Friday, July 21, 2017

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Journey On

JOURNEY ON  

Sixth of six devotions in Proud Insolence series

Numbers 16:28-18:7

Numbers 17:1-5:  “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from each leader of each of their ancestral tribes.  Write the name of each man on his staff.  On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe.  Place them in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Testimony, where I meet with you.  The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid Myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.’”

            This last devotion of the series that began with Korah’s proud insolence that so irritated God ends with a peaceful resolution of whom may carry censers filled with incense.  When Korah’s entire council was swallowed whole by the earth, remember the LORD had the censers gathered from the smoldering remains.  That was to remind the Israelites that only a descendant of Aaron was allowed to burn incense before the LORD.

            Numbers 16:31-40 tells the story. This devotion shows another miracle that ought to WOW Believers today.  The opening Scripture is simple.  God is like an earthy parent who makes the rules for the family.  Each one get a staff and write your name on it. 

            One staff will sprout.

            What?

            These staffs were really almond branches.

            Usually, before fruit appears, a bud forms.  The bud blossoms into a flower.  When the flower falls off the branch, fruit appears.  But Aaron’s branch was a show-off!  God can do that, because He makes the rules.  Aaron’s branch, “which represented the house [ancestral tribe] of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.”  (Numbers 17:8b). 

            Clearly, Aaron’s branch won.  God awarded the tribe of Levi the honor to be responsible for His sanctuary.  AND, Aaron’s Levi family tribe became responsible for offences against the priesthood.  See the lesson linked below for other “church” duties Aaron’s family were assigned.

Take Home Nugget

            Why did Aaron’s branch show off and show not only buds but blossoms intact?  Gardeners know that growing fruit takes work.  Preparing the soil, sowing seeds, watering the plants all come before harvesting the fruit.  However, there is value in the process. 
            Our journey in life is as important as our destination. 

            We all are not at the end of our journey.  Goals need to be met.  Life’s success is usually measured by the fruits of our labor.  Let’s appreciate where we are on our journey.  It’s a beautiful journey.  It’s valuable.  May today in the journey on your spiritual path bring you peace.
 
            Let this give us strength to journey on!

Thank You, Father, for my journey!

Adapted from “Buds and Blossoms“ by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  www.HolyLandMoments.com.  June 22, 2017.
J.D. Griffith

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Friday, July 7, 2017

About Face

ABOUT FACE  
Fifth of six devotions in Proud Insolence series

Numbers 13:17-14:45

Numbers 14:1-3: “That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.  All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, ‘If only we had died in Egypt!  Or in the desert!  Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us die by the sword?  Our wives and children will be taken as plunder.  Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?’”

            “Scaredy cats!”  Twelve-year-olds Jeremy and Brad yelled to the boys who ran the opposite direction from the swimming pool.

            Thunder clapped.  Lightning streaked threats at the public pool.

            Being frightened can encourage people to act bravely. 

            The Israelites in the opening Scripture were too scared to enter and take possession of the Promised Land.  False bravery claimed, “If only we had died in Egypt!”

            Not! 

            Death as slaves is never better than being free and living in a country of our very own.

            Proud insolence wears many masks.  Scared is one mask that can either hide rudeness or pride.  The first spies Moses sent to Canaan returned with good reports about the land and its fruit.  But the bad reports totally overshadowed the good.  Fortified cities occupied with giants who ate inhabitants! (Numbers 13:25-32).

            Moses writes the lesson linked below where God foretells the spy’s future.

             The second time spies returned with a different report—many years later and under a different leader.  This time, Rahab became a friend of Israel (Joshua 2:1).  She hid the spies and made a deal with them that saved her entire household (Joshua 2:2-24).
 
            The new spies’ about face happened through a personal interaction about an awesome God.  Rahab believed and confessed, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you. … We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea. … and what you did to Sihon and Og, … whom you completely destroyed. … When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you.” (Joshua 2:9, 10, 11). 

            But the most awesome about face comes when God transforms people through His indwelling Spirit.  Proud and rude becomes a Christian who follows Jesus!    
    
Take Home Nugget

            Mosab Yousef was raised in Hamas.  He became a founding member of that terrorist group who claimed responsibilty for countless suicide bombings and deadly attacks in Israel.  Today, Mosab is a Christian living in USA. 

            After studying the Bible, Mosab did an about face.  He changed his faith, his values—and his entire life—becoming a spy for Israel. 

