Thursday, March 22, 2018

Day 81 - Open Your Hands

Today's Reading: Deut. 15-16 and Ps. 34

Even as Christian's we tend to be tight fisted. "That's mine, that's mine, that's mine. I'm saving that for hard times. That is mine!" But I love the fresh reminders in today's reading to open our hands wide to those in need. In steading of grabbing, we should be giving. Instead of borrowing, we should be the ones lending. Instead of holding tight, we should be letting go.

Again and again the Bible reminds us:

"If there is poor among you, don't harden your heart. Instead open your hands."

"Don't give grudgingly. God will bless!"

"Open your hands wide to the poor and needy."

"Every person shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you."

"Give and it shall be given unto you!" Luke 6:38

"It is more blessed to give than it is to receive." Acts 20:35

If we remember, God so loved that He GAVE! And He asks us to give as well... And in case we are ever afraid that we might run out of supply, we serve the God of infinite resources, of infinite blessings, of infinite supply. Most of all we serve the God of inexhaustible grace. And the grace He has given, we should extend to others! He opened His hands wide for us. How come we are so resistant to open our hands wide for others.

I love this passage from Christ Object Lessons:
"Our prayers are not to be a selfish asking, merely for our own benefit. We are to ask that we may give. The principle of Christ’s life must be the principle of our lives. “For their sakes,” He said, speaking of His disciples, “I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified.” John 17:19. The same devotion, the same self-sacrifice, the same subjection to the claims of the word of God, that were manifest in Christ, must be seen in His servants. Our mission to the world is not to serve or please ourselves; we are to glorify God by co-operating with Him to save sinners. We are to ask blessings from God that we may communicate to others. The capacity for receiving is preserved only by imparting. We cannot continue to receive heavenly treasure without communicating to those around us." Christ Object Lessons, p. 142
Wow! Our capacity for receiving is preserved by imparting! Profound lesson for our self-centered selfish generation. Lord forgive us for holding on when You've asked us to let go!

Tomorrow's Reading: Deut. 17-18 and Romans 3

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Day 80 - God says, "I am Serious!"

Today's Reading: Deut. 12-14 and Romans 2

Today's reading is quite an eye-opening wake-up call. In the previous chapters, God has talked about the blessing of obedience and the curse of disobedience... and now it's time to get serious. In fact, what He commands the children of Israel to do is quite.... well... VERY SERIOUS...

In these chapters I see God saying, "This is no joking matter. You can't fool around with idols and live. You can't fool around with other gods and live. You can't play in the shrines of idolatry and live. That's why, when you go into the land of Canaan to claim the territory I have given you, you must root out all signs of idolatry. You must break down the shrines and burn the idols. There is no exceptions allowed--NONE! Just to show you how serious I am, here's what I want you to do:

  • When you go in to posses the land, completely destroy all the places where there was idol worship. 
  • Destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their idols
  • Every man is not to worship as he chooses or do what is right in his own eyes. He's to do what I choose! (hmmm.... lots of lessons for us today here!)
  • You are to put away ALL evil from your midst!
  • If someone (even in your own family) tries to entice you to serve other gods, kill them! 
  • If someone entices those in their city to serve other gods, then you are to destroy the city including man, woman, child, and all the livestock. You are to utterly burn that city! (And that city shall never be built up again!)
  • If there is any compromise, any ties to idolatry among you, I cannot and will not bless you.
Wow! Talk about drastic. Talk about religiously intolerant. Talk about politically incorrect! And yet this just goes to show how serious following after other gods is in the sight of God. It is not permissible! And why is that? Because it means death to our souls. 

In today's reading of Romans 2:24 this verse seemed to coincide with Deuteronomy as it shows what happens when profess to be followers of Christ, but don't follow His commands: "For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you [Jews who say and do not do]..." This rebuke is for us today too.

I think Hudson Taylor gives us a small hint. He says: "The inconsistencies of Christian people, who while professing to believe their Bibles have been yet content to live just as they would if there were no such book, has been one of the strongest arguments of my skeptical companions."

No only does God want to deliver us from the idolatry of our age... But He desires us to learn to be consistent Christians that His name is not blasphemed to those watching.

While the application is obviously different in our day and age... We best not go burning down buildings or killing people that don't believe in God ... the seriousness of modern day idolatry is something worth thinking on. I think Psalm 139:23,24 applies here...

Tomorrow's Reading: Deut 15-16 and Romans 3 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Day 79 - The Blessing or the Curse?

Today's Reading: Deut. 10-11 and Romans 1

Again... so much depth in these chapters. How can I briefly share...

In these chapters we see God's appeal to His children (that's us too), to serve Him with all our heart, soul and strength. We find His appeal to circumcise the foreskin of our heart. (10:16) I think that means SELF! We have to allow Christ to cut self/flesh out of our heart and seek after the things of the Spirit! We have to ask for God to give us His heart.

We also find the beautiful promise of God's blessings when we live and follow Him in obedience... but God didn't force the children of Israel to follow Him. They had to choose, just as Eve had to choose, and just as we have to choose today.

"Behold I have set before you this day a blessing a curse: A blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: and A curse if you will not obey..." Deu. 11:26-27.

Ellen White writes
"God has given us the power of choice; it is ours to exercise. We cannot change our hearts, we cannot control our thoughts, our impulses, our affections. We cannot make ourselves pure, fit for God’s service. But we can choose to serve God, we can give Him our will; then He will work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus our whole nature will be brought under the control of Christt." The Ministry of Healing, 176
Understanding the power of choice and the power of the will has made such a difference in my walk with God. So many times I have found myself struggling, not want to do what is right, wanting to follow my feelings instead of faith, wanting to doubt instead of trust, wanting to gratify my flesh rather than yield to Him. But over the years I've been learning to pray, "Lord, I give You my will. I choose to serve You. Please change my heart. Please help me!" And every time I've prayed that prayer, God has answered! He's always come through...

So which will we choose today? The blessing or the curse?

Tomorrow's reading: Deut. 12-14 and Romans 2

Monday, March 19, 2018

Day 78 - I am bringing YOU into a good land!

Today's Reading: Deu. 8-9 and Acts 28

This has to be my absolute favorite chapter in the whole book of Deuteronomy. I guess it's because God gave this chapter to me during a dry season in my life (around the time I was turning 40), as He reminded me that allow He's allowed me to travel through the barren wilderness, He has and it hasn't always been easy (it's actually been very humbling)... yet it's been good for me, because He has been teaching me what it means to live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (That's why my next book, if I can ever finish writing it, will be titled Daring to Live by Every Word.) God reminded me in this passage that although I can't see the destination to my journey, He truly is bringing me into a good land. And it's beautiful... a place where I will never be thirsty (because He is my water) and where I will never lack bread (because He is my living bread).

You know, I think it's those chapters in the Bible that God brings to us in the midst of hardship and heartache that often stick with us the most as we journey through life. And this is one of those chapters for me! (So much significance in this chapter for me that I'm not even going to delve into here, because it's too personal.)

