29.4 John – First things First

It is so easy to get distracted. While we sing, turn your eyes upon Jesus, we look around to see who else is around and what they are doing and what is going on with them. When we drop to our knees to pray, and get quiet, our thoughts run the gamut from thing to thing to thing.

So, while it is easy to see the rebuke of Peter when he asks about John as a “mind your own business” comment. It is also good to see it as a reminder to “keep your eyes on the road” comment. Jesus reminds him “You must follow me.”

But why did Peter ask to begin with? Are we just curious? Nosey? Competitive? Yes, probably to all three. But we also are tempted to have a “scarcity mindset.” Because we start with the assumption that we can only give what we have received and once we give it we no longer have it to give to others, we project this onto Jesus. And, while that mindset may be accurate if we are talking about a savings account, it is not accurate if we are talking about the really important things, such as love and life and friendship and faith and caring and happiness and joy and peace. The Creator of the World does not live in a land of ‘scarcity’. He rules a kingdom of ‘abundance.’

Why do we compare ourselves to others and get curious about what others have and are getting, because of our scarcity mindset brought on by the wickedness and sin of the world. We are afraid we are getting less. We are afraid we are missing out. We are afraid we are getting short changed.

This isn’t living. What is any of it to you?

But, if you follow Jesus you receive eternal life. If you follow Jesus you receive the power of the Holy Spirit. If you follow Jesus you receive everlasting peace and joy.

My Answers:

9.

When you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. He didn’t say what would happen to John, only that John’s future did not matter to Peter

 

10.

Each personally and uniquely. What He does for one He does for one and is not compelled to do for everyone. He is not looking to provide the minimum, he is looking to overflow in love and grace and mercy to each. Abundance, not scarcity.

 

11.

First things first – follow Jesus. Eyes on Jesus not on others and what they have or don’t have, do or don’t do.

 

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29.5 Moses 29, Day 5

Seeing through God’s Eyes

As Moses enters his last day of life at age 120, he is obedient to God and climbs a mountain.  From there we are told, “God showed him the whole land”.

First, I thought it was interesting how much this fit to the original promise of God to Abram that started all of this back in Genesis 12:1. “The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.””

Second, I was curious if the view from Mount Nebo matched the biblical account. There is a lot of guesswork in trying to identify any specific spot in the middle east.  This writing took place long before accurate maps and there were no GPS coordinates provided.  But, from my research, there appears to be fair agreement on the location of Mount Nebo.  It is a mountain rising from Jordan’s plateau with a current height of 2230 ft above sea level, keeping in mind that the dead sea to its west is 1401 ft below sea level.  A mountain range rises to the west of the Jordan river, blocking the due west view to the Mediterranian Sea, but there are sight lines not obscured by other mountains.  We also don’t know the effects of erosion or other shifts in the landscape over the past thousands of years.

Here are maps I found online.  The first is from Near East Tourism, http://www.netours.com/content/view/257/30/ and the second is from biblestudy.org  http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/division-of-promised-land-to-twelve-tribes-israel-large-map.html

Sightlines from Mt. NeboDivision of Promised Land to the Children of Israel

As you can see, keeping in mind the very rough nature of these maps, the recount of the view starts with “from Gilead to Dan“.  Gilead is a city to the north and Dan is both a city and a territory belonging to the tribe of Dan, which are no where near each other.  You can’t see the city of Dan from Mt. Nebo but you would get very close to the assumed northern border of the territory of Dan.  It goes on to say he saw “all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea”.  Today we can’t see “all of” Naphtali, but we can see part of it.  We can see Ephraim and Manasseh and the land of Judah.  We can see the Mediterranean Sea.  Following down the river through the Dead Sea, we can see, “whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar.

But look again at the wording of this.  He saw Dan, Naphtali, territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, the land of Judah.  Keep in mind, that when Moses is called by God to look over all of this land, the Israelites have not yet crossed.  They’ve taken a census, but they haven’t divided the land.  The amount of land they possessed west of the Jordan, at this point, was zero.

