Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31- Setting Up As A Nation

March 31, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Deuteronomy 16:1-17:20; Luke 9:7-27
Psalm 72:1-20; Proverbs 12:8-9

Deuteronomy 16:1-17:20

When the Second Continental Congress held their convention on May 10, 1775 in Philadelphia, it acted as a de facto national government for the thirteen colonies on this continent.  The group of individual representatives from each colony adopted the Declaration of Independence, raised an army to fight the British, directed strategy for a war, appointed diplomats, and made formal treaties with other nations.  This was fundamental in establishing America as a separate nation.  Today Moses uses God's Laws as a means of establishing Israel as its own nation.

When the Israelites were preparing to go into the Promised Land God took Moses up to Mount Sinai to give Him the laws under which this nation would function.  In the books of Leviticus and Numbers we reviewed the laws and the associated calendar of holidays.  Moses takes time in the book of Deuteronomy to reemphasize these national sign posts to a new generation.  Today Moses restates the holy calendar of festivals that are to be observed by the nation of Israel.  He confirms that they must appoint judges and officials in each town for civil government, and if any case is too hard to decide, they should take the case directly to the Levitcal priest and judge to decide.  Moses acknowledges that eventually Israel will not want to have God be their King, but will want to be like other earthly nations with a king of their own that they can see.  Moses sets down the rules for this future king:
  • He must be a fellow Israelite.
  • He must not build up a large stable of horses, especially horses bought from Egypt.
  • He must not send his people back to Egypt.
  • He must not take many wives for himself, because they will lead him away from the Lord.
  • He must not build up great treasures of silver and gold.
  • As king, he must copy the laws from God on a scroll by himself in the presence of the Levitical priests.
  • He must always keep a copy of the law with him and read it daily as long as he lives.
  • This will prevent him from becoming proud and acting like he is better than other citizens. He should be a man of the law.
As we read further in the Bible, we will be introduced to the various kings that rule the nation of Israel.  One of their greatest earthly kings was King Solomon.  He was the son of David and Bathsheba.  He is also the author of some of the books of the Bible, including the Proverbs.  But as we will see, Solomon broke many of the rules set out here for a king of Israel by God.  By now you know me pretty well,  well enough to know that I cannot let this passage pass without showing the picture of Jesus Christ in the passage.  Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  When Jesus was on earth as King of the Jews, he followed all the laws for a king designated in this passage by Moses.  Although he did not carry the law with him physically each day, he studied the Scriptures since his childhood and carried the whole Law with him in his mind and heart.  Jesus, who was also a son of David, was Israel's perfect king.

What sign posts in your life point to your faith in God?  Do you live by a certain doctrine or creed?

Luke 9:7-9

Our story opens today with King Herod worried about who Jesus really is.  After miraculously feeding a crowd of 5000 people, Jesus takes his disciples aside and challenges them about who they think he is.  Peter speaks up and proclaims the gospel message that Jesus is the Messiah sent by God.  Messiah means "Anointed One."  Please know that three types of leaders in the ancient world were anointed into their positions... prophets, priests, and kings.  Jesus is positionally all three of these. Jesus is a prophet, a priest, and a king.

Once Jesus hears Peter's testimony, he warns the disciples not to tell anyone.  He teaches them that he must suffer, be rejected, killed and then raised from the dead.  A primary part of being one of Jesus' followers is that we must set aside our own selfish ambitions and be willing to suffer like Christ.  With humility, we must not be ashamed to be associated with the message and person of Christ. This means that the disciples must obey his command not to tell anyone at this time that he is the long awaited Messiah. They must accept his suffering before his glorification.

Are you willing to suffer in this life?  Do you face hardship with humility? Are you willing to do this as a means of identifying with Jesus?  He is asking you to take up a cross.  Do you recognize Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of lords?  Is he ruling in your heart?

Psalm 72:1-20

This is a psalm written by Solomon designed to worship the king.  How appropriate for today's study.  Solomon is speaking of our perfect king- Jesus Christ.  Read the words and you will see a perfect description of Jesus.

Proverbs 12:8-9

One thing this proverb says is "a warped mind is despised."  This is certainly true.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30- Cutting Out Cancer

March 30, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Deuteronomy 13:1-15:23; Luke 8:40-9:6
Psalm 71:1-24; Proverbs 12:5-7

Deuteronomy 13:1-15:23

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells.  If the spread is not controlled, cancer will result in death. Approximately 1.5 million cases of cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year.  Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the USA, second only to heart disease.  Who among us has not had a family member or friend struggle or even die from cancer?  Recently, a good friend of mine was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to her liver.  Thankfully, after much prayer and excellent medical care, my friend's cancer is in remission and she is on maintenance chemotherapy to keep it that way.  The process for making her healthy included major surgery to cut out the cancerous growths.

Today Moses treats the prospect of idol worship as a cancer among the Israelites.  He prescribes major surgery whereever growth of idolatry is detected.  God tells Moses that death should be the penalty for any prophet, family member, or fellow citizen who dares to lead an Israelite down the road of pagan worship.  Does this seem harsh to you?  Is it harsh to cut out a death-causing cancer?  Radical means are necessary when the destruction of a soul is imminent.  God does not want to lose even one of His precious ones.

Moses reviews the dietary laws for the Israelites.  You may remember that these laws are designed to keep the Jews healthy and set apart from the pagan people groups.  Most of the acceptable foods have less of a tendency to cause parasitic illness.  Obedience to these dietary laws required that the Jews take a stand for holiness.  God wants you and I to be set apart, also.  In what way does your behavior set you apart from unbelievers?

Moses also goes over the laws for tithing, cancelling debts, caring for the poor, and redeeming servants.  What do these rules about finances and debts tell us about God? One thing we learn is that our use of money often reflects a spiritual condition. 
  • Tithing was required by the Israelites.  They were to give a first portion of their possessions to God. Do you give God the first fruits of your labor in recognition of His blessings to you? This pictured God giving His firstborn son to the world. It also reflected Christ being the first fruits of those who would be resurrected from the dead. This is a picture of what God would do for the whole world. He tithed His only son.
  • As God had the Israelites cancel debts, He was picturing the work that Christ would do on the cross.  Christ's death cancelled the debts we owed to God caused by our sins.  Obedience to these laws reflected faith in Christ's future work on the cross. 
  • God gave the Israelites methods for caring for the poor.  This pictures how God takes the poor in spirit and meets their spiritual needs, making them rich in Christ.
  • The Israelites were commanded to periodically release their slaves and redeem them with a good and gracious attitude.  This is how Christ redeems our sins with a joyful and gracious heart.  We were slaves to sin until Christ paid for our freedom. Did it cost him something to do this?  Yes.  It cost him everything, including his life.
God does not waste any opportunity to show us His plan for the redemption of the world.  What appears to be just another recounting of some boring Laws is actually a call to see Jesus Christ as the Savior.

Luke 8:40-9:6

Jesus lands on shore and is immediately surrounded by people who have needs.  Jesus is here to help the poor in spirit.  He is ready to make them rich in Christ.  A local synagogue official named Jarius has a twelve year old daughter who is dying.  He comes to request Jesus' help. Meanwhile, a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years touches Jesus in faith and is instantly healed.  Jesus stops the commotion to find the woman and tell her that her faith has made her well.  As they approach Jarius' house, the crowd informs Jesus that the girl has died.  He proceeds anyway and brings the girl back to life.  Jesus asks the family not to tell anyone about this.  Jesus is more interested in healing the sick, rather than becoming a political king for the Jews at this point in the story.  Becoming the king will come later. Jesus knows that to truly save the Jews and all people on earth, he must first die to pay the penalty for their sins.

