tempted often to try and wriggle out of my responsibility… “It’s not my fault… No one told me…” and the like. This is not good, but it is a part of myself I have to regularly confront. Sin lives in me and I need to confront it.

Chapters like today, and there are many in the Bible, teach this lesson. These chapters are a healthy and important reminder for me that God will hold me responsible for the things I do and do not do.

Actions have consequences. My actions have consequences… The Holy Spirit’s voice is loud and clear today…

Oh, God, help me to listen. Help me to grow. Help me to defeat my inner inclination to deflect responsibility. Help me to own my actions and to submit them to You.

Thank You, Lord, for forgiveness. It is a gift I need regularly.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Monday, July 4: Numbers 13- FEAR.

Fear is a great debilitator! Fear sucks the strength and will power out of the best of us. Fear can and does keep us from doing the things God would have us do.

Israel stood on the threshold of the Promised Land. They had seen God do mighty miracles and keep them alive in the desert for over a year. A pillar of cloud and fire led them and watched over them by day and by night. They marched through the Red Sea with walls of water on their left and right. And yet, as the Promised Land stood for their taking, the leaders of the people dissolved in fear. “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” …  “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size…” (31-32).

The Egyptians were a strong and powerful people and yet God defeated them.  Could God not do the same with the people of the land?

Of course God could… but the people never gave God a chance to do what He promised He would do.

How often do I (do you) let fear keep us from doing something God has asked us to do? “But God, the job is too big… the people are too stubborn… the task is too, this, that or something else. Oh, God, I can’t… I’m scared…”

Fear is like sand in the oil tank; it can stop us from accomplishing the things God has set before us to do.

Do you believe God is calling you to do something particular? Is something keeping you from setting out to do it?

Ask yourself, has fear interrupted your following of God’s call?

I know that is the question I am asking myself today…

Oh. Lord, help me be honest with myself and with You. Help me to move forward in faith and to resist fear as I press into Your love for me and my responsive love for You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, July 2: Numbers 12- Sibling rivalry.

Moses is the youngest child. Miriam is the oldest and Aaron is the middle child. What a family dynamic they had!

Apparently Miriam had it and was tired of Moses –the baby –getting all the attention so she asserts herself with Aaron tagging along. Aaron the middle child -the let’s all get along child- goes along with his big sister.

Well, the Lord will have none of this and the Lord rebukes Miriam in front of the entire community. Moses is not some run of the mill leader or even prophet. Moses stands in a unique position in all of Israel because God spoke face to face with Moses (8).

God settled the challenge against Moses once and for all.

It seems that every leader will face challenges. In humility, Moses was quiet in the face of this challenge but God defended him.

From this one account it is not responsible to say that God will run to the aid of every child who is challenged, opposed or maligned by someone else. But it is good to realize that God does, at times of His choosing, defend His children when they are wrongfully accused.

It is even better for me to watch Moses and realize that a person does not have to ‘change his/her spots’ in order to do great things for God in the world. Moses, the most humble man on earth, didn’t have to become aggressive to avert Miriam’s challenge. NO, he could stay true to his Lord, to the person the Lord created him to be and the character God had developed in him as the opposition raged. He allow God to sort out the mess.

Watching Moses I am realizing that developing godly character should be a life goal… becoming more and more like my Lord and so honoring Him with my life.


Friday, July 1: Numbers 11- Seeking contentment.

I chose to meditate on verses 4-6: The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

How often do I, do we as humans, wail, “God, what you have given me (us) is not enough? God, why can’t we have …?”

All too often I am not satisfied with what the Lord provides. “Lord, I should have a higher salary. Lord, I need a better car. Lord, I should have…” Contentment is not easy to find.

More, better, higher drive far too much of my life and the lives of people in my circle of friends and associates.

Advertising feeds this beast, subtly and not-so-subtly, enticing us to the new and better.

Steve Jobs and Apple created markets for things we never knew we needed. I own or have owned most of their innovative products. Did I need them?  Probably not but it was certainly nice and my life has changed to the point where some of them may very well be needs now. As I write I am traveling outside of the US and my iPhone is my link to the world and the office. And while the smartphone has changed life for many people in the world, do I need the iPhone 6s when it comes out?

As I gaze in the mirror of Scripture, I think, “Oh, those Israelites… they are so ungrateful! Couldn’t the miraculous provision of manna be enough for them?!” But don’t I do the same thing when I crave the newest, the brightest, the fastest?

I think it was Solomon who said, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Certainly this is true with temptation. Oh, specific forms of temptation may change but the root temptation has been around for millennia.

This Scripture is calling me to seek contentment and beware of covetousness. How about you? What might these verses or this chapter be saying to you?

Oh, God, help me find my rest in You.  May it be, Lord, that when I put my head on the pillow at night I thank You for what I received during the day, that I confess where I have strayed in thought, word, deed or desire. Then as I close my eyes with contentment in my heart, may praise for You, Lord, be on my lips. May it be so, Lord, may it be so…

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.