Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 5 Mar 18:
1. Numbers 9:8 — “And Moses said to them, ‘Wait, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you.’” How do you make decisions? Yesterday, Psalm 27 concluded with these words: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Today, we read that Moses waited for revelation from the Lord to make decisions rather than simply trusting in his own reason and judgment. We read of the Israelites: “At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out (Numbers 9:23).” In Proverbs we are reminded, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).” Finally, today in Acts we read that Paul was guided by visions from God (Acts 18:9). Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise (John 5:19).” It is very hard to wait on the Lord. However, the Bible demonstrates time and time again that to walk with the Lord, we must give Him the lead. We see that throughout the Bible, God’s people get in huge trouble when they don’t wait for the Lord – remember Abraham and Jacob? God promised Abraham children and Jacob the inheritance, but they both grew impatient and took matters into their own hands – we are still suffering today for their sins. It takes great faith to wait on the Lord. Because God’s timing is not our timing, and it often feels like we are being indecisive or doing nothing. However, in reality we are deciding to do the most important thing: trust in the Lord. The world says, “Don’t just stand there; do something!” God says, “Don’t just do something; stand there, and wait for my word.” It is impossible for us to know the path God has in store for us – His thoughts and ways are infinitely removed from ours. And God seldom reveals where He is taking you when He says, “Go.” Also, God will usually tell you to go where you had never intended in order for you to do things that are impossible (of your own strength). Again, it takes great faith to wait and to walk only when and where God tells you to. However, to walk in our own understanding is to walk away from the blessings God intends for us. But what does waiting on the Lord look like in practical, daily decision-making? After all, God will not likely to tell you what job to take, what car to buy, or whether or not to go on that trip through a vision. It starts with humbly turning to God for wisdom (knowledge rightly applied); then, remaining prayerfully immersed in God’s word, which will give you godly perspective on circumstances; remaining obedient to God’s word, regardless the apparent cost of fidelity – not cutting corners for expediency’s sake; seeking the counsel of mature Christians, always remembering to “test the spirits,” for consistency with God’s written word; and making the most faithful decisions you can while trusting God with what you didn’t understand. Faith is trusting God enough to obey Him in the present; and hope is trusting God with the future. Love, God’s love for you, ensures that even your failures cannot thwart God’s perfect will for you in your life. Who has the lead in your life?
2. Numbers 9:10, 11 – God made special provision for those who could not worship on schedule.
3. Numbers 9:14 – God is available to everyone.
4. Numbers 9:15-16 – God intends to be in the midst of His people.
5. Numbers 9:20-23 – “Sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle, and according to the command of the Lord they remained in camp; then according to the command of the Lord they set out…. Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses.” God determines the timing, and we are called to obey. We wait when God says wait, and we move when God says move, all according to His timing. It is impossible for us to understand God’s timing, and we should not get overly concerned about understanding His plan for us. We should focus on obedience today, trusting God with the future. We can plan for the future, and the Bible says we should, but our plan is only as good as its alignment with God’s plan. Delayed obedience is disobedience. When God calls you to obey His word, do not hesitate! Conversely, don’t get ahead of God, as discussed above.
6. Numbers 10:8, 9 – “The trumpets shall be to you for a perpetual statute throughout your generations. And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the Lord your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies.” God’s plan is that all of God’s people would be ready to respond to the call to support one another through adversity. How well is the global church today working together to protect the global body from adversaries?
7. Numbers 10:12 – “…and the people of Israel set out by stages from the wilderness of Sinai.” Millions of God’s people moved in a very organized fashion, based upon the plan that they had established under God’s direction. The church cannot function with unity of effort and action if it doesn’t have a plan to do so, if every person doesn’t understand their specific duties and responsibilities as part of the larger whole.
8. Numbers 10:31 – “And he said, ‘Please do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us.’” The people followed the cloud of the Lord, but God also used Moses’ father-in-law to instruct the people in some specifics. God leads us in many ways, often though other godly people who have knowledge and skills that we do not have. God intentionally made us relational, to rely on Him and others.
9. Proverbs 5:22 – “The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.” Do not let sin ensnare you!
10. Acts 18:2, 3, 18-26 – Priscilla and Aquila apparently became bi-vocational missionaries, and Paul joined them for a time. Priscilla and Aquila had a big impact on the early church as a husband/wife business/ministry team.
11. Acts 18:2, 3 – “And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.” Paul worked to finance his ministry. His job was not his identity or life aim but merely a way to resource his real mission of spreading the Gospel.
12. Acts 18:4 – “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.” Paul was diligently faithful to his calling to reach all with the Gospel. Paul did use his work as an excuse for not fulfilling the Great Commission, nor did he use his ministry as an excuse for not working – he worked hard both in industry and ministry.
13. Acts 18:5, 6 — “When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’” Paul dedicated himself to relentlessly testifying about Jesus from the word of God to anyone who would listen. He understood that he was responsible for preaching the Gospel, not for how others chose to respond to God’s word. Preach the truth of Jesus to anyone who will listen. Don’t worry about how they will respond – God knows. When someone comes to see you, hopefully they will find you “occupied with the word, testifying… that the Christ was Jesus.”
14. Acts 18:9 — “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent.” Are you afraid to proclaim the Gospel? Do not be afraid or silent. If your message does not start and end with the person of Jesus Christ, your message is NOT the Gospel. It is impossible to reconcile others to Jesus if you don’t tell them about Jesus, not just vague notions of goodness or sentimental thoughts of God – Jesus Christ! When Jesus gave us the Great Commission, he did so under all authority and promised that He would be with us always and that we would be empowered by the Holy Spirit. He has appointed us as His Ambassadors. Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent. God is with you; what else matters?
15. Acts 18:9, 10 — “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you.” When Jesus gave us the Great Commission, he did so under all authority and promised that He would be with us always and that we would be empowered by the Holy Spirit. He has appointed us as His Ambassadors. Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent. God is with you; what else matters?
16. Acts 18:26 – “He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Apollos was a powerful preacher who still needed spiritual mentorship, both Priscilla and Aquila (husband and wife) too him under their wing, encouraging him and supporting him. They discipled him. Who is discipling you, and who are you discipling? Note that Priscilla and Aquila corrected him in private, not damaging his pride or reputation. They also encouraged him and supported him. Too often Christians fail to instruct one another graciously and tactfully.
17. Acts 18:27 – “When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed.” Only through the grace of God can anyone believe. People believe through the grace of God, not through our efforts, though God uses us as His instruments in the process. God calls us to proclaim the Gospel to all, but only the Holy Spirit can convict a heart.
18. Acts 18:28 – “he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.” All of the Scriptures, OT and NT, proclaim Jesus; the Gospel is Jesus; we are Jesus’ Ambassadors entrusted with the Gospel. Are you ready to publicly proclaim Jesus Christ using the Bible as your guide?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 5 March: Commit today to your true life’s mission as a Christian – proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and advancing the Kingdom of God one heart at a time. Consider your earthly job, not as your purpose in life, but rather as the means to accomplish your purpose, the method of resourcing your Ambassadorship. When people ask what you do, tell them you are an Ambassador of Jesus Christ. If your ‘profession’ hinders your witness, find another profession, even if it is just making tents. (Acts 18)