Tag Archive | Bible

City of Refuge- Numbers 35

There is nothing I love more in my study time than that moment when God shows up and jumps off the page of His Word…rich, deep and four dimensional. I love walking around it and viewing it from all sides as God rotates and turns that picture…I love reaching out and touching those moments.

I have been in a rut lately. I have been rushed to get the kids out of the house in the morning and have been making time with God in my prayer journal and maybe a small devotional written by someone else. Long, deep walks in the Word have not happened a month. It’s been a rough, sick, cold season. I am ready for the revival and awakening of life that comes with Spring!

This morning, a bloom sprung forth. My heart is racing.

I have said it before…I am a Old Testament girl. Some would say that’s crazy because Jesus doesn’t show up until the New Testament. But, I beg to differ. He is written on each page and in every historical account all throughout the Bible. For me, when the Holy Spirit shows up during study time- it is like “Where’s Waldo”. Instead of having to hunt and search…He reveals Himself in living color. Vibrant and alive. I LOVE mornings like this.

This morning, I picked up where I left off in the book of Numbers. Numbers 35 to be exact. The Israelites are camped on the east side of the Jordan and God is talking with Moses…leading him to prepare them for what’s ahead. They are learning how the land will be divided, who will divide it and where they will each settle. God just said that a portion of the land from each tribe would be given to the Levites: 48 cities in all. Of those cities, six would be “Cities of Refuge”. Three would be on the east of the Jordan and three on the west. If a person kills another person, the offending party could run to a City of Refuge until the trial. It is here, that they would be kept safe from retaliation until the trial was complete and judgment was handed down. In Numbers 35, the definition of murder was also spelled out. Intent was the determining factor. Accidents happen but, hatred and malice would not be tolerated.

I am going to challenge you to read this for yourself, therefore, I am not going to copy the whole text into this blog. Please open your Bible to Numbers 35 and read through the whole thing. Don’t miss a word- you’ll not regret it.

Let’s skip forward to the consequences:

If a person is found guilty of murder, that person is put to death. There is no other consequence. And it is spelled specifically that NO RANSOM can be paid to avoid death. Period.

If a person is found innocent, then they cannot go home. They must stay in the City of Refuge until the High Priest dies. Then they may go home. No ransom can be paid for them to go home early. The ONLY RANSOM for this person is the death of the High Priest.

Do you see it?? Do you see HIM!!!?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

I am still swooning.

The only ransom for someone found innocent by the High Priest is the priest himself. Jesus. His blood, death, resurrection…He is my ransom. He is my City of Refuge. The only way I can go to my Heavenly home is through Jesus. Believing on and placing my full faith in Jesus as my redeemer. Because of Jesus, I will be found not guilty. Praise the Lord.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. ” John 6:44

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6

 

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…just hang there for a moment.

Oh, mercy! A treasure hiding in plain sight.

Thank you LORD for such a rich morning with You. Too much to keep to myself. I pray that you will help me plant seeds in others that you may water and grow as I am learning to bloom where I am planted.

 

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The Tree

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:8-9

A few weeks ago, a friend drew my attention to this verse. It’s one that I think many of us overlook simply because there is usually one particular tree that gets all of the attention when we speak of Genesis.

“In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

“And”…yes, two trees.

The one we always hear about is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is the tree that Satan subtly slithered into and enticed Eve to focus on.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.

Genesis 3: 1-6

“Any tree”…there were many. The Lord created an abundance in that garden and Adam and Eve lived in the midst of that abundance. Yet, with a flick of his tongue Satan drew Eve to the tree of knowledge and convinced her that wisdom existed there. Wisdom vs. knowledge…if she had only known that there is a difference. All of the other trees in that garden faded into the background that day; including the other tree that grew in the middle of that same garden.

The TREE OF LIFE: the other tree placed in the center of the garden in the beginning of time. I wonder how close they were to each other? If only she had chosen to focus on that tree. Genesis 3:22 tells us that eating from this tree would result in eternal life. While Eve was faced with that choice so many years ago,we are still faced with that same choice every day.

Since the beginning of time Satan has been running this same play…distract and destroy.  Satan wants us to look at the one thing we don’t have. He does not want us to see and recognize the many ways that God provides for us. Certainly the LAST place he wants our gaze to fall is on that other tree in the center of the garden. Will I focus on the tight budget? Or the way that God provides enough to meet our needs? Will I focus on the turmoil and challenges in planning an event that will bring glory to God? Or will I focus on the potential that just ONE person will hear from God and be forever changed? Will we choose Christ? Or chase the knowledge of other things that are offered as counterfeit wisdom?