I just want to share a brief marginal quote I have in my Bible from the writings of Ellen White when it comes to understanding what it means to live by every Word.
"Holiness is not rapture: it is an entire surrender of the will to God; it is living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; it is doing the will of our heavenly Father; it strutting God in trial, in darkness as well as in the light; it is walking by faith and not by sight; it is relying on God with unquestioning confidence, and resting in His love." Acts of the Apostles, p. 51
So beautiful. Whenever I'm weary or discouraged, or struggling with my faith as I can't see what God is doing, I often turn to Deuteronomy 8. This chapter is not just for me though. It's for all of us!

Tomorrow's Reading: Deut. 10-11 and Romans 1

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Day 77 - With All Your Heart!

Today's Reading: Deu. 6-7 and Ps. 33

What does it mean when God says we are to love Him with all our heart, soul and strength?

Well... I'm still learning the answer to that question. I think it's a lifetime of learning. But here's a couple thoughts I had.

When we think about the physical heart, we see that the physical heart pumps blood to every organ of the body, to every corner of the body. It is this blood that brings the life giving properties that keep us alive. If blood gets cut off from reaching a certain part of the body, we will die, or that organ will die. When blood stops flowing to certain parts of the heart, we call it a heart-attack. When blood stops flowing to certain parts of the brain, we call it a stroke. It is a serious thing when the blood flow is interrupted. In the same way, I think that when we love God with all our hearts, this love will flow to every part of our life... it will affect everything we do, everything we think, every decision we make. It will dictate where we walk, how we spend our time, our money, even how we take care of our body.

When we love God with all our soul, it evidences to me our complete longing for God, our yearning for more of His presence. He is to be our soul-mate companion. It is His abiding life that is to fill ours. We are to be one with Him, in a similar fashion that we are to be one with our husband or wife. This is beautiful...

When we love God with all our strength, it shows that all our energy and focus is after God. This is not a passive haphazard, laxydaisical sort of relationship. No, this means all our commitment and passion and focus is for God. What affects Him affects us, what moves Him moves us, what propels Him propels us, what energizes Him, energizes us. Our strength does not go towards worldly pursuits. All our strength goes towards following after God.

We all have a long ways to go when it comes to loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength. That's why we need to pray, "Lord teach me what it means to love You, truly love You, with all my heart, soul and strength! Teach me what it means to abide in You"

How do we learn to abide in Christ. It is through His Word!

I appreciate Deuteronomy 6:6 that talks about hiding God's Word in our heart. Much could be written about the benefit of Scripture memorization.

Many, it seems, feel that God's commands and instructions are cumbersome, but we must remember that everything He says is for our good... "And the Lord God commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day."(Deu 6:24)

Ellen White writes:

"The principles set forth in Deuteronomy for the instruction of Israel are to be followed by God’s people to the end of time. True prosperity is dependent on the continuance of our covenant relationship with God. Never can we afford to compromise principle by entering into alliance with those who do not fear Him. 
There is constant danger that professing Christians will come to think that in order to have influence with worldlings, they must to a certain extent conform to the world. But though such a course may appear to afford great advantages, it always ends in spiritual loss. Against every subtle influence that seeks entrance by means of flattering inducements from the enemies of truth, God’s people must strictly guard. They are pilgrims and strangers in this world, traveling a path beset with danger. To the ingenious subterfuges and alluring inducements held out to tempt from allegiance, they must give no heed." (From Prophets and Kings, p. 570)
Let's continue to pray that He would teach us what it means to love Him with all our heart, soul, and strength!

Tomorrow's Reading: Deut. 8-9 and Acts 28

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Day 76 - Why is it Okay for God to be Jealous?

Today's Reading: Deut 4-5 and Acts 27

Today's reading was so rich. I love Deuteronomy 4 especially...

Here's a couple key thoughts that spoke to me today:

In Deut 4:2 we are reminded not to add anything to the Word of God. "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you."

We live in a society today that is trying to altar and chop up the Word of God, to make it more relevant to and suitable to today's modern thought and ideas... but this is dangerous. We cannot altar the Word of God.

In the Great Controversy we are told: "But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain 'Thus saith the Lord' in its support." p. 595

The second thought that I was reminded of is that God is a jealous God. (Due 4:24) In another place the Bible says, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:2)

I use to wonder, in earlier years, why God tells us not to be jealous, and yet HE is a jealous God?!

Then I recognized the significance. You see, when we commit to give our heart to God, He has exclusive rights over us—rights that He will not share with another. Just like when we get married and our husband or wife is jealous for our exclusive affection, God says, “You are mine! I will not share you with other lovers or with other gods! I will fight for you because I love you.”

And here's the important part, because: 

The degree of His holy jealousy shows the degree of His holy love; the greater the love, the greater the anger when that love is violated.

I'm so thankful God is jealous over my affection. It shows me that He really loves me. He loves me enough to fight for me, to move heaven and earth to save me! He is not a passive God. And as this chapter reminds us, "What great nation is there whose God is near like ours? Who has seen the fire and heard His voice and still lived." Truly He is worthy of our jealous affection as well.

Tomorrow's Reading: Deut 6-7 and Psalm 33 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Day 75 - Remember what I've done?

Today's Reading: Deut. 2-3 and Acts 26

For those that are following this blog, I apologize for the late posting for today. I have been struggling with my back all yesterday and last night, and can barely walk at the moment... I really don't know what I did, but I think I have some type of disc issues in my lumbar region... Somehow I threw myself out of joint and just walking from one side of the room to the other is a real chore at the moment. Very painful! Appreciate prayers for healing! I'm sitting on ice right now... actually not ice, but frozen blueberries. But they work just as well.

So here's a a few brief comments from today's reading that spoke to me: 

As Moses continues to recount God's leading, I was impressed with the reminders of God's faithfulness. Here's my paraphrase below of what I see God telling the children of Israel:

  • "Don't forget that for 40 years I have been with you. You may have complained a lot  but really, you lacked nothing." Deut 2:7
  • "Remember.... I gave you power to take all [so and so] cities and utterly destroy them... nothing was remaining. It was I who helped you do that." Deut 2:34
  • "There was not one city too strong for you because I am a strong God." Deut 2:36
  • "Infact, there was not a city that through my power you did not take." Deut 3"4
  • "And don't forget, all those cities that you took were fortified with high walls, gates, bars, etc... It would have been humanly impossible to break though. But they could not stand against you. You utterly destroyed them, because I gave them to you." Deut 3:5,6
  • "Remember King Og, he was a giant. His bed was made of iron, and it was 9 cubits in length and four cubits in width. That's nearly 13 feet long and 6 feet wide. Ahhh.... you were fearful of giants! But remember, I gave him to you." Deut 3:2,11
  • "You have seen what I did to the strong kings (like Og) who tried to oppose you. So I'm going to do the same thing to all the kingdoms through which you will pass. Don't fear them. Remember I, God, am the one that is fighting for you!" Deut 3:21,22
Yes, it is good to remember the ways of the Lord. If we would only remember how He's led us in the past, we've had more faith and confidence for the future. 