What God allowed Moses to see wasn’t just a bunch of dirt and rocks.  It wasn’t the cities of enemies or the struggles and battles that lay before the Hebrew people.  Instead God allowed Moses to see the land as it was promised and would be.  A land belonging to the tribes of Israel, rich with food and water and livestock and massive in its dimensions.  He allowed him to see their earthly home.

And then, as Moses was still being allowed to look through God’s eyes, he would have been allowed to see his own eternal home.

Many have used the term “seeing is believing.”  Show me with my own two eyes and I will be.  I need to see it to believe it.  But what we see at the conclusion of Moses life is the heavenly version of that saying.  Believing is seeing.  I need to believe it to see it.  It reminded me of the story of the Apostle Thomas in John 20:24-29 which concludes with Jesus saying, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The promised land for the Jews was a foreshadow of something bigger, better and everlasting.  Open your heart and open your faith so that you can see.  How do you need to ask the Lord to remove the blindness of your heart where your view is blocked by fear, doubt or disbelief.

My Answers:

10.
a.
Covenant promise, unconditional, Forever, Everlasting possession, to Abraham and his offspring.  The key is that while this covenant refers to a physical place, land that can be walked and measured by width and breadth, it also refers to something bigger and more significant and more eternal.  If the land was all there was to the promise, it would not be forever or everlasting.  The promise was not just of the physical space but in the spiritual realm, a promise of everlasting life and eternal communion with kinsman and the Lord.

b.
It was a foreshadowing of the promise of God to an everlasting home.  Our eyes are not focused on where we stand, but where we are going.  Where we stand, we are strangers and foreigners, but where we are going is a spiritual (and ultimately physical) forever.

11.
filled with the spirit of wisdom.  The Israelites listed to him and obeyed the Lord

12.
True greatness comes by serving the Lord, not by human strength.

29.4 Moses 29, Day 4

Avoiding Battles?

Deuteronomy 33:26-29 reads like a battle cry to rev up the troops to take up arms.  Look at the language:

  • He will drive out your enemies before you
  • “Destroy them!”
  • Ride across the heavens to help you
  • On the clouds in His majesty
  • You will live in safety, grain, new wine, heavens dew
  • He is your shield
  • Your glorious sword
  • Your enemies will cower before you
  • You will tread on their heights

All of this language convicted me of how much I hide from battles in my faith walk.  How often I don’t say something because it might come across the wrong way.  My fear and doubt of possibly offending someone that prompts me to not speak when I should.

I’m not talking about taking up arms to slay the enemy and I’m not talking about going out and picking fights.  But when you read this language of God, I think there is a message that we aren’t supposed to “just go along with the crowd so we don’t make waves” either.

It just made me think about the times I don’t speak up, the times I don’t speak Jesus’ name, the times I sit quietly in the midst of what I know to be sin, the times I fail to witness or to comfort or to just speak the truth.  Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”  Am I so afraid of battles that I come across as ashamed of my faith and my Savior.

One of the central themes of the book of Acts, when the new Church was being formed, is the call to speak boldly. (see below).  Paul’s letter to the Ephesians calls us to be strong in the Lord and put on the full armor of God.

Are you like me?  Do you need to speak up?  Do you need to reach out?  Do you need to face the fight with the truth of the gospel instead of hiding it under a basket?

The greatest news of all in this, and throughout the bible, is that when we choose to stand for God, He always stands in front of us.  God never takes the position of having our back.  He always takes the front.  He may require us to take the first step into the water, but then He lifts us up to walk across it or parts it as we move forward.

Here are some of the bold references from Acts – Take Strength Mighty Prayer Warriors!:

Acts 4:29
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
Acts 4:31
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 9:28
So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
Acts 13:46
Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.
Acts 14:3
So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.
Acts 18:26
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Acts 19:8
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.
Acts 28:31
He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

 

My Answers:

8.
Because they were the Lord’s possession, His portion.  He was their king.  He is holy.  There is no one like God.

9.
There is no one like the God of Jeshurun. He rides across the heavens to help you. On the clouds in His Majesty. The eternal God is your refuge. Underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you. “A people saved by the Lord.” He is your shield and your helper. He is your glorious sword.

