Thursday, May 26, 2011

A challenge from Joshua

This passage is Joshua giving his final words to the children of Israel before he died.

Jos 23:6-8  Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;  That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:   But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day. 

Joshua encourages the children of Israel to be courageous in keeping and doing all that was written in the book of the law.  He encouraged them to not turn to the left or the right, he told them that they should not mention the false gods of the other nations, take an oath by them, serve the false gods or bow down to them.  Joshua was very aware that the children of Israel frequently struggled with the sin of idol worship.  Instead of just telling them what not to do, he also told them what they should do.  He told them to cleave to the Lord!

Jos 23:9-11  For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.   One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.  Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God. 

Joshua then gives the people a reason to cleave to the Lord.  It wasn't just because "I said so;"  it was because the Lord had given the people great victories, and in the future He would give them great victories because the Lord was fighting them.  Then Joshua tells the people to take heed unto themselves to love the Lord.
Jos 23:12-13  Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:   Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. 

Joshua tells the people what would happen if they did not cleave to and love the Lord.  If they did not obey the Lord, the Lord would not drive the nations out of the land.  Instead those nations would cause many problems for the children of Israel.

Jos 23:14-16  And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.  Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.  When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you. 

Joshua tells the people that he is dying!  He reminds the people how the Lord had kept word.  If the Lord kept His word about the good things, then the Lord would keep His word about the bad things.  If the children of Israel did not obey the Lord then they would receive the consequences.

This story as many truths we can apply to our lives, then teach to our children.  Joshua told the people to keep and do the Lords commands, to cleave to the Lord and to love the Lord.  If we do those things we will not be cleaving to the things of the world.   Joshua, as he was instructing the people gave them reasons for cleaving and loving.  The reasons were because the Lord keep His word, and would continue to keep His word.   Are we teaching this lesson to our children?  Do our children see us loving and cleaving to the Lord?  To we given them reasons why we do those things or is it "because I said so"?  Our relationship with the Lord is so important because our children can tell if we are giving lip service to the Lord, or if we really have a relationship with the Lord. 

When I was younger, occasionally I would go over to my grandparents house to spend the night.  One of the things that I remember is devotions with my grandparents.  They would read a short devotional, some Scripture and then pray.  As I listened to my grandfather pray, I knew that he had a special relationship with the Lord.  That is the kind of relationship I want with the Lord!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Today, I decided to do a study of what the Bible has to say about fathers and our heavenly Father.

Luk 11:11-13  If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?   Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?   If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? 

This passage is at the end of the familiar passage that talks about asking and receiving "ask and it shall be given you."  After Jesus finishes exhorting the disciples to pray, he gives an example they would have been familiar with, the example of a father and his child.  Jesus describes an earthly father that gives his child the things he daily needs.  Then the Lord compares the earthly father to our heavenly Father. If the earthly father can give good gifts so much more will our heavenly Father.

1Th 2:10-12  Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:   As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,  That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

These verses do not reference our Heavenly father, but they do discuss what an earthly father does.  He exhorts (encourages), comforts and charges (commands) his children.  

Heb 12:5-11  And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?   But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.   Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?   For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.   Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 

These verse discuss how God deals with his children compared with how an earthly father deals with his children.  As Christians we are to not to despise the chastening  (Correcting; afflicting for correction*) that the Lord gives us.  The Lord is shown as a loving Father that chasteneth and scourgeth (To afflict greatly; to harass, torment or injure.*) his children.  The encouragement is that if the Lord is chastening you then you are His child.  Then the comparison is made to our earthly father.    Our father corrected and chastened us for a small amount of time for his own pleasure, but our heavenly Father does it so that we could be more like Him.  That chastening is never pleasant, but it does result in righteousness. 

So what can we learn from these passages?  The Luke and Hebrews passages both compare our heavenly Father with an earthly father.  Both the earthly father and the heavenly Father give gifts to their children and chasten their children.  The I Thess. passage describes an earthly father that encourages, comforts, and commands his children.  So as parents do we have these characteristics?  Could we be described as giving, chastening, encouraging, comforting, commanding?  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An encouraging word

The first several verses of the book of Joshua show us the Lord encouraging Joshua in the task that was before him.

Jos 1:1-6  Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.  Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.  From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.  There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.   Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 

Joshua now had a tremendous responsibility.  He was to lead the people of Israel as they conquered the land of Canaan.  He did not have to do it alone though, the Lord promised to be with him all the days of his life.  The Lord promised Joshua with He would not fail him or forsake him.  The Lord then told Joshua to be strong and of a good courage, because the Lord was going to keep His word.

