April 12, 2013

Today you should read: Numbers 32

Have you ever discouraged someone by not doing something you were supposed to do?

It happens in almost every area of life. Work, school, family responsibilities, church . . . You name something that entails some type of responsibility, and I can probably give you an example of discouragement when someone doesn’t fulfill that responsibility. That’s the heart of Moses’ question to the people of Reuben and Gad in verse 6.  It’s not that they were wrong in wanting to settle in Gilead instead of Transjordan. It was the motive behind that settlement. It sounds like they already came from a family who was lazy, disobedient and discouraging concerning where God wanted them to settle (vs. 6-8). Sometimes to get to the heart of such matters we as Christians must question our motives.

Stop.

Reread that last sentence again.

Now reread what Moses says to the people of Reuben and Gad. I know you’re probably thinking this is starting to get a little too close to that certain word that no one likes to be accused of… “Judging.” But let’s shoot straight here and examine the pointed questions and comments that Moses has for the people who wanted to set up camp in Gilead. He questions their motives, reminds them of their father’s past mistakes in a similar area and then threatens them with God’s wrath on His behalf (which by the way, sounds a little worse than being “judgmental”).

I bring all of this up because I believe that if we really want to disciple, share the Gospel and hold each other accountable, we may need to get past the culturally sensitive, politically correct language of today and be straight forward about one another’s motives. I also love how the people of Reuben and Gad respond to Moses after his blunt questions and warnings. They didn’t update their Facebook statuses to say “Moses & God’s people can be so judgmental.” They didn’t rebel, even if what Moses said wasn’t true but had the appearance of potential truth. Instead, they made an agreement with Moses  to travel and fight with God’s people until they got to where God was sending them.  They then had permission to go back to Gilead. Talk about integrity and going above and beyond. Of course this doesn’t give us an excuse to be harsh and condemning to every person or Christian we believe is asking or doing something with false motives. There’s a time for grace, a time for love but also a time for the church to confront potential sin and for us to listen to someone who has the holy courage to confront us with it.

Posted by: Erik Koliser

April 11, 2013

Today you should read: Numbers 31

Good morning JumpStarters!  Almost through Numbers – hang in there.

Today is chapter 31…  I know what you’re thinking – this doesn’t sound right – a loving God wouldn’t allow  – no, order – such destruction of a people.  This is both a very difficult passage and a very difficult subject…

I really can’t explain this to you, other than to remind you that as much as God is loving – God is just.  He must deal with sin.  Before the cross, the people who committed sin felt the full extent of God’s wrath.  Whether that was offering a lamb from their flock, watching the lamb give it’s life, and be burned for their sin, or paying the price personally through pain or death.  The Midianites were wicked people and God extracted His judgment on them through the His Chosen People.

Why not kill the Israelites when they sinned?  He did!  Many times; through snakes, fever, the earth swallowing them and more… but remember, God made a promise to Abraham that through him the Messiah would come.  God always keeps His promises.  He’s sovereign – He chooses and does what He wills.

Why women and children who seem innocent?  Again, this is very difficult to answer – but the best answer I can give you is they were a part of the sin and were perpetuating it.  Innocent people around us – even our kids – often pay a big price for our sin.  Ask a dad who commits adultery…  Do his kids pay?  His wife?  We need to remember this and think hard before we rush into sin.

Why not now?  Jesus died on the cross and took God’s wrath.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  2 Corinthians 5:21

This is why the cross was so gruesome – God’s wrath for our sin was poured out on Jesus.

Are you thankful for the cross today?  Glad Jesus took your sin?

NOTE:  If you’ve never received Jesus – your sin is on YOU not on HIM.  You will take the full hit for your sin forever in hell.  Please consider turning to Jesus today and allowing Him to be your substitute.

Posted by: Tim Parsons

April 10, 2013

Today you should read: Numbers 30

Today’s passage could certainly be seen as chauvinistic or old time-y for us today but I want us to see the underlying principle here:

God has an order to the family structure

God has made the man of the home to lead his home and speak for his family. Now, before we go any further, let’s be clear. Women are not inferior or incompetent. The truth is this; I don’t really know why God calls men to lead instead of women or whoever wants to. This is what I do know, God HAS called men to lead, and we all know that, as pastor Tim says often, “things always work better when you do them God’s way.”