29.3 Moses 29, Day 3

Blessings in The Old, The New and the Bridge

I think blessings are a lot of fun.  They are fun to receive.  They are meaningful to give.  Each day I’m thankful to God for all the blessings He has provided and I ask for His blessing and protection on friends, family, co-workers and those in need.

The question that had us compare the lists of the Tribes of Israel through Genesis and here in Deuteronomy really made me step back and think.

The first list in Genesis 29 is in birth order, from first born to last.  This is chronological and important for inheritance.

The second list in Genesis 49 is sorted by birth mother.  This is structured around the relationship that Jacob had with the women who gave birth to these sons.

The third list in Deuteronomy is roughly sorted by position in the camp.  The western tribes together, the northern tribes, etc.  This is structured around the relationship between the tribes and the temple of God.

So we have chronology and history.  The choices of the parents influence and impact future generations.  God’s promises of blessings to parents can span to their offspring.  We have relationships with each other and we have relationships with God and His presence in our lives.  All of these are important to God.

But there are exceptions in the last list.  Reuben, Judah, Levi and Simeon are not presented in the order of their position around the tabernacle as are the others.  I am not a bible scholar, but I think there may be a message in this.

Reuben was the first born.  He represents the inheritance.  The promise of God to Abraham, repeated to Jacob.  He reflects the continued fulfillment of God’s covenant relationship with Abraham.

Judah is the lineage of Jesus.  He represents the saving grace of Christ who came first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles.

Levi is the the priesthood and the law.  He represents justice and sacrifice and teaching; correlations to attributes of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

With this in mind, it is interesting that these three were pulled out separate and first.  First, Reuben.  As God came first Abraham and his descendents.  They were to be his people and He was their God.  Second, Judah.  The New Covenant of salvation through faith by grace.  Not because of who we are but because of what He has done.  Then Levi, the law bridges the old and new.  Christ said He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.

And what of Simeon.  Again, I don’t know, but one consistent biblical message is that each generation, each nation, each tribe, family and person gets choice.  They are loved by God.  They are desired by God, but they choose whether to receive God’s blessing or not.  Simeon was part of the southern tribes.  Members from the southern tribes were involved in most of the rebellions in the wilderness.  Simeon’s portion in the promised land is within the boundaries of Judah.  The tribe becomes somewhat scattered as foretold by Jacob in Genesis 49.

While all these blessings were to the tribes of Israel, I think it is important to note that they reflect God’s power and authority.  He had the ability to provide and fulfill each of these blessings then and He has that same power today in your life and in mine.

 

My Answers:

5.
Gen 29 lists in birth order 12, Gen 49 is blessings from Jacob, listed by mother – 12+2, Deut is blessing from Moses, listed roughly by position around the tabernacle (western tribes together, northern together), Simeon not listed, 11+2

6.
Reub, live not die
Judah, Lord help against foes
Levi, teach God’s law and incense
Ben, rest secure, shielded and loved
Joe, fruitful land
Zeb/Issach, treasures sea and sand
Gad, chose best, carried out Lord’s righteous will
Dan, lion’s cub springing on prey
Napht, blessed by God, SW land by lake
Ash, favored by bros, strong all his life

7.
teach God’s law, carryout His righteous will, be favored by brothers and strong all life, rest secure and be shielded and loved

29.2 Moses 29, Day 2

Praising on the right side of the Income Statement

It wasn’t difficult to think of people I would consider to be a “man or woman of God”.  But, it took a few minutes of reflection to identify what they had in common.

I mean, they have lots in common.  The love the Lord.  They study the bible.  The are extremely generous with time and talent.  But they were also unique different.  Men and women, family, friends, younger and older.

