Faith is Never Jealous

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Have you ever regretted saying something because the wrong person heard it? I’m sure we all have. But is the regret caused only by the consequence? If so, then there is a heart problem that must be addressed. If we feel regret and shame only when we are caught, then there is a purity issue in our character. This kind of shame is indicative of a person who is self-focused. They feel guilt only when the consequences of their actions are detrimental to their personal image, status, or agenda. This person has no Godly morals, only situational ones. There is a need for humbling and brokenness before a righteous and holy God.

Numbers 12:1-2 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the LORD heard this.

Miriam and Aaron had become proud people. They were gifted by God to serve alongside Moses. They had demonstrated God’s presence and power in their lives by the performing of miracles and the speaking of prophetic truth. Yet they were not getting the recognition that Moses was, and jealousy invaded their hearts.

It is obvious that their attack on Moses was not really about his new wife. What correlation is there between a Cushite wife for Moses and their desire to be recognized as people through whom God also spoke? Probably none, unless they were thinking that being the recognized spokesperson for God gave Moses an exemption for moral purity. Maybe they wanted the same potential exemption. I do not believe that is accurate, but I do believe that there have been spiritual leaders who have believed this and have lived that way, much to the embarrassment and dishonoring of God.

The attack of Miriam and Aaron on Moses was about recognition. In the previous chapter there were 70 additional people who were empowered with the Holy Spirit to assist Moses in the leading of Israel. Aaron has not really been mentioned since the production of the golden calf by his own hands. Miriam has been silent since the day of deliverance from the Red Sea. Both are still qualified and capable of serving, and probably were doing so, but they were jealous of the recognition others were getting. God’s anger burns against jealousy.

The desire for personal recognition is a deadly trap of Satan, and we must guard our hearts against it. Jealousy has no place in the heart of the Christian or the Church. When Miriam is punished as the instigator of this attack, God’s punishment is swift and serious – leprosy. When Aaron repents for their sin, God demonstrates His grace and forgiveness by providing a path of restoration. But within the context of that plan God reveals the seriousness of a jealous heart with the analogy of the punishment. He compares what Miriam did to what a daughter does to her father by disgracing him with her behavior. Jealousy is disrespect for the authority of God, and it disgraces His Name and His people.

Let’s take seriously the warning against jealousy, and let’s learn to live humbly serving God – and be content with our status. No matter what your position in the body of Christ, take to heart the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Pastor John

Faith is Content

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, April 29, 2019

I want to spend just a couple of minutes today balancing what was said last Friday about the miraculous provision of meat from the Lord to the Israelites, so that we understand the full implications of our actions. The feeding of the Israelites was a part of a bigger lesson in faith to a people who were not seeking Him. It was an expression of grace combined with God’s justice and wrath against sin.

Numbers 11:31-34 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the LORD burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food.

The reason God was giving them the meat was because they were complaining about the manna. They were no longer satisfied with what God had given them and felt that they deserved better. So, God, in His infinite wisdom, used this opportunity to correct, rebuke, and instruct the people in righteousness and faith. He gave them what they wanted, and then showed them the consequences of discontent with God’s plan.

The people were so convinced that they needed meat, that even though they knew God’s anger was against them, when the meat arrived they went out to gather it anyway. The whole flock of birds was a test to see if they would please God or please self. They chose to please self, and because of it many of them died in a terrible plague.

My friends, sometimes we use the tests of our faith to seek personal gain or recognition, when we should be learning to trust what God has already given us.  We must learn the lesson of faith that moves us from being people who ask God for what we want to people who ask God for what He wants. God’s anger burns against selfish pursuits. They contradict His glory. May we be careful never to put our personal desires ahead of His purpose. If contentment with His present provisions is His plan, then content we must be.

May we never crave other than what God has chosen to provide.

