Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 149: Numbers 36

Inheritance - Keep it in the Family


In Numbers 27:1-8 we read about the five daughters of Zelophehad who came to Moses to ask an inheritance question. Zelophehad had died without any sons, and his daughters thought they should receive the inheritance. God agreed, and Zelophehad's possessions were transferred to his daughters.

Now, in chapter 36, Zelophehad's family has another question. Since the daughters of Zelophehad are to receive an inheritance, they will inherit their father's portion of the land. Whenever they get married, whatever land they own will become the property of their husbands, thus transferring the land to their families. If, down through the ages, women who held titles to land kept marrying into other tribes, the land of some tribes would be diminished while others would increase. So the Lord commanded that a woman who is in such a situation must marry a man within her own tribe. This would prevent the permanent transfer of land from one tribe to another.

Just as the Israelites received an inheritance of land that would be passed down from generation to generation, as a believer, I have received an inheritance through Jesus. My inheritance is not land but is faith and salvation and a place reserved in heaven. I can also pass that inheritance to others by telling them about salvation through Jesus. I have children, so I can teach and lead them so that they can receive the same inheritance, thus passing it down to the next generation. Peter describes our inheritance in 1 Peter 1:3-5.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Our inheritance is better than land. It is not perishable, is undefiled, and will not fade away.

Spend some time today contemplating the inheritance you have received as a child of God. As you consider the various aspects of your inheritance, thank and praise God for all He has given you.

Father, I praise you, for you have made me your child and accordingly given me an inheritance. It's a perfect inheritance that will last forever. Thank you for the faith you have given me. Use my faith to keep making me grow and to bring others to you. The salvation you have provided through Jesus is so rich that I don't even fully grasp it. Thank you for the hope I have because you have saved me and have secured a future for me. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

You have finished another book of the Bible!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day 142: Numbers 28

Regular Sacrifices

Numbers 28

Numbers 28 and 29 are a run-down of all the offerings and festivals Israel was to observe. The exact offering for each occasion is specified by God. Verse two is key where God says, "You shall be careful to present My offering, My food for My offerings by fire, of a soothing aroma to Me, at their appointed time."

God has established this sacrificial system in order to provide communion between Him and His people Israel. The relationship of the people with their God is dependent on their obedience in giving these regular offerings. The instructions are very specific and detailed.

I'm not going to list them here for you, but I think it would be beneficial to write out a list from today's chapter (and tomorrow's) of all the offerings God required. It helped me to see what God required (and to pay better attention to what I was reading ;) ).

We need to be intentional in our relationship to God. I think it is significant that God wanted an offering every morning and every evening. He calls it a "continual offering" and repeatedly says to do it every day. It never stops. Other offerings are added on special days, but they never replace the daily ones. Through the twice daily offerings, the people would always be aware of God's presence. Likewise, our communion with God is to be continual.

Are you continually aware of God's presence? Are you spending time with God daily? The purpose of this online Bible club is to provide a structure for spending time with God on a daily basis. Our time with God -- in His word and in prayer -- are the ways we connect with Him. It gives us the communion we need with our God. Make sure you take time daily, twice daily even, to commune with God.

Father, we don't come to you through the blood of bulls and goats but through the blood of Jesus. You have given us continual access to you and allow us to come boldly before your throne. You have provided more than we could ever have hoped for even if that was all you had given us! Wow! to have the privilege of coming before the Creator God with praise as well as requests! Lord, let me continually be aware of your presence. Let me bring an offering of praise to you daily. What an incredible blessing it is to commune with the one true God! Let me not take it lightly, but learn to be intentional in spending time with you and continually commune with you and grow in you. Through Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 135: Numbers 22

SCRIPTURE: Numbers 22

Israel is on the move, and Balak king of Moab is shaking in his boots. He has heard about the victories over the Amorites and Bashanites (chapter 21). So he decided to team up with the Midianites to ward off the Israelites. And for an extra measure of protection, he called in a prophet, or diviner, Balaam and asked him to curse the Israelites for him.

It is important to note that Balaam is not a true prophet of the LORD. He apparently recognized the God of Israel, but he did not align himself with God. Balaam would have liked to curse Israel and receive the large sum Balak offered him. But God would not allow him to do it and turned his curse into a blessing on Israel.

As you read this narrative, try to follow Balaam's thinking. Is he really obeying God with his heart? What can you learn of him by the way he treats his donkey and interacts with the angel? More of Balaam's character will be revealed in the coming chapters as well.

Balaam is referred to in several other passages as one of the biggest examples of covetousness and deceit. He was willing to perform religious services for personal gain. Do I seek personal gain -- money, recognition, praise, power, position -- when I am "serving" God? If so, my only reward will be those things I receive from man. And I'm not really serving God but serving myself while deceiving those around me and trying to make myself look good.

