Numbers 17-19 – Chosen for the Team

As a kid, I was usually the last one picked for the team. This was true for basketball, football, baseball…basically anything with a ball. I had no coordination or talent when it came to sports. So when kids were choosing teams, I was usually avoided till I was the last on left. It was hurtful.

Perhaps this is why it’s hard for people to think about God choosing the Israelites to be His special people. It seems biased, politically incorrect, and hurtful to those not chosen.

Read moreNumbers 17-19 – Chosen for the Team

Numbers 16 – Pay Attention to Your Posture

Remember when your parents would fuss about your posture? They would say things like: “Sit up straight.” “Don’t slouch.” “Stand tall.” Why was this so important to them? It was like our parents believed our posture is some kind of statement about who we are!

After reading Numbers chapter 16, I think they might have been right about this posture thing.

The thing that strikes me about this chapter is Moses’ posture. When the people grumble, complain, and attack him, he doesn’t stand up straight and tall against them. Instead, he falls face down before them. He takes a posture of humility before the people. (Numbers 16: 4-22-45) Then, when God plans to bring much-deserved punishment upon the people, Moses leans toward the people. He identifies with them and seeks to spare them. (Numbers 16:47-48) Moses takes a posture of compassion toward the very people who were complaining about him.

I’m afraid that when it comes to people grumbling and attacking me, I’m not as prone to take a posture of humility or compassion. Instead, I tend to either take a stand against or turn away from them. In the face of complaints, I need to fall on my face before God more often and reach out to the complainers more.

So, evidently our posture does say something about us.

Numbers 15 – Keep It Up!

It’s a good feeling to finally reach a goal.  The sense of accomplishment and achievement you get from reaching a goal is intoxicating.

But then what? What do you do after you’ve reached your goal? Do you sit back and just enjoy the fruit of your labor?

God answers that question for the Israelites in Numbers chapter 15. In this chapter, God refers to what is to happen after they enter the Promised Land. (Num. 15:2)

What is it that they are to do? Continue to do all that they’ve been told to do already. In other words…KEEP IT UP!

A team that wins a championship will not be able to keep their title if they don’t continue to work, train, and practice. A house that has been repaired and remodeled will not stay that way, without continued maintenance and up-keep. In the story of the tortoise and the hare, the hare lost because after he had achieved his large lead on the tortoise, he didn’t keep it up.

This is true of the Christian life. Although we never really “arrive,” there are times when we reach new levels in our faith and our relationship with God. These times feel wonderful to our soul. But, if we allow ourselves to slack off and coast, we will lose the very thing we worked to achieve.

Romans 12:11 tells us to never be lacking in zeal, but to keep our spiritual fervor. In other words, whether the goal is in the distance or under your feet, keep passionately following the ways and commands of God. This will smooth out the roller coaster ups and downs of life that come from us starting, stoping, and starting again with God.

Numbers 14 – Trading “I Remember” for “I Can’t Wait to See”

I was working in the oil fields of West Texas when God called me into full time ministry. After some preparation, I moved my wife and two small children to Ft. Worth, TX and began my seminary education.

At first, it was exciting. But the new eventually wore off when the demands of graduate school kicked in. There were mountains of books to read, a constant demand for papers to write, and tedious projects to complete. All of this (along with holding down a job) increased the stress on my marriage and family. Too little time, too little money, and too many expectations began to wear on us.

I found myself thinking, “I miss the good old days.” Graduation was in sight, but this nagging thought kept getting louder. Others around us called it quits and went back home. But we stuck it out, and it turned out to be one of the best things we’ve ever done.

So I can relate to Numbers chapter 14, and the feeling of being in that difficult in-between spot. God’s people were not in slavery, but they still were not in the Promise Land. God was asking the Israelites to do something that required a lot of risk. Consequently, they longed for what was behind them, rather than what was ahead of them.

We must be willing to follow God and step into the freedom of the unknown, rather than retreat to the bondage of the comfortable. The key to is believing God is good (Psalm 100:5) and brings all His power to bear for one purpose..our good. If we believe this, we will launch into the risky unknown, knowing that no matter what happens, it will be better than the past.

Let’s trade in our “I remember” for “I can’t wait to see.”

Numbers 13 – Armchair Quarterbacks

I’m not really into sports, but I still play “armchair quarterback” more than I care to admit. An armchair quarterback, is one who talks a good game. They sound strong, confident, and sure of themselves. But when it comes to truly getting involved and into the game, they suddenly come up with reasons why they can’t. It’s not that they wouldn’t like to, it’s just that they allow the difficulties, obstacles, and risks to get between them and what they want.

Read moreNumbers 13 – Armchair Quarterbacks

Numbers 12 – I Want to Be More Like Moses

I want to be like Moses. It’s not that I want to walk around with a big stick and a glowing face, calling down plagues and parting large bodies of water. It’s not even that I want to be some big-time leader over a large group of people.