I finally realized the unique attitude each of them have is their attitude toward time with God.  Many people either talk about or do spend time with God.  Often there can be more talking about it than doing it in some circles.  But, in accounting lingo, “spending” is on the expense side of the Income Statement, and that is not how they view time with God.

It isn’t that some how their time is multiplied or changed.  They have the same number of hours in their days that everyone else has.  They have the same pressures, the same challenges and the same very lengthy to-do’s.  Often, their to-do’s can be even longer than most because of the commitments to charity, teaching and those in need.  An hour with God is one less hour in day.  They don’t somehow get that hour back.

The difference is that because they first and foremost have a relationship with the Lord, the time with Him is time with a friend.  Because their friend is the all powerful, everlasting, Creator, He is a friend that cares for them and provides beyond their needs.  Time in the relationship keeps them connected with the one in charge and the more time with Him deepens the relationship, understanding, love, grace and power.

It is like we have seen in the Life of Moses.  When major challenges came along, Moses got down on his knees.  When Moses had complaints, he went to God.  He walked with Him and he talked with Him, he worshiped Him and obeyed Him.  He led and taught and judged and gave, not of his own strength, but of His Lord God’s.

I also thought it was interesting that Moses’ first words in these verses about God is also the first step to be on the path with God.  He starts by saying “God came”.  God always shows up.  God is ever present.  Wherever people gather in His name, God is there.  But do we?  Do we show up?  Do you intentionally put time each day with God?  Do you have a plan for study and time with the Lord this summer?  Do you think of your time with Him as a time of obligation or a time of deep interaction and relationship?  Is your devotional time something you look forward to checking off of your list or something you simply look forward to?

My Answers:

3.
Of currently living people that I have a personal relationship with: My wife, son and daughters and future daughter in law.  Fellow children’s leaders.  Friends: KH, DF, KR.  These people are absolute prayer warriors.  I desire to be considered in this lot as well!  Of others, biblical characters, apostles, pastors, missionaries, some authors

4.
a.
came, dawned, shone forth, with holy ones, love, worthy of praise, instructor, giver of the law, king

b.
You love the people, King of the upright, you are the dawn, your shine forth over all the holy places

28.5 Moses 28, Day 5

It’s All About God

Why are there so many verses in the bible about the heart?  I think one reason is because God wants our heart.  Not the pumping muscle, but our spirit, our being, our soul.  God does not want mere intellectual acquiescence, He wants a spiritual relationship.  We are souls with a body, not a body with a soul.  God has kept things hidden so that it requires faith, it requires trust, it requires heart.

God can relate to the broken-hearted.  In Jeremiah 31:32 He refers back to these people of Israel that He is addressing in Deuteronomy and says, “They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife.

God is love.  God loves us, because He is love.  He wants our heart because He wants what is best for us.  God is God, real, true, the rock, faithful, present, personal, love.

And, that is the point of the entire study we have done this year.  We can think about Moses.  We can think about the promised land.  We can feel bad for Moses as he nears death without being allowed to enter the promised land.  We can see that as harsh and severe.

But, Moses didn’t do that in these chapters.  Instead, Moses spoke about God.  Everything we have studied in these books of the bible, and frankly everything in the bible, is about God.  That is the point.  It’s not about Moses.  It’s not about Egypt or the wilderness or the promised land.  Its not about you or me.  It is about God.  He is that big that it being all about Him is right and true and accurate.

And, yet, He loves us and allows us to enter a relationship while we are still completely sinful and broken and with the knowledge that we will fail and cheat and dishonor Him.  We will break His heart and He will mend ours.  He will dwell among us and take us as His children and give us peace.  And He Will Be Our God.

When Jesus comforted His apostles in the upper room before His crucifixion He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

But we live in times where all too often Jesus, instead of being the center of the church, is being pushed outside of the church.  Sadly, from scripture, that picture of the heart, too, is foretold.  Revelation 3:20 paints a haunting image.  In a rebuke of the church it notes “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”.  Instead of being inside, at the center, Jesus is outside knocking for anyone to hear His voice and open the door.  And, yet, even then – He knocks!

