“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Jan 27, 2023 – Numbers 035

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Numbers+035

 

 

Numbers Chapter 35   (ESV)

9 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11 then you shall select cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person without intent may flee there. 12 The cities shall be for you a refuge from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation for judgment. 13 And the cities that you give shall be your six cities of refuge. 14 You shall give three cities beyond the Jordan, and three cities in the land of Canaan, to be cities of refuge. 15 These six cities shall be for refuge for the people of Israel, and for the stranger and for the sojourner among them, that anyone who kills any person without intent may flee there.

 

REFLECTION:

  • Read the passage without worrying about specifics; just try to understand its overall idea.
  • Moses was told to designate six cities as “cities of refuge” to represent God’s grace to sinners, these were where God dwelt among the outcast. God knows our limitations and weaknesses, and he prepares a “refuge”, or safe place, for us.  Jesus Christ is a city of refuge for sinners like us – for we all fall short of God’s holiness.  Jesus protects us, and we take rest in Him.  Jesus brings God’s grace to us as we pursue the spiritual life.  We flourish in the light of God’s grace.
  • Think about what it’s been like to be with the God who is both a God of justice and a God of refuge. Has it left me with questions or with new thoughts on how I want to deal with my sin in the future?  Make note of anything that seems significant.

 

PRAYER:

  • Explore recent thoughts, feelings, and events in my life and how I’ve responded to them. What’s primarily on my heart today?  Is anything troubling me?
  • Bring these thoughts to the God who created “cities of refuge”. Read the verses again.  As I do, picture God entering the room.  How do I relate to his presence?  Share with him what I’ve been thinking.  Does doing so make me uncomfortable?  Why or why not?

 

HYMN:

You are My Hiding Place – youtu.be/69gATP6Mc3A

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Jan 26, 2023 – Numbers 034

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Numbers+034

 

 

Numbers Chapter 34   (ESV)

1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Command the people of Israel, and say to them, When you enter the land of Canaan (this is the land that shall fall to you for an inheritance, the land of Canaan as defined by its borders), 3 your south side shall be from the wilderness of Zin alongside Edom, and your southern border shall run from the end of the Salt Sea on the east. 4 And your border shall turn south of the ascent of Akrabbim, and cross to Zin, and its limit shall be south of Kadesh-barnea. Then it shall go on to Hazar-addar, and pass along to Azmon. 5 And the border shall turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, and its limit shall be at the sea.

6 “For the western border, you shall have the Great Sea and its coast. This shall be your western border.

7 “This shall be your northern border: from the Great Sea you shall draw a line to Mount Hor. 8 From Mount Hor you shall draw a line to Lebo-hamath, and the limit of the border shall be at Zedad. 9 Then the border shall extend to Ziphron, and its limit shall be at Hazar-enan. This shall be your northern border.

10 “You shall draw a line for your eastern border from Hazar-enan to Shepham. 11 And the border shall go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain. And the border shall go down and reach to the shoulder of the Sea of Chinnereth on the east. 12 And the border shall go down to the Jordan, and its limit shall be at the Salt Sea. This shall be your land as defined by its borders all around.”

 

REFLECTION:

  • When God brought Israel out of Egypt he promised his people a land “that flows milk and honey”. He commanded the twelve spies to investigate the land promised to them.  But ten of the men doubted God.  Only Joshua and Caleb believed God’s word and courageously embraced His promise.
  • Because of their open minds and hearts to see what God wanted them to see, both men interpreted their experiences of the punishing journey in the wilderness in the light of that vision. Their time in the wilderness, which they could have seen as a curse, became a blessing to them.  The wilderness became their training ground for future challenges and the place where they experienced God’s presence in a deeper way.

 

PRAYER:

  • Am I just like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness? With little enthusiasm, and full of despair even though there is wonderful promise of God ahead?
  • Do I doubt God just like the ten spies, full of complaint and bitterness?
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to show my heart, tell God about it and ask for forgiveness. Pray for the perspective of Joshua and Caleb to see blessing in the midst of hardship and to experience God more deeply.