Jesus starts to spread his healing powers by giving the apostles power from God to heal others.  He encourages them to rely on God in faith during their ministry and to shake the dust off of their feet from any town or house that does not have faith in God.

Would the apostles need to shake the dust off of their feet from your home?  Can Jesus heal your sorrows because of your faith?  Can he raise you from the death of unbelief into the life of faith?

Psalm 71:1-24

"My life is an example to many because You have been my strength and protection."  Do you realize that God wants you to be able to say this about your own life?

Proverbs 12:5-7

The wicked and the godly are opposites.  This proverb makes that clear.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March 29- A Blessing and A Curse

March 29, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Deuteronomy 11:1-12:32; Luke 8:22-39
Psalm 70:1-5; Proverbs 12:4

Deuteronomy 11:1-12:32

In the book Holes, Stanley Yelnats, the great great grandson of Stanley Yelnats, carries a boy named Zero up a mountain called God's Thumb in order to get Zero a drink of water.  This act breaks a curse that was put on his family by Madam Zeroni, who had cursed Stanley Yelnats the elder many years before for not carrying her up a mountain to get a drink of water.  Today Moses tells the Israelites that they have a choice between a blessing or a curse from God based on their choices.  Obedience will bring blessings and disobedience will bring a curse.

Moses' theme of obedience continues.  If the Israelites decide to obey God, they can expect the blessings of rainfall for their crops, good pastures for their livestock, and plenty to eat. If they show love for God by walking in His ways, then the Lord will drive out their enemies from the land.  If however, the Israelites do not obey the commands of God and begin to participate in the pagan religions of the land, the Lord will not bless their efforts, but instead, will curse them and eventually kick them out of the land.

Moses tells the people to go up to two different mountain tops to pronounce both a blessing and a curse on the land once they enter the land. In the future, the prophet Elijah will do just this.  This is a ritual designed to emphasize a spiritual truth. 

Moses reemphasizes the need for the Israelites to burn and demolish pagan idols and Asherah poles.  Remember, the Canaanites would worship Asherah, a fertility goddess originally given by the fallen angels to the Sumerians in Ur, by having sex with prostitutes, both male and female.  In addition, they would offer their children as sacrifices in the fire to the agricultural god-Baal.  The One True God of Israel wanted this practice destroyed. Moses continues by designating where and when offerings should be made to the Lord.  This is designed to prevent the Israelites from falling into pagan sacrifice rituals.  Moses reminds the Israelites not to add or subtract from these Laws.

Do you realize God's blessings in your life as a result of obedience to His principles?  Have you felt the curse of sin in your life?  God gives us a choice between a blessing and a curse, also.  Which do you choose?

Luke 8:22-39

Jesus blesses and curses today in our New Testament reading.  As the story begins, Jesus wants to cross over to the other side of the lake.  He lays down for a nap in the boat and a terrible storm arrives. This is no ordinary storm. It is almost demonic in its fierceness. As the disciples cry out in fear, Jesus calms the storm.  Jesus blesses the disciples with safety from harm, but rebukes them for not having more faith. Do you have faith that God can carry you through the storms in your life?

Next, a man comes to Jesus seeking a blessing.  This man is homeless, naked, and has been living in the cemetery.  He is possessed by a legion of demons.  Jesus blesses this man's faith by casting the demons out of his body and sending them into a herd of pigs.  The pigs rush down a cliff and die, causing the Gadarenes (descendants of the tribe of Gad) to ask Jesus to leave the area.  Do you wonder why Jews would be raising pigs?  Remember, the tribe of Gad never left the east side of the Jordan River to cross into the Promised Land.  They have apparently slacked in their obedience to God's Laws.  Jesus' curse on the demons results in a form of curse on the sins of these Jews.  While blessing the faithful homeless man, Jesus' actions curse the disobedient Gadarenes.

Does your behavior result in God's blessing or curse in your life?

Psalm 70:1-5

This is a psalm asking for God's help and blessings.  Do you remember to pray this way?

Proverbs 12:4

"A worthy wife is her husband's joy and crown; a shameful wife saps his strength."  Truer words were never spoken.  Some of you men out there know just what I'm talkin' 'bout. A good wife is a blessing.


Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

March 28- The Good Coach

March 28, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Deuteronomy 9:1-10:22; Luke 8:4-21
Psalm 69: 19-36; Proverbs 12:2-3

Deuteronomy 9:1-10:22

One thing that a good coach does for his team is give them perspective.  Once a group of players understands the bigger picture they can focus on the details of their individual tasks in order to help the group succeed.  The words of a good coach in the huddle can change the outcome of the game from loss to victory. Today Moses is like a good coach.  He is giving the Israelites perspective on their position in God's overall story.  Here are some of the things Moses points out:
  • It is really God who is going to defeat the Canaanites in the Promised Land. -Vs. 2-3
  • God is not doing this because Israel is such a righteous group of people. -Vs. 4
  • God is driving out the Canaanites because of their wickedness and because He swore an oath to Abraham to give him this land. -Vs. 5
  • Israel is a stubborn people. -Vs. 6
  • Moses was on Mt. Sinai for forty days and forty nights without food and water. -Vs. 9
  • God then gave Moses the covenant of the Law -vs. 10
  • Israel had fallen into idol worship while Moses was on the mountain. -Vs. 11-12
  • Moses convinced God to refrain from killing the people, even though they were rebellious. -Vs. 13-16
  • Moses destroyed the tablets of the Law in anger and had to repeat the process on the mountain. -Vs. 17-29 and Deut. 10:1-11
  • God chose the Israelites to be the object of His love above every other nation. 10:15
  • He did this not because the Israelites were righteous, but because He was going to be glorified through His work in them.  He was going to bless the world through them. Therefore, the Israelites needed to cleanse their sinful hearts and stop being stubborn.  10:15-16
Moses then admonished the Israelites to imitate God in His goodness.  Do you have perspective in your life?  Do you realize that God chooses you to save in order to show His glory throughout the universe?  We, too, are a stubborn and rebellious people.  Thank God for His mercy and grace to us!

Luke 8:4-21

Jesus gives us perspective today, just as Moses gave perspective to the Israelites.  Jesus is our good coach who helps us to understand that not everyone is going to accept the gospel message of Christ.  This is how the world works.  In his parable about the good soil, Jesus explains that God's message is spread to people throughout the world like seeds falling to the ground.  Some seed falls on hard ground.  Jesus says that this is when the devil snatches the seed away and the person does not become saved.  The seed in the rocky soil is people who appear to believe for a while, but they don't have deep roots and when trials come, they wither.  Next, is the thorny ground.  These people they accept the message quickly, but the cares of this world like money and possessions and immoral lifestyles crowd out their faith.  They never grow to maturity.  When the message of God falls on good soil, the honest people who hear it cling to it, nurture the truth in their lives, and produce good fruit with a large harvest.

Jesus reveals that those who are open to his teaching will receive more understanding.  People who do not want to listen, what little understanding they have will be taken away.  Do you think this is harsh?  Are you willing to listen to Jesus tell you the way things work? 

Psalm 69:19-36

Have you ever been humiliated by a situation?  Read this psalm as a means of crying out to God.

Proverbs 12:2-3

"Wickedness never brings stability; only the godly have deep roots."  Do you have deep roots like Jesus was discussing today?

What did you see?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 27- Be Careful and Obey

March 27, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20; Luke 7:36-8:3
Psalm 69:1-18; Proverbs 12:1

Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20

When my daughter was little she had a tendency to walk mindlessly through parking lots not noticing cars that were backing out of their parking spaces and practically getting hit by them. My rule was that she needed to hold my hand when we were in parking lots.  She had an independent streak and wanted to walk free of my hold. I can recall numerous times, even when she became a teenager, that I would call out, "Be careful, Sarah! There's a car that is about to back out!"

