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Posts Tagged “Numbers”

Today we’re continuing with the gem found in the book of Numbers that we looked at yesterday. You can find yesterday’s blog here. We’re looking at this passage:

22  The LORD said to Moses,
23  “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
24  ‘The LORD bless you and keep you;
25  the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26  the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.’
27  “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
Numbers 6:22-27 (NIV)

Today I want to look at the specific elements of the blessing. Remember it is the specific instruction God gave to the priests about how to bless the Israelites. And God promised that when the priests blessed the people in this way, God would bless them. As I wrote yesterday, there’s nothing “magical” about the words, but they are instructive about how we are to bless others. So let’s look at each element.

Verse 24: “The Lord (Yahweh) bless you and keep you.”

“The Lord bless you” – may He bless you as He desires to bless you. Let’s let Him decide how to bless, rather than being more specific and praying that He would bless them with __________ (fill in the blank). God knows the needs of the person being blessed better than we do, and I sometimes think we are working against the purposes of God when we are overly specific in our prayers. I’m not saying it’s wrong to pray “Lord, my friend needs a job, we ask that you would bless her with one.” I am saying that this passage encourages us to pray “Lord, bless my friend where he or she is right now” – because God knows each of our needs beyond the obvious we may see or feel.

Notice that the object of the blessing is “you.” In the original language, it is a singular “you.” It is a personal blessing for the one being blessed. It’s not a mass-produced blessing that God just pulls off His shelf of ready-made blessings. It is a blessing unique to the needs of the person being blessed. Wow! God knows my name, He knows my thoughts, He knows my needs, He knows me – better than anyone else – and he has a blessing designed and created just for me. Again – wow! And Thank You, Lord.

A favorite verse of mine is Psalm 34:15 – The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry” (NIV). The verse says to me that He is always listening and ready to respond to my cry. He hears me. He is El Roi – the God who Sees, and El Shama – the God who Hears.

“The Lord bless you [wow!] and keep you.” The word translated “keep” comes from a root word that means to put a hedge around, to guard, to protect, and to attend to. Remember this is a blessing – we are not asking God to do these things, we are blessing the recipient with these things. We are giving them God’s hedge around them, His protection of them, and I love the last phrase – we are bringing God’s attention to them that He might attend to them. He will be attentive to those who are blessed, knowing even the number of hairs on their head (Matthew 10:30).

Verse 25: “The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.”

Notice the third word in that verse – “make”. The blessing invokes the Lord to purposefully make His face shine upon you. Just as I want to be intentional about my walk with the Lord, He is intentional about blessing me. May the Lord make the glory and light of His countenance shine upon you.

There are some who describe prayer as holding others in the light of God. It is a phrase often used by our Quaker brothers and sisters. Light blows away darkness. Light brings healing. Light leads the path before us. Light warms our bodies. May the Lord be purposeful in shining His light upon you.

The word translated “gracious” is almost equally translated mercy or merciful as it is gracious or favor/favorable. May God make His face shine with His glory upon you, and may He be merciful and gracious to you. There is only love in that verse. There is no condemnation, there is no judgment, there is no taskmaster-like ruler or kingship. There is love and compassion and a ready desire to bless.

Verse 26: “The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

May God turn His face toward you, see you, and give you peace. Again, we have God being purposeful in turning toward us, looking upon us with His glory shining upon us (from verse 25), and “give you peace.” The word “give” literally means put or set upon you. His peace transcends anything happening in our lives – it is more like a blanket that covers and protects us, it settles on us and we can wrap ourselves in it. Even though all around us there may be chaos, His peace covers us. Peace is not the absence of conflict or chaos, it is God’s light covering us and shining on the things that are most important so that our attention is directed toward them instead of the chaos. It is also knowing that He will bless us and keep us, that He will be gracious to us, and that His solutions will prevail no matter what the day looks like.

The word is “shalom” and it means prevailing peace and well-being, and is the final phrase of the blessing that with which we are to bless the people of God. And God’s promise is that when we do so, He will bless them.

