Wednesday, March 23, 2016

God's heart for restoration

Even though God knew that the Israelites would turn away from Him after they settled in the Promised Land, His heart was for restoration:

Deuteronomy 30:4-6 NIV
Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

I love that He promised to make them even more prosperous.  God is so good at restoring us above and beyond the original state that, from our perspective, we might think that He intended it that way all along. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for your restoration and healing.  May I be an agent of your restoration.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Long week

It has been a long week, on the heels of Spring Break.  Too many deadlines.

A few days ago, we found out that Jill was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.  This is a hard situation.  We have been praying for healing, but this is pretty discouraging.

I fully believe that God can heal her, and I fully believe that it is not His desire for to be sick, but I want to fully believe that He will heal her.  I'm 0 for 4 on seeing God answer my prayer for healing from cancer for close friends and family.

I believe that we are to pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven, and since there is no sickness or tears in Heaven, then we should pray for that reality to be realized here on earth (consistent with the ministry of Christ).

Considering Job's experience, we have to make sure that we don't blame God for bad things, even though God is ultimately sovereign (admittedly, there is a mystery to His lack of culpability). And we also know not to start pointing blame at people, either, even though sickness in general is a consequence of sin.  Jesus bore all of the wrath of God, so I don't think God is punishing people for sin the way He did under the Old Covenant.  It seems to me that we live in the New Covenant, the age of Grace.  Since we live by grace, we should ask for more grace.  You have not because you ask not.  Ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you. 

Like the persistent widow, it seems to me that there is an injustice here that should be resolved.  Not that Jill is more righteous or deserving than anyone else, but that she is a daughter of the Good Father and sister of the Judge. 

By definition, you can't have an answer to a prayer that you never pray.  But God is not a slot machine; pay your prayer, and pull the handle to see if you win.  I want to believe that He will heal her.  I want to pray believing that He WILL heal her.

Heavenly Father, I believe that you are good and that you want good things for your children.  I believe that sickness is not good, and that since you don't want it in Heaven, it is appropriate for me to ask you to remove it here.  So, please remove the cancer from Jill's body.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, by whose stripes we are healed.

Friday, March 11, 2016

(slow to) anger

No doubt, Moses was a great leader.  But it seems to me that the character deficiency that limited Moses's effectiveness in leadership was his lack of self control over anger.  

When he came down the mountain with the two original stone tablets, he threw them down and broke them in anger.  God was gracious and made a second set of tablets, but I wonder what would have happened had he controlled his anger. 

At Kadesh, when the Israelites were grumbling against Moses and God for lack of water, Moses struck the rock in anger instead of just speaking to it, and it seems like God truncated Moses's leadership of the Israelites into the promised land.

Fundamentally, acting out of a quick temper is inconsistent with the character of God:

Ex. 34:6 And [God] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "[Yahweh], [Yahweh], the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. ...

I think anger is one of the things that I struggle with the most.  I am too easily frustrated with inefficiencies at work, and I get angry too quickly with my boys (especially when they do something that I have repeatedly told them not to do or when they don't do something that I have repeatedly told them to do.)  But I need to be gracious and slow to anger, like our Heavenly Father.

Heavenly Father, you are gracious and slow to anger, and I want to be like you.  Lord Jesus, you endured the scourging, and you bore the weight of my sin while you took the nails in your hands and feet.  Holy Spirit, please help me grow in the fruit of the Spirit.  I want to be a man of self-control, demonstrating the character of God.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

sanctifying God

At Rephidim, the first time the Israelites complained that they needed water (Ex. 17:1-7), God instructed Moses to strike the rock with his staff, and water flowed from the rock.  At Kadesh, the second time the Israelites complained of thirst (Num. 20:1-13), God instructed Moses to speak to the rock, but Moses struck the rock twice with his staff.  God still provided water, but He was not pleased:

Num. 20:12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them."

I think it is interesting that from God's perspective, Moses and Aaron failed to honor Him as holy.  From my perspective, they simply failed to obey God's instruction, but from God's perspective, it was a misrepresentation of His character - specifically His holiness.

In a recent post, I reviewed some of the Hebrew words related to consecration holiness, and the word (וְהִ֨תְקַדִּשְׁתֶּ֔ם wə·hiṯ·qad·diš·tem, H6942) used for "consecrate" in Lev. 20:7 has the same root as the word (לְהַ֨קְדִּישֵׁ֔נִי lə·haq·dî·šê·nî, H6942) used for "honor me as holy" or "to sanctify me" in Num. 20:12.

I read several commentaries on this verse, and I think these two statements from Matthew Poole's commentary concisely address the heart of the issue:

Ye believed me not, but showed your infidelity; which they did either by their looks and gestures, or rather by the matter and manner of their expressions and actions; either, 1. By smiting the rock, and that twice, which is emphatically noted, as if he doubted whether once smiting would have done it, whereas he was not commanded to smite so much as once, but only to speak to it; or, 2. By the doubtfulness of these words, Numbers 20:10, .... 
To sanctify me, i.e. to give me glory of my power in doing this miracle, and of my truth in punctually fulfilling my promise so to do, and of my goodness in doing it notwithstanding the people's perverseness.

Heavenly Father, you are holy, and I want to honor you as holy.  I want to obey you and show your holiness.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, March 4, 2016

speaking with the Lord face to face

Ex. 33:9 As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. ... 11 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. 
Num. 7:89 When Moses entered the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law. In this way the LORD spoke to him.

I read the Exodus passage mid-February, and I read the Numbers passage a couple of days ago.  Last night, in our prayers with the boys, I asked the Lord to bring me into a level of intimacy with Him that I could speak with Him face to face, as Moses did.  If it was possible under the Old Covenant, then wouldn't it be possible if I am filled and anointed with the Holy Spirit? 

I see two important character traits of Moses that facilitated his intimate relationship with the Lord: humility and boldness.  He was the most humble man on the face of the earth. (By the way, I assume that a scribe added that note, not Moses, himself.  Although, theoretically, a truly humble person could make that statement as a matter of fact, without being prideful about it.)  I want to grow in humility by becoming aware of and disengaging my pretenses with the Lord.  Moses was also incredibly bold.  When the Lord told Moses on the mountain that He was going to wipe out the Israelites and start over, Moses argued with God.  And Moses asked to see God's glory.  Everyone else in Scripture freaks out about dying when they even see the glory of an angel, let alone when they realize that they had an interaction with God.  But Moses boldly asked God to mess him up by revealing His glory.  And God gave Moses what he could handle.

Heavenly Father, I want to pursue you more faithfully.  Not out of religion, in a growing love for you.  I want to know you enough to speak with you face to face.  I am your child, and I want to be like my Daddy.  I want to know you and abide with you.  Lord Jesus, thank you for bringing me to the Father.  Holy Spirit, thank you for coming from the Father; please lead me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.