Tomorrow's Reading: Deut 4-5 and Acts 27

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Day 74 - Looking Back

Today's Reading: Num. 36, Deut. 1 and Ps. 32

This reading had a lot of great inspiration. I think it's powerful how, as the children of Israel, are coming to the border of the promised land, Moses speaks to them, reminding them of all the ways that God has led in the past....

This passage really moved me: "Whither shall we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there." [Cried the Children of Israel as they saw the giants of the promised land!]

And this is how God responded: "Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes; And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee [some versions say, "Carried you in his arms"], as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place. Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God." (Deut. 1:28-32)

Oh how terribly tragic! And yet.... we make the same spiritual blunder time and time again in our own lives now. We can look back and see how God has led and how He has worked, how tender and compassionate He has been... but when it comes to today, when it comes to the giants before us, we are slow to believe and we are quick to doubt. "Maybe He worked before, but this trial is simply too big, it's too much..."

Despite our blunderings... when we confess our sins, when we confess our unbelief, He forgives. I love Psalm 32! It reminds us that He's forgiven our transgression. Our sins are covered. He is our hiding place and He surrounds us with songs of deliverance. And He promises to guide us with His eye! But the only way He can do that is we keep our eyes on Him. This is the key I believe, in not following the pathway of doubt... is to KEEP our GAZE on Jesus... and as we remember how He's led us in the past, we can have full confidence that He will continue to lead us in the future. What courage and hope this promise brings! Let's keep our eyes on Him!

Tomorrow's Reading: Deut. 2-3 and Acts 26

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Day 73 - My City of Refuge

Today's Reading: Num. 34-35 and Acts 25

In today's reading I was reminded of the "Cities of Refuge" that God ordained for a safe place for those who might have accidentally killed someone.

Here's what Ellen G. White says about these cities:

"The cities of refuge were so distributed as to be within a half day’s journey of every part of the land. The roads leading to them were always to be kept in good repair; all along the way signposts were to be erected bearing the word “Refuge” in plain, bold characters, that the fleeing one might not be delayed for a moment. Any person—Hebrew, stranger, or sojourner—might avail himself of this provision. But while the guiltless were not to be rashly slain, neither were the guilty to escape punishment. The case of the fugitive was to be fairly tried by the proper authorities, and only when found innocent of intentional murder was he to be protected in the city of refuge. The guilty were given up to the avenger. And those who were entitled to protection could receive it only on condition of remaining within the appointed refuge. Should one wander away beyond the prescribed limits, and be found by the avenger of blood, his life would pay the penalty of his disregard of the Lord’s provision. At the death of the high priest, however, all who had sought shelter in the cities of refuge were at liberty to return to their possessions." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 515

I was thinking this morning how we are guilty of murder, and before the judge we are found guilty. Yet JESUS took our guilt in our place, and He has become our city of refuge! However, we are only safe as we stay IN Him. If we try to walk on our own, away from the safety of his presence, we are sure to be captured by our enemy. 

I love Psalm 91:1-2, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust."

Tomorrow's Reading: Numbers 36 and Deuteronomy 1 and Psalm 32

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Day 72 - Do you have Thorns in Your Side?

Today's Reading: Num. 32-33 and Acts 24

In today's reading, I was really struck by the importance that the Israelites completely drive out the inhabitants of the land of Canaan before they settled and got comfortable, otherwise they were going to forever have problems.

God said clearly, "But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell." (Num. 33:55)

As I was reading this, it made me think of how we must do the same spiritually. When we seek to take back land from the enemy, we cannot allow the enemy to keep one single foot-hold, one single spiritual compromise, because otherwise, he will continue to harass us and be like thorns in our sides, just like the Canaanites would be to the children of Israel.

Most Christians today have thorns in their side, in some form....

So how does one begin to take back the land the enemy has claimed in our lives... We have not might against the great company that comes against us. That's why our success will only be through the power of the Lord. As we are told, "Not bight, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts." (Zec. 4:6)

I love this quote from Inspiration: "By watchfulness and prayer, [we] may so guard [our] weakest points that they will become [our] strongest points. Through the grace of Christ, men may acquire moral stamina, strength of will, and stability of purpose. There is power in this grace to enable them to rise above the alluring, infatuating temptations of Satan, and to become loyal, devoted Christians." Gospel Workers, p. 126

In today's reading in Acts, Paul says: "I strive always to have a conscience without offense toward God and man." (Acts 24:16) I believe this is key for us today as well! Let us make this our aim! As we focus on Christ, He will change us from the inside out. He will give us strength to overcome and drive out the enemy! We will be victorious, just as He commanded Israel to be when they prepared to conquer Canaan.

Tomorrow's Reading: Numbers 34-35 and Acts 25

Monday, March 12, 2018

Day 71 - And so was the Fate of Balaam...

Today's Reading: Num. 30-31 and Acts 23

In Numbers 31 we find Balaam's fateful end...

This is the same Balaam who once stood on a mountain overlooking Israel and spoke out blessings, for he could not speak anything other than what God told him. However, later on, recognizing that his end might be near, he even cried out to God, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!" But as Ellen White writes, he had not lived the life of the righteous, and his destiny was fixed with the enemies of God. She goes on to make the following interesting parallels.
"The fate of Balaam was similar to that of Judas. Both men tried to unite the service of God and mammon, and met with signal failure. Salaam acknowledged the true God; Judas believed in Jesus. Salaam hoped to make the service of Jehovah the stepping stone to the acquirement of riches and worldly honor; Judas expected by his connection with Christ to secure wealth and promotion in that worldly kingdom which he believed the Messiah was about to set up. Both Balaam and Judas received great light, but a single cherished sin poisoned the entire character and caused their destruction. 
One cherished sin will, little by little, debase the character. The indulgence of one evil habit breaks down the defenses of the soul and opens the way for Satan to lead us astray. The only safe course is to pray, as did David, “Hold up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.” Psalm 17:5. (From Eternity Past, p. 319)
Solemn lessons from the life of Balaam.... However, on the other side of things, if God be for us, who can be against us. As Israel was counting the men of war again, after the battle with the Midianites, they found that not ONE MAN was missing (Num. 31:49). Not one man had been lost in the battle! God surely knows how to take care of His own.

Tomorrow's Reading: Num. 32-33 and Acts 24

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Day 70 - My Times are in Thine Hands

Today's Reading: Num. 28-29 and Psalm 31

In Numbers today I see the order of the sacrifices, a morning sacrifice, an evening sacrifice, a special Sabbath offering, a special offering at the beginning of the month, an offering to celebrate the harvest and more... While we don't offer physical sacrifices and offerings any more, I wonder if these offerings are still to be given via our time with God.