Our Powerful Opportunity

Friends, as I wrote yesterday, let’s not shy away from our authority to bless others. Know that you bless others with this blessing, you invoke God’s blessing upon them.

That’s a powerful opportunity. And dare I say responsibility. Go forth and bless, friends.

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I love finding gems in the midst of what might otherwise seem like fly-over territory in the Bible. I am reading the book of Numbers, and “buried” at the end of chapter about Nazarite vows and heads being shaved, I found this familiar gem:

22  The LORD said to Moses,
23  “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
24  ‘The LORD bless you and keep you;
25  the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26  the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.’
27  “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
Numbers 6:22-27 (NIV)

I noticed 2 things about this passage that I hadn’t noticed before: It is a blessing and it invokes God’s blessing upon the recipient.

It is a Blessing to be Given by Priests

It is sometimes translated as a “special blessing”, and it is the blessing that the priests were to say to bless the Israelites. As I thought about this, the Holy Spirit reminded me that as believers, we are part of the “royal priesthood”. The Apostle Peter wrote about in 1 Peter:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)             

While Peter’s letter is addressed specifically to the Israelites, it applies to all who have accepted Christ as their Savior – including those of us who are not Jewish but have been “grafted in” as the Apostle Paul described in Romans 11:17.

What does that mean? It means that we have the authority of priests to proclaim the blessing upon others. Did you get that? It’s a powerful statement – you have the authority to proclaim this “special blessing” upon others. Let me encourage you (and myself) not to shy from the authority God has given us.

Yes, I know, that this blog bounces back and forth between referring to “them” and “us”. I’m sorry. I can’t correct that – because what applies to “them” applies to “us.” So you will find that I write about the blessing that is given to them and then slip into how it is a blessing to you and to me. Remember, what God has done for them, He does and will do for you and me.

It is a Blessing with a Promise from God

The other exciting thing about this passage is God’s promise at the end – that when the priests proclaimed this blessing on the people, they “put God’s name on them” and God would bless them. Let’s look at each element.

When we pray this blessing, we “put God’s name upon them.” Oh my, there is so much in God’s name. It is His banner over them – His protection. It is His blessing over them. It recognizes a relationship with Him – that we are His and He is ours.

And then comes the promise – that God will bless them! That is so exciting to me – that when I proclaim this blessing upon others, God says He will bless them. My blessing on them – me praying these words over them – moves the hand of God to bless them. Is there anything magical about these words? While I would not use the word magical, of course, I would say that these are the specific words God instructed the priests to use when blessing the Israelites. I’ve checked many translations, and most say something like “this is how you are to bless the Israelites.” No, they are not magical words, but they are instructive words – words from God about how to bless others. Do I have to speak the words of the blessing exactly as they’re written? Of course not. But the concepts behind the words is how we are to bless God’s people. I’ll write more about those words – the actual blessing we’re to proclaim over others – tomorrow.

In the meantime, let me encourage you to spend some time today thinking about (that is, meditating on) the role of priesthood that God has given to you as a Child of the King. How does God want you to fulfill that role? And come back tomorrow to read more about the blessing God instructed the priests to use when blessing the Israelites.

May the Lord bless you and keep you, Friends. May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

Get to know God better by reading through the Bible a little bit every day. Pray, ask God to reveal Himself to you, then read. Our Resting at the River’s Edge schedules help you stay on track…but if you fall behind, don’t worry. Just keep reading. God will meet you and you will be blessed.

Resting at the River’s Edge schedules provide two reading plans. The main readings schedule readings that allow you to read through the entire Bible over a two-year period. During those two years we read through the New Testament twice and the Old Testament once. The “Additional Readings” in the schedule put you on a one-year reading plan. If you read through both the scheduled and additional readings, you will read through the entire Bible in 2013.

I hope you’ll join us! Reading through the Bible each year is one of my favorite things to do. I know that God will speak to you and your needs as you read. He always does. Since God usually speaks to me as I am reading His Word, you’ll find that many of the blogs I write relate directly to the Resting at the River’s Edge readings for that week (or sometimes from the previous week because I fall behind in the readings sometimes, too).

