Sinner In the Middle


Today’s Devotion: Numbers 16

Do you remember the game Monkey in the Middle? Two people stand a distance a part and the person in the middle is trying to intercept the ball. Should they catch it, the thrower becomes the new monkey.

In Numbers 16 we have a situation of “Korah in the middle” and there is one big problem with that. God and Moses were playing toss and they never asked Korah to play; he just jumped in. Just like a big bully on the playground, Korah intervenes by trying to spike the ball which was a very bad move on his part. The moral of this chapter is, “Don’t get in the way of God’s plans, especially he hasn’t invited you to be a part of them.”

That’s exactly what Korah did. He built up a rebellion against Moses and Aaron and had their own agenda; and that agenda was not God’s. Even worse, they were jealous of Moses and Aaron and took it upon themselves to rise against them and they succeeded by bringing a lot of people down with them, but never got to Moses and Aaron.

How does this play out in our lives? We read and know the will of God, but we see an opportunity to impose our will. We do this for a lot of reasons (selfish ambition, boredom, impatience, jealousy, anger, etc.), but the primary reason is sin. God has a plan for our lives, but in our sin we craft a better idea; our idea. The result – we jump into the middle of God’s plan and try to get him to move toward us, instead of us moving toward Him.

The results were not favorable for Korah, his men, and 14,700 innocent Israelites who were affected by the plague that God began due to Korah’s rebellio. It’s a big mess and the chapter doesn’t have a overtly happy ending, but there is a clear message here and that message is that we don’t want to get in God’s way. Today I am reminded to pray to God as Jesus did, “42 Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

Revealing Ugliness


Today’s Devotion: Numbers 8

The important thing for the child of God today is not how you walk, but where you walk. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). You see, the light is emphasized in this chapter and I read it to mean that when you walk in the light, you see that there is imperfection in your life. Then you go to the laver to remove it, which symbolizes the confession of your sins.

Have you ever washed something, like your kitchen floor, and walked away as though it were clean. Upon return you turn on the light and all of a sudden streaks appear or the corners that once hid dirt revealed all of your ‘missed spots.’ If not your kitchen floor, I’m sure you can visualize something that you thought was clean, until you put it under a light.

This is how it is with sin. We think we’re clean, after all, we shower almost every day. That is until we begin reading God’s Word and realize that we’re not so clean, sin makes us dirty. Jesus is the light in our lives who reveals the ugly parts of our hearts and souls. Even when we come to the Him in praise and think everything is all good – it’s not all that good.

My takeaway from this chapter today is to be reminded that I need to take this time to pause and pray, repent and rejoice. I don’t need some ceremonial process in the tabernacle to cleanse me (wash away) my sin. I have Jesus. I’m also not some martyr who keeps trying to find my dirt to bury myself in self-misery or self-loathing. It’s the reverse. I’m acknowledging my sin, my need for a savior and the price Jesus paid that I have life and have it to the fullest none-the-less! (John10:10)

So here I am, about to start another day that God has given me, with a Godly perspective on what it means to walk in the light.

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 Great Cover Up


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 16

Sounds like some kind of scandal doesn’t it? Nah, just a catchy title, but with great significance none-the-less. Today we have a break through. The past few days have been a bit ‘odd’ – to say the least. Today is a whole different story and one that gives me pep in my step. It’s like another celebration – a reminder of God’s goodness.

The Day of Atonement pointed to Christ and His redemption as did no other sacrifice, ceremony, or ordinance of the Old Testament. It reveals Christ, as our Great High Priest, going into the Holy of Holies for us. The word for “atonement” is the Hebrew kaphar, which means “to cover.” God did not take away sins in the Old Testament; He covered them until Christ came and removed them.

Remember the game of peekaboo? The game where you magically “disappear” behind your hands and as soon as your hands move the baby giggles. I love that! I’m smiling as I type recalling how easily babies can be tricked and that unforgettable baby laugh. I am using this childish game to bring home a very important point: When God says he covers them up… He covers them up. No game playing with God – this is the real deal.

In chapter 16, God gives the instructions to make sure Aaron (the priest) follow the proper protocol. In doing so and the sins of the Israelites are covered for an entire year. We are so blessed to have Christ, who covered our sin yesterday, today, and forever. We are covered!

Yet my heart is heavy for those who “think” that they are in, when, in fact, life has been like the devil’s big game of peekaboo. They go to church, hear the gospel and they go through the religious rituals and motions, but wind up going back into the world living like there is nothing significant about it. Please pray with me today for five people who don’t have a fully surrendered life, who need the Lord, and can see that the world is not a place that they will find salvation. Unfortunately, that stuff is not a game.

Secret Sin


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 15

Oh boy! This chapter is a dusey. As I’m reading, I’m thinking, “How do I create a blog over this one – this stuff makes me uncomfortable?” Then, it occurred to me – it’s private and personal, not something people talk about open and freely – it is uncomfortable! I believe God is pointing out that there are some things that each one of us deals with that we keep to ourselves, namely sin.