Inspiration tells us the following:
"The hours appointed for the morning and the evening sacrifice were regarded as sacred, and they came to be observed as the set time for worship throughout the Jewish nation. And when in later times the Jews were scattered as captives in distant lands, they still at the appointed hour turned their faces toward Jerusalem and offered up their petitions to the God of Israel. In this custom Christians have an example for morning and evening prayer. While God condemns a mere round of ceremonies, without the spirit of worship, He looks with great pleasure upon those who love Him, bowing morning and evening to seek pardon for sins committed and to present their requests for needed blessings." Christ in His Sanctuary, p. 33
"Let the father, as priest of the household, lay upon the altar of God the morning and evening sacrifice, while the wife and children unite in prayer and praise. In such a household Jesus will love to tarry." Child Guidance, p. 518
Beautiful! I also love today's reading in Psalms. What encouragement for our hearts today. He is our rock and fortress, our strength. He is so good. And our times are in His hand. We can trust Him!

Tomorrow's Reading: Numbers 30-31 and Acts 23

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Day 69 - God has Chosen You!

Today's Reading: Numbers 26-27 and Acts 22

In today's reading in Numbers we see the torch of leadership passed from Moses to Joshua. Because Joshua spoke faith and lived faith, he was CHOSEN to lead the children of Israel into the promised land.

In Acts 22, Paul shares his testimony with the crowd that was seeking to kill him. And he shares how after he was blinded by his encounter with Christ, Ananias came and spoke with Saul (to become Paul), and told him, "The God of our Father's hath chosen thee...for thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard." (Acts 22:14-15)

Paul (originally Saul) was set out on another journey, a journey to destroy God's people... but God saw in him a passion that rightly employed might be used to bring many to the Kingdom for His honor and glory--and so He intervened. He rescued Saul from his self-destructive life, and called him to a life more abundant.

We are chosen just like Joshua... and just like Paul! Maybe our task is to instill faith and courage in others... maybe it's to lead our fellow man into the Promised Land. Or maybe it's to come out of a life of sin and rescue many others from falling into that same pit. It doesn't matter our circumstances, but the beautiful thing is HE CHOOSES YOU and HE CHOOSES ME for His honor and glory. What we have to offer the kingdom is really so small, it's not even measurable. And yet... in God's plan, it is our tiny part that makes a difference.

Love the following quote and thinking of it today in regard to the reading:
"It is in accordance with the divine plan that we follow every ray of light given of God. Man can accomplish nothing without God, and God has arranged His plans so as to accomplish nothing in the restoration of the human race without the cooperation of the human with the divine. The part man is required to sustain is immeasurably small, yet in the plan of God it is just that part that is needed to make the work a success." Amazing Grace, p. 319
 I'm so thankful to be CHOSEN! What about you?

Tomorrow's Reading: Numbers 28-29 and Psalm 31

Friday, March 09, 2018

Day 68 - Anchored in Christ

Today's Reading: Number 24-25 and Acts 21

In Acts we've been reading about the incredible travels of Paul. God's blessing is upon him everywhere he goes as he speaks and preaches the gospel boldly for the glory of God. However, in this chapter we read how Paul's message made such a stir that the whole city was MOVED against him!

In fact, as the Jews had stirred up such a tumult against him, they are trying to kill him when the Chief captain gets word and orders his solders to arrest Paul. So he's literally carried to safety in the arms of the solders. However, even as they are carrying him up to the safety of a castle, Paul pleads to be allowed to speak to the crowd one more time. Yes, he still wants to speak to the very crowd that was just beating him and about to kill him a few minutes previously.

This is what impressed me from this passage...

Although Paul was almost killed, he still isn't worried about his safety. His main concern is the salvation of those who are trying to kill him. "Just give me a chance to share what God has done," he seems to cry. (And in the next chapter, he does just that!)

Paul knew before he came to Jerusalem that it was most likely that he was going to be arrested and have problems. It had been foretold by a prophet while he was still in Caesarea. As a result, his friends with much weeping, tried to keep him from going to Jerusalem. But this was Paul's response: "What mean ye to weep and break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." (Think of the radical change that has taken place in this man's life, to go from being a persecutor of Christians, to being willing to die for the sake of Christ!)

His spirit of surrender and peace is evident in the storm, as despite his nearly being killed, he continues to seek to reach out and preach salvation.

Ellen White comments: "In the midst of the tumult the apostle [Paul] was calm and self-possessed. His mind was stayed upon God, and he knew that angels of heaven were about him. He felt unwilling to leave the temple without making an effort to set the truth before his countrymen." Acts of the Apostles, p. 408

Wow! What a confidence. This confidence could only come from one who is completely anchored in Christ. When anchored in Christ, although the whole world moves against us, we will not be moved by any storm. Let us cling to our Anchor!

Tomorrow's Reading: Num. 26-27 and Acts 22

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Day 67 - God cannot Lie!

Today's Reading: Num. 22-23 and Psalm 30

These chapters tell the amazing story of Balaam and his attempt to curse the children of Israel. But as we read, we are reminded how can someone curse the people that God has blessed. God even used a talking donkey to wake up Balaam... Amazing!

The brief mention that I want to make in today's reading however, is not about the story of Balaam, but about Numbers 23:19. I simply love this verse because it tells us clearly, God cannot lie.

"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"

Doesn't this passage give such strength to your faith? If God cannot lie, then His Word will be fulfilled in our lives. We don't know how or when, but as long as we are praying according to the will and glory of God (1 John 5:14), ultimately His Word WILL BE fulfilled, because His Word cannot return to Him void (Isa. 55:11). This gives me such courage and grows my faith in the incredible God that we serve. It is because of this promises that I've been inspired to pray the Word of God more boldly. And as I've prayed in faith, I've seen God work in ways that I never imagined possible...

I love the following passages from Inspiration:

"Every promise in the Word of God is for us. In your prayers, present the pledged word of Jehovah and by faith claim His promises. His word is the assurance that if you ask in faith, you will receive all spiritual blessings. Continue to ask, and you will receive exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think. Educate yourself to have unlimited confidence in God. Cast all your care upon Him. Wait patiently for Him, and He will bring it to pass." Heavenly Places, p. 71

"Every promise in the word of God furnishes us with subject matter for prayer, presenting the pledged word of Jehovah as our assurance. Whatever spiritual blessing we need, it is our privilege to claim through Jesus. We may tell the Lord, with the simplicity of a child, exactly what we need. We may state to Him our temporal matters, asking Him for bread and raiment as well as for the bread of life and the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things, and you are invited to ask Him concerning them. It is through the name of Jesus that every favor is received. God will honor that name, and will supply your necessities from the riches of His liberality." Thoughts from theMount of Blessing, p. 133.

"Grasp His promises as leaves from the tree of life: 'Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.' John 6:37. As you come to Him, believe that He accepts you, because He has promised. You can never perish while you do this—never." Faith I Live By, p. 23

God is good, His Word is true! We serve a God that cannot lie!