Click on one of the following buttons to open a PDF file of the May/June bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

[button_round color=”blue” url=”http://apprehendinggrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Bookmark-2013-03May-Jun.pdf”] Click here for the May/June 2013 recommended reading bookmark. [/button_round]

[button_round color=”purple” url=”http://apprehendinggrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2013-RARE-Bookmarks.pdf”] Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013. [/button_round]

Join us as we read, then email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog. What has God spoken into your heart today?

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for May is below.

Resting at the River's Edge May 2013 Reading Schedule

 

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Reading God’s Word is the best way to get to know God. We learn who He is and how He works. It is His love letter to us, His instruction manual written for us, and it breathes His Spirit upon us as we read.

You’ll find our April reading schedule in the March/April bookmark and in the table below.

Click on one of the following buttons to open a PDF file of the March-April bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

[button_round color=”blue” url=”http://apprehendinggrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Bookmark-2013-02Mar-Apr.pdf”] Click here for the March/April 2013 recommended reading bookmark. [/button_round]

[button_round color=”purple” url=”http://apprehendinggrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2013-RARE-Bookmarks.pdf”] Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013. [/button_round]

What treasures have you found while reading this week? Share them with the rest of us. You can email me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Enjoy God! Enjoy life!

Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for April is below.

Resting at the River's Edge April 2014 Reading Schedule

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12Therefore, since we have such a hope [that is, the hope of our glorious salvation], we are very bold….17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Cor 3:12, 17 (NIV)

Dog Running Through Field with AbandonIn my previous blog, we looked at Numbers chapters 13 and 14 – the story of the Israelites seeing the giants in the Promised Land instead of God’s Promise – that He had already given the land to them and that their enemies were already “helpless prey.” Oh Lord, help us to see Your promises in our lives and not the giants that might temporarily be inhabiting our land.

Let’s read the end of the story. When we last left the Israelites, Joshua and Caleb were begging the Israelites to take God at His Word and enter the Promised Land. The Israelites would have none of it. Here’s just a sample of their whining:

“Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”
Numbers 14:3-4 (NLT)

A few verses later we read God’s perspective on the situation:

11 And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?
Numbers 14:11 (NLT)

We use softer words than God does. We might say that the people didn’t believe God or didn’t trust Him. God said “How long will these people treat me with contempt?” Other translations say “How long will the people despise me?” or “How long will the people reject me.” Those are serious charges. It gives us a greater understanding of how our lack of faith impacts God. God says “I’ve done all these things for you and you take my gifts, spit on them and then turn your back on me.”

I’m guessing that most of us have had experiences like that. There are people that we’ve poured our lives into and then at some point those people reject us. It is incredibly hurtful. It can be devastating! That’s how God “feels” when we don’t trust Him. At least that’s how He describes it!

Lord, forgive me! Lord, forgive me.

Moses took up the case of the Israelites and pled with God to spare them. God relented, bringing us to one of the saddest passages in the Bible:

20Then the LORD said, “I will pardon them as you have requested. 
(Numbers 14:20)

The Lord forgives! Hallelujah! I’m so thankful that He is a forgiving God. But sin has consequences. Continuing with verse 21…

21But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the LORD’S glory, 22not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they tested me by refusing to listen. 23They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will enter it. 24But my servant Caleb is different from the others. He has remained loyal to me, and I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will receive their full share of that land. 25Now turn around and don’t go on toward the land where the Amalekites and Canaanites live. Tomorrow you must set out for the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea.”
Numbers 14:21-25

Sin has consequences. We would all agree with that. Yet we don’t like to think of our sin as having consequences…especially the consequence of losing the opportunity to receive all the promises God has given us. I see that clearly here. The promises God has given us are obtained through faith. When we choose to walk outside of faith, we are walking in unbelief and we disqualify ourselves from receiving those promises. Now God is gracious and He will still give us eternal life…He’ll even bless us in this life…but if we continually respond to God’s open gate by backing away from it, we risk receiving discipline instead of promises.

