In the book of Numbers we learn why it took the Israelites 40 years to make an 11-day trip and how the Israelites made ten wrong turns. This piece of history allegorically tells us something about the spiritual journey of many believers. If you are you suffering through a "wilderness experience" and have not entered the "Promised Land" of the abundant life promised in the New Testament ask yourself this question: Am I being totally obedient to God?
Numbers is filled with powerful metaphors and allegories. We see how man's freedom of choice can limit God's power. If we have the faith to believe and claim all the blessings God has for us and accept His good and perfect will for our lives, then He can lead us into our spiritual Promised Land. There is a difference between God's permissive will and God's directive will. The abundant life is only found in God's directive will.
In Numbers we see the greatness, the burnout, and the sin of Moses that prevented him from entering the Promised Land. Even great people of God can come to the end of themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally. It is normal for God's people to get tired from serving Him, but we should not get tired of serving Him. If you are feeling burned out, then you are not only in good company, you are in good hands.
Deuteronomy means "the restating of the Law"; restating it to the second generation of God's chosen people before they crossed Jordan and entered Canaan. This book is filled with lessons for those who have decided to take another, more serious, look at their new life in Christ and be totally committed to Him. Moses instructs those who love God to know and obey His Word, and the responsibility to pass those values on to their children.
Throughout Deuteronomy, in the sermons of Moses, there is a strong emphasis on the importance of obeying the Word of God. When Israel obeyed God's laws, He blessed them. When they did not obey God's laws, they did not enjoy the blessings of God. In one of Moses' final sermons he tells us God does not bless us because we are good. God blesses us because He is good and because He loves us. That is what grace means.
The sermons of Moses teach about our response to God's grace and about apostasy, about those who no longer respond to God's grace. Moses preached on tithing, showing God is first in our life and of giving to the poor. He preached a very strong message on how God forbids the occult, fortunetelling, communicating with the dead, and using black magic. He also told them about the Prophet Priest, and King who would one day come and save them.
The book Joshua is all about faith, the kind of faith that conquers and possesses all God wills for His people. Many of us fail, like the Israelites, to experience the spiritual blessing God intends us to have: prayer, Scripture, fellowship, worship - God gives them all to every believer. You possess prayer by praying, and you possess the Scripture when you read it, understand it, and apply it. You possess your spiritual possessions one spiritual step at a time.
What is faith? How does faith work? The book of Joshua provides sixteen illustrations to demonstrate faith. God will sometimes test your faith but you can be assured He will not take you where His grace cannot keep you. If you know God is leading you to do something, do it. His plan is always the right plan. Joshua teaches us that faith is practical. When faith walks, it works, and when faith works, it wins the battles of life.
The book of Joshua is full of allegories that teach us how to overcome the enemies of our faith. The first enemy of our faith, the world, is pictured by Jericho. The second, represented by Israel's defeat, represents our flesh. The people from Gibeon made a treaty with Israel by tricking them. The devil deceives us in the same way and is our third enemy. Joshua challenged his people to seal their faith by making a covenant with God.
We could say that the first seventeen books of the Old Testament are history books. So why should we study so much history of this one little nation of Israel? One reason is to look for examples and warnings. When the Hebrew people obeyed the Word of God, God blessed them, and they are examples for us. When they did not obey, they lived under the curse of God, and their lives are warnings for you and me.
Jesus begins by teaching His disciples eight attitudes called, the "beatitudes," or "blessed attitudes," because each one is introduced by the word "blessed." Jesus is promising to bless the disciple who has each of these attitudes. This word "blessed" can actually mean "happy," "spiritually prosperous," or "in a state of grace." Each attitude also includes a promise that describes the form in which this blessing will come into the life of that disciple.
The Sermon on the Mount is one of the key teachings of the Bible. Jesus preached this sermon on a mountaintop in Galilee when He challenged people who professed to be His disciples to be strategically placed between the love of God and the pain of the hurting people in the world. He challenged His disciples to partner with Him and be conduits of His love. He concluded His sermon with a call to commitment. It changed the lives of many who heard it.
Many people think Jesus was contradicting the Old Testament in these verses, but He was only confronting the teaching of the religious leaders. He was telling His disciples: "Everything I am teaching you is found in the Word of God, but what I am teaching is in direct conflict with what your religious leaders have been teaching you."
The word "mercy" means "unconditional love." When David writes in Psalm 23:6 that mercy will follow him all the days of his life, the word he uses for "follow" actually means "pursue." God's unconditional love will pursue David all of his life. This is the kind of love for others that we must have too, if we are to be like God.
Believers sometimes have the misguided opinion that their faith is weak if they show signs of mourning. This beatitude not only supports mourning it links it to a blessing. Mourning a loss is normal and there are things God wants us to learn from the loss. We must let God use our mourning to move us in three ways. First, mourning helps us ask the right questions about life. Second, it helps us to seek God's answers. Third, it also helps us to accept the blessing God has provided including our salvation.
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