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Day 21- Disobeying the Lord’s Command: Unsuccessful Invasions: Read Numbers 15:39-45
Once Moses told the people the Lord’s judgments (Day 20), the people were horrified and filled with remorse. They then tried to go up and invade the inhabitants of the land even though the Lord told them not to since He would not go with them. They went anyway and experienced a terrible defeat. There are times when obeying the Lord’s promptings in an untimely manner is just as bad as not obeying at all.
We will get communications from the Lord in various ways as individuals and as a Church. We must listen and obey. This is more important to the Lord than anything else. How do we become open to hearing the Holy Spirit every day, recognize the Lord’s voice and discern His will? There are many ways including prayer, meditation/reflection, contemplation/silence, Scripture/other spiritual reading, consultation with spiritual friends, and personal experience. If the decision is important, we should try to get confirmation through several of these means.
In what ways does the Lord prompt me? How long does it take for me to obey? Do I have examples from my own life where I tried to obey the Lord in an untimely manner and failed? What ministry is the Lord prompting me to do right now?
Day 22- A Descent To Hell- Rebellions of Korah, Dathan and Abiram: Read Numbers 16:1-17:15
The rebellion of Dathan and Abiram was against Moses alone as their leader. These were punished by immediately being swallowed up in an earthquake. The rebellion of Korah was of a religious nature against the religious leadership of both Moses and Aaron. These and their band were immediately punished by a consuming fire. These punishments remind one of Satan being cast out of Heaven because of his rebellion against God. Pride and presumption have proven to be deadly!
Today, we cannot look on natural phenomena like earthquakes, tsunamis or hurricanes as judgments on the people being killed. Jesus made this clear when He was asked about those who were crushed by a falling tower. They were by no means worse sinners than others. All will experience suffering and loss as long as we don’t repent completely. In this world we will always have suffering and pain. We all must be aware of pride and presumption (taking the Lord’s mercy for granted).
In what ways am I presumptions of God’s grace and blessings? How does pride affect my relationships with others, both within and without the Church? How am I prideful and presumptuous? How am I rebellious? How do I dishonor the Lord and church leadership?
Day 23- The Sin of Leadership: The Sin of Moses: Read Numbers 20:2-13
Like so many times in the past, the Hebrews are grumbling and wanting to return to Egypt because they don’t have water at the moment. Understand that Moses has been listening to this for many years and his people still don’t trust the Lord to provide. The Lord tells him to strike the rock and water will flow. Moses, in his exasperation with the constant quarreling of the people, leads them to the rock where water had flowed in the past. Instead of honoring the Lord, Moses said, “Must we bring you water out of this rock?” The Lord is angry at him for “not trusting in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites,” He will not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land even though he has been leading the people for nearly forty years! What is his sin? The sin is that of not trusting the Lord enough to honor Him as holy. Instead, Moses claimed the miracle for himself. He felt this would strengthen his leadership in the eyes of the people. Evidently, this is considered a major sin of leadership.
Today, that tendency may still be in many Churches; the tendency of a leader to deny the power and love of God and unconsciously (or not) projecting this onto the people. By not being an example of the Lord’s holiness, the people will not learn to be holy. By not having faith, the people may loose faith. In all fairness though, as with Moses, a congregation can greatly frustrate a leader and push him beyond his emotional endurance since he is only human. We should encourage, support, pray for and love our leaders to empower them to lead us.
Do I exasperate our Church leaders? Do we as a Church exasperate them? How can we support our leaders? What can I personally do to help and support our priests?
Day 24- A Prefigurment of the Cross: The Bronze Serpent: Read Numbers 21:4-9
Again, the Hebrews are complaining, not from a lack of food but because they are disgusted and bored with the manna they are being fed! This time, venomous serpents are sent among them, to bite, kill many of them and bring the rest back to their senses. The people confess their sin (it seems that many never really repent since they do not change) and ask to be healed. They are told to make and raise up a metal casting of the serpent and that any who look upon the image will be healed. (It is interesting to note that while the Lord will not tolerate an image of Himself, it is acceptable to make an image representing and reminding them of their sin. It is also interesting to note that five centuries later, King Hezekiah had the casting destroyed in an effort to wipe out idolatry since many were worshiping the image. It was being worshiped as the god Nehushtan.)