“Now turn around and don’t go on toward the land where the Amalekites and Canaanites live. Tomorrow you must set out for the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea.”
Numbers 14:25 (NLT)

I find this to be two of the saddest sentences in the Bible. The Israelites have just been told that their dreams of entering the Promised Land will never be realized. Those sentences break thousands of dreams and bring thousands of heartaches. What caused the death of that dream? Their own fear – their own lack of faith.

Lord, keep me from myself! Help me keep my eyes on You and Your great love and power – because I don’t want to have the experience of the Israelites. I want to live out the purposes God has for my life. I don’t want to hear Him say “OK. Turn around…head into the wilderness…”

There are lots of consequences to living in the wilderness. There are also blessings – their clothes and shoes didn’t wear out for 40 years, they had food they needed…but they missed out on living in the land flowing with milk and honey. They missed out on the grape clusters that were so large they required two men to carry them. They missed out on accomplishing the eternal purposes God prepared in advance for them to do.

I’ve said it over and over again – I want to live like God has left the gate open. I want to embrace the challenges looking at God’s outcome not the obstacles in the way. The obstacles are there just waiting to be conquered! I’m guessing that you do too. Maybe that dream has been buried for awhile, but I trust it’s still there.

Don’t take my message the wrong way. Being in the wilderness isn’t always a result of sin. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to fast and be tempted by satan. I am not saying that if you’re in wilderness it’s because you’ve sinned. I am saying that it could be because you stepped back from something God asked you to do.

Messed Up Hair and AllSo let’s examine ourselves. Is there something that has come to your mind as you’ve read the blogs in this series? Is there some area of ministry, some area of stepping out in faith, that you’ve been struggling to say “Yes” to God in? Don’t risk hearing God say “OK, turn around.” Boldly step through that gate. Run through it! Trust God to meet you, to have gone before you, to have already marked the giants as helpless prey. Take the first step and let Him show you that He’s laid out the plan and set things in motion.

The blogs in this series have come out of a sermon series I preached at my home church. Out of that sermon series we’ve started a new small group. It’s a group in which we share our God dreams and encourage one another to step into them. More than anything, I want to help you walk into the dreams God has placed in your heart…not get you excited about the possibility of walking into them and then having that passion die a slow death. If you’d like to be a part of a virtual group email me – Sandy@ApprehendingGrace.com. We’ll get one going. Because living like God has left the gate open is worth it!

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12Therefore, since we have such a hope [that is, the hope of our glorious salvation], we are very bold….17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Cor 3:12, 17 (NIV)

Dog Running Through Field with AbandonWhy aren’t we living life like Someone (God) has left the gate open? The reason at the top of my list remains the same – fear. My two previous blogs on the topic were about how the fear of condemnation keeps us from the freedom God has for us. The antidote to that fear is applying faith to the full gospel message – that not only are we given eternal life, but we are free from condemnation. It’s all right there in John 3:16, 3:17 and 3:18. Don’t stop reading at the end of 3:16. Eternal life is found in 3:16. Freedom from condemnation comes in the verses that follow. You can read the first blog in the series here, and the second here.

Today, I want to look at how fear keeps us from living boldly in the plan God has for our life. We’ll find that the antidote to that fear is the same faith we applied to God’s Word for our salvation. In this case, however, we’ll apply that faith to God’s ability to keep His other promises.

Turn with me to Numbers 13. Let me set the stage. The Israelites were about ready to go into the Promised Land – a land that God has promised them is flowing with milk and honey. A land that would be their own. One in which they would no longer be slaves. They had been slaves for 400 years in Egypt. Then God miraculously delivered them and He provided for them again and again as they made their way to this point of their journey. In preparation for the next phase of their journey, God said this to Moses:

“Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.”
Numbers 13:2 (NLT)

Notice that the Lord described the land as “The land I am giving to the Israelites.” It was already a settled matter. God was going to give them the land. Send some men out to explore it! So Moses’ proceeded to do just that. He gave the scouting party instructions to check out the land and the people, and to try to bring back some samples of the crops.