So let’s go there, let’s call it out. I’m sure that most of our sins are kept a secret from the outside world. After all, nobody wants to be known as a thief, rapist, liar, adulteress, gossip, or murderer. You know what I’m talking about, those skeletons in our closet.

God wants us to be aware that even our secret sin needs to be dealt with. He is fully aware that they are there and if we try to hide them, especially from Him, we are only kidding ourselves. We need to come clean and deal with them. The apostle Paul says that we are in bondage or slaves to sin. Slaves are trapped and we, as slaves, are controlled by sin, but worse, when we sin we are further hunted or in bondage to guilt, grief, depression, regret, anger, paranoia and pain. Then we act it out through more sin; rage, withdrawal, addiction, short tempers, etc. It’s a perpetual cycle of ugliness until God is allowed in to clean our mess up.

So as uncomfortable and seemingly odd that this chapter would be in God’s Word, I can see now that He wants us to recognize that He is aware of every dirty one of our sins and we are only kidding ourselves to think we can continue living that way. There is no such thing as a secret sin so come clean with God and let Him make it right.

You’re Sick! Get To The Doctor


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 13

Before the invention of remote controls, I would fight my way for that television dial every day after school to watch Little House on the Prairie. There was something about Laura Ingalls Wilder (Melissa Gilbert) and those braids that made me nuts – I loved that show. I used to imagine what it would be like to get sick back in those Little House days. Poor Doc would pull up in his fancy carriage and wrap a wet, white cloth over their foreheads and pray. He was limited in what he could do without a modern-day, high tech, super sterilized surgical practice.

Going back hundreds of years to the days of Moses. Reading Leviticus 13 reminded me of Doc, but in this chapter the mighty physician was the Priest. Wow! Talk about wearing many hats. The thing is that the book of Leviticus is a book about sin and God is showing us that Leprosy and running issues of the flesh shows the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the effect of sin in action.

No man ever went wrong overnight. Leprosy did not kill in a day—it is not like a heart attack. The leper’s life was a walking death. Just so, the sinner is also dead even while he lives. It is obvious from these passages that the raw flesh is the old nature which was judged on the cross. When it manifests itself in a believer, God must judge it. The flesh can never please God; only that which the Holy Spirit produces in the life of the believer is acceptable to God.

Two things jump out at me in Levitius 13. The number of times you read the word “Isolation or Isolated” and the phrase, “The priest will pronounce him clean.” This is sin! Sin isolates us from God and is a growing, disease that corrupts our lives. While Christ covers that sin and pronounces us “Clean!”

Oh Friends. What a glorious story of hope buried between the ‘not so obvious’ message hidden in Leviticus chapter 13. It’s a beautiful picture of what Christ has done for us and the gruesome hopeless, loneliness, isolated, withdrawn, lost place we will be without Him. It’s a perfect day to check your spiritual temperature and recognize who your Holy healer is.

“Food” For Thought

Food for Thought

Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 11

WOW! My mind is spinning from what this chapter means in its literal sense while seeing the spiritual side and huge underlying message that God wants us to read, hear, and apply.

First, let me say that I am impressed (and relieved) that my diet actually fits God’s criteria. I am not even remotely interested in eating reptiles, insects with jointed legs, things that slither along the ground or camels. Even the thought of it makes me uncomfortable, so if the Old Testament list of forbidden foods were applicable today, I would be just fine – Yay!

But its not that easy. What God is really trying to teach us in this chapter is that a Christian cannot mingle with the world and play with sin without becoming contaminated. There are numerous examples in this chapter of how an unclean animal cannot be cleaned and will make those who touch it, look at it, or the canister that it dies in unclean.

This is one of my struggles as a Christian. I think this is one of those things that makes us realize we need to put ourselves into this nice little bubble. Go to church, hang out with other nice Christians, send our kids to Christian schools, and not associate or participate in that ‘worldly’ stuff like those heathens. We guard our hearts against “R” rated movies, we don’t drink, swear, lie, cheat, steal, etc. I once heard the phrase, “Those Christians squeak when we walk.” YIKES!

Then there is the opposite of that over-the-top Christian life. Those who participate in everything that the world participates and there is no evidence of Christ, fruit of the Spirit, or repentant heart. To the extent that you tell people that you’re going to church and they respond with, “Really?!” As if they are in pure shock that someone “like you” has a moral side. Clearly the extreme, but do you know people like that? Sadly I do and even more sad – I have had my seasons where I’m no exception. My admission sends me right back to the foot of the cross right here and now.

I teach kids of my Sunday School class, “Christians are called to be in the world, not of the world.” In other words, we live here and we are members of our communities, neighborhoods, workplaces, etc., but we are the examples of who Jesus is as we interact in them. Jesus didn’t hide himself behind the walls of a nice, safe Christian home in a nice, safe Christian crowd. He hung out with the sinners. Difference is… He didn’t sin. He stood up for what was right, had compassion on the lost, orphaned, widowed, sick, defeated, discouraged, and broken, but didn’t compromise His heavenly calling to “fit in.”

This chapter is a reminder that God knows that sin contaminates our lives and the more we sin, the less likely we are or have the ability to be associated with Him. He’s protecting us. Even though sin is inevitable – there are those things that we just know to avoid and verse 45 says it best, “I am the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.”

