Come, With Joy


Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 16

Today’s Theme is about Three main feasts: Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles. Exodus 12 gave us the real details of the Passover. The Feast of Passover was instituted as a memorial to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and their adoption as Jehovah’s nation. The Passover is a festival that laid the foundation of the nation, Israel’s birth into a new relationship with God.

In verses 9-11, it says that they were to number seven weeks after Passover, which would be forty-nine; then the next day would be the Sabbath, the fiftieth day. Because the Greek word for “fifty” is pentecoste, this Feast of Weeks is known as Pentecost. It is also called the Feast of Harvest or the Day of First Fruits. It celebrated the first or earliest fruits of the harvest.

Verses 16-17 expand on the tabernacles. These are the three feasts which were to be celebrated in Jerusalem, which all males were required to attend. Three times a year they were to travel to Jerusalem to keep these feasts. It was to be a time of rejoicing and they were to come before the Lord with joy.

How often do we come to the LORD with a laundry list of wants and we through it all on Him. I’m guilty of that. I have burdens for people and events. I try to be sincere when I ask God about the things on my prayer list, but do I always come to Him with joy? Unfortunately, no.

This is a great perspective for us to keep in mind as we enter into prayer with Him. He does say “cast your burdens on Him and He will care for you” (1 Peter 5:7) and I’m certain God can handle it, but what if someone saw you, walked up to you and just started hammering you with a list of “I wants?” You would be confused. No sincerity, no compassion, not even a half-hearted, “How are you doing?” If we had people like that in our lives, we may avoid that person in the future.

I know God doesn’t avoid us, but I do believe as we approach the God of the Universe, we could (and should) be respectful, communicative, appreciative and joy-filled. This is a perspective that is a good reminder to us, especially me, that God is not my dumping zone of worries and woes. He is God and we are so blessed to be able to go directly to Him, in fellowship, with our lives.

Believe In God or Believe God?


Today’s Devotion: Numbers 20

Merry Christmas! Blessings to you and your family this day and all year through. What a beautiful morning to wake up to find the house is quiet and peaceful which sends my heart to instant gratitude. It makes it easy to gain this perspective when there is the beauty of the Christmas tree, the appreciation for the job that afforded us presents under the tree and our health and happiness to be celebrated and recognized on this day.

While the why behind today far succeeds anything our eyes can see and our minds can conceive – it’s the birth of our LORD!

So I read Numbers 20 to continue our journey through the bible and discover something to examine. Moses and Aaron fell into temptation. I believe the whining and complaining of the Israelites caught up to them. God gives them specific orders to speak to the rock and it will give water, but instead “the boys” give credit to themselves, tap the rock TWICE, AND speak to the people in a harsh tone as if too be speaking for God. This makes God mad and He prohibits Moses or Aaron from entering the promise land. Bummer, all that wandering and never permitted to reap the reward of all that effort?

The reason it came down to this is that disbelief set in. Think about it… they believed in God, but they didn’t believe God and took matters into their own hands. This didn’t work out for them. God punished them for their actions, He had too – they tried to take credit for God’s power.

Do we do this? I do! I have been struggling with this for some time now. I believe in God with all my heart, but when it comes to believing God, my mind starts to rationalize, justify, or compromise what His Word REALLY says. Today is a day that a lot of people believe in God, but do they truly believe what the birth of our Savior means? Sadly, I don’t think so. I hope today gives you an opportunity to solidify your belief and that by faith you can trust God and live out his Word to your friends and family today.

Gifts That Count


Today’s Devotion: Numbers 7

The second to the longest chapter in the bible and a very monotonous chapter at that. Eighty-nine verses and very repetitive as it describes each of the gifts that the princes brought to the tabernacle from each of the twelve tribes. My mind wandered as I read this chapter (confession), and I couldn’t help thinking about the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Every time the chapter shares which gift the prince presented I thought, “And a partridge in a pear tree!” I hope you see the humor – I was simply feeling the warm of the Christmas season as my Christmas tree glistens next to me, 12 tribes, 12 princes, 12 gifts.

Although, this chapter is much more serious than that; a very important message to you and me today. As much as this chapter seems to repeat itself, one of my applications that I believe God was speaking to my heart is how much He notices what we give. Some of the princes, namely the very first two, gave the identical gift. God couldn’t have said, “The first two princes gave a silver platter?”No! He spends paragraphs/verses describing it.

Why? Because we bring Him gifts and He pays attention – He notices. This is convicting to me because I just adjusted my monthly budget and reduced my offering. After all, its Christmas, I just got my tax bill in the mail, I’m going to be moving at the end of the month and with moving comes additional expenses. I justified, to myself, that I would ramp up my offering after things settled down.

I realize this is my issue and I’m personalizing God’s message to my circumstances, but that’s the beauty of God’s Word. It’s how He speaks to each and every one of us. You can read chapter 7 and get something completely different. If you do, and He does, please share it if you are comfortable.

The message I have for this cold, Wisconsin, Monday morning is that God cares. He cares not only what we give, but in the spirit in which we give it. God will continue to bless our Christmas season, provide for our tax bill and incur the cost of a move. It’s my flesh the fears, tries to control and withhold from the LORD feeling as if I need to “take care of things.” If you are feeling anxious about finances this season, based on what God showed me today, I have to say, “Put your trust in the LORD!”

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.