“As a Christian, serious about living out Christ’s intention for me, I view life as a series of opportunities to respond to and maximize… to recognize opportunities – either immediate or in the future – and prepare for, or respond well to them.” Dr. Jerry Cook
This summarizes our partnership with God in bringing his will. This is exactly what Esther and Mordecai did when the Jews were threatened with extermination by the Persians, as recorded in the Book of Esther – the story commemorated on the festival of Purim. (more…)
Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of First Fruits, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles – lots of Feasts, each with different instructions for observing them. Sometimes when we’re just starting out observing the Feasts, or approach a new season of Feasts, we can easily think of all the instructions and do’s and don’ts, and forget the richness of each Feast. It can feel – and in fact become – like we’re just going through the motions.
I can imagine that’s how the Hebrews must have felt when they heard the instructions for the first time as well. Exodus 12 is 50 verses full of instructions for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the instructions are not exactly intuitive or logical. What were they to make of killing a lamb and smearing its blood on their door frames? Had that ever saved them from death before? Was this a common practice? And what’s so bad about leavened bread? What does that have to do with saving their firstborns? (more…)
In Numbers 1-2 God appoints leaders from each tribe of the Israelites, counts the men for military battle and organizes them as to how they are to camp and move. By Numbers 10 they are moving toward the Promised Land. These are our bookends in this study. Everything within this 20-day period can be considered the last minute instructions before the Israelites can move forward.
“it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it ‘Today.’ ” … “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;”
The last minute preparations in how to enter our Sabbath rest in these last days are the same for us as they were for the Israelites in Numbers 1-10. These are our instructions for what is required in order for God to fulfill His promises to us. (more…)
Numbers 1 begins the culmination of God’s main purpose for the Exodus: entering the Promised Land. Hebrews 4 tells us we are still headed for the Promised Land, calling it our Sabbath rest. Numbers 1-14 are the last few weeks before His grand plan is finally realized. The first 10 chapters provide an outline of how to prepare to enter the Land – for the Israelites, and for us today. These are the last few instructions for following God’s presence into our land of blessing and abundance. (more…)
In an earlier post, we reviewed the lifestyle of following the 10 Commandments and the blessings it produces based on Deuteronomy 26:16-19. But God’s blessings go beyond human logic. It’s not only that if you do this, then that will happen. While that is certainly true in the natural realm, when we pursue God’s commands, the spiritual results are compounded beyond what we can imagine. (more…)
As I walked a familiar path, I pondered my goals and pursuits — the progress or lack thereof, the advances and obstacles. Were my efforts having the desired effects? Were my primary purposes being met? These were pursuits I know God had led me to, called on me to participate in. Yet, while I could point to advances I had made, I couldn’t see tangible results I believed were God’s greater purposes. I could hear in my mind, “If only…” “If only this project were to reach that point, then it would be successful.” “If only I could get beyond this or that, I could really make a difference.” “If only…”
I recently wrote an article on how the phrase “If only” is a red flag for the temptation to reach beyond what God is already doing, to jump out ahead or create my own plan when things aren’t as I think they ought to be. On my walk, my own “If onlys” echoed through the trees. I knew I needed to repent. When I did, God responded in His typical fashion with patience, understanding, gentleness and fatherly love. (more…)
At one point in my career, I had not been demoted, but it certainly felt that way. Our administrative help was let go, and I was asked to take on her work in addition to my own. The new arrangement was working, so there was no hope of it changing any time soon. But I grew restless and sometimes frustrated. It also began to change other peoples’ perceptions of my capabilities and my status in the organization. I considered looking for another job, but in the current economy, this was not the time.
I asked a question I often use to glean answers and direction from God: “Who in the Bible has felt this way, and what did he or she do about it?” Two Bible giants came to mind — Joseph and Moses.