Pastor John

Faith to Believe the Impossible

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, April 26, 2019

There seems to be a common obstacle to true faith in the lives of the heroes of the Bible. Whether we are studying the life of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Nehemiah, Mary, Peter, or Paul, there is a particular element of a growing faith that is emphasized over and over by God as He teaches His children to trust Him. It is what separates the faith of the followers of God from all other so-called faiths. Simply stated it is this: nothing is impossible with God!

Numbers 11:21-23 But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?” The LORD answered Moses, “Is the LORD’S arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

As we grow in our faith in God, we discover that God works in two main arenas to meet our needs and accomplish His purpose:

  1. He miraculously employs and empowers the resources that are visible to us;
  2. He miraculously employs and empowers the resources that are invisible to us.

Earlier in the chapter (Numbers 11:16-17), God specifically addressed the concerns of Moses that the burden of leadership was too great for one man, and He employed and empowered 70 men to come along side of Moses and help him manage the nation. Those resources were visible to Moses, but he needed a faith adjustment to see them.

Maybe the burdens you are carrying today are unnecessary, and you simply need to ask God to provide you with a resource that is available to you. It is amazing what we can see when we change our focus from self to service. His Spirit will open our eyes when the decision is made to see God’s plan rather than our problems.

Sometimes, and I believe more often than we realize, God employs and empowers the invisible to accomplish the humanly impossible. In this story of Moses, God promises to feed two million people (600,000 men on foot figures out to around 2,000,000 when counting the women and children) with meat for a month. Moses knows that there is no way to do that based on their current resources. They do not have enough cattle and sheep. But God’s arm is not too short to reach out and meet the need of anyone or any church. By the power of the wind, which He controls, He brought enough birds from the sea to cover the ground to a depth of 3 feet for 15 miles in every direction. The people gathered 60 bushels of birds each, and had far more than they needed to be fed meat for a month.

Years ago, our church – Calvary – needed a different facility. It was humanly impossible for us, based on our available resources, to consider the purchase of a building or the purchase of land for the construction of a building. It was going to take a miraculous injection of invisible resources to accomplish God’s plan.

Was God’s arm too short? NO! Did we believe that He would provide? YES! He made His plan clear to us, and asked us to have the faith to follow Him into the unknown. Now look where we are.

What unknown place is God directing you to, and do you have the faith to follow Him into the seemingly impossible?

Pastor John

Resist the Rabble

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, April 25, 2019

If you have been following along with our daily devotions, you know that for the last few weeks we have been studying the lives of two great heroes of faith from the Old Testament – Abraham and Moses. I think it has been an exciting adventure, and I hope you are continuing to learn faith lessons from the events of their lives as I am. There is still a little ground to cover before the Israelites get into the Promised Land, so let’s pick up our stuff and head out on today’s spiritual journey.

It has been a year since the deliverance from Egypt, and the people of Israel have been commended for their growth and dedication to God. They have learned some valuable spiritual lessons and have started to understand the awesome nature of their God. They had been camped in one place for a while, and the security of that place gave them comfort and peace. Let’s see what happens when God rises up and begins to move them again.

Numbers 11:1-6 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them. The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

How sad. The people return to their discontent. Why is that? There are a couple of reasons for this grumbling and complaining attitude.

First, it is our human nature to get comfortable with the immediate and to lose sight of the goal. How many times have you gone on a long family vacation with a destination in mind, only to find that along the way you grow physically weary and emotionally worn and wish you could turn around and go back home? This is what was happening to the Israelites. The inconveniences of packing and the hardships of traveling became the focus of the immediate and they forgot to look at the finish line. Let’s be careful in our lives that we have not allowed the comforts and security of our present situations keep us from moving forward when God rises up and leads us on an exciting adventure to a promised land.

Second, we are told specifically that much of the complaining was a peer-pressured response to the outsiders that were among them. Moses specifically calls them rabble, and the word literally means a promiscuous assemblage of people. These people that traveled with the Israelites were from various backgrounds, and had escaped Egypt with Moses. They were not in tune with the Lord God, and were not committed to Him. They only wanted the personal benefits that seemed to be available from following God. When those benefits did not meet their personal standards, they complained, and the Israelites joined with them.