Undermining Authority


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 10

I grew up on a farm in Northern Wisconsin. One of the strict rules of the house was that fire (matches, lighters, cigarettes, etc.) was forbidden near, around, by or in the barn. Hay is highly flammable and will ignite spontaneously. I don’t know if you ever had the opportunity to witness a barn fire, but it is as bad as having a gas tank on fire – it is impossible to put out and the collateral damage is too massive to imagine.

Leviticus 10 reminds me of a time when my brother and his friend, Scott, took some of my grandpa’s cigarettes and went out behind the barn for a little “experimentation.” My friend, Kelly – Scott’s sister, and I caught them, grabbed the cigarettes and ran to the house to tell our parents. Those boys got in big, big trouble. Not only for smoking cigarettes, but for smoking cigarettes by the barn. The unthinkable no-no in that day.

Right out of the gate in chapter 10 verse 1 Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command.

You just have to know this is going to end badly.

Verse  2, “So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.”

Not only did these boys break the rules, but they mocked God. For the entire book of Exodus and the first 10 chapters of Leviticus we have read about every facet about the tabernacle, etiquette, order of things, symbolism, formality, significance, and expectations; I had to ask, “What were they thinking?”

It’s the same question my Dad asked my brother that day. Regardless of their answer, their was eminent punishment. This is too serious a crime, far too disobedient to go off without a cost. In Leviticus chapter 10, that cost was their lives.

There is tremendous truth for us to draw from this incident. These men came to God on their own. They were willful and this was blasphemy. God judged them. Furthermore, there is a wonderful lesson for you and for me. When we come to God, we must come on His terms. This is not an arrangement which we can make. We are not making the rules. God is the One who deserves to be honored; not only is He our creator, but our savior. Acting out to test God or sin deliberately is not wise for us to do. I think Nadab and Abihu gave us a very clear picture and learned a hard lesson NOT to undermine God.


His Glory, Glorified!


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 9

Leviticus verse 6: Then Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded you to do, so that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.”

Does the glory of the Lord still appear to us? We see that the glory of the Lord is everything that makes God, God. All His characteristics, authority, power, wisdom—literally the immeasurable weight and magnitude of God—are contained within God’s glory. Nothing is hidden or held back!

So does the glory of the Lord still appear to us? I say, “Yes!”

What do we have to do to see God’s glory? I think Leviticus 9 gives us a map to how we see God’s glory. I believe it is summarized by these 3 offerings: First, repent of your own sin, then forgive others of their sins, and pray for your relationship to grow in God and with others. Aaron took the first offering, the calf, and sacrificed for his own sin, then the goat offering to cover the people’s sin, and finally the ox and ram for the fellowship offering.

I think this is a really simple equation to what God desires for us to live out our time here on earth. He wants us to be connected to Him, point others to Him, and have a relationship with Him and others. His glory is all around us. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

I recommend we pause for a second and think about what that means for us to day. What do we need to take to God in prayer as our sin offering (confession and repentance)? What can we pray about for others and ask God to help them with their burdens and needs, and what can we do – with God’s help – to deepen our relationship with Him and others that would glorify God?

Sassy Mouth


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 5

We have all heard the phrase, “Ignorance is no exception to the law.” I don’t like that phrase. It basically says, “Even if you have no clue about what is taking place, you’re guilty by association.” That, my friends, is a very helpless place to be. It implies that just because you are physically present to the crime, you are a criminal. If you are in proximity of a robbery, you are a thief. If you hang around with people who are gossips, you are a gossiper and if you are in the company of slobs, you are a slob. True or not – God is saying intentionally or unintentionally, aware or unaware, we are guilty.

Verse 4 jumps out at me, “Or if anyone thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil (in any matter one might carelessly swear about) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt.

My paraphrase, “Don’t make promises that you aren’t going to keep or carelessly swear.” Do you know what I think is the most misused, but unintentional sins. Saying the words, “I will pray for you.” How many times have you become aware of someone’s hardships and you throw out these words aloofly. Perhaps you really planned to pray and forgot? I’ll go ahead and throw myself under the bus here, “I’m guilty!” Because of this, I make a point of NOT saying that phrase unless I mean it and WILL do it. None-the-less, I think it proves that point that God is making in Leviticus 5:4.

Then there is that tongue of ours; James 3:7-8 says, All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” It was amazing when I first became a believer, God cleaned up my language. Slowly and over time some of those nasty little verbs have crept back into my vocabulary.

Leviticus 5 is a reminder to me today (and hopefully you) to become more consciously aware of my sin and clean up my act. At the same time, this chapter has made me aware what I will continue to fail AND there may be a host of things that I don’t even know I need to clean up, fix, or stop doing. The Holy Spirit is our counselor, so I have every confidence that He will prompt us to become aware of our shortcomings, but at the same time we can have peace that Christ covered them all – past, present, and future. I’m reminded, once again, to turn my eyes to the cross and humble myself to all Christ has done for me – even stuff I don’t even realize He has covered. Isn’t that a beautiful picture of God’s grace?