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I have many random notes since I last blogged so let’s get started. First, I want to know how you are doing with reading through the Bible. We’ve come through a difficult portion with lots of regulations, the

calling of Joshua, the death of Moses, the death of Joshua, a reminder of the history of Israel and so much more.

Are any of us like Achan, who confesses his sin but still suffers the consequences? Often, we hear false teaching that when we become a Christian, we won’t have problems, we won’t suffer but that is a lie. Peter reminds us “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.” (1Peter 1:6-7a) Or we can look at James, “count it all joy, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2) All this without having sinned but Achan did sin and I suspect he thought, like many of us, that that would be the end. But remember, we will suffer the consequences for our sin. Also remember, it is the right thing to do when you confess your sins to our Lord!

I’ve heard many make the comment that the Old Testament is of no use today but I implore you to continue reading because so often we can see ourselves (as we live our lives) in the behavior of the Israelites.

The Israelites were close to the Lord, wanting to do what He wanted them to do, but within a short time, we see they “did what was right in their own eyes” and that is never good, whether back then or today.

There is a time in Judges 16:20b where Samson woke up not realizing that the Lord had left him. That is so sad but again, we all struggle with the same thing. Life is going good and we stop reading our Bibles, we “get so busy” with life and don’t pray as often, and before we know it, we forget to seek the Lord in the most important situations of our life. Indeed, the Old Testament is of great relevance.

Ruth is a remarkable little book that does show us that God uses women. Not only does He use women, He uses women that aren’t one of His chosen. Let’s bring to mind that He used Tamar (Gen 18:1-30). When Judah did not keep his promise, she tricked him and became pregnant by him, giving birth to twins, one of which is in the line of Jesus. Ruth, a Moabite, also gives birth to a child in the line of Jesus, Obed the son of Boaz.

Next, we start through 1 Samuel and find that Israel is pretending to serve the Lord but didn’t pray about decisions concerning going into battle. They put on a show, a pretense of calling for the Ark of the Covenant and paraded it around the battlefield. Not only did they lose the battle but the Ark was taken by the enemy.

The importance of obedience is explain in 1 Samuel 15:22, “What is more pleasing to the Lord; your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” Not only does God ask the question, He gives the answer.

I also thought it important to remind us that God explains mankind as a whole. For those of you that are young, that means both men and women…never thought I would have to explain that. 1 Samuel 24:13 points out, “As that old proverb says, “from evil people come evil deeds.” Jesus makes the same point in Matt 7:16-20, “Beware of false

prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

Again, we see that the Old Testament introduces a subject and the New Testament confirms exactly what the Old Testament is teaching.

Finally, I was interested in seeing the subject of 2 Samuel 8 about David going into battle and the defeated people “became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money.” I cannot find a lot written on this in the commentaries but I wonder if that tribute money was like taxes being paid? What would that mean for our country where the citizens pay taxes every year and throughout the year? Instead of giving other countries our tax dollars, perhaps we should be having them pay a tribute. Following the Bible would bring blessings to our country but we are falling further and further away from God’s Word.

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Just like our body needs the backbone to support us, to bring stability into our being, so the Word of God has many aspects of bringing stability into our lives. Of course, most importantly, we cannot know this stability unless we are reading the whole Bible. We cannot pick and choose portions of the Bible, for we cannot understand what God is teaching us. But without a personal relationship with the Lord, we are not grasping on to that stability.

As much as Leviticus and Numbers are hard to plow through at times, there is so much wisdom in those pages as well. Leviticus is full of common-sense laws, conduct for our lives to keep us close to Him. From forbidden sexual practices to practices to keep us trustworthy before man and God to laws concerning finances.

Leviticus 19:12 points out, “Do not bring shame on the name of your God by using it to swear falsely,”. Swearing falsely? Is that using God’s name in vain? Or perhaps we need to start with “do not bring shame on the name of your God”. When many of us were growing up, we had such a respect for our parents that we did not want to do anything to make them look bad. Although we all did things “behind their backs” and we thought our parents wouldn’t find out, they did. Not only did we bring shame to our family name but we disappointed our parents.

And so it is, we should have a desire to be pleasing to our parents, to not bring shame to them but more importantly, we should have such a longing to be pleasing to God that we strive daily to not bring shame upon His name. How? How are we to live such a life? We are not perfect, we sin daily, we fall short. But God is there, waiting for us to come to Him and ask forgiveness. He is waiting with open arms!

