I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. - Joshua 1:3
What a promise for every one of us!
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. - Jesus speaking in Luke 9:38
After calling for prayer that God would fulfill this request, starting in the very next verse, Jesus begins to send out the Twelve. There are some things about which we can only pray. However, sometimes we can pray and then begin to take action to fulfill that which we just asked God for. Let’s do it!
At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. - Deut 15:1
This year, 5782 (9/6//2021 - 9/25/2022), is one of the Sabbatical years, also known as a shmita year. Let us not look at it too literally and only consider canceling the financial debts owed us (although that would be a good idea), but let us understand that YHWH has set apart this year as a time to realize our need to cancel all debts that we believe are owed us. Does someone owe you an apology? Forget about it. Does someone need to make up for something they’ve done to you? Let it go. This is the year of YHWH’s Freedom for them - and for you!
The priests… are to have no allotment or inheritance… YHWH is their inheritance, as he promised them. - Deut 18:1-2
Jesus has made us to be a kingdom of priests and, as such, our inheritance is not earthly but heavenly and spiritual. As Paul reminds us, our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20a).
Hear, O Israel: You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. You know about them and have heard it said: “Who can stand up against [them]?” But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as YHWH has promised you. - Deut 9:1-3
When the difficulties we face in life are clearly impossible and there is nothing we can do to change our circumstances, rest assured there is One who sees and cares and who goes before us to do what we cannot.
YHWH did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because YHWH loved you. - Deut 7:7-8a
God did not choose any of us because we are any better than those who are not currently walking with Him. He chose us because of His great love and despite our imperfections. And He continues to seek after those who have not yet responded to his call.
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. - Hebrews 13:1b
God does so many, many wonderful things of which we are unaware. Perhaps we should be thankful for the delay that made us late - were we kept from getting into an accident? Perhaps we should be thankful that the store ran out of some item we wanted to purchase - maybe God has something much better in mind for us?
God is always looking out for us, is always blessing us and is always working things out for our good. We sometimes see this and sometimes don't but it is always, always true!
But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. - Moses speaking to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 3:26
This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. - YHWH speaking to Moses and Aaron in Deuteronomy 32:51
We cannot blame others for our sins, as Moses did. The problem is not the actions of others; it is our reaction to what they do.
YHWH, our God, said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country... 8 See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land YHWH swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.” - Deuteronomy 1:6, 7a, 8a
Have you been in the same place in your life and with God for a good while now? Even if that has been a good place, is God saying it's time to move on to something much, much better?
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? - Amos 3:3
Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. - Matthew 18:19
Agreeing with someone in prayer is arguably about more than asking for the same thing. It is also about being in harmony with the other person and not being at odds with them.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with everyone.
You do not have, because you do not ask God. - James 4:2
There is more than one reason that we may not receive everything that God as for us but one reason is that sometimes it simply never occurs to us to ask. For example, did you know that God would like us to be out of debt and that we can ask Him that His will be done?
You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. - Deut 15:6b and 28:12
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” - Matthew 3:17
God said this about Jesus before Jesus had performed one miracle. Jesus’ earthly ministry hadn’t even started, but God’s pleasure already rested on Him solely because Jesus was His Son.
God is pleased with us because we are His children, not because of our behavior or accomplishment. God’s pleasure fully rests on you because you are His. Period. It’s steady and it’s secure. God is thrilled with you.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:2b
It is not just we who celebrate Jesus’ birthday: so does He. For Jesus, this is the anniversary of the excitement of putting the wheels in motion to get to walk with you and experience your friendship for all eternity. This is a very, very happy day for Jesus.
God is with us! Happy belated Feast of Tabernacles!
...and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. - Luke 2:7Have you ever imagined the stress Joseph and Mary felt when they arrived in Bethlehem nine months pregnant and there was no place to sleep?
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ - Matthew 25:40
Do They Know It's Christmas?
This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. - Hebrews 9:4b
There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets. - 1 Kings 8:9
Early on in Israel’s relationship with God, the Ark of the Covenant contained symbols and reminders of God’s love and provision, His sovereignty and of the Law. Later, as Israel paid more and more attention to themselves and what they wanted and put less attention on God, all that remained was the Law. Gone were the reminders of God’s close and intimate walk with them, His unfailing love, His provision and guidance.
Let us not forget our first love, the love we had at first for our Creator and our Savior.
In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.” - Numbers 14:19
They [over 250 people] came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” - Numbers 16:3
Have your good deeds ever been used against you? Have you ever been accused of evil when your intention was good?
After the community of Israel rebelled against God, although Moses and Aaron had done nothing wrong themselves, they humbled themselves before God to beg Him that He forgive their fellow Israelites. God did forgive and the thanks Moses and Aaron received we see in the second passage: they are accused of exalting themselves over their countrymen.
But God sees all.
But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” - Numbers 13:31
How often are we sure of what will happen? How often do we have no doubt? And how often are we wrong? We need to change our perspective today. Let’s recognize that the future of which we are completely, positively sure does not exist!
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. - Hebrews 13:2
How exciting and yet another reason to be kind, giving and hospitable to strangers!
…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. - Philippians 1:6
Are you feeling discouraged? If so, you can rest assured that God will complete the work He has begun in you. This is His promise and His work so you needn’t feel discouraged at your own progress or efforts. You can be confident in God and, as Pastor said in his sermon, that confidence can change your discouragement to joy.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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. - Philippians 4:6-7
"Be anxious for nothing" sounds like a command. But which of us is able to simply turn off our anxiety and worries? None of us, I suspect. However, what we can do when we realize we are stressing about a given situation is cause it to remind us to pray for the persons involved and for the situation itself. And then that peace, which makes no earthly sense, will descend on us and make us whole.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:24-25During dinner with a friend last night he commented that missing church would be like missing a great banquet set before you. While that is a great analogy and sentiment, it can be taken to mean that attending via Zoom or even having one’s own private devotional time can be as good as physically being together. As Pastor pointed out in his sermon, being physically present allows us to touch each other in ways of which we may not be aware but through which the Holy Spirit works powerfully. I pointed out to my friend that the wonderful dinner we were sharing at that moment was only possibly because others - e.g. the cooks and wait staff - had shown up as well. Let's all be present so that the meal can be as wonderful and meaningful as God intends it to be.