In New Testament times (and our own), the meaning of the bronze serpent has become a prefigurment of the Cross of Christ: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that those who believe in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting.”
Do I recognize that the risen Jesus can heal my ills and give me life to the full? Can there even be a Church in which the Cross of Christ is not lifted up? Meditate on the meaning of the Cross and write down your thoughts below.
Day 25- Extraordinary Spiritual Phenomena: Baalam’ Talking Donkey: Read Numbers 22:22-40:24:15-19
Balak, the King of Moab, has summoned Baalam, a well known prophet in the region, to magically curse the Hebrew people. He will pay Baalam a huge reward for doing so. The Lord wants Baalam to go but to only say a blessing on the Hebrews. God realizes that Baalam is being tempted by greed to curse the people instead and makes it very clear to Baalam, through means of a talking donkey, that he must not do so. Baalam comes to his senses and blesses the people. Balak is furious with him and storms off giving him no payment at all.
Many claim to hear Gods voice or see visions but it is important to test the spirit since, as Jesus noted, you will know them by their fruit. An evil spirit can easily appear as an angel of light or our own spirit can seduce us. If it is truly a vision or voice from God, the person will not contradict Scripture and basic Christian theology. If nothing but good results, if it makes the person more humble, more loving toward God, neighbor and self, if it helps the person to grow in faith, hope, and trust in God, the probability is that the experience is authentically from God. (If one wants to learn more about the testing of spirits, he/she should read from the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.)
While God mostly communicates with us through ordinary means, have you ever had extraordinary experiences of God? Have you tested them to see if they were genuinely from God? (This is one area where a spiritual director will be critical.) Has the Church experienced any extraordinary phenomena? (For example, during a prayer and praise service at Christ Church in Schenectady, young and old from both the front and back of the Church saw angels on either side of the alter singing praises with the congregation.)
Day 26- A Great Commissioning: Joshua to Succeed Moses: Read Numbers 27:12-23
Joshua, a man with strong leadership qualities (courage, prudence, strength of will) is to receive his commission to succeed Moses as leader of the Hebrews. (Of the scouts sent out, only Joshua and Caleb trusted in the power of the Lord (see Numbers 14:5-9)). Moses lays hands on him in the presence of Eleazar the priest and the whole community and commissioned him as the Lord commanded. He does not have the same intimacy with God as did Moses who spoke to God face-to-face. He will generally receive answers from God through the Urim and Thummim, objects that will provide a “Yes” or “No” answer to specific questions.
While special individuals are commissioned to be priests or perform other functions as the Holy Spirit dictates, we are all called, as individuals and as Church, to obey the Great Commission (not the Great Suggestion) of Jesus: Go forth and make disciples of all nations.
Do I take our purpose of “disciples making disciples” seriously? How do I show others what it is to be a Christian? How does the Church evangelize? Am I willing to be open to new areas and opportunity for ministry? Am I willing to go beyond my comfort zone?
Day 27- Love of God: The Great Commandment: Read Deuteronomy 1:1-5, 6:4-9
It is now the 40th year since leaving Egypt. The community is ready to enter the Promised Land. Moses knows he will soon die and tells his people about all that has happened since their time of slavery. He gives them the main commandment that summarizes all the Lord is trying to teach them: by loving God you will find completion, meaning and joy in your lives.
Today, we have even greater reason to love God. He willingly offered Himself, His only Son, to win us freedom since love can do no more then that. We are asked as individuals and Church to meditate on this great truth and act accordingly.