Leviticus 19:26b reminds us, “Do not practice fortune-telling or witchcraft.” We are living in a day where people think anything goes. We even have books for children on how to cast spells on their family. Evil is evil and we need to stay far away from it. This shouldn’t take anymore explanation but I know there are people laughing and saying that it’s not harmful, just a fun thing to delve into. Practicing the Word of God will never disappoint you.

Leviticus 24:13-23 talks about just punishment for many sins. For some of you, this probably seems harsh but God knows what is best. Rather than stoning someone today, it is probably best to just stay away from such a person who is not living for God. The frustration we feel in these modern times, seeing certain people getting away with sin after sin, is in part due to the Holy Spirit guiding you towards right living and pleasing God. Unfortunately, we don’t have much control over such evil but we can pray. (see Eph 6:10-20) It may seem that prayer doesn’t help much, but we have no idea what is happening in the spirit world. We have no idea of God’s working in another person’s life and the consequences they will suffer for their behavior. Maybe not in this world but certainly in the next.

Leviticus 25:14b reminds us “you must not take advantage of each other.” Such common-sense principles but many people no longer live by such principles. It just takes one person at a time, intent on pleasing God and God alone, to determine to be kind to people, not take advantage, and love them where they are. Are you that person?

This next common-sense law will be controversial, although that is not my intent. “You must not allow a foreigner to treat any of your fellow Israelites harshly.” (Leviticus 25:53b) Some would even say this is not for our time. Perhaps but still it’s a common-sense train of thought. We don’t allow our local citizens to be cruel to one another, we have laws that keep us in line but this is reminding us that foreigners must follow the same laws.

Numbers has always been a hard book for me to read so I try to find something that has meaning to me. Perhaps you can share a passage in Numbers that has meaning to you. I would love to hear from you.

I do find Numbers 14:34 tugging at my heart, “Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years—a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins.” Again, some would say this is for that period only but I try to apply it to my life today. When we are not keeping our focus on Jesus, we have a tendency to go with our emotions, to react too quickly, to act immature and believe me, we suffer the consequences of such behavior. Think twice before leaving God’s side and going your own direction. Before making any decisions, look to God for answers, whether reading the Word, praying…or both…He does have the answers.

I made a little note as I was reading, “making atonement means making it right before the Lord. (purify)” Perhaps we can have a discussion on what it means to you to be pure before God?

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We have finished the first four books of the Bible and are now in Deuteronomy. I actually like Leviticus with the many laws but Numbers is quite another story.

Before Moses dies, he’s given one last task, to explain the Lord’s instructions. He goes through the Israelite’s history, where they have come from, their failures and the importance of depending upon the Lord including obeying the Lord.

You would think that the wondering in the dessert would have taught the new generation a lesson but how quickly they forget. Oh wait, how quickly we forget! We know that the Lord will take care of us, but we fall short in trusting Him in our difficult situations. We start figuring out ways in which we can “help” Him out, which usually doesn’t turn out so well.

“Listen carefully…” two words that Moses says over and over. Perhaps we need to hear it out of the New Testament, Heb. 12:1b-2 “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” As we steadily listen to Him (through reading the Bible), we gain an endurance to stay focused upon Him, obeying as we turn away from temptation. Sin often can ensnare us, making us feel shame and guilt. He longs for us to come to Him in repentance, humbly asking Him to forgive us of our sin and vowing to not fall into that sin again.

In Deuteronomy 5, Moses repeats the ten commandments. And today, we must read the Bible daily so as not to forget what God is calling us to do. He does call us to wholehearted commitment and in doing so Moses says, “be careful not to forget the Lord,” and I would remind you this day the exact same thing. When things are going well, we get into a routine and complacency often forgetting the Lord is part of that routine.

We must live each day keeping our eyes on Him, filling our mind and heart with His Word for a day is coming that we will live in fear if we have not prepared for what the demons of hell have in store. They count on you living in fear rather than peace. Pray for His will for your life. Pray that you will always stay close to Him. But remember, “humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.”(James 4:10) Gain the strength that only comes from Jesus as you read His Word daily.

“May the Lord bless you and protect you.

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord show you His favor

and give you, His peace.” Num 6: 24-26.

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