Tomorrow's Reading: 24-25 and Acts 21

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Day 66 - What's wrong with Striking the Rock?

Today's Reading: Num. 20-21 and Acts 20

These chapters chronicle the story of more complaining from the children of Israel. This time, they are crying for water. Now mind you, God has already supplied water in miraculous ways on multiple occasions during their journey, but again, they are complaining. In fact it is so bad that they even say, "Would God we had died with our brethren who died before the Lord!" In other words, "Would God we had died with Korah, Dathan, and Abiriam and others who were swallowed up in the ground or burned by fire..." (Seriously?!)

So once again Aaron and Moses come before the Lord and fall flat on their faces. "Oh Lord, what are we to do?" they must have cried. Once again the Lord answers. But this time He says, "Speak to the Rock before their eyes and water will come forth."

However Moses is angry at Israel ... as we can imagine, he's had enough of these murmuring and complaining. So he picks up his staff from before the Lord, as God commanded and gathers the children of Israel together before the rock. Then he shouts, "Hear now ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?" Then he strikes the rock, not once, but twice. And water came out of the rock abundantly. But the problem is, God didn't tell Moses to strike the rock. He told him to speak to it. And for this rash act, Moses was denied the privilege of leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Why was this act so serious?

Ellen White writes the following in Patriarchs and Prophets p. 418.
By his rash act Moses took away the force of the lesson that God purposed to teach. The rock, being a symbol of Christ, had been once smitten, as Christ was to be once offered. The second time it was needful only to speak to the rock, as we have only to ask for blessings in the name of Jesus. By the second smiting of the rock the significance of this beautiful figure of Christ was destroyed. 
More than this, Moses and Aaron had assumed power that belongs only to God. The necessity for divine interposition made the occasion one of great solemnity, and the leaders of Israel should have improved it to impress the people with reverence for God and to strengthen their faith in His power and goodness. When they angrily cried, “Must we fetch you water out of this rock?” they put themselves in God’s place, as though the power lay with themselves, men possessing human frailties and passions. Wearied with the continual murmuring and rebellion of the people, Moses had lost sight of his Almighty Helper, and without the divine strength he had been left to mar his record by an exhibition of human weakness. The man who might have stood pure, firm, and unselfish to the close of his work had been overcome at last. God had been dishonored before the congregation of Israel, when He should have been magnified and exalted. 
God did not on this occasion pronounce judgments upon those whose wicked course had so provoked Moses and Aaron. All the reproof fell upon the leaders. Those who stood as God’s representatives had not honored Him. Moses and Aaron had felt themselves aggrieved, losing sight of the fact that the murmuring of the people was not against them but against God. It was by looking to themselves, appealing to their own sympathies, that they unconsciously fell into sin, and failed to set before the people their great guilt before God. 
Very significant lessons that we can learn for our lives today. Unfortunately the children of Israel still did not learn their lesson, for one chapter later (Numbers 21) they are complaining again, and this time God sends fiery serpents among them. Yet, even in the curse, God shows His mercy, for a way of escape is provided. If they just look up to the brass serpent that Moses was directed to make, they would live. There was also mercy for Moses. While he was denied entrance to the earthly promised land and would have to die before the children of Israel entered Canaan, we know that not long after God resurrected him from the dead and invited him into the heavenly Promised Land. So in the end, Moses actually got the better gift. Praise God for His mercy, despite our failures.

Tomorrow's Reading: Num 22-23 and Psalm 30

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Day 65 - You are my Inheritance!

Today's Reading: Num. 17-19 and Acts 19

I enjoyed today's reading as I was reminded of the story of Aaron's budding rod that even bore ripe almonds overnight. WHAT A MIRACLE!!!! But what I wanted to comment on briefly was something else that spoke to my heart.

In Numbers 18:8-20 we see that the priests were permitted a certain portion of various offerings as compensation (vv. 8-11). They were also entitled to the first fruits of oil, wine, grain, and fruit (vv. 12, 13), to things devoted to the LORD (v. 14), and to the firstborn. In the case of firstborn sons and unclean animals, the priests received the redemption money in place of the sons or animals. In the case of sacrificial animals, the firstborn was sacrificed to the LORD, and the priests received their portion (vv. 17-19). But the part that touches me the most is that the priests did not receive any land because the Lord was to be their special portion and inheritance (v. 20).

Here's what the Bible says: "And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel." Numbers 18:20

Here I see God telling Aaron... "You won't receive what the others do for inheritance. But don't worry, because I have something better for you! I WILL BE YOUR INHERITANCE!"

As I read this verse this morning, my heart cried out, "Lord, will YOU be my inheritance too? That's what I want with all my heart... " As one of my favorite songs go, "You can have the world but give me Jesus... " Just give me Jesus!

Tomorrow's Reading: Numbers 20-21 and Acts 20

Monday, March 05, 2018

Day 64 - Swallowed Alive!

Today's Reading: Num. 15-16 and Acts 18

If there's anything that stands out to me from today's reading, the thought is, "Don't attack God's appointed leadership!"

Here we see the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiriam who said to Moses and Aaron, "What makes you think you can be prince and ruler over us? We are all holy just like you. Why do you assume to lead?"

This comes not long after Aaron and Miriam themselves (in yesterday's reading) rose up with the same questions and doubts... It makes me wonder if Aaron and Miriam planted seeds that spread to open rebellion among the leaders of the congregation? But oh how dangerous to stand up against God's appointed leadership...

Of course, we may struggle at times with decisions leaders make ... we may not like how they act. But the following verses keep things in perspective for me:

First it is God that sets up Kings--even the heathen King Pharaoh whose heart was hardened and who made the lives of the children of Israel so miserable.

Dan 2:21 - "And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding."

And we should respect the leaders that God has placed or allowed to be put in place!
Rom. 13:1 - "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."

This is why I believe, instead of criticizing or casting stones at those in leadership, our first call is to prayer. If they aren't doing as they should, God will address these problems in due time. But we should be praying rather than sitting as judge against them.

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior." 1 Tim 2:1-3

Korah, Dathan and Abiriam stood against God's appointed leadership and they were swallowed alive as a result! Wow! While we may not be swallowed alive today, it doesn't mean our criticisms against God's anointed are any less serious. Someday we will given an account for our words.

Dear Lord, please forgive us as a people for being so quick to throw stones instead of praying for those in leadership!

Tomorrow's Reading: Numbers 17-19 and Acts 19

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Day 63 - The Importance of Talking Faith

Today's Reading: Numbers 12-14 and Psa. 28-29

In today's reading, the children of Israel have finally made it to the border of the promised land, and Moses sends out 12 spies to see the land.