Lord, guard my heart against covetousness. Let me seek to serve you with pure motives and not be concerned about being rewarded by man. Help me to keep my focus on you and off of me. Amen.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Day 132: Psalms 28 - 29

READING: Psalm 28 and Psalm 29


Not much is known about the occasions of the writing of these two psalms. The text does state that they are from David.


Today I am going to ask you some questions! I hope they’ll help you reflect on the psalms.

In Psalm 28 David prays for something and has it answered. What does he pray for (1 – 5) ? What is his response to answered prayer (6 – 9)?

David doesn’t want to live like the wicked. It’s surprising to me how he describes them.. The one sin named is not what we think of as a "biggie" like murder or adultery. What is the specific wrong named (3)? What do the wicked trust and how do they act (4-5)?

This psalm echoes Psalm 5, so read that for a slightly different spin on the same theme. In Psalm 28 David asks that God give the wicked what they deserve. And the one sin named, hypocrisy in friendship (3), is one that most of us can identify with. In fact, as I read Romans 12 with my daughter today, I noticed that we are told there, in verse 9, to “love without hypocrisy.” (Don’t you love it when you see the unity of God’s word?!) To be honest, these verses in Psalm 28 make me uncomfortable and yet I am glad that they are here. There are consequences to how we live life. David wants to live with integrity – to be the same on the outside and the inside. To put it in New Testament language, he wants to be transformed (Romans 12: 2)! He doesn’t want to be identified with those who don’t recognize and trust God’s work and ongoing care of us in this world (5). He recognizes that the consequences of not living for God, of not trusting Him and His work are fitting. Continuing to live apart from God on earth, the refusal to recognize God as God, involves self- deceit and inevitably leads to eternity apart from God. The consequences of humbly yielding to God and recognizing His work are God's mercy, help, and joy.

We are all sinners. God’s greatest work is that He came in the flesh to sacrifice Himself once and for all so that we can live abundantly – for Him – now and forever. Our only hope (as David himself recognizes) is in God. He ends the psalm in trust and praise. God is our helper, our strength, our savior, our shepherd. In fact, David ends the psalm by expanding his praise to include God’s people (8-9). If you have trusted in Jesus’ death for you, then you are included here! I am included here!

Psalm 29 is a powerful poem filled with figurative language and images. Try reading it out loud and think about the images used. What do they communicate about God? What characteristic stands out? What spiritual lessons are here regarding our response as His people?

I noticed in these two chapters all the images used of God and it made me think about what God has been compared to or called in Psalms so far. If you have time, go back and look at the images and descriptions used for God so far in Psalms. Here’s my list:

Mighty warrior
Horn of salvation, Salvation
Owner of world

Wow! I don’t know about you, but this gives me a reassuring perspective. This is probably not complete, just what I saw as I skimmed the first twenty-nine psalms. Many of these characteristics are mentioned quite often. What do you see?

As I skimmed I thought that I would also like to go through these psalms and list the characteristics of the godly or righteous as well as the characteristics of the wicked. So I’m going to do that in the next couple of weeks.

On a personal note – I am going to be away for about two weeks to help prepare for and celebrate my niece’s wedding! I will not have much access to internet, but I will be reading along in the Bible and look forward to catching up here when I return.


How do I live? Do I live as if I am held in the hand of the God revealed in the Bible, in these psalms? Do I live for God or for myself?

Do I love without hypocrisy?

Let’s examine our own hearts and turn to God for forgiveness and mercy and help. Then, let’s obey from a heart full of love and praise to God!


LORD, our Shepherd King, our Rescuer and Refuge, thank you that your Word – all the many parts of it – magnify and complete each other. Thank you that we can see Jesus in every part. Help us to live our lives in You, resting in Your power and mercy and love. Show us our hearts and help us to love without hypocrisy. Work in the hearts of those around us, that they may recognize Your work as the giver and sustainer of life and serve You.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Day 128: Numbers 15


There is a distinction made here between intentional and unintentional sin. Both are still sin, but the consequences are different. When a man sins unintentionally, he can bring an offering or sacrifice to the LORD for atonement. However, when a man is defiant and sins intentionally, there is no atonement for him. He is to be taken outside the camp and killed.

I think an important key to this passage is verses 30-31.

But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt will be on him.

Let's look at what this person is doing. He is doing something defiantly and he has despised God's commands. The Hebrew word translated "defiantly" is a word that means "to raise, lift up, exalt oneself." The Hebrew word translated "despised" means "to hold in contempt, disdain." The problem, in essence, is the sin of pride.

When someone does that, he is blaspheming the LORD. Blasphemy is an attitude of heart. It is pride in self and defiance toward God and His commands. Whenever someone has contempt in his heart for God, he is committing the sin of blasphemy. It's a very serious sin and invites God's wrath.


God is not to be taken lightly. Our sins cannot be brushed off or ignored. God has graciously provided a means of atonement for us through Jesus. But we dare not disdain God's word or have an attitude of contempt toward God.

You might enjoy reading David's reflection in Psalm 32 .