Holy Father, strengthen me to act on confessed faith, as Rahab and Mosab did. Amen.    
Adapted from “Complete Turnaround“ by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  www.HolyLandMoments.com.  June 16, 2017.
 J.D. Griffith


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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Trust and Be Protected

TRUST AND BE PROTECTED 
 
Fourth of six devotions in Proud Insolence series

Psalm 125:1:  “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”

            Thanks be to God, who is sovereign over all things and everyone!  The title of this series reminds me the state of my homeland, the United States of America.  Today is the 241st birthday of the USA.  During this anniversary celebrating our independence from Great Britain, I wonder how many are shaking their heads wondering how long we will endure as a free nation.

            Let us remember the saying, “Don’t tell God how big your storm is; tell your storm how big your God is!”

            Thank You, Holy Spirit, for reminding me of that truth!

            When we focus on the grace that surrounds us, God’s grace is all we’ll see and experience.  There will always be a choice between focusing on challenges that besiege us or praising God for His grace that wraps around, protecting us.  Clearly there is evil throughout the world.  Life can be very difficult.  Jesus advises in John 14:1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in Me.” 

            Jesus also warns and comforts us in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” 

            God is my refuge, an ever-present help, my haven, my womb.  Every person journeyed from the womb’s safe environment as a tiny fetus growing into a baby.  Extremely vulnerable, we stretched and swam into a new world.  Birth wasn’t our idea.  We’ve been floundering ever since.

            We can still live in the shelter of our loving God by choosing faith as our protection. 

            Everything else suddenly becomes irrelevant.  God’s protection and love are available at all times.  Now that the world is global, I don’t revolve the world around my homeland.  Truth is, Israel is the apple of our heavenly Father’s eyes!  (Zechariah 2:8).
           
Take Home Nugget

            Israel is a tiny country.  The map shows her surrounded by hostile enemies—except the Mediterranean Sea that is her western boundary.  The Arab world is 800 X larger than Israel.  This is her frightening reality. 

            A different reality blossoms around Jerusalem, her capital.   This topical reality is softer, sweeter.  Jerusalem is enclosed by mountains.  Like petals of a rose, Jerusalem is walled with beauty, grace, and protection. 

            Psalm 125:2 defines Jerusalem as a spiritual reality: “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people both now and forevermore.”  Emphasis mine.  Just as the mountains construct a physical barrier between Jerusalem and invading forces, God Himself provides protection for those who trust Him.

Be my Iron Dome, Lord! Protect me from fiery darts as my shield now and forevermore!  Amen. 

Adapted from “Surrounded by Grace“ by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  www.HolyLandMoments.com.  June 25, 2017.
J.D. Griffith


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Friday, June 30, 2017

Hardball

HARDBALL

Third of six devotions in Proud Insolence series

Numbers 16:36-38:  “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to take the censers out of the smoldering remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy—the censors of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives.  Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before the LORD and have become holy.  Let them be a sign to the Israelites.’”

            In the 1980’s, the Morton Downey, Jr Show was a popular—yet controversial—talk show that encouraged heated debates among the show’s guests.  Guests were chosen and invited to appear on the show for their strange beliefs.  Arguments were bitter.  Guests were called names.  Threats hurled toward people cut like razors. 

            That’s hardball!

            Working with a broad range of people, we often picked on one or another for something like a favorite sports team.  I admit missing this “workplace banter”.  We meant no harm.  It was all in good fun.  Workplace banter adds spice to an otherwise uneventful eight-hour workday. 

            Surprisingly, by criticizing and questioning, we often uncovered truth.

            Fighting fair points out things what we don’t like without attacking the person.  People—regardless of our opinion of them—are still made in God’s image! Disagreements encourage constructive questions.  The goal is to uncover a truth that’s agreed on by all.

            Fighting unfairly is destructive.  Arguments put others down need to be avoided.  People can disagree without viciously attacking others personally.   

            Arguments that produce positive, productive end results are useful for growth.  The goal of arguing is not to find agreement, but to toss hardballs of criticism and questions that dislodge right from all wrong notions. 

            That’s what uncovering truth is all about!  
  
            When Korah and his followers attacked Moses and Aaron, they began an unfair fight.  Korah, nor any member of the council was descended from the priestly tribe of Aaron.  That dislodged truth caused people to burn and be buried alive.  See the lesson linked below for more unnecessary deaths.

            Numbers 16:39-40:  “So Eleazar the priest collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned up, and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar, as the LORD directed him through Moses.  This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before the LORD, or he would be like Korah and his followers.”

Take Home Nugget

            The next time you find yourself about to argue with another, ask yourself if the argument is for the right reason.

Heavenly Father, Never allow me to argue unfairly.  Always lead me through Your Spirit to uncover Your truth, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Adapted from “Arguments for Heaven’s Sake“ by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  www.HolyLandMoments.com.  June 21, 2017.
J.D. Griffith


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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

All, Then Nothing

ALL, THEN NOTHING!