Jos 1:7-8  Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.  This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 

Then the Lord repeats himself; He again tells Joshua to be strong and very courageous. This time the Lord tells Joshua to obey all the commandments that Moses had given him.  Joshua was to mediate on the commandments day and night; the reason was so that he would be able to do the commandments.  If Joshua followed the commandments, then he would prosper in the task that he had been given.

Jos 1:9  Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. 

Once more we see the Lord repeating himself.  He tells Joshua to be strong and of a good courage and to not be afraid; the reason was because the Lord was with Joshua where ever he went.

This story brings to mind the phrase I heard often in my education classes in college, "Repetition is the key to learning."  The Lord as the master teacher, three times instructs Joshua to be strong and courageous.  To Joshua these words must have been a great encouragement considering the great task that he was facing.

How about us as parents?  The tasks our children face to us may seem rather small and insignificant, but to them it may seem as big a task as Joshua was facing.  Let's take the opportunity to encourage our children, but not just once, let's do it often!  We obviously cannot hold their hands and be with them every were that they go, but the Lord can.  Let's encourage them to trust the Lord to help them through those difficult tasks that they may be facing.  A simple word of encouragement to our children can go along way!

Pro 15:23  A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Let's study!

Deu 6:4-9  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.   And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. 

Here we see instructions for the children of Israel to teach their children about the Lord. We all know the verses, but do we apply them to our lives. The foundation of a Christian family should be the Jesus Christ.  In order for Christ to be the foundation we must study the book that is the foundation of our faith, the Bible!

This study from 2007 is very revealing, finding that the majority of those surveyed that claim to be Christian did not or rarely prayed, did not or rarely went to church, and did not read the Bible.

 In the group's survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% say they're "really more spiritual than religious." Among the 65% who call themselves Christian, "many are either mushy Christians or Christians in name only," Rainer says. "Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith."
Key findings in the phone survey, conducted in August and released today:
•65% rarely or never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves either.
•65% rarely or never attend worship services.
•67% don't read the Bible or sacred texts.
Many are unsure Jesus is the only path to heaven: Half say yes, half no.

What a sad commentary, but how many of those are parents attempting to raise their children in a "Christian" way.   I just did an search for "Christian Parenting;" the results I got included 5,324 items.  There is a plethora of choices out there claiming to be the "source" for Christian parents.  If the foundation of our families is Christ then why do we spend so much time reading everyone else's views on parenting completely forgetting the Bible as our source?  Are we like those surveyed that don't even read the Bible?  Do we daily get into the Bible and study it?  Do we spend more time studying parenting books, blogs, and forums than we do studying the Bible?   Do we use the manual of the Inspired Word of God for raising our children?  If the Bible is what we open only at church how can we even consider how we are raising our children to be "Christian?"  If we are having a problem with one of our children what do we do?  Do we pray seeking the Lord's guidance and study the Bible, or do we turn to our favorite parenting forum or parenting book?  
Php 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
 Do we consider that raising our children is included in the "all things" we can do through Christ?  Let's endeavor to be like the Christians at Berea.
Act 17:11  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 
Let's study the scriptures!  It is the perfect manual for everything in our lives, including raising our children.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Through the eyes of a child

If we were to rate creativity in our family I would end up on the very bottom as the least creative member of our family.  Hannah on the other hand would rank as probably the most creative.  One of her school assignments was to write the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath from the perspective of the widow's son.  This is Hannah's version of the story (edited only for spelling errors).

Last week when me and my mother were out getting sticks a man came and asked my mother if she could get him food and drink.  Mother spoke my mind (told him that there's only enough for my lunch.) My little eyes grew big when Mother went to make MY lunch for a STRANGER!  I went to look to see if there was anything left.  When I opened the barrel I got very confused.  I peeked out the door, sure enough the man was eating.  Then it hit me, then I knew, the man was great prophet Elijah!  I was very happy somehow I knew the Lord would supply our food for the rest of the famine.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A day to remember

In this story we see children of Israel crossing over Jordan on dry ground.

Jos 4:1-8  And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,  Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,  And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night. Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:  And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:   That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?  Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.   And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the LORD spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

 After all of the children of Israel passed through the Jordan river, the Lord commanded Joshua to have twelve men gather twelve stones from the center of the river and take them to the place there they were going to camp that night.

Jos 4:19-24  And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.  And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.   And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?   Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.   For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:  That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever. 
The stones were placed in Gilgal.  The purpose of the stones was so the next generation would have physical item to help them remember what the Lord had done for the children of Israel. 