The spies went out and indeed found the land as God had described it – a fertile where a single cluster of grapes was so large that it took two men to carry it back to the Israelites. They also gathered samples of the pomegranates and figs. Let’s pick up the story as the men return with their bounty and report their findings:

25 After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned 26 to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. 27 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces.”

28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.”

30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”

31 But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” 32 So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. 33 We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”
Numbers 13:25-33 (NLT)

That last phrase caught my attention – “And that’s what they thought, too?” That’s the only verse we have that gives us any indication that the spies actually interacted with the residents of the land. Apparently these giants didn’t seem to have a problem with the twelve men stealing their grapes and pomegranates. There’s no indication that they paid for them. I’m thinking it would only have taken two of the giants to conquer the twelve spies, what with two of them loaded down with grapes and a couple of others carrying pomegranates and figs.

Do these men not realize that they just walked through the enemy’s camp unharmed? Apparently not.

Let’s just set that aside for now because there’s a more significant question:

What’s wrong with this whole discussion? What was the focus of it? Their whole focus is on what they thought they could do. They’ve looked at the circumstances and they’re no longer asking “What did God say?” or “What does God want us to do?”

How did the story start? The Lord said “send men out to explore the land I am giving them.”

We’re back to our issue of faith. The Israelites didn’t run into the land that God had opened the gate for them to enter because they were looking at the obstacles instead of at their miracle working, lavishly providing God.

Moses and Aaron and Joshua and Caleb begged the people to trust God. Read Joshua and Caleb’s plea recorded in Numbers 14, starting in verse 7:

7They [Joshua and Caleb] said to the community of Israel, “The land we explored is a wonderful land! 8And if the LORD is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey, and he will give it to us! 9Do not rebel against the LORD, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the LORD is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”
Numbers 14:7-9

“They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”

I can’t get past that statement – “they are only helpless prey!” Other translations say “Their protection is gone.”

Yes, they have fortified cities…yes, they are big and strong…but they are still helpless prey. They have already lost their protection. They are ready to be conquered. God has opened the gate, let’s run through it!

Do you believe that God will provide all that you need when you run through gates He has opened?

Today’s application of faith is to believe in God’s ability to do what He’s promised – to believe in His power. The Israelites failed in that faith and because of that the failed to enter the Promised Land. Instead of trusting God’s promise, they looked at the circumstances, and chose not to believe that their enemies were already helpless prey, that they had already lost their protection. If they had believed God, that faith would have brought boldness into our lives. Do you hear the boldness in Joshua and Caleb’s words?

Keeping our eyes on the Lord and trusting in His promises brings boldness into our lives that gives us the freedom to live like someone left the gate open. It’s what Joshua and Caleb were urging the Israelites to do – “let’s go get ’em” was their message.

What gate has God opened for you? If you believe that God loves you unconditionally, have you run through the open gate? If not, is it because you’re looking at what’s on the other side with natural eyes instead of supernatural eyes. What is on the other side of that gate? The fulfillment of God’s eternal purposes in your life…and the impact God wants to have through you on the lives of others. Is that what you’re seeing? Or are you seeing the giants between you and that fulfillment? Don’t look at the giants, look at the promises of God. Those giants are inhabiting the land that God has already given to you. They are helpless prey – if you boldly trust God. If you boldly go into the land He will deliver them into your hands.

What kind of giants are they in your land?

  • Is it the giant of not having enough time?
  • Is it the giant of not having enough money?
  • Is it the giant of not having enough energy?
  • Is it the giant of not having the wisdom or knowledge?
  • Are they giants of long-established patterns that are hard to break?
  • Is it the giant of complacency – being quite comfortable where you are, thank you very much?
  • What have I missed? Whatever your giants are…

Messed Up Hair and All“They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”

Let’s engage our faith – to take the promised land! That’s a big goal – a God-sized goal. Let’s engage our faith to pursue God goals that are bigger than we are. Let’s engage our faith to live like God has left the gate open for us!