God’s structure for family is not an archaic ideal that we just toss out due to societal progression. This design is created so that a beautiful picture of mutual submission to one another is presented in the home. You see, the idea of submission by a wife and kids to the father of the home is not about tyranny or a dictatorship. It is, I believe, about at least three examples:

  1. Jesus relating to the Father. God is a triune God, three in one. We see Jesus give us several pictures of how He willingly submits to the Father (John 6:38; 14:28; and 5:19). He does not submit begrudgingly but joyfully and fully. He was always equal with the Father but, according to Philippians 2:6, did not count that as important.  He followed the Father’s will perfectly and when we submit to one another we are living as Jesus did.
  2. Fulfilling our God-given roles in creation. God gave man and woman specific roles at creation, before the fall. These roles are not results of or done away with by the fall. They stand now and until the end of time. Most men are called to be husbands (Gen.2:23), fathers (Gen.1:28) and spiritual leaders (Eph.5:22-3). Likewise, most women are called to be wives (Gen.2:23), moms (Gen. 1:28) and keepers of the home (Prov.31:10-31). This doesn’t mean that you can only do these things (i.e. women can work; see Proverbs 31), however, these are the primary tasks to which we are called. And, when you think about it, for the most part, men and women are gifted and created with the right personalities and capacities to do the things assigned in scripture for their gender.
  3. Jesus relating to the church. Ephesians 5:21-33 shows us how a marriage relationship is a picture of how Jesus and the Church relate to one another. Just as the Church submits to Jesus’ leadership and direction, so should a wife to her husband. Likewise, just as Jesus sacrificed everything and went through agony to save and secure the church, husbands should be ready and willing to give up anything and everything to protect and serve their wives. When these two things are working together in perfect harmony it creates a vibrant and warm home full of love and grace and it shows the world a love they can’t help, but ask about.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

April 9, 2013

Today you should read: Numbers 29

My first thought when reading this chapter was, “Wow, that’s a lot of dead bulls, goats, and lambs!”  What’s the deal with all these burnt, grain, drink, peace, freewill, and vow offerings?  Let me give an attempt to briefly explain.

There are three different feasts or festivals going on in this chapter.  Verses 1-6 are the ordinances for the Feast of Trumpets, which was a ten-day period of repentance and consecration.  This festival began on the first day of the seventh month and was signified by the blowing of trumpets.   This festival led up to the great Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), which happened on the 10th day of the month.  Verses 7-11 give the ordinances for the Day of Atonement, which was a day that the high priest would perform elaborate rituals to atone for the sins of the people.  On the 5th day after the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles began.  Verses 12-34 give the ordinances for this festival, also known as the Feast of Booths, which was kept in commemoration of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness for forty years and also as a time of thankfulness to God for the fruits of the earth that He provides.

That’s a super brief explanation of some of the feasts and festivals that were being mentioned in this chapter.  At first glance, this chapter seems odd and maybe not that interesting, but, there are many symbolic references of the Messiah who was to come.  There’s really too much to write about in one Jumpstart devotional.

One of the symbolic references to a coming Messiah that stuck out to me is something that HAD to be true of their offerings during these festivals.  Their offerings had to be without defect.  The phrase “without defect” (NASB) is used 10 times in this chapter alone.  Only a perfect sacrifice was acceptable as an offering.

Of course, we know today that only The Perfect Sacrifice was an acceptable payment for our sin.  “There is now no longer any sacrifice for sin.” (Hebrews 10:18).  He offered “one sacrifice for sins for all time” (Hebrews 10:12).  He died “once for all, the just for the unjust, in order to bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18).  Now we can “draw near to the throne of grace with confidence” (Hebrews 4:16).  We no longer need a priest to offer up sacrifices (Hebrews 6:27).  I could go on and on.

There’s somebody reading this today who is dealing with guilt; beating himself/herself up because of some kind of sin.  Someone who struggles with accepting the gift of grace is reading this today.  Take a moment to meditate on what is true. Praise and thank Jesus for being the perfect sacrificial lamb, without defect, that allows us to have a pure standing before God.

Posted by: Rich Duffield