Saturday, February 6, 2016

Daily Bible: Numbers 11: 1-15

Numbers 11:1-15 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!”

The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.

Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

Commentary from The Life Application Study Bible:

"The Israelites complained, and then Moses complained. But God responded positively to Moses and negatively to the rest of the people. Why? The people complained TO ONE ANOTHER, and nothing was accomplished . Moses took his complaint to GOD, Who could solve any problem. We need to learn to take our problems to the One who can do something about them."

"Dissatisfaction comes when our attention shifts from what we have to what we don't have. The people of Israel didn't seem to notice what God was doing for them- setting them free, making them a nation, giving them a new land- because they were so wrapped up in what God wasn't doing for them. They could think of nothing but the delicious Egyptian food they had left behind. Somehow they forgot that the brutal whip of Egyptian slavery was the cost of eating that food. Before we judge the Israelites too harshly, it's helpful to think about what occupies our attention most of the time. Are we grateful for what God has given us, or are we always thinking about what we would like to have? We should not allow our unfulfilled desires to cause us to forget God's gifts of life, food, health, work, and friends."

"Every morning the Israelites drew back their tent doors and witnessed a miracle. Covering the ground was pale, yellow, fluffy manna- food from heaven. But soon that wasn't enough. Feeling it was their right to have more, they forgot what they already had. They didn't ask God to fill their need; instead they demanded meat and they stopped trusting God to care for them..... when you ask God for something, He may grant your request. But if you approach Him with a sinful attitude, getting what you want may prove costly."

Credit: Bible verse from the Bible app- NIV. Commentary from The Life Application Study Bible- NKJV

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Christian FIRST

In the almost 3 years since I committed my life to Jesus I have been on an almost obsessive journey to know Him more.  I have spent hours and hours reading my Bible, doing studies and learning about what God calls me to do as His loving and committed child. I love spending time with the Lord.

I have written a lot about how I see our world today through the lens of a born-again Christ follower. Some of what I have written has been strong in admonishing what I see as the drastic falling away of our country from it's Christian roots.  Some of what I have written has been with the intent of sharing out loud what I have been learning to help solidify those learnings in my own mind.  Most of what I have shared has been political in nature, focusing on what is going wrong with our country or with our legal system as it relates to God's word.

I found myself getting sucked into the emotion of it all; when the Supreme Court changed the definition of marriage, I started writing about how this is against God (on Facebook). When President Obama said that we will continue to bring Syrian refugees into this country even in light of what is happen with radical Islam I wrote about our responsibility to protect and take care of our citizens first.  When "gun violence" became the topic du jour, I wrote about God's calling to us to protect and defend ourselves against evil and those who would kill us here and here.

To those who read what I have been writing, you probably have formed your own opinion about me. If asked to describe me you might start to use words that describe a political leaning due to some of the things I have posted (conservative, republican, right-winger, idiot, intolerant, racist).  That's fine, we all form opinions about others based on the available information about them.  Here is how I would describe myself, though:

I am a Christian FIRST.

Everything else that makes me who I am exists after this one fact. I am a Christian. My existence as a human being is completely and wholly because God created me.  The world and everything in it exists solely because God created it. There is absolute truth and morality because God created them. Everything else comes from this.

So much of what gets my blood pressure up in this country has to do with what I see as deviations by both our governing body and our popular culture from God's laws.  Now that we are in the thick of a Presidential election year I can't escape evidence of this.  It also happens to be the culmination of a few years of deep soul searching about my place as a Christian and the very first time I have EVER paid this much attention to politics (by far) so my blood pressure is up A LOT (Lord, help me with this).

Now, I'm not saying I have this all figured out.  I'm sure there are Christians who read what I have written and think I a misguided.  Given my newness at this I would have to say that they could be right on some things. One thing I do not think I am wrong about, though, is my absolute conviction that our next President needs at a MINIMUM to be a true Believer.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders".  Isaiah 9:6
The Bible tells us JESUS is ruler of everything; not man.  To the extent that God tells us to be subject to a human government in Romans 13, He also tells us that this government should follow God's authority as it forms its basis for governing, saying "the authorities that exist have been established by God".  So many times I've read articles and blog posts by people that take this chapter completely literally and without context and say that no matter what if the Government rules it then according to God we are subject to it.  No no no! There are multiple examples in history about God's wrath coming down on nations because they fell away from Him.  The government of those nations started making choices and passing laws permitting things that were decidedly against God and His word, and thus God destroyed them.  Babylon, anyone?

Nations will come and go, as has been exhibited by thousands of years of history, but PRINCIPLES endure. What immutable principles has this country stood by over the centuries since we were formed? Any? I am having trouble thinking of a single one that hasn't been amended and/or mutilated, can you? Without a Christian in the highest office we will continue UNABATED down this destructive path.

I'll be the first to admit that I did not always have a core set of values and principles.  When my husband first asked me years ago if I believed that there were moral absolutes I could not comfortably answer him because I lived in a world filled with gray and conditional thinking. I could say something might be wrong for me but how could I say that absolutely for everyone?  Was that even my place?

Then, I accepted Jesus into my life and the Holy Spirit filled my heart and soul.  I am CHANGED. With that change has come a changed way of thinking and a solid belief system based on Biblical teaching and God's laws.  Yes there are moral absolutes and no one, not even the government, can change them.

This is where living in this world becomes a bit tricky or at least uncomfortable for us Believers. The law of the land has turned away from God now.  We Christians are faced with a choice. Follow God, or follow the government.  Increasingly there is no middle ground.  Sure people argue that just because the law allows abortions, or the law allows gay marriage to be recognized as true marriage, that doesn't mean we have to do it.  Riiiiiight.... except..... when it does.

What about Kim Davis who refused to issue gay marriage licenses because it was contrary to her faith?  What about the owners of the bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding and have been dealing with legal issues ever since (and have lost their business as well)? Think these are petty, ridiculous examples of people who took their "religious beliefs" too far? When it comes to following God's commands of us, what exactly is "too far"?

Did Abraham think God was asking too much of him when He told him to pick up and move all his people to the wilderness and wait for Him?

Did Esther think it was too much to ask her to go against the King's law to stop a mad-man from destroying her people?

Did Daniel think it was too much for him to live in a place where his love and worship of God was constantly being challenged; to the point where he was sentenced to death or threatened with death multiple times?

Did Paul think it was too much to ask him to give up EVERYTHING and preach the gospel even though it would eventually have him killed (but not before he spend ample time in prison and being beaten)?

We are heading into some dark days, I'm afraid.  This isn't surprising to those of us who read our Bible.  That doesn't make it any easier, though. God warned us that things will be difficult if we follow Him. Just a cursory understanding of Christian history confirms that we haven't always been the most popular people. I am hopeful that we can get a true Believer into the office of President in order to at least attempt to undo some of the damage that non-believers have brought upon our country. Regardless of what happens, though, one thing won't change.

I am a Christian first, last and everything in between.

"I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world."
John 16:33