Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 28 May 2022:
Listen to this message on Numbers 29 by Damian Kyle of Calvary Church Modesto, CA — https://www.blueletterbible.org/audio_video/popPlayer.cfm?id=11581&rel=kyle_damian/Num
Numbers 29 – A whole month dedicated to worshipping the Lord by dedicating precious time and valuable resources to Him. Can you imagine? Four times in this chapter, God says, “You shall not do any work.” How incredibly unproductive in the world’s view of economy. Today, we don’t take this much time to worship corporately (perhaps we should), but certainly, just taking one day of rest each week seems unreasonable to most people. Most people feel they have too much to do or better ways to use their time. How many Christians prioritize giving dedicated time each day to pray and to study God’s word? Similarly, how many Christians tithe and give beyond 10% is gifts and alms?
Time and money are our most precious commodities. Dedicating both to the Lord is an act of faith, and it is a personal and public statement that reminds us that our provision, security, and success depend on the Lord, not our efforts. It is an act of trust. God had his people do this every year because, though we have belief, we also have unbelief and need to be reminded.
How in the world could the Israelites find so much time to worship like this, especially while living in the desert where resources were very scarce and productivity mattered greatly? Simply stated, they planned for it, used the rest of their time wisely, and trusted God to honor their dedication by working miraculously in ways they couldn’t anyway. The fact is, most people, even the most productive or harried, waste a lot of time in the day, though these time-wasters may go unnoticed since they have become such common practices, like watching TV, scrolling through social media, various habits of procrastination, etc. If you honestly looked at how productive your total day actually is, you might be surprised. But if you could find just two hours of your day being more productive than you were previously (by not watching that movie, by not procrastinating, by not saying “yes” to unimportant things), you would get a month back in a year to do other things. What could you do with an extra month in the year? For one, you could worship the Lord like the Israelites did. In all honesty, we can find time for things about which we really care.
Numbers 29:1 — On the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you will have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets.
“Blowing the trumpets is like a picture of crying out to God and asking God to remember you, and provide for you in all kinds of different ways. I mean basically a picture of prayer.
On this particular day, and we see this all throughout the book of Numbers, and Leviticus, and really all throughout the Old Testament, and then in new ways and even greater ways in the New Testament, this picture of putting aside work and resting from that ordinary work in order to pray, in order to focus on God in a fresh way, to cry out to him, to call to him. Even from the very beginning of the Bible with Genesis chapter 1 and 2 and seeing God rest and then calling his people to rest.
What intentional regular focused rest are you getting in your life? We need rest from ordinary work and focused time crying out to Him.
Now, we don’t have time in these couple of minutes to get into how that Sabbath commandment and these commandments to rest on particular days, how they then play out in the New Testament, but the principle is clear. God calls his people to periodically put aside work and focus on Him, rest before Him, and crying out before Him. Like this is what’s happening here in the beginning of Numbers 29. Don’t do any regular work. Blow your trumpets. Cry out to God. Offer sacrifices to God.
In a culture where we are constantly focused on work, like we almost can’t put our phones down, and all the email, and messages, and the stuff that needs to be done, if we’re not careful, we can go through day after day after day, week after week after week with very little rest, and specifically coming aside from ordinary work not just to relax and participate in hobbies, which obviously is good and can be glorifying to God, but to rest specifically with the aim of crying out to God, and pleading for God’s help, and acknowledging your need for God in your life. What rest, intentional regular, focused rest are you getting in your life, are you setting aside in your life?
This is not something that happens just accidentally. This is something that we are supposed to intentionally do. Again, we’re not under the same laws. We’re not in the same routines that are happening here in the Old Testament, but certainly this principle is for all of us who are in Christ. There needs to be time when we rest from ordinary work and we cry out to God and just spend focused time and give focused attention to sounding the trumpets before Him.
Numbers 29:12 – “….you shall keep a feast to the Lord seven days.”
During the Feast of Booths, all the Israelites essentially camped out for a whole week, with each day being dedicated to worship. In Israel, they would all, the entire nation, leave their homes and live in huts. In the cities they even had to put these huts, booths, on their rooftops. Can you imagine? Each year this was a reminder to the people of God’s provision and salvation in the desert; it reminded the people that even if they lost everything, God would still be there for them and see them through; it brought all the people together for a week of fellowship, away from work and distractions; it taught them that their joy did not depend on the comforts of life; and practically, it keep them proficient at camping, in the event they were ever required to live on the land again. It has been said that nothing brings a family together quite like camping. Perhaps, Christians should revive the Feast of Booths. What if your entire church spent a week each year camping together, seven days away from distractions in worship and fellowship?
Psalm 61:2 – From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
“David teaches us that we can call out to God at any time and from any place because—no matter where we are—we’re near to God. No matter how far you may have wandered from God, it only takes one step to get back to Him.