What a sad picture of the reality of today’s church: so many people simply attending for the personal benefits they can receive. I see this far too often. People show up in church because they have a need to be met. People make a verbal commitment and even volunteer for service, just so they can continue to use the church for personal gain. These people are the first ones to complain when things don’t go their way, and their attitude is highly contagious. I have seen Godly saints drawn into the web of wailing because they have allowed the influence of rabble to become important to them. I have heard long-time faithful followers of God begin to reflect on the way things used to be and wish they could go back because the past has been romanticized, the present is being criticized, and the future is minimized. This is the cycle of death for a church and for an individual.

This cycle seems to start, in most cases, with an outside influence of sin and faithlessness. We must always be on our guard and protect ourselves and our churches from this rabble. Do not allow the influence of popular opinion and worldly culture to diminish our faith in the Person, plan, and provision of the One True God. Yes, it will be hard, and increasingly so as the world continues to reject the ways of God. We will be persecuted for our stand against sin when the world no longer defines their behavior and choices as sin. It will become hard for us to keep our eyes on the goal of finishing the race.  But finish we will, and we will finish well. We will be faithful and true. We will remain pure and holy. We will be the worthy vessels of God’s glory, made worthy by the blood of the Lamb. To Him be glory for ever and ever, Amen!

Pastor John

Guided by the Holy Spirit

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Moses and the Israelites were ready to set out on their journey to the Promised Land. All the law has been given, and the people have been instructed in the ways of the Lord. The tribes are organized into their marching formation and the Ark of the Covenant was carried at the front of the line to lead the way.

Numbers 10:35-36 Whenever the ark set out, Moses said, “Rise up, O LORD! May your enemies be scattered; may your foes flee before you.” Whenever it came to rest, he said, Return, O LORD, to the countless thousands of Israel.”

There are some very simple yet practical applications from this for our lives. First, each day, as we awaken and plan our daily activities, recognizing and enjoying the Presence of God should be at the top of the list. Unless God’s Presence goes with us, we could just as well stay in bed for the day because there will be nothing accomplished of any value or meaning. Let every day of our lives be started with a devotional time of prayer and the study of God’s Word, seeking His Presence and direction.

Second, be prepared to march whenever and wherever God tells us to go. Each day is an exciting new adventure as we follow the glory of the Lord. The Israelites saw the pillar of cloud and fire, and knew precisely when it was time to move. It would lift off the Ark of the Covenant and direct them where to go. Similarly, we have been given the indwelling fire of the Holy Spirit. It is through a prepared heart of prayer and Bible study that the voice of the Holy Spirit is heard and His direction can be followed.

Third, set out on each daily adventure with the confidence of God’s protection. Moses’ prayer for the beginning of every leg of their journey was the same: “Rise up, O LORD!” What a great way for each of us to start our daily walk with God. “Rise up, O LORD! Go before me today and show me Your way. May I live in the confidence of Your power and protection so that I may accomplish Your purpose.”

Fourth, end each day with faith in God’s abiding presence. In those times of rest and inactivity, whether it be just the sleep of the overnight or the extended days of unemployment, sickness, or discouragement, invite the abiding Presence of God to sustain you. He will!

Take these simple lessons and apply them to your life. They will enhance your understanding of the Presence of God.

Pastor John

Revealing the Presence of God

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Moses has finally come to the understanding that everything in life is to be about God’s glory. Moses admits to God that life is meaningless and has no purpose unless God’s Presence is visible to everyone. Unless other people can see the reality of God through His Presence in their lives, Moses says that they might as well not proceed with life. The Presence of God is the one thing that distinguished the followers of God from all other people on the earth.

Exodus 33:15-16 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

WOW! What a deep cave for us to explore. I trust that the Holy Spirit motivates you to dig for all the treasures hiding here. Let me start the process by focusing on one gem: the single identifying mark of a Christian is the visible Presence of God in their life.  That being said, we can also conclude that the single identifying mark of a church that is truly following God is the Presence of God in it.