Sometimes it is very important for us to have physical reminders of what the Lord has done for us.  Each of us probably can look back at a trial in our life that we can say that the Lord was with us and did great and mighty works.  The stones that the children of Israel set up were their physical reminder that the Lord had done great and mighty works when He brought them into Canaan.

In our home we have have a plaque.  It is not the prettiest plaque, but that plaque is a physical reminder to us of how the Lord worked greatly in our lives.  When we had our house fire that plaque was on the wall.  The plaque says "There ain't nothing gonna happen today that me and the Lord can't handle together."  It is definitely not good grammar, but it hung on the wall as a reminder that we needed the Lord's help.  In the fire, the plaque was damaged by the smoke.  We sent it to the cleaning company to see if they could clean it up.  Unfortunately, they were unable to remove the smoke damage.

Today, that plaque hangs on our wall, smoke damaged and all, for one simple reason-it is our physical reminder of the Lord's greatness.  In the days and week following the fire we saw time and time again the Lord take care of our every need.  At times, the struggle that we faced was completely and totally overwhelming, but the Lord was right there with us, helping in our time of need.  The house has been restored, the emotional wounds have healed, but I never want to forget what the Lord did for us.  When we go through more trials and struggles in our lives, that plaque is a reminder that the Lord saw us through that fiery trial, and He will see us through our current trials.  In essence that plaque is our pile of rocks!  When our kids ask why we have an ugly, smoke damaged plaque on the wall, we can tell them about how great the Lord is.

What about your family?  We all face our own versions of a fiery trial, when we reach the other side do we have something, maybe a physical objects that helps us remember what the Lord has done?  Even if we don't have a physical item, do we talk to our children about the times in our lives that we saw the Lord's mighty works? 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Early morning musings!

Deu 6:7  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

This morning I was up early running.  As I was enjoying the cool, beautiful morning I was pondering parenting.  The past couple stories have been almost discouraging.  Time and again the children of Israel sin, and over and over the Lord punishes the sin with death.  As I was mediating on that the verse that came to mind was Romans 3:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Sin deserves death nothing else, it doesn't deserve mercy or grace, it deserves death.  From the smallest lie to the mass murder it all deserves death.  That little sin, that is so cute when the 3 year old is doing it, is still sin: it deserves death.  It doesn't matter why the child is sinning, it doesn't matter how the child is sinning, it doesn't matter if the child was lead astray into the sin it is still when you boiling it down it is still SIN.  It is a very sobering fact, but we can't escape it!   When we understand that fact it helps to understand why the sin of Israel was punished with death.

Fortunately that verse doesn't end with that sobering fact, it continues telling us the wonderful gift that God has given us.  He gave us His son to pay the ultimate price for sin, so that we could have eternal life through Christ.

So what is our responsibility as parents?  Deuteronomy 6 is a great chapter about the responsibility of parents.

Deu 6:1-9  Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:  That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.   Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:   And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:   And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. 

The children of Israel have been given all the commands, all the statutes, all the judgments from God.  Now it was time to put them into practice.  We see that the fathers, theirs sons, and their grandsons, basically every generation was suppose to obey the commandments.  The words should be in their hearts and they should be taught diligently to their children.  When the family is sitting together, when they are traveling together, when they are lying down, when they are getting up.  For all practical purposes the commands of the Lord should be taught to their children all the time.  The teaching of the commandments of the Lord should be a constant endeavor.  The next couple verses tell us the why.

Deu 6:10-12  And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,   And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;   Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

The "why" is one simple reason: forgetfulness.  When things were going great, when the Lord was blessing, the children of Israel would have to be careful not to forget the Lord.

Deu 6:18  And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers,  To cast out all thine enemies from before thee, as the LORD hath spoken.   And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God hath commanded you.  Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand:   And the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:   And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.  And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.   And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.

When the Lord was blessing the children of Israel and the sons asked about the commandments.   The fathers were to tell them about how the Lord delivered them from Egypt, how He did miraculous works, and brought them into the Promised Land.   They were suppose to teach their children that the Lord commanded them to do the statutes for their own good, so that the Lord would preserve them.

I can already hear the argument, we aren't under the law we are under grace so we don't have to follow the law.  Very true, so lets look at what the NT says about this topic.

