Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 1 Mar 18:
1. Number 1:2, 2:2, 2:34 — “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head…. The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side…. According to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so they camped by their standards, and so they set out, each one in his clan, according to his fathers’ house.” God built his nation on families with fathers leading their families and taking responsibility for their families. God started from scratch with Abram (Abraham) and slowly built from him 12 tribes, now 603,550 fighting men (not counting families and Levites). The nation organized in families, clans, and tribes, with the senior father (elder) maintaining responsibility for their tribe which would number in the tens of thousands (fighting men). What united the families, clans, and tribes was their faith and commitment to God. The “tent of meeting” was at the center and was where all business occurred. I believe this is a model for the Kingdom of God on earth. We need to rebuild families in the church, and Christian families should be united in effort and action by their faith and commitment to the Great Commandment and Great Commission. We need revival among fathers to return to positions of leadership within their homes, and we need to reestablish in them a sense of generational responsibility and accountability. How many men today lead their families with a vision of building a clan or tribe, organized to glorify God with great effect on earth?
– The family unit is the foundation of society, the place where character is established and competencies are taught from which culture and society is established. Strong families make a strong nation. Weak families make a weak nation. God’s most important institution is marriage, from which strong families are established and character and competence are passed from generation to generation. As the family goes, so goes the nation.
– Malachi 2:13-16 – “You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, ‘Why does he not?’ Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. ‘For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.’”
2. Numbers 1:46 — “All those listed were 603,550.” Throughout the Bible, we see that God expects His leaders to keep accountability of every person for which they have been given responsibility, to know their condition and to have a plan for them. Today, our readings deal with accountability of the warriors. In places like Ezra chapter 2, and Nehemiah chapter 7, the people of Israel are counted by families down to the individual. God cares about every person individually, knowing every hair on every person’s head. God has given us the mission of loving others, caring for them as He does. God has placed people in your family, in your church, in your community, in your life intentionally and has entrusted you to care for them. Do you have accountability of all the people God has intentionally placed in your life so that you could care for them? Are you fulfilling your responsibility for them? The Bible says that God has also placed you intentionally within a body of believers with each member of that body fulfilling a very specific role, much like the parts of a human body serve specific purposes and work in unison. But what does it mean when one part of a body is hurting and the rest of the body doesn’t feel that hurt? What would it mean if your foot was broken but you couldn’t feel it? That would be the symptom of a very serious, life threatening disease. But how often have we lost sensitivity to the pains of those who God has intentionally connected with us? What does that say about our condition? If you haven’t already done so, make a list of those God has intentionally placed in your life and make the commitment to begin praying for them weekly by name. Yes, your list will likely be in the hundreds and will take some serious thought. But start with an inside-out approach. Start with your immediate family, then your extended family, then your church family, your neighbors, your friends, etc. Keep accountability of your relationships, and as you commit to pray for people individually, you will begin to increase or revive your sensitivity to their needs, and you will grow in love for them.
3. Numbers 1:1-54 – God prepared His people for action rather than stagnation.
4. Proverbs 1:7, 28-31 — “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction…. Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.” True wisdom and knowledge are not obtainable apart from God, nor is self-control, which is fruit that is of the Spirit. The godless “seek” wisdom, knowledge, and self-control “diligently,” but it will elude them because they lack “fear of the LORD.” Therefore, they will condemn themselves by choice. People cannot create wisdom and knowledge; they can only be filled with it. The Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5) The Greek word used in these verses for “Word” is “Logos.” Concerning logos, R.C. Sproul says, the Greeks used this word to describe the cause of purpose and order in the universe, the source of logic:
— “All attempts to translate the word Logos have suffered from some degree of inadequacy. No English word is able to capture the fullness of John’s Logos when he declared that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Attempts have been made by philosophers to translate Logos as logic, act, or deed—all of which are inadequate definitions.” Only through Christ can anyone be filled with wisdom, knowledge, and self-control. Christians are to reveal, reflect, and project wisdom in the world by virtue of their connection with Christ as “branches” connected to the “vine.” We should not cheapen logos by attempting to package it in a worldly fashion, by dumbing it down to make it more acceptable to the sinner. Logos is holy – “I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.” (Psalm 26:6, 7)
5. Proverbs 1:20 – “Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice.” Wisdom is available to anyone who really wants it, but wisdom starts with submitting to God.
6. Proverbs 1:23 – “If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you.” Receiving the Spirit starts with repentance.
7. Acts 16:1-3 – You might have to go the extra mile, do more than should reasonably be expected, even bending over backwards in order to maintain fellowship with others. Christians should always be ready to be the bigger person.
8. Acts 16:6-7, 9 – The Spirit’s means of communication is not always described. The Spirit speaks to different people in different ways. Don’t worry about how God is speaking to others. Just listen and pay attention to what God is doing in your life. Be patient. During the exam, the professor is silent. Often God will test you with silence to see if you will keep doing what He has already told you to do through His word. Trust and obey.
9. Acts 16:10-13 – Paul waited for a sure sense of God’s direction and then acted immediately. How many times have we already seen in the Bible the trouble that comes to those who refuse to wait on God? How many times have we also seen the trouble that comes to those who, when given direction from God, hesitate in obedience or partially obey. Remember, partial obedience is disobedience.
10. Acts 16:14 – “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” God must open a person’s heart for them to receive Jesus. You cannot open a person’s heart; you can only proclaim Christ to all and trust the Holy Spirit to handle the rest.
11. Acts 16:17 — “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” Satan can speak the truth for evil purposes. So can people.
12. Acts 16:25 – “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Paul and Silas were placed in prison for a reason, and their joy captured the attention of the people God wanted to reach.
13. Acts 16:31 — “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Yes, it is that simple.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 March: Rejoice and publicly give thanks to God no matter what happens today; be prepared to answer those who ask the reason for your joy – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Acts 16:25-31) Take an accounting. God has given you the mission of love and reconciliation; the focus of your mission is people, specific people, and God cares dearly about every person He has placed in your life intentionally. Take the time today to make a list of all the people God has placed in your life intentionally for you to care for. Start with your family, then those within your church body, then within your community. Make the commitment to pray for everyone on that list by name at least once per week. References from today’s readings: Numbers 1.