Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 7 Mar 18:
1. Numbers 13:1, 9 — “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites….. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” God had given the Israelites the land of Canaan so His people would dominate and control the most strategic piece of terrain in the region for His glory. However, the people sinned and rebelled by failing to trust God and face the enemy. They failed to act because they were afraid. Due to their lack of faith and lack of action, the Canannites would control the crossroads of international trade and cultural influence for another 40+ years, and the Jews would continue to wander the desert. Arguably, we have largely ceded control of society’s major institutions of influence (schools, media, government, art, entertainment, science, etc) to unbelievers due to fear and rebellion against the King who called His people to be fruitful, multiply and subdue the earth — to make disciples among all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey. “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?”
2. Numbers 13:2 – God made the promise before He demanded a commitment.
3. Numbers 13:21-25 – God’s people follow God’s instructions.
4. Numbers 13:25 – God protected the spies.
5. Numbers 13:26-33 – Carrying out God’s mission is not enough if you do not learn faith in it.
6. Numbers 13:28-33 – God wants you to look at what He can do, not what the enemy can do.
7. Numbers 14:1, 4 — “Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night…. And they said to one another, ‘Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.’” Jesus gave us the Great Commission – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19, 20).” Will you obey the Lord fully and wholeheartedly? Or will you be like so many others who see the enormity of the challenge, the risk, and the personal sacrifice required and then reject God’s call, choosing comfort and conformity to the world instead? There really isn’t any middle ground (see Matthew 7:21; Matthew 12:30; Luke 6:46; Luke 11:23; Revelation 3:16). You will either step out in faith, regardless of apparent circumstances, or you won’t. You will either be wholehearted or double-minded. Partial obedience is disobedience. God’s path leads to the Promised Land. The world’s path leads to death in the desert or a return to slavery in Egypt. How will you respond to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission? Paul is a model for us all: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:24-27).” Paul committed his all to the proclamation of the gospel, recognizing that, as a “priest” for God, he would be held accountable to God for how well he performed his duties. If you are a Christian, you are also considered by God to be one of His priests – “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:5, 9).” Are you known by all as a wholehearted priest? Do you consider the measure of your life success how well you fulfilled the Great Commission? What will be the motive behind your actions today?
– James 1:6-8; 4:8 — The one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways…. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
8. Numbers 14:8-9 – Victory depends on God’s will, not human power.
9. Numbers 14:9 – “Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land.” Fear of man rather than fear of God leads to rebellion.
10. Numbers 14:10 – God’s presence protects His faithful people.
11. Numbers 14:11-12 – Rebellion makes God angry.
12. Numbers 14:13-16 – God protects His reputation.
13. Numbers 14:19 – “Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.” Moses continued to intercede for the people though they continually turned against Him. Is there someone for whom you have stopped praying?
14. Numbers 14:20-38 — A lack of faith can cause you to miss out on God’s blessings for you.
15. Numbers 14:24 — “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.” Of all the original Israelites that left Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb would enter into the Promised Land because they fully committed with all of their hearts to follow the Lord and to trust Him in all circumstances. When we don’t follow the Lord unconditionally, we are rebelling against the Lord by definition — the Lord must in fact lord over our lives completely. Our lives must be lived in full submission and surrender to the Almighty King. God forgave those who refused to follow His lead into the Promised Land, but He also disciplined them for their behavior — “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty (Numbers 14:18)…. none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers (14:22, 23).” Disobedience robs us of the fullness of joy we should receive in Christ. Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:10, 11).” Live joyfully in obedience today.
16. Numbers 14:25 – God still shows His work to His people even when He must discipline them.
17. Numbers 14:27-37 – God’s forbearance with sin has its limits.
18. Numbers 14:39 – God’s discipline brings mourning.
19. Numbers 14:40-41 – God does not always forego punishment when people repent.
20. Numbers 14:42 – You must see God’s work today.
21. Proverbs 7:2, 3 — “…keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” God’s word, empowered by the Holy Spirit, changes what you care about (heart), what you think about or gaze upon (eyes), and what you choose to do (fingers). There are three levels of motivation: fear (the lowest form of motivation), duty (works), and love (the greatest form of motivation). At first, we might obey God because we are scared not to obey; then we might obey God because we know we should; but as we grow, we begin to obey God because we truly desire to, because of our love. Despite how you might feel, obey, and grow. Note that theses verses introduce a warning against adultery. There are many books out there on how to affair-proof your marriage. What does the Bible say?
22. Acts 20:21 – “…repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Repentance and faith go together and are continuous.
23. Acts 20:24 – “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Are you ready to give your life for the Gospel?
24. Acts 20:26-27 – “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” We only fail if we fail to proclaim the Gospel.
25. Acts 20:28 – “Care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” We must not forget that God cared enough for others to give His life for them – we love Him when we love them.
26. Acts 20:32 – Ministers need to feed on God’s word.
27. Acts 20:36 – Prayer had a central place in Paul’s ministry. How is prayer prioritized in your life and ministry? BTW, if you think you don’t have a ministry, re-read 2 Corinthians 5:18 – “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” For whose reconciliation with God are you fervently praying?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 March: Do not fear the enemy. Trust God enough to boldly proclaim the Gospel of His Son Jesus.