When they come back, they come back laden with grapes and fruit, and with a report of how wonderful the land is. Joshua and Caleb are eager to go take the land that God has given them. But the other 10 spies, protest. "The land may be wonderful--truly a land flowing with milk and honey. BUT.... people are too strong for us. There are giants, and their cities are fortified! We are not able to overcome them." And of course the children of Israel, side with the 10 spies. Once again, their faith falters.

What really strikes me every time I read this story is the importance of talking faith. The children of Israel spoke doubt, and God responded: “So the Lord said, as ye have spoken in my ears, so shall I do to you.” Numbers 14:28

How tragic! They were just at the border....and they couldn't go in because of their doubt!

Inspiration tells us, “In their unbelief [Israel] limited the power of God and distrusted the hand that had hitherto safely guided them.” Patriarchs & Prophets, p. 388

We are also admonished: “Talk and act as if your faith was invincible. The Lord is rich in resources; He owns the world. Look heavenward in faith.” Christ Object Lessons, p. 146

“Never give place to a thought of discouragement in the work of God. Never utter a word of doubt.”
Evangelism, p. 633

They didn't talk faith or act in faith, and because of that, they had to wait yet ANOTHER 40 years, before their children could enter the land. I pray that we can learn from their mistake and not hold back our entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven because of speaking and thinking and acting in doubt.

I believe Lord, help thou my unbelief!

Tomorrow's Reading: Number 15-16 and Acts 18

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Day 62 - Has the Lord's Arm been Shortened?

Today's Reading: Numbers 10-11 and Acts 17

I find it astounding that despite God's leading and despite His provision again and again that the children of Israel still continue to murmur and complain over the slightest issues that come up! I mean, where is their faith? Don't they see what God has already done?

In today's reading, we are reminded of the time that they begged for meat. They didn't just beg for meat, they cried for meat. "Our whole being has dried up," they cried. "There is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes." (Numbers 11:6) As if God's bread from heaven was not enough to supply their need. But the problem was, they still had a taste for the food of Egypt... While they may have left Egypt, Egypt had not yet left them...

What astounds me even more in this story is how God tells Moses, I'm going to send meat, in fact for a whole month you will have meat until it comes out your nostrils. And yet Moses, weary with the constant complaining of the children of Israel also doubts God. "I hear you Lord, but where possibly could you find enough meat to feed this great group for a whole month. Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered? Shall all the fishes of the sea be gathered? Where will we find enough meat?" (paraphrase of Numbers 11:22-23)

Then God puts Moses in his place, "Has the Lord's arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not." (vs. 23).

And the Lord caused a great wind to come up, and it brought Quail from the sea... there were so many quail that they were piled up for a days journey on both sides of the camp, and they were about 2 cubits above the surface of the ground. (That is about 3 feet deep worth of Quail! Can you imagine?) So the children of Israel got their meet, but due to their selfish craving and due to their doubt of God's Word, many died, even while the meat was barely in their teeth!

You know, it's easy to look back at the children of Israel and to say, "How could they have such little faith?" But what about our faith today?

In Patriarchs and Prophets we are told: “Many look back to the Israelites, and marvel at their unbelief and murmuring, feeling that they themselves would not have been so ungrateful; but when their faith is tested, even by little trials, they manifest no more faith or patience than did ancient Israel. When brought into straight places, they murmur at the process by which God has chosen to purify them. Though their present needs are supplied, many are unwilling to trust God for the future, and they are in constant anxiety lest poverty should come upon them, and their children be left to suffer.”  (p. 293)

God's arm is not shortened, no matter the trials or difficulties we may face. Let's trust His Word!

Tomorrow's Reading: Numbers 12-14 and Psalm 28-29

Friday, March 02, 2018

Day 61 - I am Your Cloud!

Today's Reading: Num. 8-9 and Acts 16

I love how God sent a cloud to direct and lead the children of Israel. Usually the desert is a cold place to be at night, but the children of Israel weren't cold, for they had the cloud which was a fire by night. It provided light and it kept them warm. The desert can also be a very hot place during the day, but again they had the cloud to give them shade. But what I think is most fascinating about the cloud is that it directed them when it was time to move, and it stopped and settled in the new area where they were to pitch camp. How wonderful to have such a tangible evidence of God's direction and leading.

Have you ever wished for that "Cloud" to direct your life?

I know I have often wished for that cloud to be in my own life... "Lord, if You could just put a cloud in the sky and show me Your will, show me the direction that You want me to go... I will gladly go. But I just need that cloud to make things clear." (I've wished for that cloud regarding direction in what to do, direction in where to move, direction in where to work, direction in the choice of a life companion, and for many other decisions that I've prayed about over the years.) But as to date, I still don't think I've ever seen a cloud in the sky pointing the way. However, God has given me something much better. He's given me His Word! And every time I go to Him in humility of heart, begging that He show me the way... He's made a plain path for my feet!

In Christ Object Lessons we are told, "To those who in humility of heart seek for divine guidance, angels of God draw near." (p. 59)

Here's some promises God reminded me of this morning as I was reading this chapter and thinking about how nice it would be to have a modern day cloud -- and the Holy Spirit reminded me once again, "Don't You remember all the ways I've led you already, Melody? My Word is Your Cloud. I am Your Cloud."

Here's the promises I claim when needing that cloud:

Ps. 119:105 - "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

Isa. 30:21 - "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."

Ps. 32:8 - "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye."

Prov. 3:5,6 - "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

James 1:5 - "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

Isa 45:2,3 - "I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel."

2 Sam 22:31-33 - "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him. For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God? God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect."

Isa 4:5 - "And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defense."

God has been that Cloud in my life! When I've walked through the silent coldness of the desert night, He's been my warmth. When I've walked through the heat of the fires of affliction and storm, He's been my soothing shade and protection. These promises really do work! They are true! I've put God to the test over and over. I've put His Word to the test, and He's always answered... He always fulfilled His Word and has given me the guidance that I've asked for. And His guidance has always been good!

I am so thankful for my Cloud!

Tomorrow's Reading: Numbers 10-11 and Acts 17

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Day 60 - One Thing have I Desired of the Lord!

Today's Reading: Num. 6-7 and Psalm 26-27

Another beautiful day in the Word of God! Wow! So where do I begin?

I suppose I could comment on the Nazirite vow as that was fascinating reading. However to be honest, most of these OT chapters and the ceremonial laws, and sanctuary details have been a little over my head. I keep thinking, "I really need to study all these things out in much more depth to really understand what is happening and why the significance." But at this reading pace, I am very thankful for the little nuggets that God keeps showing me along the way...

However, today I'm going to turn back to Psalms. I simply cannot pass by Psalm 27 -- as it's one of my favorite chapters in the Bible! It is so beautiful, so comforting, so practical to our daily needs...
"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." - Psalm 27
This chapter deserves being put to permanent memory! It's such encouragement for today, but imagine how much encouragement this passage will give during "time of trouble" to come... Wow! So powerful, so beautiful, so meaningful! What an amazing God we serve... 