In Numbers chapter 12,  Moses demonstrates three qualities that I need more of…

Read moreNumbers 12 – I Want to Be More Like Moses

Numbers 11 – Lighten Up!

I hate to admit it, but I’ve become a complainer…at least more than I used to be.

I’m not sure what happened. I used to be more up-beat, more positive, and more hopeful. It seems as the demands and stresses of life increased, so did my my complaining. Maybe I have more things to complain about now than I did before. (Or maybe I’m just more aware of those things.)

I know some of this is normal and natural. It’s what happens as you grow older. And I certainly don’t want to go through life oblivious to legitimate concerns, but neither do I want to go through life complaining about them.

After reading Numbers chapter 11, I’ve come to realize that complaining doesn’t come from being overly focused on important considerations, but rather from ignoring more important considerations.

Complaining is what happens when we ignore God’s presence, God’s provision, and God’s power. It makes sense, because my complaining if often born out of:

  • Feeling like I’m on my own. (Ignoring God’s presence.)
  • Feeling like I don’t have what I need. (Ignoring God’s provision.)
  • Feeling like something is going to happen to me that I can’t control. (Ignoring God’s power.)

When I focus on God’s presence, provision, then these issues are decidedly answered.

It’s really true…the key to lightening up is looking up!

If you’re one of those people who find yourself complaining more than you use to, try praying this prayer to God every morning: “God, please help each urge to complain trigger me instead to focus on Your presence, provision, and power. Change my heart from focusing on my complaining to focusing on your sustaining.” 

Numbers 10 – Traveling Details

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a detailed person. I’m a big picture person. I have great ideas, but when I look at all the details of making those great ideas happen, I lose my momentum…and my mind. But after reading Numbers chapter 10, I realize I need to be better at details.

If I had been God, (what a scary thought) I would have said, “Ok. We need to get all of you Israelites from here to there. Go! Details? I don’t know…work them out!” It’s a good thing I’m not God.

God paid attention to details. Because there were no cell phones or public address systems, God gave His people signals to know when to assemble, who to assemble, and why they were assembling.

He also gave them specific assignments for both work and travel. Think how chaotic it can be just to get a family of four started on vacation. Now, think about doing that for an entire nation of people.

He gave them a navigational system to follow. A pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. This was important, because they didn’t have GPS and there were no road signs saying, “This way to the Promise Land.”

God knew what His people needed to get where He wanted them to go, and He provided for that down to the smallest details.

So here’s the obvious application…If God did that for an entire nation of people, why should you and I doubt that He can do that for us?

Numbers 9 – Unquestioning Obedience

When I was a child, “because I said so” never felt like a good reason to comply. That’s because there’s something in us that resists being told what to do. We would rather give the orders, than take them.

But that’s not the message of Numbers chapter 9. There, you find a picture of immediate and unquestioning obedience. When the cloud moved, the people moved; no questions asked.

Can you imagine what that would be like? You hear a knock on your door. You open the door and see a man with a clipboard who says, “It’s time.” So you pack up your entire household and set out. Twelve hours later, you pull in somewhere at the man’s direction. It appears you’ve arrived, so you unpack and set up house.

After a week or so, you’ve finally settled in and have things where you can find them. Then one Saturday morning, there’s a knock on your door. You open the door and see the same man with the same clip board who tells you, “It’s time.” So once again, you begin to pack things up and load them in the truck.

This routine continues…for the rest of your life! Sometimes you get to stay for a long time, and sometimes you just get to stay for the night. And you never know when you’re going to hear the knock on the door and face the man with the clip board saying, “It’s time.”

Can you imagine the obedience this would take? I’d like to say my life is characterized by such obedience, but I know better.

The key to such obedience is becoming convinced that obeying God…because He said so…is more beneficial that anything else you can do. (Deut. 6:3) When you become convinced of this, “because I said so,” will be enough for you.

Numbers 7-8 – Are You An Indian-Getter?

Maybe you’ve heard someone use the term “Indian Giver.” Though not politically correct, the title refers to someone who gives something away only to take it back.

I suppose the opposite of an “Indian Giver” would be an “Indian Getter.” This would be someone who is given something only to give it away. You don’t hear too much about “Indian Getters.” If they’re out there, they are few and far between.

God’s character is that of an “Indian Getter.” In Numbers chapters 7 and 8, we see God receiving many things from His people. They give Him carts, oxen, gold, silver, lambs, rams, even a whole tribe of people known as the Levites. But then God takes all the things the people give Him and gives all of it back to them! His reason for doing this is so that his people will thrive and prosper…thus being able to give to Him further. (2 Cor. 9:11) What a deal! (Matt. 10:8) (Luke 6:38)

I believe God wants to show Himself to the world by infiltrating the world with “Indian Getters.” God’s children should more and more be taking on the nature of giving away what’s been given to them. This would not only make for some very powerful public relations for God…it would radically change our world for the better.

May God increasingly make us into “Indian Getters” for His glory and our good.