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1Now the LORD said to Moses, 2“Make two trumpets of beaten silver to be used for summoning the people to assemble and for signaling the breaking of camp.
Numbers 10:1-2 (NLT)

I didn’t get very far in today’s Resting at the River’s Edge reading. I started with Numbers 10:1. I ended with Numbers 10:2. Sometimes God interrupts us after only a verse or two. That’s OK! Don’t rush past the whisper of God. Pause and camp out a bit! You can always catch up on your reading tomorrow or the next day or over the weekend. Never push to finish reading when God highlights a verse and speaks into your spirit.

That’s what happened to me this morning. I read verse two and my mind exploded a bit:

“Make two trumpets…to be used for…for signaling the breaking of camp.”

When the trumpet sounds pack up your things, saddle up your horses (donkeys, camels, minivan, whatever) and let’s move! This place you’re at now – it’s just your current campsite. God is going to blow the trumpet and it’ll be time to move on.

That is as true today as it was during the time of Moses. God immediately brought this passage to mind:

16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. 
1 Thess 4:16-17 (NLT)

When the trumpet sounds, there will be no packing up of our things or saddling up of our horses – we will rise from our graves or be caught up in the clouds supernaturally to meet the Lord in the air! Whew! I remember a dream I had about thirty years ago. I was a relatively new Christian. Studying the rapture was all the rave then. I had one of those dreams that are so realistic when you wake up you can’t believe you were dreaming. We were in swirling winds that had the force of a tornado but wasn’t being at all destructive. We were initially frightened, but then instantly had a knowing that this was the rapture – that we were being transported to be with the Lord. Our fear immediately turned to incredible excitement and joy! Wow!

What this passage and my dream remind me is that we are just passing through this life. This is our (very) temporary camping place. Phil did a study on heaven and in preaching called this life a “cheap motel” compared to the home that awaits us. He’s right. We’re just living in a temporary, cheap motel, folks.

And one day…ONE DAY…We shall hear the trumpet sound and whether we’re dead or alive, we will rise to meet Him in the air…and remain with Him forever! Did you catch that part of the verse, too – we will remain with Him forever. That won’t be a temporary camp. That’s our permanent home.

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)

So while we’re living here on earth, while we’re living in this temporary home, don’t load yourself down with stuff you have to pack and carry when it’s time to break up camp. Instead, build a trousseau for your marriage to the King of Kings – build up treasures in heaven.

Tomorrow’s blog – How do we do that? How do we build up treasures in heaven? Stay tuned…In the meantime, travel light because one day the trumpet will sound!

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Join the conversation as we read together each month. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog. Let’s share the treasures God drops in our spirits as we read!

Also, NEW in 2012 are our RARE bookmarks. Click on the link below to download them.

Use the tracking method that works best for you – the schedule provided in this blog, the downloadable half-page PDF or bookmark. All provide the same schedule.

Above all, enjoy God as you read! Let Him speak to you!
Sandy

[button_round color=”purple” url=”http://apprehendinggrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Bookmark-2012-01Jan-Dec.pdf”] Download All 2012 Bookmarks Here [/button_round]

[button_round color=”purple” url=”http://apprehendinggrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Bookmark-2012-03Mar-Apr-1only.pdf”] Download only the March/April 2012 Bookmark Here [/button_round]

[button_round color=”blue” url=”http://apprehendinggrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/2012-04Apr-ReadingPlan.pdf”] Download a Half-Page PDF of the April Reading Plan Here [/button_round]

Here’s April’s reading plan:

April 2012 Resting at the River's Edge Reading Schedule JPG

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. We’re following a two year plan (2012 and 2013) that has us reading the New Testament each year and the Old Testament stretched over the two years. Each month our reading plans also provide a column titled “Additional.” This column provides readings that will allow you to read through the entire Bible (that is, the complete Old and New Testaments) during the year 2012.