How often during the day do you think about God? What can you do to focus your attention more on God during the day? When you awaken during the night, do you pray? How much time do you give each day to thanking and praising God for all the blessings you have received? How much time do you give to formal prayer and Bible study? Do you tithe your time with God, giving Him at least 10% of your prime time? How about your money? Do you really trust God? How can you make Him more real in your life? How often do you pray with others? Are you faithful in coming together for worship? When did you experience a special closeness to God?
Day 28- Love of Neighbor As Yourself: The Second Great Commandment: Read Leviticus 19:17-18
The second great commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. In spite of what seems obvious, how do people love themselves enough given the amount of drug/alcohol abuse, obesity, and self-destructive/uncivil behavior that abounds in our country and the world? One cannot have a healthy love for others if one doesn’t have a healthy love for themselves. One excellent definition of love is to give yourself or another person whatever is needed for your/their spiritual growth. Another is praying for another the blessings (or even greater) blessings that you desire for yourself.
Have you a good self image? How disciplined are you? How much time do you give to your intellectual development? How well do you know yourself? What do you like or dislike about your self? Do you have respect for your body and take good care of it? (Remember, it is where the Holy Spirit dwells!) What are your eating and drinking habits? Do you give your body enough exercise and recreation? How much sleep do you get (some actually get way too much)? Do you smoke? How do you handle stress?
What are you doing to love each of your family members? What are you doing to show your love to those with whom you work or recreate? Is there anyone you have treated unfairly, unjustly, uncharitably? Do you need to forgive anyone who has hurt you? How much of your time, talent and treasure do you give to others? How well do you handle conflict? How often do you pray for others, especially your enemies?
Day 29:Caretakers of the Land: Fidelity in Prosperity: Read Deuteronomy 6:10-25
The Lord is leading the people into a fine country flowing with milk and honey. This is a way of saying that the land is bursting with health, vitality and abundance. As long as they obey the Lord the Hebrews will be allowed to remain in that land. If not, the land will loose its glory and abundance and they will be exiled from it.
Today we see many parts of this beautiful world God gave us to care for being destroyed and loosing its fruitfulness. More and more land is being turned into desert and its diversity being destroyed. Besides being kicked out of Eden, we are choosing to befoul and destroy our own existing home! How well would we treat our heavenly home if we can’t be trusted with what we have now? As we grow in intimacy with our Lord, we will come to cherish the earth because it is His and he shares it with us.
How does your indulgence in certain habits contribute to the decimation of the Earth’s resources? How much recycling do you do? What are you doing to arouse public interest in the environment? How can you be more attuned to the beauty, grandeur and abundance of creation? How can you spend more time with nature? What can we, as a Church, do to take our caretaker role seriously?
Day 30- God’s Care: The Danger of Prosperity- Read Deuteronomy 8:1-20
The Lord took care of the Hebrews for 40 years in the wilderness. He fed them and gave them bodily health and strength for the journey. The Lord disciplined the people to encourage their growth and ultimate wellbeing as parents correct their children. The discipline may not be fun at the time but it is necessary for the future success and happiness of the child. The Lord provided all of the good things of life; everything that they had and were! They are not to forget where their wellbeing comes from lest it be taken away as a corrective measure.
Today, it is still difficult to remember to keep the proper mindset; especially in a secular and materialistic culture like our own. We must always remember that we did not create ourselves or give ourselves our spiritual gifts and talents though we must use discipline and practice to develop them. They are from God who expects us to use them, as well as our material resources, for His glory and the benefit of those around us. In this we will find our joy in life and our place in Creation. We, as Church, must also remember that it is the Lord who provides success and growth within the Body of Christ. If we are not mindful that it is the Lord’s work, that we are only His instruments, He will take it away from us and give it to others who will reap the harvest at the proper time.
What are the gifts that the Lord has given me? Which have I developed? Which ones do I have yet to develop? Do I use my gifts to help build up other’s gifts? Do I recognize that God is caring for me even when I go through trials? How are we, as a Church, growing in the Lord? How is He disciplining us, pruning us sot that we may reap a great harvest for His glory? What is my role in this plan? Am I ready to fulfill my responsibilities?
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