Second of six devotions in Proud Insolence series

Numbers 16:22-35

Numbers 16:20 “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to his at once!’”
           
            Moses turned to the council and said in a loud voice, “Clear out—every one of you!  Get away from Korah, Dathan, and Abiram!  Don’t take anything, but run away now!” 

            The men split from Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.  Most ran away in the opposite direction.  Dathan and Abiram fetched their wives and children and stood together in the front of their tents. 

            Moses warned, “This isn’t my idea.  Hey, if these guys die a natural death, then I misunderstood the LORD.  But…if something new happens to them, then the LORD DID send me!  What if the earth opens its mouth and swallows them whole?  Buried while still alive!  That is proof that they disrespected the Almighty.”

            That’s exactly what happened. 

            They were immediately flushed alive into the grave along with everything they owned!  The rest of the council fled hearing cries rising up from under the earth.  “The earth is going to swallow us too!” the terrified men expected. 

            Then fire erupted from the LORD.  Every man of the 250 who offered incense succumbed in the raging fire.  
                                                       
            Legend has it that Korah’s sons originally stood by dad’s side.  Psalm 49 is supposed to be Korah’s sons repenting from deep within the earth.  They evidently learned truth in their in-between worlds.  Wealth is a false sense of security, it cannot buy one moment of life.  One second Korah’s sons had it all, then abruptly, they had nothing!  See the lesson linked below for a powerful, better ending to this devotion.   We still learn from Psalm 49 today.

Take Home Nugget

            Korah was extremely wealthy.  The legend tells that hundreds of mules lugged the keys to Korah’s treasure houses.  We think that Solomon was the richest man that ever lived.  Korah must have rivaled Solomon. 

            Yet Solomon would have advised Korah from Ecclesiastes 5:13-14: “I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, or wealth lost to some misfortune, so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him.”

            The famous Rothschild family was envied by many for their wealth.  “Exactly how much do you have?” someone asked the patriarch. 

            “Come with me,” he enticed the curious bystander.  He opened a room whose walls were decorated with documents.  “These,” said the patriarch, “are my only true possessions.  Only the money I gave away will accompany me to the grave.”

Holy Father, all my possessions are meaningless.  Only the good I do will survive forever.  Help me do good, Lord Jesus!  Amen.

Adapted from “The Only True Possessions“ by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  www.HolyLandMoments.com.  June 20, 2017.
J.D. Griffith


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Friday, June 23, 2017

Korah

KORAH
First of six devotions in Proud Insolence series

Numbers 16:1-18:32

Numbers 16:1-3: “Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent and rose up against Moses.  With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council.

“They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, ‘You have gone too far!  The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them.  Why do you set yourselves above the LORD’S assembly?’”

            One can only guess how God must REALLY hate proud insolence [IN-sol-ens].  Insolence describes someone who is disrespectful, rude, sassy, or bold.  From the opening Scripture, we figure that it won’t be long before Korah gets it! 

            We step into history to overhear a jealous Korah roar to the council: “We’re as good as Moses and Aaron!”  Korah spat on the dirt and ground his heel over the wet spot.  “Why did God accept their offering?  What’s wrong with us and our offerings to the LORD?”

            Immediately, the earth split open.  Korah and his fellow councilmen disappeared into the bowels of the earth.  “Oh wow, the earth swallowed them whole!” bystanders said to one another as they stared into the crater God made.  One said, “I guess Korah’s jealousy got him killed!” 

            The lesson linked below shows why God didn’t accept the council’s offering and what ultimately led to the men’s death.  If you think that God doesn’t hear people’s prayers, the lesson may change your mind. 

            Korah always wanted recognition.  Above all, he longed to be a celebrity.  He finally got the recognition he always wanted.  Korah’s story is published forever in the world’s bestseller—the Bible.

            While some people have heard about Korah, he is best known for his faults.  Once a well-respected leader in Israel, he isn’t remembered as a great leader.  Instead, Korah is known as an example of how not to be!

Take Home Nugget

            College hopes to inspire students to make good life choices, rather than just having a good time.  One enthusiastic leader began, “I don’t want you to remember me.  Remember the message I am giving you.”  He instantly became unforgettable.

            This devotion points out who is better-known.  Moses was a humble guy.  Numbers 12:3 says that Moses “was more humble than anyone.”  Korah is exactly opposite from the person Moses wanted to be.  Moses’ mild, humble, unassuming posture throughout life shines as righteousness to us all for eternity! 

Holy Father, I don’t want fame.  Please empower me to be someone who is remembered for being good instead of looking good!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

  Adapted from “Unforgettable“ by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  www.HolyLandMoments.com. June 19, 2017.
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