Jesus hung on a tree, nailed to a cross. But, he didn’t stay there. Conquering sin and death he is risen indeed- waiting for each of us to choose him. Choose the Way, the Truth and the Life or sin and death?

That tree of life -seen in the very beginning- is also seen in the end.

7Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:7

1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:1-2

While Eve didn’t choose that tree- the tree of life- you can still choose. This tree of life…at the beginning, on the cross, and in the end…is still available and ripe for the picking.

Lord, thank you for the abundance you provide in my daily life. Help me to never look beyond the intricate ways you show Your presence. Thank you for bringing my gaze to the tree of life…who was, and is, and is to come. I pray that you will not allow me to become distracted by other things. Fix my gaze on YOU, Lord. wpid-20150328_184043.jpg

What would I really give up?

This morning, I was deep in study when something struck me…to my core.

What would I give up for Jesus?

No, not like a Lent thing…meat, chocolate, coffee, Facebook. What would I SACRIFICE?

I was reading the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19.

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

This has been coming up a lot lately in my study. Sacrifice. We see it all throughout the Bible, from Old to New Testament…we see people leaving their homes, families, and walking away from life as they knew it. Moses gave up Egypt and the life of wealth and privilege. The disciples left their jobs and families to follow Christ. Eventually, that cost them their lives. Yet, this rich guy couldn’t walk away from his wealth.

It’s really easy…sitting in the comfort of my kitchen, sipping my coffee, reading a Bible without fear of being seen…to say that I’d die for Christ if and when I were confronted with the choice. But, would I? For real?

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Romans 8:32

God didn’t spare his Son and nothing is off-limits to us. He gave ALL.

wpid-20150811_083204.jpgI was reading the story of Danjuma Shakau in the magazine called The Voice of the Martyrs. (Aug 2015 publication)  At age 13, he knows true sacrifice better than I could even imagine. Boko Haram entered his Christian village in Nigeria (just a skip across the ocean, folks!) and began to attack without question. They cut out his eye, hacked his arm, and removed his genitals. AND HE LIVED. Do you see that smile? He is quoted as saying, “I forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing. If they had love, they wouldn’t behave that way.”

There was also the story of Solomon Samaila- also in Nigeria- who was told, “This is the end of the road. You have only one choice left: Follow Islam”. When he refused to deny Christ, they doused him with gasoline, ran him over with a dirt bike -which ignited the fuel- and left the bike on top of him as he burned. AND HE LIVED. He said, “Christ, Himself , suffered. The salvation I have in Christ was not free, but paid with a price to save me. So I equally feel I am prepared to suffer in persecution for the salvation I have in Christ, I won’t turn back.”

When asked the question, “Would you die for Christ?” the verbal answer is always “Yes!”…when frankly, here in this country that is such an abstract idea. True sacrifice isn’t a week without internet or cancelling a cable subscription. Persecution for us in this country is losing your job for your beliefs or being shunned by family, friends and neighbors. While things here are just now starting to “heat up”; for these people, true sacrifice is very real. And today, in my study, sacrifice was something that I really started to ponder. What if it wasn’t a quick death I was agreeing to…what if it was loosing an eye with the tip of a knife, having members of my body removed and enduring flames…and living through the pain? Torture. Or watching my children tortured or murdered? Would I agree to that? My answer has to be “yes”. Christ’s answer was “yes”.

God didn’t withhold the life of His Son, Jesus, from me. Is there anything in my life I would withhold from Him? Suddenly, leaving home and family and all my stuff to follow Him doesn’t look like such a big sacrifice.

Lord, help me to truly understand the sacrifice that was made for me. Give me strength to make true sacrifices for You.

Perspectives

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Isaiah 40:12

There are certain times and places when I become very aware of how small I am. I know that I have mentioned it before….standing on the deck of a cruise ship and trying to imagine the depth below me. I am trying to be more intentional these days about sharing my thoughts outwardly with my kids and had a chance recently while on vacation.

wpid-20150730_121144-1.jpgWe were in the mountains. As we were kayaking across the lake, I was looking up at the mountains when that moment struck me. God scooped and measured the waters in the palm of his hand. When I think of the BIG oceans that is just staggering, but sitting there in that little boat on that small-ish lake I was just in awe. He weighed the mountains in scales! Pondering that, I looked at my hand…imagining that He scooped up the dust, dirt and rock and then poured it onto the scale. When I flipped my hand over, it looked like the peak of the mountain in front of me- with ridges, sharp peaks and gentle slopes. The elevation of these North Carolina mountains pales in comparison to others in this world.  Just how big are God’s hands?! Now, I really can’t imagine.

I love sharing these moments with our kids and I love the insight found in His creation.