Today Moses spends a lot of time telling the nation of Israel to "be careful" as they enter the land of Canaan.  God has commanded them to destroy a number of nations within the land of Canaan.  These are powerful people. These are devil-worshipping people who followed the gods given to them by the rebellious, fallen angels. It will take courage and faith to destroy them.  Remember, Canaan was Ham's cursed son. It was through Canaan that the Nephilim giants and worship system would manifest itself after the Great Flood. Noah had predicted the downfall of these people.  It was ordained by God.

Moses warns the Israelites to not intermarry with any of the Canaanite people groups.  They are to be completely destroyed. They are Baal worshipers.  This means that they have sexual relations as part of their fertility cult.  They are overrun with sexually transmitted diseases.  Intermarriage would put the Israelites at risk. They were not to worship the false gods of the Nephilim, many who are sourced back to ancient Sumer, which eventually became Babylon. The Israelites were to be the people group that would bring the Messiah into the world. Therefore, the Israelites needed to live a holy and separate life from these nations. God called Abraham out of Ur in Sumer to possess the Promised Land of Canaan. The righteous in the story are to overcome evil. God is warning the Israelites to steer clear of immorality and sexual licentiousness. In addition to this, He is reminding them through the words of Moses to avoid intermingling and adopting the false religions of the Canaanites. Obedience to God's commands was key to the Israelites safety and protection. Only through trusting God can we defeat evil and resist temptation in this life.

Do you realize that obedience to God's Word provides protection for you in your life?  Are you vigilant against sexual immorality in your own life? God says to us, "Be careful and obey."

Luke 7:36-8:3

Jesus is eating at the home of one of the Pharisees.  An immoral woman hears that Jesus is there and interrupts the meal to weep at his feet and put perfume on his feet.  This scandalizes everyone at the dinner.  Jesus uses it as a teaching moment.  He tells the story of two people who borrowed money.  One borrowed  fifty pieces of silver, the other borrowed five hundred.  Neither could repay.  Who loved the lender more?  Jesus helps his audience realize that the person with the greater debt loved the lender more. By the way, his audience were the outwardly religious sorts, in addition to his new disciples.

What is Jesus' point?  The greater the sins for which you have been forgiven by God, the greater your love and appreciation for God will be.  This immoral woman had many sins that Christ forgave.  She had a passionate, grateful love for him.  Why? Because through his radical, redemptive love, Jesus does not condemn her.  He forgives her.

The Bible tells us that the men at the dinner, who are religious leaders, are questioning among themselves who Christ thinks he is...forgiving people's sins.  Jesus tells the woman that her faith has saved her.

Who do you think Jesus is?  Does he have the ability to save you from your sins?  He says that faith is the key to forgiveness.  Do you have faith in Jesus?

Psalm 69:1-18

Have you ever felt that the floodwaters were up to your neck?  Have you ever felt like you were drowning in problems?  If so, this psalm was written for you.  Read it and find rest. Think of the Israelites going into the land of Canaan as you read this. Think of Christ on the cross.

Proverbs 12:1

"To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction."  Wow.  This follows our theme today.  Be careful and obey.

What are you learning?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

March 26- Teach Your Children Well

March 26, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Deuteronomy 5:1-6:25; Luke 7:11-35;
Psalm 68:19-35; Proverbs 11:29-31

Don't worry that children never listen to you, worry that they are always watching you.
~Robert Fulghum

Deuteronomy 5:1-6:25

A recent phenomenon in child rearing is the emergence of baby sign language.  This is a movement that encourages teaching young babies who have pre-verbal language skills a series of hand signs to communicate needs like milk, hot, mommy, daddy, more, diaper, and happy.  I would have loved to have been able to find out what my child wanted in a manner that did not include crying at varying pitches and volumes! Do you find it amazing that children younger than one year old can watch a person and imitate their gestures in order to communicate a thought or feeling? One grandmother friend of mine whose grandchild had learned these signs lamented that her grandchild signed the word "mommy" the whole time she babysat!  Well, come to think of it, maybe it was good that I never taught my children to sign. Anyway, today Moses establishes a very important parenting principle for any person who believes in God and wants to pass on a love for Him to their children.

As our reading begins, Moses restates the Ten Commandments for this new generation.  As the personal intermediary between God and Israel, Moses understood the awesome event that the giving of this Law represented.  The Law represents God's holiness and justice.  The fact that God spoke from the heart of the fire to speak  the Law represents the cleansing, purifying nature of God's holiness.  The theme of the book of Deuteronomy is love and obedience. The biblical theme that our love and thankfulness to God for what He has done for us should inspire our obedience to His Word is as ancient as the writings of the Old Testament.  What parent does not desire for their child to love and obey them?  God, our Father, feels the same way towards us.

Moses gives Jewish parents an important tip on how to inspire the love of God in their children.  Here is a direct quote from Deuteronomy 6:4-9,
 "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
What is Moses suggesting here?  I believe he is confirming that children will absorb what they are taught and will imitate what they see.  Therefore, it is important to take every moment as a teaching opportunity to point children to God.  They can be made aware of His existence as you walk along a sidewalk, play at the playground, or cook in the kitchen.  There should be verbal reminders as well as tactile and symbolic reminders of God's truth in our lives. The Israelites were encouraged to make their faith a living breathing reality.  Do you influence the children in your life to love God?

Luke 7:11-35

We've been talking about children and their parents today.  How convenient that Jesus reconciles a boy who died with his grieving family in our reading by means of resurrection from the dead.  This story gives us great insight into Jesus' caring and compassionate heart.  Death is an enemy that separates us from our loved ones.  Jesus came to defeat death.  His resurrection makes death for believers a temporary separation for all who love God.  Jesus shows in this story that he understands our grief and pain in dealing with the death of a loved one.  Jesus came to experience our brokeness. Thank God this story shows that Jesus is the master over death. The brokeness of our world is what he came to repair.

John the Baptist questions whether or not Jesus is the Messiah.  We learn from Matthew's account that this happens while he is imprisoned by Herod.  Jesus reassures John by quoting the Scriptures that are being fulfilling on earth through Jesus. Jesus can reference Scripture because John's parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, followed the advice of Moses in the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy.  Their boy knew his Bible.  John knew the Law and the Prophets.  He was able to die knowing the truth about Christ.

Do  you know the Bible well enough to know the truth from a lie?

Psalm 68:19-35

This psalm pictures a powerful God who crushes His enemies and rules the nations.  His strength is evident to all. Jesus crushed death today and then forever on the cross. One day he will crush evil completely.

Proverbs 11:29-31

This is classic.  "Those who bring trouble upon their families, inherit the wind."  How poetic and true. We can see that Jesus knew his Bible.  He and John the Baptist both used the following illustration from this Proverb, " The godly are like trees that bear life-giving fruit, and those who save lives are wise."

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

March 25- The Benefits of A Wise Teacher

March 25, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Deuteronomy 4:1-49; Luke 6:39-7:10
Psalm 68:1-18; Proverbs 11:28

I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework. 
~Edith Ann  (Lily Tomlin)

Deuteronomy 4:1-49

There is nothing so great as a wonderful teacher.  If you are a person who is curious or is seeking truth or likes to learn new things, a good teacher is like a warm blanket on a cold night.  I had a wonderful fifth grade teacher named Judy Collins.  When I think back to that year, rather than having specific memories, I have feelings...warm feelings.  That year in school I felt safe, cared for, challenged, inspired, and loved.  That's what a good teacher can do for a person.  Today Moses is a good teacher to the young people of Israel.  Their parents have died in the wilderness.  Moses is recounting the important history of Israel and highlighting the lessons of their nation.  He is a wise historian, a concerned father of the nation, and a bold prophet of things to come.  Moses gives advice, admonition, prophecies, perspective, and purpose to the people of Israel.  These are all good things that a good teacher provides.