We have allowed the influence of the world to change our methods of identification. We have moved from being identified by His Presence to wanting to be identified by the fulfilled promises. We have looked hard for those promises that personally benefit us, and if we can see them fulfilled then we can be identified as followers of God.

For many, prosperity resulting in big bank accounts and lots of expensive toys shows the Presence of God. Big buildings show the Presence of God in a church, don’t they? Why is it necessary to place a humanly tangible product on the Presence of God to prove that God is present? Those tests fail miserably. Aren’t the unsaved as wealthy or wealthier than the saved? Aren’t the buildings of the cults and unrepentant churches bigger and better than those of the saved? Why do we insist on competing for recognition at the world’s level?

So how is the Presence of God seen in people and in the church? It is not through the physical manifestations of God’s power, although that may accompany His presence. It is through the spiritual manifestations of God’s character in the lives of His followers. It is through people who live with merciful and compassionate hearts.

When Moses asked God to reveal His Presence to him in Exodus 33:18, God responded this way in verse 19 – And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

When God did this, and Moses saw His glory, Moses heard these words from God as He passed by – “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

God reveals to Moses and to us the identifying marks of His presence – compassion, grace, patience, love, faithfulness, and forgiveness. It would be wise for us to reflect on these qualities, and evaluate the consistency of their activity in our lives. It will reveal how well the Presence of God is being seen by others.

Pastor John

Faith Increases Knowledge

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, April 22, 2019

Yesterday the challenge was to be people like Moses who are truly known to God by our reputation and character and find favor in His sight. Today the challenge is to be people like Moses who seek to know God fully.

Exodus 33:13-14If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Notice how Moses begins this dialogue with God: he builds upon what God has already said about him. “If you are pleased with me, then let me know you better.” Now we must be careful not to fall into the misinterpretation of this statement as some have. We do not earn the knowledge of God by doing all the good works necessary to please Him. Quite the contrary! God and Moses had a relationship based on faith, not works. But as a result of his faith in God and the loving relationship that had been established based on faith, Moses’ character was changed, and he responded to God by serving Him obediently. Works are always the result of faith, never the means to it.

But when Moses realized that the character development that was taking place in his life pleased God, he wanted to be sure that he would continue to live in the favor of the Lord. I think far too many of us are content with where we are right now. We may have stopped seeking to know more about God or to experience more of God’s power in our lives. But Moses wanted everything from God that was available to him, so he asked for it.

It is important that God see the true condition of our hearts in the asking. As a father, I am most blessed with my children and grandchildren when they ask me for something. It represents a heart of trust and humble dependence: trust in the loving supply of the father and humble acceptance of one’s own inability to provide totally for self. This is how God views our asking Him to supply our needs and reveal His nature.

Moses also understood that if God would reveal His ways to him, he would be better able to understand His nature and character. We do the same in our relationships. We observe their actions to better understand their character.  We can do the same with God. When we ask Him to reveal Himself through His activity, we gain a deeper understanding of His nature and character.

Many of us have limited understanding of the fullness of God’s presence because we are still doing far too much in our own strength and wisdom. We must step back and ask God to show us His way of doing it, and then we will begin to truly know His heart.

In response to Moses’ request, God gives him two promises:

  1. “My Presence will go with you.” This is the Hebrew word “face”. Those who seek to know God will be blessed with the favor of God’s face shining upon them. Those who seek self will have the face of God turned against them (Ps. 34:16)
  2. “I will give you rest.” Seeking to know God in the fullness of His nature and character brings peace to our lives because of the faith and trust that grows out of that knowledge. When our youngest grandson is fussy, his parents have the ability to get him to rest because he already knows he can trust their strong arms and provision for his life.

The faith lesson for today is this: seek God. Seek His face. Ask Him to reveal His ways to you so that you may truly know His character. Then you will find rest.

Pastor John