Tomorrow's Reading: Num. 8-9 and Acts 16

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Day 59 - Sanctuary Caretakers

Today's Reading: Numbers 4-5 and Acts 15

I was quite astounded to learn in yesterday's chapter that when the census was taken of the Levites, there were around 22,000 (Num. 3:39). I was thinking, "Wow! 22,000 to care for the sanctuary??" However, today I discovered that of those 22,000, only 8,580 men between the ages of 30-50 were active in caring for the Sanctuary.

Matthew Henry's in his commentary makes the following interesting observations:

There are unfortunately many in the Church who do not add to its service:


1. That the Kohathites were in all eight thousand and six hundred, from a month old and upward: but of those there were but two thousand seven hundred and fifty serviceable men, not a third part. The Gershonites in all seven thousand and five hundred: and of them but two thousand six hundred and thirty serviceable men, little more than a third part. Note—Of the many that add to the numbers of the Church, there are comparatively but few that contribute to the service of it. So it has been, and so it is; many have a place in the tabernacle, that do but little of the work of the tabernacle (Php 2:20-21).

2. That the Merarites were but six thousand and two hundred in all; and yet of these there were three thousand and two hundred serviceable men, which were a good deal above half. The greatest burden lay upon that family, the boards, and pillars, and sockets. And God so ordered it, that though they were the fewest in number, yet they should have the most able men among them; for whatever service God calls men to, He will furnish them for it, and give strength in proportion to the work, grace sufficient.

3. The whole number of the able men of the tribe of Levi, which entered into God’s host to war His warfare, was but eight thousand five hundred and eighty; whereas the able men of the other tribes that entered into the host of Israel to war their warfare were many more. The least of the tribes had almost four times as many able men as the Levites, and some of them more than eight times as many. For those that are engaged in the service of this world, and war after the flesh, are many more than those that are devoted to the service of God, and fight the good fight of faith. (Matthew Henry, D. D.)

Finally... Notice the appointment of the individuals in Numbers 4:49—“Every one according to his service, and according to his burden.” By our varied gifts, positions, offices, and opportunities, we are as much set apart to special services as were the sons of Kohath. 

I love Ellen White's statement: "There is no limit to the usefulness of the one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God." Christian Service, p. 254

So... we may not be caring for a tabernacle building now as the Levites did, but we have an even more significant responsibility to care for the tabernacle of our heart -- for the Holy Spirit desires to dwell here! 

Tomorrow's Reading: Num. 6-7 and Psalm 26-27

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Day 58 - The Sword that Divides!

Today's Reading: Num. 2-3 and Acts 14

In today's reading of Acts 14, we find a city divided over the preaching of the Apostles. And isn't that what happens today as well? Wherever the truth is preached, there is a's because the Word divides. The Bible tells us, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Heb. 4:12

Either we allow ourselves to be cut to the heart and are convicted to follow the Truth of God's Word, or we choose to oppose the Truth and fight against it. The same conflict that divided the city in the Apostles day is still dividing today.

"Obedience is the test of discipleship. It is the keeping of the commandments that proves the sincerity of our professions of love. When the doctrine we accept kills sin in the heart, purifies the soul from defilement, bears fruit unto holiness, we may know that it is the truth of God. When benevolence, kindness, tenderheartedness, sympathy, are manifest in our lives; when thejoy of right doing is in our hearts; when we exalt Christ, and not self, we may know that our faith is of the right order. “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” 1 John 2:3. (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, p. 146)
It's interesting how quick people are to worship the creature rather than the Creator. We see how the people were slow to worship God, but they were quick to try to worship Paul and Barnabas when the lame man was healed. May we never take credit for any work--for all the glory belongs to God. I was also reminded of the quote from Inspiration that says, "The object of ministry is to keep self out of sight and to let Christ appear." (Manuscript 109, 1897) May this be our goal in all we do... to keep self out of sight and let Christ appear.

Tomorrow's Reading: Numbers 4-5 and Acts 15

Monday, February 26, 2018

Day 57 - A Sabbath for the Land?

Today's Reading: Lev. 27, Num. 1, Acts 13

In yesterday's reading of Leviticus 25 we read about the Sabbath that was to be given to the land every seven years. In today's reading of Leviticus 27, we read about redeeming people or property dedicated to God as well as tithing the fruit of the land. Personally it would be easier to comment on my reading of Acts 13! (Love the book of Acts!) But I was just reading some thoughts in inspiration regarding the "Sabbath for the land" spoken of in Leviticus 25, so I'm going to share here as these thoughts have helped me understand better what was going on in God's commands regarding care of the land. I've made bold a few parts that jumped out to me. (So this blog is kind of an addition to yesterday's thoughts! But I think it all flows together as we see the big picture.)

"The Lord presented to His people the course they must pursue if they would be a prosperous, independent nation. If they obeyed Him, He declared that health and peace would be theirs, and under His supervision the land would yield its increase. The tithing system was instituted by the Lord as the very best arrangement to help the people in carrying out the principles of the law. If this law were obeyed, the people would be entrusted with the entire vineyard, the whole earth. {Ms121-1899.14}

“Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments,” He declared, “and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield her fruit and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase; then will I command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.” {Ms121-1899.15}

The children of Israel were given laws and regulations which would give all nations on the earth a true idea of God’s kingdom and government. As a nation, as families, as individuals, they were to obey these laws. They were to be a kingdom of priests and princes. Those who felt their entire dependence on God, looking to Him for instruction and relying upon Him for power to carry out His plans in the vineyard they were to cultivate, would receive the largest blessing and revenue. {Ms121-1899.16}

Adam and Eve lost Eden, and because of their sin the land was cursed; yet if God’s people obeyed His requirements and followed His directions in regard to tilling the soil, the land would be brought back to a prosperous and beautiful condition. Men were to cooperate with God in restoring the diseased land to health, that it might be a praise and a glory to His name. And as the land they possessed would if managed with skill and earnestness, produce its treasures, so their hearts, if controlled by God, would reflect His character. {Ms121-1899.17}

But if because of selfishness and covetousness men felt capable of managing without the wisdom of God, if they looked upon the land as their own, and refused to give it a sabbath, it would lose its vigor, and dearth and sickness would testify to their disobedience. {Ms121-1899.18}

In the laws which God gave for the cultivation of the soil, He was giving the people opportunity to overcome their selfishness and become heavenly-minded. Canaan would be to them as Eden if they obeyed the word of the Lord. Through them the Lord designed to teach all the nations of the world how to cultivate the soil so that it would yield healthy fruit, free from disease. The earth is the Lord’s vineyard, and is to be treated according to His plan. Those who cultivated the soil were to realize that they were doing God service. They were as truly in their lot and place as were the men appointed to minister in the priesthood and in work connected with the tabernacle. God told the people that the Levites were a gift to them, and no matter what their trade, they were to help to support them. Especially were those tilling the soil to bring in the rich treasures of the earth for the sustenance of the Levites. {Ms121-1899.19}

Interesting... I wonder if giving the land a "Sabbath" every seven years now would also be a benefit? I expect so... 