Advice

In order to highlight the advice that Moses is giving this younger generation, I am going to list some of the verbs in verses 1-14 of chapter 4:
  • Listen carefully
  • Obey
  • Do not add or subtract to the Law
  • Pass them on
  • Watch out
  • Never forget
Moses tells this group that if they will obey the Laws that the Lord has given them, they will have a good reputation among the nations.  The surrounding people groups will say what a wise and prudent people they are.  Part of Israel's purpose was to glorify their God by being a wise people.


Admonition

Moses has warnings for Israel.  The biggest warning is to not fall into idolatry.  Moses reminds them that the Lord did not take a form when He met with Moses or led them through the wilderness.  He simply spoke from a pillar of fire.  God was a voice. Moses warns them to never make an image of an animal, man, woman, fish, creeping thing, sun, moon, or stars to worship and represent God.  This is an offense to God.  Moses tells the group that God is a consuming fire and He is jealous for their love. We can learn from Moses' admonition.  We are not to find idols to worship, even today. 

Prophecy

Moses lays out for the Israelites the consequences if they disobey God and fall into idolatry.  Moses prophesies that they will be removed from the land and destroyed. The Jews will be scattered among the nations and will not be the great population of people that they were. Moses prophesies that they will turn from their wicked ways eventually, and seek God, again.  When they seek Him, they will find Him.  They will have bitter days in the future, but in the far future they will finally listen to the Lord and obey Him because God is intent on fulfilling His promise to Abraham.

Perspective

Starting in verse 32, Moses reminds them that no other people group on earth has experienced what the Jews are experiencing. They have heard the voice of God and survived. They have been chosen by Him to receive miracles, wonders, trials, war, power, and terrifying acts from God.  Why? 

Purpose

Moses says that God has done this for the Israelites to prove that the Lord is God and there is no god other than Him.  They heard His voice so that He could instruct them.  They saw His fire so that He could speak to them. He brought them out of Egypt, because He loved their ancestors.  He drove out nations so that He could give them the land as a possession, forever.

There you have it, folks.  A great summary of truth by a great teacher.  As believers in God we can place ourselves in the nation of Israel's shoes.  We must obey God, not have idols, claim His promises of salvation for us, accept that we have been chosen by God to be part of His family, and through faith in God, prove that there is no other God besides Him.

Are you fulfilling your mission?

Luke 6:39-7:10

Moses was a type of Christ.  Moses was a good teacher.  Jesus is the ultimate teacher.  Today Jesus gives those listening to his teachings some of the same advice that Moses gave to the nation of Israel.  Truths are timeless and have to be repeated and reemphasized.  Jesus states today that a student is not greater than his teacher.  But, if a student works hard, he or she will become like the teacher.  What is Jesus saying to us?

I believe he is encouraging us to put in hours of Bible study like he did.  We are to learn God's Word (hear His voice) so that we can be like our teacher, Jesus Christ. Jesus indicates in his teaching today what the key is to having a solid foundation for a godly life.  He says that listening to his teaching and then OBEYING what he says is the foundation for a godly life.  He uses the famous illustration of a house being build on a rock, rather than being built on sand.

Is your life built on the solid teachings of Christ?  From where do you chart your moral compass?  How do you determine what is right and wrong in this life?  Jesus indicates that if you are not determining things based on the Bible, your life is being built on sand.

Psalm 68:1-18

Please review Vs. 5-14.  Here is another recounting of God's mighty acts to Israel.  Remember, God did this to say something to the whole world about His power and authority on earth.

Proverbs 11:28

"Trust in your money and down you go!"  I can't improve on that sentiment!

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 24- There Be Giants In The Land

March 24, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Deuteronomy 2:1-3:29; Luke 6:12-38;
Psalm 67:1-7; Proverbs 11:27

I recognize my limits, but when I look around, I realize I am not living exactly in a world of giants.
~Giulio Andreotti

Deuteronomy 2:1-3:29

Do you know who the world's tallest man is?  His name is Turk Sultan Kosen. Turk is from Mardin, Turkey and is a farmer.  Turk is 8 ft. 1 inch tall.  Turk is 28 years old.  It might not surprise you to learn that Turk also holds the record for the largest hands and feet in the world!  Today as I read through Moses' retelling of the wilderness story I was struck by his descriptions of the giants in the land.  I am going to go over what I noticed.

One thing that I see as I read through the Bible is that God repeats things a lot so that we eventually "get it."  As I reread this story, Moses has a wonderful perspective on the whole experience.  He definitely sees God's hand in every experience.  He has humility about his mistakes and some regret about Israel's behavior.  He mentions that when the Israelites were first going through the land, they were to leave the Moabites alone per God's instructions.  Moses says that there was a powerful race of giants called the Emites that lived there.  He says that they were as tall as the Anakites, who were another race of giants.  The Anakites are mentioned in Genesis 6:4.  Moses tells us that the Emites and Anakites were also called Raphaites. They are also called the Nephilim and Zamzummites. We discussed in Genesis 6 that the Nephilim were the offspring of fallen angels and human women who were on the earth before the flood and had overtaken the human population. The Bible indicates that the evil race born after them was the reason for the Great Flood. In Genesis 6:4 we learn that these Nephilim were on the earth before the Flood, but were also on the earth for some time after the Flood, also. Please read Arnold Fruchtenbaum's study, Messianic Christology, for more information on this.

We learn by reading the Bible that the Jewish nation was tasked by God to annihilate the Nephilim who remained on the earth in the land of Canaan. The Jews are literally fighting evil as they come to take the Promised Land. This is a picture of the righteous on earth standing up against spiritual evil on earth. This can only be accomplished by the Spirit of God working through humans.

Until I realized what the Bible taught about the Nephilim, I was under the impression when the 12 spies who went into the land were exaggerating a bit about the size of the inhabitants in the land.  Their lack of faith might have clouded their outlook or so I thought.  Moses confirms in this telling of the story that there really were giants.  In verse 11 of chapter 3, Moses recounts that King Og of Bashan, which is one of the groups that Israel successfully defeated, had a bed that was thirteen feet long and six feet wide.  He even noted that as of his writing, you could still see the bed in a local town. Wow.  With God's help, the Israelites defeated this giant.

What is the lesson?  God wanted the Israelites  to go into the Promised Land, even though they would have to face giants to do it.  What giants do you face in your life?  Do you know that God wants you and I not to turn back from our march to the Promised Land because of the giants in our lives?  He wants us to trust Him to fight for us so that we can move forward.  Are you willing to trust God with the giants in your life? How have you fought evil with the help of God?

Moses gives Joshua credit for having incredible faith.  Joshua believed that Israel could defeat these people with God's help.  Moses explains, with regret, that the Lord was angry with Moses about sending in the spies and agreeing to not entering the land when first told to. As a result, God would only allow him to view the Promised Land from a mountain top.  He would never enter the land in this lifetime. A man of such great faith, who had such a good relationship with God, still had to bear the consequences of his sins.

Luke 6:12-38

Today Jesus teaches me something very important.  Before you make a important decision in your life, PRAY ABOUT IT, FIRST.  As we begin our reading in Luke today, Jesus goes to the mountain and prays to God all night prior to selecting his twelve apostles.  The future of Christ's Church on earth will be in the hands of these men.  Even the betrayal which brings about Jesus' death is tied up in making the correct choice for this group.  Does it shock you that Jesus prays all night and then selects someone who will betray him?  We are learning how God works.