Do I ever disdain God's word or act in defiance toward God? What about little things? Breaking the "little" rules? Making excuses for my wrong behavior and expecting God to overlook it? Refusing to admit when I'm wrong? These are indications of pride in my heart.

Lord, you are a holy and righteous God who cannot tolerate sin. Yet you do not require offerings and sacrifices of me, rather a heart of humility. Thank you for providing atonement for me through Jesus. Guard my heart against pride, and let me delight in obeying you. Amen.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Day 125: Psalm 27

READING: Psalm 27


David faced quite a bit of adversity and unfair treatment in his life. Accused of things he didn’t do, resented for motives he didn’t have, betrayed by people close to him - he was forced to run and hide. He wasn’t only slandered, but he was persecuted and hounded so much that his life was jeopardized. All that to say that this psalm comes from the heart of a man who understood fear and bewilderment and injustice.


I love this psalm! It is exuberant and trusting while at the same time revealing very real concerns and fears. David faced those fears, he didn’t just shove them away and not think about them. At the same time he turned to the LORD in whom he trusted. It’s worth looking at what David did when he experienced unfairness and fear.

The psalm opens with several statements of truth. “The LORD is my light and my salvation;/ Whom shall I fear?/ The LORD is the strength of my life:/ Of whom shall I be afraid?” David belonged to God; he had placed his faith in the LORD, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the Mighty God. That being so, how could he fear? He’s reminding himself that with God (the Creator of light) as his light (comfort, revealer of the way to walk), with God as his salvation (rescuer), with God as his strength (lifegiver and God of all might and power) – he truly has no reason to fear.

He lists his fears. He focuses on his priority – the one thing he longs for. What is it?

David has an appetite, a desire for God. He yearns for God. He wants to be near God. God is his ONE thing.

He reminds himself and God that he seeks God’s face and that God is his help. He asks again for mercy and care and guidance in the midst of those who want to hurt him and those who lie about and misrepresent him. He places his trust in the goodness of the God for whom he longs. In fact, if he hadn’t trusted that goodness, if he’d focused on those enemies, he would have lost heart.

The psalm ends in expectant hope. “Wait on the LORD;/ be of good courage,/ And He shall strengthen your heart;/ Wait, I say, on the LORD!” David found his courage in the character of his God and as he waited and reflected on God. As he waited in expectation his heart was strengthened.


Here are some questions that I’ve asked myself as I’ve meditated on Psalm 27. Perhaps you will want to ask them yourself.

Who is the God I pray to? Do I make God in my image? Do I make Him less than He is?

If I belong to the God who made all that is, who sustains everything, who loves me so much that He came Himself to rescue me – then how can I fear anything? Really and truly there is NOTHING that He can’t handle. What happens to me is sifted through His strong and loving hand.

What do I long for? What do I most desire?

Perhaps sometimes I live in fear or wallow in self-pity or resentment because I have a divided heart. I want God, but only if I can please myself, too. If I long for God more than anything, there is nothing that I should fear. Even death can’t separate me from God. NOTHING can separate me from Him and His love. (For more on that read Romans 8: 35 – 39.)

Am I willing to wait on God, expectantly? Sometimes I want what I want NOW! But I wonder if the waiting, the focusing on God and who He is, the desire to be near Him – I wonder if that is where I am changed and taught and encouraged. I behold Him and as I behold Him I am made more like Him. I am freed from fear and I am shown the way to go.


Please be my one thing, Lord, the one thing I desire most. I long to know You and to be near You. Show me Your face and teach me Your way. Help me to turn to You when I am afraid or when I am bewildered or unfairly treated. Thank you for being my Light and Salvation and Strength. I wait with expectation on Your goodness.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Day 121: Numbers 7

SCRIPTURE: Numbers 7

The leaders of the tribes brought gifts to be used in the service of the tabernacle. First they brought oxen and carts for transporting the structure. These were given to the priests. Moses did not give any to the sons of Kohath, though, because their job was to transport the holy objects. These were the items that God told them to make with rings on the sides for poles to be inserted through. These articles would always be carried by the poles on the shoulders of the sons of Kohath, so they would not need carts.

Next the prince of each tribe brought gifts and offerings for the dedication of the altar. The list is exactly the same for each tribe:
  • grain offerings -- one silver dish of 130 shekels (about 65 oz.) and one silver bowl of 70 shekels (about 35 oz.) each filled with fine flour mixed with oil
  • burnt offerings -- one gold pan of 10 shekels (about 5 oz.) filled with incense, one bull, one ram, and one male lamb one year old
  • sin offering -- one male goat
  • peace (fellowship) offerings -- two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs one year old
Why do you think it was significant that each tribe gave exactly the same thing for the dedication ceremony? Are there things you have that you dedicate to God for His service? Should you dedicate more?

Lord, I want ALL of my life to be dedicated wholly to You -- not just Sunday mornings and bits and pieces of my life, time, money, abilities, etc. Let me be completely Yours. Because Jesus purchased me, Amen.