God’s Way or My Way?

Which Way?

Today’s Devotion: Numbers 36

This is my 100th blog post and today we conclude the reading through the book of Numbers. [Insert celebratory whistles and WOOT’s!] This s a short chapter and at the surface appears to be nothing of any substance for teaching, but if there is one thing that I have learned from studying the chapters and verses of the Old Testament is that God always has something to teach us if we are willing to look for it.

Today the verse that jumped out to me is found in verse 9. “No inheritance may pass from one tribe to another, for each Israelite tribe is to keep the land it inherits.” In context, God is telling Moses that the women whom were granted land because their father had no male heirs are not permitted to marry men of another tribe. Surprisingly, they honored God and obeyed. It was like the ultimate cliffhanger: God gives the command in verse 9 and each verse thereafter draws out our curiosity to learn whether they obey God or face His wrath as so many on the wilderness journey suffered.

They did it! They listened to God’s command and there land is safe. I have to admit that I’m a little bit shocked. Why? Because throughout the reading of Numbers, thousands of Isrealities died or were punished from disobedience. Which tells me that I have become conditioned to expect them to be rebellious or is that just counter intuitive of my own sin-filled instincts? Whichever the case… Thankfully they obeyed.

It gives me confidence that we can obey too. Obedience is a choice and God provides the guidelines in His Word to allow us to make the right choice.  He gives us the ability to chose [Free Will] – God’s way or my way?

In the introductory paragraph of this blog post today we celebrated a couple of menial accomplishments, but the ladies in chapter 36 give us means for a celebration too, as well as a great example. What a great way to conclude the book of Numbers; celebrating them for making the right choices and celebrating that we have the ability to make the right choices – despite the odds.

If, Then… It’s All On You


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 26

In this chapter there are nine “if’s” and twenty-four “I will’s.” What does that say about our part and God’s part? For example: When God says in verses 3-4, “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.”

It looks to me like we have the choice and He has the promises.

I have always been interested in understanding whether or not we [people] are given free will. I learned from one of my biblical mentors, early in my Christian walk, that there is no such thing as free will. The argument stands that if we are sinners and can’t help ourselves, so we are slaves to sin and therefore, have no free will.

The counter argument is the opposite. We have free will because we are conscious of our sin and therefore, we have the liberty to make the right choices on how to live so we do have free will.

This chapter, in my opinion, supports the latter. God is making it very clear that He will respond to the choices we make. If we sin, He will punish. If we obey, He will reward. I suppose we could get really petty over the causes and effects of decisions we make the the way God responds, but for today, I’m good with knowing that making the right choice will always work out in my favor. If I rebel, disobey, or try to live outside of God’s will, God may take me through a time of pruning, character building, personal growth, desert… whatever you want to call it.

And of course, in Romans 8:28 we know God makes all things work for the good of those who love Him AND we also know that because of Jesus our sins are covered; past, present and future. But, that certainly doesn’t mean we get a free ticket to sin. It means we have choices and I appreciate that Leviticus 26 is reminding me that making Godly choices ultimately rests on you and me.

The Highly Disfunctional Biblical Family

Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Esau

Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Esau

Romans 1:17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Deceit, lies, manipulation, stealing and intent-to-murder are the behaviors that are exhibited in chapter 27 of Genesis. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like a family who is blessed by God. The theme from the Adam’s family should be playing in the background while we read this story. There are so many things that are wrong about it and on so many levels.

Isaac is supposed to give the family blessing to Jacob (his oldest son), but does not because he selfishly favors Esau. Rebekah selfishly manipulates Jacob to disguise himself as Esau so that Jacob (her favorite son) can receive Isaac’s blessing. Jacob lies to his father, Isaac, to receive his brothers blessing and Esau wants to kill his brother for stealing his birth given blessing. The result: division, grief and strife.

There are consequences for their actions, we can’t live without having consequences for our sin. I had coffee with a friend yesterday and she asked an awesome question. “Why does God give us free will?” If God didn’t give us free will we would be merely puppets. I’ve never been in the military, but my only tangible comparison that I envision is that a puppet of God would be like being a soldier who is told what to do, when to do it, and is subject to obey every command – without exception. If or when that soldier acts – in any way – independent of those commands they are disciplined, punished, and forced to comply. That is not the character of our loving God.

God wants 2 things to come from our free will:

1 – God wants to know that we (freely) choose Him. Free will gives us the ability to choose between God and sin. He is pleased to know our love and desire to please him is sincerely, not forced. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being told what to do. I’m much more likely to do what I am asked to do instead of being told what do to.

2 – He allows our choices to strengthen our faith in Him. If we go down the wrong path or mess up along the way, we know that God is faithful to bring us back to him. We can then repent of those sins (admitting we have done wrong) and grow closer to him as a result. He forgives and allows us to learn from our own mistakes as to not repeat those sins and further validate why His ways are the best ways for us to live our lives. When my Dad used to demand that I do something I did it begrudgingly or would rebel against his wishes. With free will, its as though God warns us in advance and if we chose not to heed that warning – we learn!

So Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau are going to learn (the hard way) that their way is not the best way. They all made choices and those choices will not benefit them. However, it will benefit us because they gives us yet another example of why we need to trust in God, not ourselves.