What do you need to spend time in prayer about?  Do you realize that your prayers will not prevent hardships?  They may even bring them to you!  Christ teaches us with this story that hardships can be part of God's larger plan for our lives.  This truth takes humility and wisdom to understand.

Psalm 67:1-7

I like that this psalm requests that God be merciful to us and bless us.  It describes God's face as shining with favor upon us.  Do you remember the kid in your elementary school class who was the pet of the teacher?  Did you notice that the teacher's face was always shining on that kid? 

I picture us as being God's class pet in this psalm.  I hope his face shines upon you and me today!

Proverbs 11:27

This is a reminder to search for good, don't just wait for it to find you.  The only thing that will seek you out is evil.  Good thoughts here!

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 23- Now Let Me Tell You That Story One More Time...

March 23, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Numbers 36:1-Deuteronomy 1:46;
Luke 5:29-6:11; Psalm 66:1-20
Proverbs 11:24-26

If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.  
~Rudyard Kipling




Numbers 36:1-Deuteronomy 1:46

Does your family have stories that are repeated every time you get together?  Maybe they tell stories about how someone was born. Maybe they tell stories about the engagement of a couple. Or maybe they tell funny stories about silly things that make every one laugh.  Today Moses retells the story of the Israelites for the new generation of people who will be entering the Promised Land. Let's see what this story is emphasizing.

Moses recounts for this generation, who will be entering the land, all that occurred to get them to this point.  Although we read about this story in the book of Numbers, this retelling includes Moses' perspective on a number of topics.  Here are the highlights of what Moses talks about today:
  • Normally, it only takes eleven days to get from Mt. Sinai to Kadesh, but because of lack of faith, the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years. Vs. 2
  • The Lord is giving them the land of Canaan as promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and to all of their descendants. Vs. 7-8
  • Moses appointed judges and officials to help carry the burden of settling disputes as the community continued to grow. Vs. 9-18
  • Moses encouraged them to not be afraid, but to go occupy the land. Vs. 21
  • Moses made a mistake by listening to the people and having 12 men go spy out the land. Vs. 22-25
  • The Israelites rebelled against God and refused to go into the land. Vs. 26-33
  • God was angry and swore that none of that generation would enter the Promised Land, except Caleb and Joshua.  Vs. 34-36
  • God was angry with Moses and told him that he would not enter the Promised Land either. Vs. 37
  • Joshua would be the next leader to enter the land. Vs. 38
  • The Israelites did not listen to God and advanced to fight the Ammonites anyway, but were defeated. Vs. 41-46
This retelling gives much more of Moses' thoughts about the events.  The younger generation is benefitting from his mistakes.  Moses is being a wise leader who points the way to love and obedience by humbly sharing his own faults. Rather than expounding on what was done properly, Moses is remembering the mistakes. There is great wisdom in this.

Do you share when you have learned a lesson that can help others?  Do you recount the things God has done in your life?

Luke 5:29-6:11

Here we have a recounting of the feast in Matthew's house.  Remember that Matthew decided to make Jesus a priority in yesterday's reading. Here we see that he is now entertaining in order to introduce others to Jesus. Do you do that?

This apparently got the Pharisees upset because Jesus feasted, while John the Baptist fasted.  Jesus once again points out that the wedding party does not fast when the groom is around.  Jesus is the groom.  The Church is the bride.  His coming to earth as a human being is to be a time of celebration.  Jesus had already fasted in the wilderness.  Now it was time to enjoy his disciples on earth.

Jesus walks through some grainfields one Sabbath and he and his disciples glean some grain from the fields.  This was a perfectly acceptable practice.  The laws of Moses indicate that after the harvest was complete, the poor could glean what was left. They are doing this on the Sabbath. The Pharisees have developed customs against this. They have developed many rules about the Sabbath. Jesus, knowing the Scriptures well, tells the Pharisees that he is the Lord of the Sabbath.  He reemphasizes this by healing a man's deformed hand on the Sabbath. This outrages the Pharisees.

Do you know people who act like the Pharisees?  Do you have a bunch of manmade rules that you follow on the Sabbath?

Psalm 66:1-20

Vs. 2 says, "Tell the world how glorious he is."  I like that. Do you do this?

Proverbs 11:24-26

These passages are about being generous with your wealth.  This is an important biblical concept.  Everything that we own is on loan from God.  You might as well be generous.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 22- An Eternal Inheritance

March 22, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Numbers 33:40-35:34; Luke 5:12-28
Psalm 65:1-13; Proverbs 11:23

Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.
 ~Ruth E. Renkel



Numbers 33:40-35:34


The concept of an inheritance is interesting.  A person works their whole life to gather material possessions and then upon their death all that they worked for goes to their children or to whoever they designate.  Land was an extremely important inheritance in the ancient world. Land gave the clans and tribes somewhere to call home.  Israel yearned for this permanence.  Since living in Egypt for 400 years as slaves and then wandering in the desert for 40 years, they were ready for what father Abraham was promised...the land of Canaan.

This section of Scripture defines the boundaries of what would be the nation of Israel's eternal inheritance from God.  This physical land is part of God's covenant with Abraham.  While the reading of these boundaries is boring to you and me, they were vitally important to the people who were about to risk their lives to see this promise fulfilled.

God gives the Israelites instructions and a warning about taking this land.  Here are highlights:
  • Drive out ALL of the people living there. -Vs. 52
  • Destroy their pagan images, shrines and practices -Vs. 52
  • Take possession of the land and settle in it. - Vs. 53
  • Divide the land as agree upon by tribe and clan - Vs. 54
  • If you fail to drive out the people, they will be a thorn in your sides. -Vs. 55
  • If you do not drive them out, I will do to you what I had planned to do to them. -Vs. 56
The Levites were dedicated to the Lord as a substitute for every Israelite having to dedicate their firstborn son to the Lord's service.  Therefore, the Levites did not get land, but were given 48 cities.  Six of their cities were designated as cities of refuge.  If a person was guilty of accidentally murdering someone, they could go to one of these cities to be protected from revenge.  One could not go to these cities if they had premeditated murder against another person.  God did not want the land to be polluted with murder, so He enacted the death penalty for anyone who murdered another person with intent.

These were the conditions for Israel claiming their inheritance.  You and I have an eternal inheritance through Christ.  The Bible tells us in Revelation 21 that the new heaven and the new earth will be the New Jerusalem where those who love God will dwell in His presence, forever.  Do you know that you are a child of God?  Have you accepted Christ and become one of God's righteous children because of Jesus' sacrifice for you? See Hebrews 2:10-13. This is how you gain this inheritance.  It is a gift of God's work, not yours.  You must accept the gift by faith.

Luke 5:12-28

Today Jesus proves that he has authority over the physical realm of illness and the authority to forgive sins.  People are coming to Jesus in droves to be healed from their physical ailments.  Vs. 16 tells us that Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.  I believe this is one of the keys to his consistent ability to be around masses of people and not sin!  We would do well to learn from his example.

This section of Scripture contains the story of the friends who lower their paralyzed friend on a mat down through the roof and right in front of Jesus. Rather than healing the man right away, Jesus responds to the faith of his friends and gives the man what he really needs...forgiveness of sins.  This gets the Pharisees all riled up! They see this act as blasphemy, because only God can forgive sins.  Jesus does not back down on his authority to forgive sins.  He merely asks which is easier, to heal the man or forgive sins?  So that they realize that he does have the authority to forgive sins, Jesus heals the paralytic.

This reading ends with Levi (Matthew) leaving everything to follow Christ.

Have you had your sins forgiven by Christ?  He is the only one who has authority to forgive you.  Can you jump up with Matthew and leave everything to follow Christ?

Psalm 65:1-13

Vs. 3 says "Though our hearts are filled with sins, you forgive them all."  Hey, that was just what we were talking about!  This is a beautiful psalm of God's might and work on earth.  It is worth reading out loud to yourself.