Mat 28:18-20  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 

The disciples here are commanded by Christ to go into the world and teach all nations.  Notice they were commanded to teach them to do all the things that Christ had commanded.  So everything that Christ taught we are to teach others-including our children.  A great framework for teaching those commandments is found in Deut. 6.  The same way the children of Israel were instructed to teach their children, is a great way for us to teach our children.

Gal 3:21-26  Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.   But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.   But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.   But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians is a great book to read about our relationship to the law.  The law can not save us, teaching our children how to obey will not save them. However, the law does have a very important function: it brings us to Christ.  Parents, our role in teaching our children is extremely important.  As we teach them how to obey, as we teach them that the sin they commit has consequences we are teaching them the law.   That law is so vital, it is what brings us to Christ.   It is what causes us to realize that we are sinners, that no matter what we do we cannot measure up to God's standards and we need Christ's work on the cross to justify us.  Parents do you understand what an great responsibility we have been given as parents?  We have the opportunity to teach our children the law so that in essence we can bring them to Christ. 

Parents of  unsaved children have an essential task, teaching their child what is sin, to help them understand the seriousness of their actions.  If they do not teach them, who will?  

Do we really get it though?  Sin is serious, it deserves death!  We must teach our children that, we must teach our children that the sin they commit is serious and that it is a reason that Christ died on the cross.  Using distraction, redirecting, talking about why the child did what they did is NOT teaching them that what they have done is sin, in fact some of those techniques basically ignore the sin.  When our unsaved children sin, it is vital that we take that opportunity to teach them.  

Working in church with unsaved children from non-Christian homes, we often talk to kids that have no understanding of what sin is.  Even after explaining that things like disobeying your parents is sin, because the Lord tells us to obey our parents, the children often still don't understand.  If a child does not understand sin, then the child does not understand their need for a Savior.  Contrast that with a child from a home were the parents label sin as sin, and give consequences for that sin, the child more easily understands their sin and their need for a Savior.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Direct Disobedience

This story is another story of Israel sinning, it seems to be a very common theme!

Num 25:1-3  And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.   And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.   And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. 

Here we see the children of Israel involved in direct disobedience.  The Lord had commanded the children of Israel to have no other gods, to make no graven images of any other gods, and to worship no other gods (Ex 20:2-6).  Yet here we see the children of Israel doing exactly what they were not suppose to do!  They were eating and bowing down to Baalpeor, and they had joined themselves to this false god.  Understandably, the Lord was angry with the children of Israel.

Num 25:4-5  And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor. 

The Lord had a severe punishment for those that had disobeyed and followed after Baalpeor-the consequence was death.  The following verses tell us that a plague was sent by the Lord unto the children of Israel.

Num 25:6-9  And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.   And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;   And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.  And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.

This part of the story depicts a rather graphic scene.  One of the Israelites, flaunts his sin while others are at the tabernacle weeping, by bringing a Midianitish woman into the camp were everyone can see.  When Phinehas saw what was going on he got up and grabbed a javelin.   He followed the man into the tent and with the javelin killed both the Israelite and Midianite.  With the death of this man and woman the plague that was killing the children of Israel was stopped.  The death toll was staggering--24,000 Israelites died because of their sin. 

The Lord punished the children of Israel severely for their direct disobedience.  What about us?  Do we punish our children for their direct disobedience, or are we guilty of letting it slide?   In this instance, the Lord punished His people with no mercy, in fact the consequences ceased only when the sin was stopped by Phinehas.  The Bible does tell us that weeping was going on; in verse 6 we see the children of Israel in front of the tabernacle weeping!  It wasn't the weeping that stopped the punishment, it was the removal of sin. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Overflowing blessing

Sometimes in our lives it is so easy to get discouraged.  I was talking with some friends recently about how hard it is to trust the Lord when we start looking at what is going on.  We are often sort of like Peter when he was walking to Jesus on the water.  He was doing great until he started to look around at the storm that was raging all about him.  We know in our hearts that the Lord is going to take care of our needs, but the flesh starts to wonder how in the world he is going to be able to take care of us. 
I am so thankful that the Lord is patient with us when our faith falters, and just like when Peter called out "Lord, save me," we do the same thing.  Then the Lord, just like He did for Peter, reaches out and saves us from ourselves.
We were having a few moments of faltering faith last week.  Thankfully the Lord has shown us in the past week that He is more than completely capable of taking care of our every need.  He brought just the encouragement that we really needed to help us with our faith. 
Last week I was practicing piano I was playing the song "Tis so Sweet to Trust In Jesus."  As I was almost done playing, it hit me, I had been so concerned about how the Lord was going to take care of us, but I completely missed the point.  It is " sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take him at His word, just in simple faith to trust him, beneath the healing cleansing flood."   There is something truly amazing about how the Lord takes care of our needs.
There is a missionary family that our church supports is also friends with our family.  Their latest missionary letter that they sent the church stated that they already had 20% of the support that they needed!  That was a great encouragement to me, if the Lord can take care of them, surely He can take care of us!
Part of being a child is learning lessons that the parent teaches.  As a child of God, our Lord is trying to teach us different lessons.  The lessons the Lord is teaching me may be completely different from the lessons the Lord is trying to teach you, but we all need to be thankful we have a caring heavenly Father who is molding us to be more like Him.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fiery serpents in the wilderness