 

My Answers:

10.
a.
take heart, seek with heart, love with heart, serve with heart, words in heart, listen with heart, circumcised hearts.  God is Love.  He wants not mental or physical acquiescence but a full relationship.

b.
Obedience always follows.  Faith grows, service grows, strength grows, love grows, blessings grow.  Testing and challenges still happen.  Difficult times can come, but God’s strength is great.

11.
The Word of God (Jesus) is the gateway to salvation.  The Holy Spirit then comes to fill the believer and bring us closer to holiness.

12.
a.
It was time to turn the page to new leadership.  Moses had brought them to the Promised Land.  He was honored best at this moment

b.
It’s not about Moses – it is all about God.

28.4 Moses 28, Day 4

Hi Fidelity

As Moses closes out the message from God to the Israelites before they enter the promised land, in these last chapters of Deuteronomy, everything centers around God’s renewed covenant with them.  “You will be my people and I will be your God.”  It is a bonded relationship, a commitment, a promise, a covenant.

But God is not blind to the future practices of his partner in this relationship.  He knows, even as He makes the vow, that His people will cheat on Him.  They will lie, they will turn to other gods, they will make sacrifices to those other gods and they will abandon the Lord.  He knows all of this and still chooses them and still promises to stay true to the relationship.

Think about that.  Would you enter into a covenant relationship with a spouse or business partner that you knew would do these things to you?  That is how great God’s love is!

And, he warns them that this fall will not come in the hard times.  They won’t turn to other gods or sin when they are conquering the land, when God is in front of them fighting the battles, or when they face death, difficulty, hunger or other challenges.  They will be most tempted and yield to that temptation in the times of abundance.  When they are no longer wandering in the desert but living off the bounty of the land that God promised them and that God provided to them and that God nourished and cared for for them – then they will cheat on Him.

They will decide they know better.  God said, to clear out the native people.  He divided up the land and none of it was an inheritance to the wicked enemies who currently occupied it, but the Israelites felt they knew better.  They had plenty, plus they could be in charge of making treaties and inter-marrying.  It’s not like they needed to rely on God, things were going well.

When we face challenges in life, we turn back to God.  When terrorist attacks occur, the churches fill up.  But when things go well, when God provides, we turn away from Him.

However, God is faithful.  His faith is not in us – that would be foolish.  His faith is in Himself and the nature and character of who He is and the relationship He has committed to with His people.  His end of that relationship is unwavering.  It may take us reaching the point where we must rely on Him because we have nothing else, but even then, especially then, God is faithful.  We cannot earn that faithfulness.  We do not deserve that faithfulness.

I found it interesting that one of the words that is a synonym to faithfulness is fidelity. Infidelity in a relationship is to cheat on the relationship.  Someone who is called an infidel is literally to call them “without faith.”  But, most interesting to me was that high fidelity is an audio term used to describe something that is a very close copy of the original.  It was used with improved recording techniques and the move to digital mastering.  But God is not a copy of the original – God is the original.  Simply stated you cannot reach a higher level of fidelity than the Creator, the true Master.

 

My Answers:

8.
a.
When things would go well, they would become self reliant and abandon God and reject Him, They would worship foreign gods, sacrifice to them , desert God.  I have become lax in my obedience and time with God when things go well.  I take Him for granted and fail to praise Him and honor Him, relying on myself.  I explore other things, rather than staying true.

b.
Idolotry.  They failed to be obedient and remove the people and gods of the nations they were to defeat.
They lacked sense and discernment

c.
There is a “their” and an “our”.  1. Moses is part of the our and he is Hebrew.  2. God has promised that the Israelites will be My people and I will be your God, so the “their” must be someone else.  All others that tempt Israel are enemies to her.

9.
When it best demonstrates His glory.  When their strength and rebellion is exhausted.