Outgrowing small pots


My husband has found a new hobby! He has decided to try his hand at woodworking and building things. Don’t get me wrong…he’s a super handy guy and always has been and I have been blessed over the years by his knowledge, skills and talents. He has some training and familiarity in electrical work, he has flexed his muscle in remodeling and even built the deck on the back of our home. He maintains, sharpens the blades and changes the belts on our fleet of lawn equipment and he is an awesome chef in the kitchen, too! Yes, I married a multi-talented man. AMEN! Frankly, when I look around our home and see the extent of his work- there is little he can’t do! (And if you were to say that…”You can’t”…to him- he’d figure out how to do it just because HE CAN. ha ha)wpid-20150418_171353.jpg

Hubby’s latest conquest was a gift for me- this potting bench. Built out of scraps and pallet wood, he custom-built this piece so it would fit perfectly in it’s intended space in the shed. The addition of my daughter’s hand-painted terracotta pots were just what my potting bench needed. Perfection!

I love it.

I LOVE HIM!

I had mentioned in prior posts that we were preparing our garden for the season…and we have. The kids helped by placing seeds in the fiber pots…we added rich soil…and have kept them watered.

For a few weeks they occupied wpid-20150501_151654.jpgspace on our clothes dryer where they could soak in the afternoon sun, but remain safe from the cool nights and the warm days. When the risk of frost passed and their roots had developed, I placed them outside on the patio table so they could acclimate to the great outdoors. But, something happened….they wilted. After the second day, they looked positively peaked. Ailing. SICK!

Oh no! Did I put them out too soon? The mercury rose quickly and it seems like Spring gave way to Summer in only a matter of days. Maybe their roots weren’t strong enough. Should I bring them in?

No. I continued to water them. Moved them to the shade outside occasionally. And let them continue to grow in -what would soon be- their natural environment. Their intended place. They started to thrive and in a short while those plants began to outgrow their little pots. They were ready for more.

I find it awe-inspiring when God places simple examples like this in everyday life.

In Priscilla Shirer’s study, One in a Million,  I am learning about wilderness experiences in life and how God uses them for our good…to draw us closer…to grow us and push us to realize and truly experience God- and the potential God placed within us. It is true that the times of greatest adversity are the very times that strengthen our roots and draw us closer to the Lord. Reaching for the SON.

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

Exodus 13:17-18

Do you see that? God did NOT lead them on the easy, shorter road. HE CHOSE to lead them through the desert…and they left prepared and ready for battle.

Yes, just like my plants they were thrust into the wilderness. They walked out of Egypt ready to battle in the flesh. Yet, God chose to lead them on a wilderness path that would force them to rely on Him and not themselves. He used this experience to change bad habits, remove idols, cast off fear and doubt and establish true faith and trust. There is so much we can learn about our trials in life and God purpose for us in them by reading God’s Word. But, we see examples also in nature.

Back to my poor wilting plants. I was tempted to bring these plants back in to the easy, climate controlled environment they were accustomed to. But, what would that have accomplished? Those little plants would eventually outgrow their small pots and would never bear the fruit (or veggies) they were created to bear.

Maybe your current “wilderness” is a health trial, marital struggle or long period of unemployment. Hang in there and have faith. No, it’s not an easy journey as you follow the Lord through this struggle. You may wilt. But, He will bring the rain. Don’t turn back.

For others, I think many of us get comfortable in our little pots. That pot may be the comfort of your church…doing what church folk do…and maybe ignoring God’s voice as he calls you into unfamiliar territory. Maybe you’re a habitual Bible Study attendee, but ignore the call to lead a study with some new folks who are on the fringe. What if, in addition to teaching the kids class on Sunday morning, God asked you to use the same material to lead a backyard Bible club with the kids in your neighborhood this summer? Or what if He was leading you to start a ladies study in your own neighborhood? Would you be willing to leave the comfort of that little pot?

It’s time to get out of that small pot. Endure some heat and ask God to keep the water flowing as He leads. God used the Israelites’ experience in Egypt to keep them in a time of famine. He never intended for them to stay in that small pot. He had a much bigger purpose for them and He has a much bigger purpose for each of us, too. The plant’s roots can only grow as big as the pot. There is a choice to be made. Camp at the edge of the wilderness = stay in the small pot. Or follow the pillar = rely on the Lord for provision, have faith and be planted…and BLOOM, thrive, and bear fruit.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8

I feel a stirring.

I don’t know where or what just yet.

I have two little seedlings here in my home- a son and a daughter- who need nurturing and rich soil. I know that we must continue to water them in the Word while their roots develop.

But, for me personally-I am praying for a bigger pot today…or no pot at all.

Lord, lead me.