Proverbs 11:23

"The godly can look forward to happiness."  Notice that the godly will not necessarily have happiness, right now.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton 
© 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21- On the Wrong Side of the Tracks

March 21, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Numbers 33:40-35:34; Luke 5:12-28;
Psalm 65:1-13; Proverbs 11:23

I'm still the little Southern girl from the wrong side of the tracks who really didn't feel like she belonged. ~Faye Dunaway


Numbers 33:40-35:34

When I was in elementary school we lived in a neighborhood near some railroad tracks.  Back in those days kids would wander far and wide after school or on the weekends playing in the surrounding areas.  Sometimes a friend and I would walk to a local gas station and convenience store called Tip Top.  I loved to go to Tip Top because I would load up on candy whenever I was there.  The long walk home was a chance to look in my brown paper sack and pick out penny candy to munch on the way home.  Near this store were the railroad tracks.  On our side of the tracks the homes were nice and neat with manicured lawns and gardens filled with flowers.  On the other side of the tracks the houses were smaller, run down, and the only flowers were plastic bouquets set in rusty buckets along with the other junk that was laying around in the yards.  As kids, we knew that you didn't want to live on the other side of the tracks.

Today in our reading two and a half tribes from the nation of Israel decide that they want to live on the other side of the tracks.  Actually, they want to stay on the east side of the Jordan River and not cross over into the Promised Land.  Moses is very displeased with this request.  The tribes of Reuben and Gad owned vast amounts of livestock.  As Moses allocated land, they requested to stay in this territory because the land was excellent for raising livestock.  Moses is worried that the men in these tribes are trying to get out of having to go into battle with the other tribes against the Canaanites.  Moses did not want the nation of Israel to be punished again by God and  repeat forty years in the wilderness because of cowardice about going into the Promised Land.  The leaders of Reuben and Gad assure Moses that they intend to fight with the other tribes, and during the battles, they intend to leave their wives and children in fortified cities they will build. Moses is pleased with this answer.  The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh secure their cities and stay in this area. 

What lessons can we learn from this story?  Not everyone is willing to live in the Promised Land.  Not everyone claims full possession of God's blessings in their life.  Some people are bound and determined that their circumstances are comfortable and secure.  They do not want to risk change or put faith in the promise of something they cannot see.  We see the descendants of the tribe of Gad in the New Testament.  They are the Gadarenes in whose land Jesus sends the legion of demons into the pigs.  The pigs that jump off the cliff are being raised by Jews who descend from the tribe of Gad.  Jews raising pigs.  Something is wrong with this picture.  The choices of their forefathers result in their being out of God's will.  Our choices matter.  Live your life claiming God's promises by faith. Be willing to live on the right side of the tracks.

Moses records an itinerary of every place that the Jews camped during their forty years in the wilderness.  Are you surprised at the details of his report?  What can we learn from this?  God was with the Israelites every step of the way while they wandered.  He is with us, every step of the way in our lives.  One day the record of our lives will be read at the end of all time.  We matter.  God is watching and recording the events. And more than just watching, He is going through life with us.  Do you realize this?  Are you leaning on Him in the wilderness and on the mountain tops?  He loves you. 

Luke 4:31-5:11

Still empowered by the Holy Spirit, Jesus moves the headquarters of his ministry to Capernum instead of Nazareth.  He continues to teach in the synagogues on the Sabbath.  Demons continue to screech that he is the Son of God and that he has come to destroy them.  Jesus silences the demons because he still has much that he wants to teach and he does not want the crowds to try to make him an earthly king.

Dr. Luke tells us that Jesus heals Peter's mother from a fever that is raging in her body.  She is instantly healed and is able to cook a meal for everyone.  One day at the Sea of Galilee people are pressing in on Jesus to hear him teach.  He borrows a boat from Peter, who is a fisherman, and stands in the boat to speak to the crowd.  After speaking, Jesus tells Peter that he should get in the boat and cast his nets for a catch.  Peter says, "We fished all night and caught nothing."  Peter obeys Christ and catches enough fish to risk sinking both boats.  Peter is humbled by this experience and declares his sinfulness before Jesus.  Jesus confirms that Peter will become a fisher of men.  Peter leaves his fishing career after this amazing success to follow Jesus by faith into the Promised Land of the Christian life.

Do God's blessings in your life create humility in you?  Do you see your sinfulness in the face of God's abundance given to you?  If you are humble, God can use you as a fisher of men.  Are you willing?

Psalm 64:10

Vs. 9 Says that everyone will stand in awe of God, proclaiming His mighty acts.  Peter did this in his life.

Proverbs 11:22

"A woman who is beautiful, but lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig's snout." 

Does this remind you of some of our tv celebrity girls who are physically beautiful, but have no discretion?  How about our young girls who are sexting or posting lewd photos on facebook....no discretion.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 20- The Revolution of Truth

March 20, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Numbers 30:1-31:54; Luke 4:1-30;
Psalm 63:1-11; Proverbs 11:20-21

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be alright
Alright alright

~Beatles


Numbers 30:1-31:54

An article was posted on the internet recently and it made the rounds on Facebook. It was about things that the children born in the year 2011 would never see.  Obviously, they will never see a rotary dial phone. This article proposed that they would not know what a fax machine was, or a travel agent, watch, paper maps, movie rental stores, dial-up internet, and maybe even the evening news.  The point was that each new generation discards the things of the past and, in a sense, starts fresh.

Today the new generation that did not die in the wilderness is called by God to start fresh by defeating the Midianites.  While their parents were the generation that were slaves in Egypt, were rescued by God from Egypt, and because of their lack of faith wandered in the wilderness for forty years, this young group of men is called to clean house in the Promised Land. Remember that Canaan was cursed by Noah and these men are called to annihilate the people in the land of Canaan who are associated with the fallen Nephilim and their worship of Nephilim gods.

Moses' last official act before his death is to implement this plan.  One thousand young men are recruited from each tribe.  It is an army of 12,000 men.  They are to wipe out the Midianites and bring home the loot. This army is successful.  They kill all the Midianite men, the five kings and even Balaam, the prophet.  Remember him?  He advised Balak to infiltrate Israel. This is pay back for that infiltration.

When the army returns with tons of livestock, riches, and women Moses is upset. The military commanders have acted like typical men.  They didn't want to kill those beautiful women they had a shot of sleeping with!  Not good. Moses reminds them that it was the Midianite women who were the cause of their down fall into idolatry last time around.  The relations with the women caused a plague among the Israelites.  Moses demands that they kill all the women and the boy children that have been brought back to the camp.  He allows all virgin women and girls to be kept.

I need to make a point about the Midianites.  Their form of idol worship included religious sexual acts to their gods.  They had male and female temple prostitutes that the whole community slept with constantly. These people would have been plagued with venereal disease.  Besides the spiritual issues, there were also health issues with living among these people.  God is protecting His chosen people. It is through the Israelites that the Messiah of the world will come. They must be preserved.

The Israelites come back and tell Moses that they did not lose one man in the battle.  They count up the plunder and give the Lord an offering of gold as a thanks offering for preserving their lives.

This story reflects that the Israelite generation that was rescued from Egypt (the world) still had Egypt in their hearts.  Their children are facing another threat to their spiritual purity.  Midian also represents the world.  The Israelites needed to separate themselves from the world.  They were to be set apart for God.  They were to be missionaries, in a sense, to the ancient world bearing witness about the One True God.  God is using the Israelites to punish the pagans and judge the world. This is ancient history, but it is also picture of a spiritual reality. The righteous lives of the godly act as a judgment against evil.