The children of Israel frequently managed to get themselves into trouble.  Here is another instance of the children of Israel sinning and the Lord punishing them for their sin.

Num 21:4  And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
Num 21:5  And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.

First we see the sin.  The children became discouraged because of the difficult journey, so they began to complain.  They complained about being brought into the wilderness (it should be noted that the reason they were wandering around the wilderness at this point was because they had a lack of faith and would not go into the Promised land), they complained that there was no bread (even though the Lord was still daily providing manna), they complained that they didn't have any water, and they complained that they didn't like the manna.

Num 21:6  And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 

The Lord's response to their complaining was immediate consequences.  The serpents bit the people and many of the people died. 

Num 21:7  Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 

The people realized that they had sinned, and begged Moses to pray to the Lord to take away the serpents. 

Num 21:8  And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
Num 21:9  And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

The Lord did not grant the request of the people, but He did provide a way to live.   Moses made a serpent of brass, put it on a pole, and if a person looked at the serpent he would live. 
This story is pretty straight-forward.  We see the sin, the consequences, and then mercy from the Lord.  The sin that they committed in our eyes is often considered not that bad, but in the eyes of the Lord it was sin.  The consequences of sin is always death (Rom 3:23), and this is the consequence that the children of Israel receive for their sin.   The children of Israel were not even sorry for their sins until after they began to receive the consequences.  When they went to Moses and asked for mercy, the Lord did grant mercy, but the children of Israel did not have all the consequences taken away.  In order to avoid death the children of Israel individually had to obey and look at the serpent of brass.

So let's apply this to our lives.  Do we punish our children for complaining?  In the eyes of the Lord, complaining was a serious sin-worthy of severe punishment.  Is the reason that we don't punish our children for complaining because they see us complaining and they are just copying us?   Just because our children repent of their sin do we remove all consequences?  The Lord did remove the most severe of the consequences, but all the consequences were not removed, and in fact to avoid the most severe of the consequences, obedience was required!
This is a common response of the Lord.  When sin occurs, the Lord in His justice hands out the consequences, but in His mercy allows a way to reduce the severity of the consequence, but He never removes them totally.
Adam and Eve-the consequence was death, but mercy delayed it.
Miriam and Aaron-the consequence was leprosy and removal from the camp, but mercy allowed the leprosy to be taken away.
The children of Israel at Canaan-the consequence was that the Lord was ready to strike them all dead; but the mercy gave them 40 more years of life.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Water out of a rock

This story begins with children of Israel complaining about not have water to drink.  Moses handles the problem correctly by immediately going to the Lord and asking what he should do.
Num 20:7-10  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.   And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him.  And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? 

The Lord instructs Moses to take the rod, gather the people together, and speak to the rock.    Pretty simple instructions, that Moses should have easily been able to follow.

Num 20:11  And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. 

Unfortunately, Moses did not obey the instructions of the Lord.  Instead of speaking to the rock, he hit the rock twice with his rod.  The Lord did allow the water to come from the rock, but Moses and Aaron still had consequences for their disobedience.

Num 20:12  And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. 

Moses did not obey the Lord's instructions even though in the end the desired results were achieved.  The consequence for the sin was that Moses and Aaron would not be allowed to enter into the promised land.
Just because the children of Israel got the water that they needed; it did not mean that the Lord approved of the method that Moses used.  In fact the disobedience that occurred required a consequence.   The Lord told Moses and Aaron the reason that they were punished was because they did not believe the Lord.  They did not trust the Lord enough to follow the instructions that they had been given.

How can we apply how the Lord handles Moses and Aaron's sin to our parenting?  The Lord gave clear and simple instructions to Moses; do we give our children clear instructions?  When Moses disobeyed the Lord's instructions, he did not get away with it.  When our children disobey do we let them get away with it just because we got the desired results?   Do we expect full and total obedience?