Tomorrow's Reading: Numbers 2-3 and Acts 14

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Day 56 - Your Bread and Water shall be Sure!

Reading Lev. 25-26 and Psalm 25

As I was reading over Leviticus 26, I was reminded about the blessings that follow obedience to God and His Word. Two blessings that really spoke to my heart today were: Rain and Bread!

God promises to give RAIN to the obedient. Rain is what makes the crops grow and gives fruit. This could also be symbolic of the RAIN of the HOLY SPIRIT which is what gives us spiritual fruit for the Kingdom of God. Without this rain, nothing would grow… we would be destitute.

God also promises that those who keep His commandments and statutes shall eat bread to the full! This means that no one goes hungry. Spiritually speaking, Jesus is the Bread, and as we walk in Him, He will continually provide us with living bread. We will never go hungry, but will always be satisfied.

This promise to “eat bread to the full” reminds me of promise that God gave me a few years back when I was going through a difficult time. I’ve held tightly to this promise ever since. It comes from Deuteronomy 8, and says this:

"For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A LAND WHEREIN THOU SHALT EAT BREAD WITHOUT SCARENESS, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass. When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee." (Deut. 8:7-10)

The verses in Leviticus also remind me of the promise of Isa. 33:16, "Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure." (Isa. 33:16)

We don’t deserve God’s goodness in our lives. We don’t deserve the water and bread that He sent from Heaven on our behalf... But He sent it anyway! And I’m so grateful! 

Tomorrow's Reading: Lev. 27, Numbers 1, and Acts 13

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Day 55 - The Sleep of Peace

Today's Reading Lev. 23-24 and Acts 12

Today I'm going to break away from my Old Testament blogging and move to Acts. This is one of my favorite stories in Acts... when King Herod angrily captures Peter, intending to kill him and make a spectacle of him. But the church prayed... they prayed passionately, earnestly, and God intervened, the night before the schedule execution.

I love what Inspiration has to say about this story. I have made bold specific points that I think are so amazing!

"The day of Peter’s execution was at last appointed; but still the prayers of the believers ascended to Heaven. And while all their energies and sympathies were called out in fervent appeals, angels of God were guarding the imprisoned apostle. Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. Peter was placed between two soldiers, and was bound by two chains, each chain being fastened to the wrist of one of his guard. He was therefore unable to move without their knowledge. The prison doors were securely fastened, and a strong guard was placed before them. All chance of rescue or escape, by human means, was thus cut off.

The apostle was not intimidated by his situation. Since his re-instatement after his denial of Christ, he had unflinchingly braved danger, and manifested a noble courage and boldness in preaching a crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour. He now called to mind the words of Jesus addressed to him: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.” He believed the time had now come when he was to yield up his life for Christ’s sake.

The night before his appointed execution, Peter, bound with chains, slept [Note: can you imagine SLEEPING in such a situation??] between the two soldiers, as usual. Herod, remembering the escape of Peter and John from prison, where they had been confined because of their faith, took double precautions on this occasion. The soldiers on guard, in order to secure their extra vigilance, were made answerable for the safe-keeping of the prisoner. He was bound, as has been described, in a cell of massive rock, the doors of which were bolted and barred. Sixteen men were detailed to guard this cell, relieving each other at regular intervals. Four comprised the watch at one time. But the bolts and bars, and Roman guard, which effectually cut off from the prisoner a possibility of human aid, were only to result in making the triumph of God more complete in Peter’s deliverance from prison. Herod was lifting his hand against Omnipotence, and he was to be utterly humiliated and defeated in his attempt upon the life of the servant of God. 

On this last night before the execution, a mighty angel, commissioned from Heaven, descended to rescue him. The strong gates which shut in the saint of God, open without the aid of human hands; the angel of the Most High enters, and they close again noiselessly behind him. He enters the cell, hewn from the solid rock, and there lies Peter, sleeping the blessed, peaceful sleep of innocence and perfect trust in God, while chained to a powerful guard on either side of him. The light which enveloped the angel illuminated the prison, but did not waken the sleeping apostle. His was the sound repose that invigorates and renews, and that comes of a good conscience." 3rd Volume, Spirit of Prophecy, p. 337-338

The angel awakes Peter and he is set free in one of the most miraculous prison rescues of all time.

The rest of the story, as it continues in the Spirit of Prophecy, is fascinating, but I won't post it here for sake of space. But I love how "Man's extremity is God's opportunity!" What courage that can give us for today's trials. I also love how Peter slept so peacefully. He had once slept instead of praying and as a result had denied Jesus three times, but now he sleeps in perfect peace that he has stood for Jesus! May our testimony be the same if we have to endure such a test. 

Tomorrow's Reading: Lev. 25-26 and Psalm 25

Friday, February 23, 2018

Day 54 - Reform or Heart Reform?

Today's Reading: Lev. 21-22 and Acts 11

Wow! This is some heavy duty reading. And if the laws for the children of Israel seemed strict, the laws for the priest were even more so, as today’s reading shows. 

When it came to the priest’s attitude, word, dress or action, nothing but perfection was accepted. In fact, we see that if any of the priest’s descendants had any blemishes at all, which included anything from a crooked back or flat nose, they were not to come near the holy place to make offerings.

While the physical ceremonial laws are no longer binding, Leviticus 21 and 22 still give a solemn picture of the sacred responsibility that “priest” or “leaders in the house of God” hold. As shepherds of the flock and examples to the people, it’s even more vital that they be seeking purity of heart, for they touch the sacred things of God. During Israel’s journey through the wilderness, if the whole congregation sinned, the Elders were the ones called forward to take responsibility for the sin, even if they themselves were not guilty (Lev 4:15). At the time of the end, we are told that those who have not taught the truth will bear the responsibility for the sins of their congregations. In Ezekiel’s day, when destruction was commanded, the slayer was to begin at the house of God, destroying first those spiritual leaders that had been unfaithful. (Ezek 9:6) And so it will be in the final Day of Judgment, for judgment always begins at the house of God.

As I read these chapters I also see how often the Israelites put the “form” before the “heart reform.” (Haven't we done the same?) They thought if they gave the offering, it was good enough. But God said “No! Your obedience is more important than your sacrifice.” (I Sam 15:22) Otherwise you miss the whole point. And the point is, sin cannot exist in the presence of God! It separates us from God. It holds back the Holy Spirit. It corrupts the service we render. As the Bible tells us in Isaiah 59:2, sin even keeps God from hearing us. But worst of all, as long as we hold on to sin, He cannot save us!

My prayer is that we would not profane the worship due our God with a mere “form of godliness.” Let’s put aside all pretense, pretending, and all that which is profane, and let us ask Him to reform our hearts today that the blessing of His Holy Spirit may truly fall upon us!

Tomorrow's Reading: Lev. 23-24 and Acts 12