Have you separated yourself from the world, even though you live in the world?  Are you intimate with evil or do you turn from sin?  Your life is also a picture.

Luke 4:1-30

When Jesus comes up out of the water after being baptized by the Holy Spirit into his ministry he is on fire for God.  After being in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights (please see the comparison to the nation of Israel, his people, who were in the wilderness for forty years), Jesus takes all of the knowledge and wisdom he gained while studying as a boy and utilizes his knowledge of Scripture to deal with the temptations that the devil throws his way.  He is like a young soldier going to battle against the Midianites (evil world system controlled by Satan). Jesus is a warrior. Here are responses directly from the Bible that Jesus quotes (I am going to paraphrase):
  • People need more than bread for their life.-Vs. 4
  • You must worship the Lord your God; serve Him only. -Vs. 8
  • Do not test the Lord your God. -Vs. 12
Jesus wins this battle.  There are other battles to come.  Now filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus begins to teach in the synagogues.  Please note that teaching the Word of God to people is an offensive move in the war against evil.  The Word of God is a sword in our hands.  Jesus goes to the synagogue in his own hometown of Nazareth to fight a spiritual battle against darkness.

On the Sabbath he reads a Scripture from Isaiah to his fellow townspeople about the Messiah.  Then he rolls up the scroll and says that this Scripture is fulfilled in front of their eyes that day.  Their response is, "How can this be?  Isn't this Joseph's son?"  Jesus' response to them is to acknowledge that they will not believe in him.  He refers to both the prophet Elijah and Elisha, who do miracles for Gentiles, rather than for Israelites.  When the synagogue group hears this they are furious and run after him to kill him.  Jesus manages to escape.

Does it surprise you that our gentle Jesus is being confrontational with his homeys?  Remember, he is filled with the Holy Spirit.  What is God trying to say to this group of Israelites in Nazareth?  I believe God is starting to give them the message that Jesus Christ is the Messiah for all people on earth, not just the Jews.  This was a hard, practically impossible, message for them to hear.  They are being confronted with Truth.

Jesus is going to live in the truth no matter who gets mad about it.  If it ruffles people's feathers, too bad.  Truth is a weapon.  It was a weapon for Jesus in his hometown of Nazareth and it was a weapon in the wilderness against the devil.  Truth is a weapon for you and me, too.  Do you have enough truth stored up in your heart to fight evil in your life?  Reading the Bible is ammunition in this fight.  The truth of God's Word will help you in the battle.

Psalm 63:1-11

Here is a psalm for anyone who feels that they are in a desert in their life.  Are you thirsty for salvation?  Read these words.

Proverbs 11:20-21

The Lord hates people with twisted hearts, but he delights in those who have integrity.

Integrity is truth.  That fits with what we've been talking about today!

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 19- The To Do List

March 19, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Numbers 28:16-29:40; Luke 3:23-38;
Psalm 62:1-12; Proverbs 11:18-19

Numbers 28:16-29:40

When the kids were in high school I volunteered in many capacities at their private high school .  One year I was the vice president of events.  That meant that I coordinated the committees that ran events like the senior graduation dinner, the activites around the Spring musical, and the Christmas mother's dessert.  It probably will not surprise you to know that I had a calendar of all of the celebrations and notebooks with details on each event.  As we clicked off events in the school year, I marked time by what we had celebrated.

Today in our reading Moses clicks off the calendar of festivals designed to commemorate what God will do in the future through Jesus Christ.  He is reminding the Jewish people that it is their responsibility, once he (Moses) passes away, to remember these festivals as the Lord has commanded. Let's review the Jewish Festival Calendar:
  • Passover- celebrated in the Spring
  • Festival of First Fruits or Harvest - when the first grain is harvested
  • Festival of Trumpets- in early autumn
  • The Day of Atonement - ten days after first fruits
  • Festival of Shelters or Festival of Booths- five days later
These celebrations do not commemorate something that has already happened like a birthday or an anniversary.  They are pictures of what Jesus would be and what Jesus would do for the whole world in the future.  They point to the coming Messiah.  As we have studied before, some of these festivals point to future events of the end times. Because he has come and done the work on the cross these celebrations no longer are celebrated by those who believe in Jesus as Messiah. The festivals that deal with the end times specifically represent Israel's role and her relationship to her Messiah at his Second Coming. Associated with these festivals are sweet offerings and savory offerings.  The sweet offerings speak of who Jesus was, the perfect sinless Savior.  The savory offerings speak of what Jesus did.  He died for your sins and mine.  He was our savory offering to God. 

God offers a beautiful picture of who His Son is, and His Son's work in our lives.  This calendar points to him.

Can you take a moment to thank Christ for being completely consumed for your sins?  What about his death, even though he had never wronged anyone in His whole life?  Have you prayed a prayer of appreciation for his humility and love?

Luke 3:23-28

You will remember that in the book of Matthew, Matthew gives a genealogy of Jesus from the side of Joseph tracing Jesus' lineage to King David starting with Abraham.  Matthew's goal was to prove that Jesus had legal rights to the throne of David through Joseph.  By the way, Joseph was related to King David through Solomon.  Luke, who is concerned with showing that Jesus is the Perfect Man, traces Jesus' lineage though his mother, Mary, back to King David and then all the way back to Adam.  This proves that Jesus has a blood right, as well as a legal right, to the throne of King David.  Mary is related to King David through his son, Nathan.  Both Mary and Joseph come from the royal line.

Note that Adam is called the son of God in Luke's genealogy. The term son of God is a term that indicates being directly created by God. Indeed, Adam was the first son of God who fell away because of sin.  Jesus is the last Son of God who is sinless and righteous.  Remember the whole "The first shall be last and the last shall be first" pattern that we see throughout the Bible?  This is the reason for all of those pictures in the Bible.  All the other incidents of this principle (Cain and Seth, Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and all of his brothers, Israel and the Gentile nations) are designed to remind us that the first man, Adam, sinned.  The last man, Jesus, saves the world from sin. This theme is central to God's story.  Every life and incident in this world has a purpose that God has designed.  His ways are higher than our ways.  We can only bow in awe at the feet of our Creator.

Do you marvel at how God has woven His story through history?  Do you trust His Words to be true in your life?  How does that change your attitudes and behavior?

Psalm 62:1-12

I love the first verse of this psalm. "I wait quietly before God, for my salvation comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken."

Do you need a fortress to hide away in today?  God can be there for you.  Trust Him and find shelter for your soul.

Proverbs 11:18-19

Godly people find life; evil people find death.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

March 18- I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

March 18, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Numbers 26:52-28:15; Luke 3:1-22;
Psalm 61:1-8; Proverbs 11:16-17

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again.
         ~Helen Reddy

Numbers 26:52-28:15

Back in the day when I was growing up the women's rights movement in America was going strong.  I Am Woman was on the radio constantly.  I remember my mother cooking dinner and humming this tune.  She would sing it loudly and proudly when it came on the radio in the car.  Young women today don't really get what ladies went through to gain fair treatment in higher education, the work force, and in government.  The girls of America in the year 2011 will benefit from what these women in the past accomplished.  Many people feel that religion is what has kept women "down" for all of these years. Today's reading in the Old Testament refutes that notion. A close examination of the Bible shows that Judeo-Christian beliefs have always been revolutionary in treating women with respect and giving them rights.  History shows that pagan nations have treated women much less fairly than cultures based around Judeo-Christian beliefs.

Our story begins when the five daughters of a man named Zelophehad present a petition to the whole community, including Moses and Eleazar the High Priest.  These ladies are requesting to inherit their father's land since he has died.  The man had no sons.  Property would normally go to the sons in the family. Women were considered chattel or property. They had no individual rights to own land.  This was common throughout this region and in the ancient world.

