Posts Tagged ‘Numbers’

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I AM SETTING OUT – April 3

April 3, 2014

“So the people of Israel set out from Rameses and camped at Succoth….And they set out from…And they set out from…And they set out from…And they set out from the mountains of Abarim and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho…” Numbers 33:5-49

Moses’ diary of the stages of the people of Israel while in the wilderness chronicles a consistent pattern. It is a boringly consistent pattern when read in summary. The Israelites were constantly moving on. They were setting out from one place and heading to another place. They still did this pattern for decades because they were not in the promise land.

Desert

Desert (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

The land they were passing through was not their inheritance. They were not to settle in a land filled with idolatry that would draw them away from following God with their whole hearts. We can read about what happened to the nation of Israel when they failed to take possession of the Promised Land and settle in it as God directed them.

The enticements of the settled land became barbs in their eyes and thorns in their sides, and they had trouble in the land where they dwelt. (Numbers 33:55)

I wonder what the summary of my spiritual journey toward eternal life chronicles.

We get in trouble when our hope settles in this life. We are passing through a world of temptations that can become barbs that pull our eyes away from Christ. We are baited into fulfilling desires that can become thorns in our sides that hold us back.  The summary of our lives should demonstrate a consistent pattern of setting out from those loves that entice our hearts away from wholly following Christ.

I am setting out from my love of praise.
I am setting out from my pride.
I am setting out from my anger.
I am setting out from my gossip.
I am setting out from my success.
I am setting out from my failure.
I am setting out from disappointment.
I am setting out from my love of money.
I am setting out from my jealously.
I am setting out from my envy.
I am setting out from my worry.
I am setting out from discontentment.
I am setting out from my love of comfort.
I am setting out from my lust.
I am setting out from my fears.
I am setting out from my doubt.
I am setting out from unbelief.

I know there are a lot of things that I need to set out from. I can readily attest to the areas of my life where I settle. Many times, I will set out only to circle back to those sinful loves of my heart that bind me like thorns in my side.

DesertWe all have specific idols in our lives that have strong allurement. We should not be discouraged by the number of times we set out from these wayward loves. We will always battle temptations to settle for the false promises of this world.

I hope that the diary of my life is a boringly consistent pattern when read in summary.

The pattern of a follower of Christ should be one of consistent setting out. While we are still in this life, we will be constantly setting out from those things that keep us from wholly following Christ. We can have confidence in a future of not settling because of the power of the Spirit. There is not a power in this world that can keep us from setting out in the power of the Spirit. I look forward to a future of not settling for anything other than my inheritance – eternal life as an heir of God. Therefore…

I am setting out from the idols that ensnare me.
I am setting out despite the barbs in my eyes and the thorns in my side.
I am setting out in faith, pursuing the Hope that will never disappoint.
I am setting out with a mind on the things of the Spirit.
I am setting out with a heart wholly devoted to Christ.

 

PRAYER: Father, thank you for giving me a hope to set out for. Forgive me for settling upon loves that will never satisfy me.  Forgive me for settling when I should be following.  Lord, help me to follow you.  Give me the power to set out.  Remove the barbs from my eyes.  Pluck the thorns from my sides.  Free me from all that entangles my love for you and you alone.  Thank you for saving me and giving me an inheritance that I did not deserve. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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LORD OF EVEN OUR CALENDARS – Mar. 11

March 11, 2014

“And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped.  At the command of the Lord the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord they camped.”  Numbers 9:17-18

tabernacle-in-wildernessThe fire was kindled and just coming to wake, along with the rest of the inhabitants of the small tent.  The small family struggled to push away the warm embrace of sleep, lingering as long as possible under covers, allowing the fire’s heat to push away the sting of the morning breeze.  Words were mumbled between family members as the rustling of bedding intensified.  As the family comes back to life, the normal discussion of the coming day commences.

The children ask the same barrage of questions, “Father, are we traveling today?”,  “Can have something other than manna for dinner?” “How far are we going to travel today?”, “What will our next camp be like?”, “I don’t want to go to a new camp; I like this one.”

“I don’t know,” was the unsatisfying response of the half-asleep father.

“But Mother, we have not traveled in four days.  I think we are going to travel again today,” the youngest child surmises.

“Yes, you might be right, but I don’t know,” the mother says with a smile.

“But Father, how long can we stay here?  Don’t we have to start moving again?” the logical eldest child contributed.

“We will stay as long as we need to,” the father said in hopes of ending the discussion.

However, the immediate response from the eldest was “how long do we need to stay?”

“I don’t know,” was the frustrated father’s all too familiar response.

“Can I play with my friends today, Mother?  There is that large rock at the edge of the camp that we want to climb.  Can we climb it today?” the middle child pushed.

“If we don’t travel today, then you can play with your friends…after your chores,” the mother quickly added.

“Are we traveling today?” the child could not help but ask.

“I don’t’ know,” was mumbled through a bit of breakfast when the father noticed a hint of dawn in the distances.  Before his children could ask another question about the day’s plans, he sent them out of the tent with the admonition “go see if the cloud has lifted from the tabernacle.”

Printable 2014 calendar

I think this would be my family if we had been Israelites in the wilderness.  We don’t handle uncertainty well.  The days of our calendar are filled months in advance.  We have vacations, events, and commitments all occupying their designated places.  My kids start out every morning with the same question, “what are we doing today?”  There usually is an answer for us.  We don’t have a cloud over a tabernacle to consult.

When asked about our participation, our response typically involves the consultation of the sacred scroll – our calendar.

I know  there is a balance between planning and spontaneity.  However, my personal tendency is to lean toward the planning.  I like to have a plan.  I don’t like the response of “I don’t know.”  I especially don’t like to re-schedule and modify long-established plans and goals.

However, we all live in the “I don’t know” world more that we might want to acknowledge.  God is Lord of our calendars and He can change them in an instance.  The events on our calendar are all tentative no matter how hard we try to etch them in ink.  The Lord can lift His Spirit in our life at any given moment and send us in a new direction or He can keep us in the same spot even though we desperately want to move on.

All of our plans are subject to the Lord’s will – whether we acknowledge it or not.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-14)

I believe that the balance between planning and spontaneity come by acknowledging that the Lord’s will governs over all.  We must make plans; it is a fundamental part of life.  However, all of our plans are written upon our calendars in the tentative of “if the Lord wills.”  Anything can be changed; we must be willing to yield to the Lord’s will in our lives – in the spontaneous or the long established; to not yield is evil boasting (James 4:16).  It is arrogance to live as if we have the ability to set our schedules in ink.

The Lord is lord of all – even our calendars.  Therefore, every follower of Christ’s calendar should have the yielding heading – “If the Lord wills”.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for being in control of my schedule. I need you to guide me in all ways – especially in my commitments, goals and plans.  You know that I live arrogantly in my tendency to embrace my self-imposed plans.  Lord, change my mindset.  Teach me to check your will in all things.  Take my calendar; enable me to yield my schedule to the changes that you have prescribed.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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