Join the conversation as we read together each month. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog. God has treasures for each of us as we read. Let’s share them!

Also, NEW in 2012 are our RARE bookmarks. Click on the link below to download them. Each bookmark provides two months of Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules and is great for tracking your readings. (We found an “oops” in the bookmarks we uploaded last month – we forgot to include Feb 29 in the schedule. The bookmarks have been updated to reflect the additional day we get this year.)

Use the tracking method that works best for you – the schedule provided in this blog, the downloadable half-page PDF or bookmark. All provide the same schedule.

I pray that you enjoy your time with God as you read each day.
Sandy

[button_round color=”purple” url=”http://apprehendinggrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Bookmark-2012-01Jan-Dec.pdf”] Download All 2012 Bookmarks Here [/button_round]

[button_round color=”purple” url=”http://apprehendinggrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Bookmark-2012-03Mar-Apr-1only.pdf”] Download only the March/April 2012 Bookmark Here [/button_round]

[button_round color=”blue” url=”http://apprehendinggrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/2012-03Mar-ReadingPlan.pdf”] Download a Half-Page PDF of the March Reading Plan Here [/button_round]

Here’s March’s reading plan:

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If you’re reading along with us using the Resting at the River’s Edge reading plan, yesterday you read Numbers 34 and found the Lord defining the boundaries of Israel. He very specifically identifies the boundary lines on the north, south, east and west.

Israel had not yet battled for the land – it was still inhabited by their enemy. It would take much warfare to reach those boundaries. Yet the Lord defined the boundaries for them. As I read the passage, I wondered why God would do such a thing. Why tell them the vastness of their property when it is all inhabited by the enemy? Why tell them the limits of their property, regardless of how big it might be, before they fight their first battle?

As I continued to read, I experienced a sense of peace and wondered if that was the answer to my question. By telling the Israelites the specific boundaries of the land that belonged to them, God was doing several things:

  • He was encouraging them – building courage into them by declaring that the land already belonged to them. They could fight for it with authority and confidence because God had already given it to them.
  • He was giving them peace, because knowing their boundaries also meant knowing that there would be a time when they had conquered the land and battle would stop. When I’m in a battle, knowing that it will end brings me internal peace. It can be easy to fall into despair in the midst of a battle. Knowing that you are fighting a God-ordained battle and that the battle will one day end brings hope and light into the darkness.
  • He was giving them confidence by assuring the Israelites that He already saw into their future and knew what their boundaries were. In the midst of a battle, I love knowing that God already knows the end of the story; He has already seen it and seen me in it.
  • He was also giving them every reason to remain faithful to and humble before their God. All along, the Israelites have been journeying to the land that God has promised them. He was now establishing the boundaries of the land they were to be given.

I see the love and faithfulness of God, even as he tells the Israelites what their boundaries will be in the Promised Land.

Of course, God has established boundaries for us, too. They represent the length and breadth of “land” that we are to conquer and settle. They include many of the freedoms and the authority in which we walk as co-heirs with Christ. We can have confidence when we fight battles to win these freedoms – God has already established that those freedoms are well within our boundaries. We can be encouraged when the battle seems long, knowing that God has already given us the territory.

The boundaries God has set for us also include specific limits for our life and ministry. Many like to think that there are no limits on what we can do for God. I disagree. God has gifted each of us according to His plan and purpose for our lives. To operate beyond His calling on our lives is to be outside our boundaries. That’s not to say that we should never operate outside our spiritual and natural giftings. Often, God calls us to step into the gap and serve in an area in which we’d much rather stay far away from. God will supernaturally supply our need to accomplish His will in that interim position. We show our faithfulness to Him by going wherever He calls and leads. Setting these temporary assignments aside, however, it’s important that we not push beyond the boundaries that God has set for us. Has He gifted you to be an outstanding small group leader? Be satisfied with that ministry, not looking to expand your territory. In America, bigger is always better. In God’s kingdom, living life fully to the boundaries and not beyond is always best.

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