These women come boldly with intelligence and with a cogent argument.  They are demanding their rights. Moses has been assigning the various tribes and clans within the tribal areas of the Promised Land that will be each family's eternal possession.  These ladies are about to lose out on their family name getting any property in the Promised Land. This land represents a physical and spiritual inheritance.  Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah come boldly to seek their treasure.  Do you go boldly to the Lord to claim your spiritual inheritance?  The Bible says that you should seek Him and you will find Him, if you seek Him with your whole heart.

Moses is not sure how to handle this, so he goes to the Lord. The Lord sides with the women and says that they have a right to their father's property.  Moses is to assign them property just as he would have assigned Zelophad (say that three times real fast!) property.  This is revolutionary and sets a precedent for women in the community.  Do you go to the Lord when you are not sure how to handle a situation?

We see that throughout the Bible, women are revered and honored when the situation is handled by righteous people who truly have faith in God.  Jesus indicates that in the next life, in the new heaven and new earth, people are not known by their sexual orientation and gender. They are just known for the gifts and personality they possess.  God is not a respecter of persons. Meaning, He loves everyone equally regardless of gender or social position.  Therefore, God's decision to give the daughters of Zelophad familial property in the Promised Land is no surprise.

Do you see God as a fair Being?  Do you believe He is just in all that He does?  How has Bible study helped you to know His personality better? 

Moses is prepared for his own death in the next section of our reading.  He is allowed to climb to the mountain top to gaze into the Promised Land, but God is not going to allow him to enter the Promised Land because of his sin of striking the rock at Meribah.  Are you surprised that this wonderful servant of God is given this consequence by His Creator?  God is serious about sin and the consequences of sin. 

Moses requests a replacement leader. The Lord chooses Joshua. Note that the Bible says that Joshua was filled with God's Spirit. This is unique in the Old Testament. We will read much about Joshua in the future.  The final passages are about the burnt offering.  I was struck by how the burnt offering is a pleasure to God.  It sounds like a wonderful meal with roasted meat, bread and wine (Numbers 28:11-14).  It is important to realize that the burnt offering represents the person and work of Christ.  God wants a continual reminder of His Son in this offering.  His Son is a pleasure to Him.  His Son's personality and the work that he comes to do for mankind is a pleasure to God.  This burnt offering is an important daily experience that brings joy to the Author of All Things.

Do you rejoice in the work of Christ on the cross?  In what ways can you fashion sweet reminders of what He has done for you?

Luke 3:1-22

One thing I love about John the Baptist and Jesus is that they are cousins.  As I read their preaching styles and their message to the world, you can tell that they are related.  They use the same phrases and have the same passion.  Theirs must have been a very devout family.  Regardless, today we will spend time looking at what John the Baptist said during his ministry on earth.  When the prophet Isaiah spoke of John the Baptist in Isaiah 40:3-5, he described John the Baptist clearing a king's highway for the coming Savior.  Back in Biblical times kings could not fly from one part of their kingdom to another part, so large crews of men would level the ground and create the king's highway.  They would fill in valleys and lower mountains in order to make the traveling for the king easier.  When John the Baptist says to make straight paths, he is using this illustration.  Jesus is a King.  We are to repent of sin, which is making a straight path for the Holy God of the Universe.

John's ministry is all about repenting from sin.  He is a hellfire and brimstone guy.  Like Christ, John speaks of coming judgment.  Here are some highlights from his preaching:
  • You brood of snakes, who warned you of coming judgment?
  • Prove by your behavior that you really have turned from sin.
  • Don't rely on being Abraham's offspring to get you saved.
  • God's ax of judgment is ready to hit the roots of your tree.
  • Every tree that doesn't produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.
The crowd says, "What should we do then?"  Here is John's answer:
  • Give clothes to the poor and food to the hungry. (Help people who are in need.)
  • Be honest in your dealings.  (This was directed to tax collectors.)
  • Don't extort money from people and be content with your pay. (This was directed to soldiers.)
John is pointing out behaviors that reflect a change of heart in these people.  Everyone wonders if he is the Messiah, but John says that he baptizes with water, but there is one coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.  John warns that this Messiah will be the one who judges every one's heart. John was also bold in criticizing Herod, the local king, for his immoral behavior.

Jesus comes to be baptized by John in a public declaration of his ministry.

What would you say to John the Baptist if you met him?  Would you be able to say that you have repented of the sin in your life? Perhaps your repentance would be to stop gossiping or stop spending money you don't have. Think about this one.

Psalm 61:1-8

Lead me to the towering rock of safety...  I love that.  Is Christ your towering rock of safety?

Proverbs 11:16-17

Your own soul is nourished when you are kind.  That's a great truth.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17- Out With The Old, In With The New

March 17, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Numbers 26; Luke 2:36-52;
Psalm 60:1-12; Proverbs 11:15

Numbers 26

After the story of Balaam we are back to the nation of Israel and their need to reassess the number of fighting men in Israel.  The last time they did a census was in the 2nd chapter of Numbers.  Today we have a second census that reveals that the number of fighting men has been reduced by 1,820 persons.  These are men twenty years and older.  What happened?  What has happened is that the unfaithful generation that was too scared to go into the Promised Land has now passed away.  Only Joshua and Caleb remain from that group. 

What does this say to us?  Find your strength and courage to face your trials/enemies on earth in God.  God will lead you into the Promised Land (the blessed Christian life), if you will stand up and be counted for Christ. There is no doubt, according to Ephesians 6 that you must wear the whole armor of God for the spiritual battles you will face each day.

Luke 2:36-52

I am thankful that both of my children were good students.  Not to boast, but....both of my children received the honor of being National Merit Scholars.  I don't know if our home schooling during their elementary school years (and the junior high years for my son)  and our daily study of Scripture helped them to become scholars, but I suspect that absorbing the Word of God since childhood had an impact on their intelligence.

Today we see that Jesus is a scholar of the Bible by the time he is twelve years old.  That is middle school age for those of us who have kids in the United States.  Before we talk about Jesus at this age, we must review that Dr. Luke tells us that Jesus grew up to be strong and healthy. This is spoken like a true physician. Luke notes that he was filled with wisdom beyond his years and that God had placed special favor on him. Christ is so absorbed in learning that when his mother and Joseph take him to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, Jesus stays behind to question the religious teachers of the Law in the Temple, discussing deep questions of the Scriptures with them. Everyone at the Temple is amazed at Jesus' wisdom and knowledge. Think back to the Psalms and the Proverbs as you read this.  Jesus is a living example of those books.

When Mary finds her son she asks how he could do this to them.  Meaning, how could you put us through the worry of wondering what had happened to you?  Jesus replies that she should have known that he would be in his Father's house. Notice that you could hear crickets chirping after this statement! Neither Joseph or Mary respond. Jesus does go back to Nazareth with them in obedience to them and as a way of honoring them as his parents. Jesus is keeping the 5th Commandment.  Dr. Luke reports that Jesus grew in height and wisdom and that he was loved by God and everyone who knew him.  Sounds like the perfect man to me!

I think a few middle schoolers need to look at Christ's example.  He was not rebellious and independent.  Jesus spent his childhood and young adulthood seeking knowledge and wisdom.  He embraced obedience as a lifestyle.  Do you embrace obedience?  Do you seek wisdom habitually?

Psalm 60:1-12

In this psalm the Israelites are still concerned with defeating Edom and the Philistines.  This is a cry for God to help them in their struggles.  Who are the enemies you face in your life?  Do you call to God to be your strong right arm in the fight? Put on your armor and always pray like David did in this psalm.

Proverbs 11:15

Guaranteeing a loan for a stranger is dangerous.  It is better to refuse than to suffer later.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011