Perhaps you feel overwhelmed today. You don’t know where to turn. Come to the Rock that is higher than you: Jesus Christ will deliver and strengthen you. He will lead you to a place of victory. Then you will be able to say with David, He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock … many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord (Psalm 40:2-3b). That’s what God wants to do for you.
Don’t Box God In
When we pray by the Spirit, we don’t insist that God answer our prayers the same way each time. David understood this. When he was fighting against the Philistines, God’s Spirit led him to victory in different ways. Once, the Lord told him to wait beside some mulberry trees and then go to battle, allowing the Lord to smite them first (1 Chronicles 14:13-15).
Continue to seek God through prayer, realizing that He may want to lead you in a totally new way.
When God works in a certain way, we might assume we have God’s methods down pat, so we don’t bother to pray for His direction. David had enough wisdom to know that, although he would face the same enemy, he needed to inquire of the Lord again. “Shall we go out against them again?” he asks at a later time. God answers, in essence, No, not this time around. I’ve got a different plan.
God is not confined to one method. We should never follow patterns simply because they worked in the past. Continue to seek God through prayer, realizing that He may want to lead you in a totally new way.
Don’t Be in a Hurry
David didn’t always listen to or ask for the counsel of God. When King Saul chased him around Israel, seeking to take his life, David reached a point of despair where he said, “There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines” (1 Samuel 27:1b). What a false conclusion! In reality, there is nothing better for you than to submit yourself totally to the will of God in prayer. David allowed his fear to weaken his faith.
The word “speedily” gives us insight into David’s mindset. The enemy often pressures us to take the quick way: “Hurry. Don’t think. Don’t ponder the consequences.” How many times has this tactic landed you in trouble? Instead of being hurried and living with regret, commit the issue to God in Spirit-soaked prayer and wait on His answer.
Trust in His Will
An Old Testament prophet named Hanani gave me an insight into God that revolutionized my own prayer life: For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9a).
God wants to do a work. He is simply searching for people who are in harmony with His will. We mistakenly try to direct the flow of the Spirit. We build the channels and then say, “Okay, Lord, now flow through this channel.” It would be far wiser to find out where the Spirit is flowing and get in that flow. God is looking for people who are in harmony with His purposes. Then He channels His resources through them, and their lives become rich and blessed.
We can never go wrong by putting our whole trust in the Lord, who always answers our prayers according to His gracious, loving nature. So let us continue to pray fervently in faith, wholeheartedly trusting God—and then leave the outcome to Him.” (Calvary Chapel Magazine)
Psalm 61:8 — “So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day.”
True love for God causes you to praise Him and obey Him.
Psalm 61:8 — Worship God, not just in song, ceremony, or sacrifice, but, more importantly, it is shown in humility and fidelity. Worship not just in spirit but in “truth,” in deed.
Decisions without action are lies to self and to God. Integrity comes from follow-through.
Proverbs 28:2 — “When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue.”
A nation full of people with selfish, disobedient hearts is divided and unstable. Wisdom, which can only come from a right relationship with God, brings order and stability.
Proverbs 28:4 — “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive against them.”
The wicked will unite in their wickedness with disobedience as their banner. Those who desire to live by the law and justice must be willing to strive against them.
Proverbs 28:8 — “Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.”
Some people make money off the backs of others, and some people are true producers who provide tangible resources to others. Many super-wealthy people have actually produced nothing but rather have manipulated currency to their benefit. Be a producer.
Proverbs 28:9 — “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”
Don’t presume that God will give you what you want while you are refusing to obey Him in what He has clearly told you to do. Settle the matter first.
Proverbs 28:12 — “When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves.”
The wicked can rise. When they do, the Christians, who have been given the power and authority of God to make disciples in the world, have only themselves to blame. If you don’t like the current state of affairs, look at the condition of the church — the darkness is because the light is not very bright.
Proverbs 28:19, 20 — “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.”
Stable wealth is obtained slowly over time through faithful production. You don’t get something for nothing.
Proverbs 28:25 — “A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.”
All fights are the product of selfishness — someone wants something that God did not give them, and they blame someone else. James said it this way: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:1-4) No one can withhold from you what God intends for you. Don’t waste you time or harden your heart fighting with others. Live in peace, obey God, and wait patiently on Him to provide your every need.
Proverbs 28:26 — “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”
You will either walk in your own understanding or by the God’s word and the counsel of the Holy Spirit. How foolish is it for us to think that our very small minds, informed by some decades of limited experience, could serve as a substitute for the mind of God? God warns, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Proverbs says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones (Proverbs 3:5-8).” If you want to live the life God intended for you, if you want to stay on the straight path, if you want to experience the fullness of joy and the peace that transcends all understanding, you will have to obey God’s word and follow His lead even when it doesn’t seem profitable or beneficial to you.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 May 22: Today, make the commitment to dedicate at least one hour every day to dedicated Bible study and prayer, preferably first thing in the morning. Never miss a day from today forward, and if you need help with this commitment, vow to not eat anything or look at any form of media (books, TV, electronics, smartphones, etc,) before your one-hour with God.