 

HYMN:

Blessings – youtu.be/ICnct8THNag

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Jan 25, 2023 – Numbers 033

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Numbers+033

 

 

Numbers Chapter 33   (ESV)

50 And the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, 51 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you and destroy all their figured stones and destroy all their metal images and demolish all their high places. 53 And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. 54 You shall inherit the land by lot according to your clans. To a large tribe you shall give a large inheritance, and to a small tribe you shall give a small inheritance. Wherever the lot falls for anyone, that shall be his. According to the tribes of your fathers you shall inherit. 55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. 56 And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.”

 

REFLECTION: 

  • Read this passage, preferably the whole chapter.
  • After 40 years, God has finally brought His people to the very border of Canaan. Despite desolate and waterless wastes, despite enemy armies, God has been faithful.  Looking back at each stage of the journey, Israel could see a preview of the future.  The God who had kept them safe would surely fight for them when they at last invaded the Promised Land.
  • Once again, recall my “Life’s journey map”. Go through the path of my life again.

 

HYMN:

Lord You are Always Here with Me – youtu.be/5H6ZTYv4Lss

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Jan 24, 2023 – Numbers 032

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Numbers+032

 

 

Numbers Chapter 32   (ESV)

6 But Moses said to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? 7 Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the Lord has given them? 8 Your fathers did this, when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. 9 For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the people of Israel from going into the land that the Lord had given them. 10 And the Lord’s anger was kindled on that day, and he swore, saying, 11 ‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me, 12 none except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the Lord.’ 13 And the Lord’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was gone. 14 And behold, you have risen in your fathers’ place, a brood of sinful men, to increase still more the fierce anger of the Lord against Israel! 15 For if you turn away from following him, he will again abandon them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all this people.”

16 Then they came near to him and said, “We will build sheepfolds here for our livestock, and cities for our little ones, 17 but we will take up arms, ready to go before the people of Israel, until we have brought them to their place. And our little ones shall live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. 18 We will not return to our homes until each of the people of Israel has gained his inheritance. 19 For we will not inherit with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance has come to us on this side of the Jordan to the east.”

 

REFLECTION: 

  • Read the passage slowly. If time permits, read through the chapter for a better understanding of the conflict presented here.
  • Moses was upset at the tribes of Reuben and Gad. However, the leaders demonstrated their commitment by leading Israel into battle and bearing the brunt of the attack.  They also showed their trust in God by being ready to leave their families and herds unprotected while fighting the war.  Moses granted their request.
  • We can’t really say what God’s best for another person is. And our view isn’t really important.  What counts is still his/her commitment to, and active trust in, God.  Each person must have the freedom to follow where God leads.

 

PRAYER: 

  • Have I ever made sincere advice to someone? Did he follow the advice?  If his response were contrary to my advice, what would I react?  Why?
  • Do I value his following my opinion? Or his own commitment and trust in God?
  • Pray that I would focus on the trust in and commitment to God of myself and others rather than whether my opinion is accepted by others. Help me see that God is the one for us to follow.
  • Pray for true commitment and trust in God to work things out God’s Way.

 

HYMN:

I Will Follow – youtu.be/mFna4pEF7M8

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Jan 23, 2023 – Numbers 031

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Numbers+031

 

 

Numbers Chapter 31   (ESV)

1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.” 3 So Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the Lord’s vengeance on Midian. 4 You shall send a thousand from each of the tribes of Israel to the war.” 5 So there were provided, out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. 6 And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand from each tribe, together with Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, with the vessels of the sanctuary and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand. 7 They warred against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses, and killed every male. 8 They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. And they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword. 9 And the people of Israel took captive the women of Midian and their little ones, and they took as plunder all their cattle, their flocks, and all their goods. 10 All their cities in the places where they lived, and all their encampments, they burned with fire, 11 and took all the spoil and all the plunder, both of man and of beast. 12 Then they brought the captives and the plunder and the spoil to Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and to the congregation of the people of Israel, at the camp on the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.

 

REFLECTION:

  • Read this passage slowly to appreciate the situation.
  • God commanded Moses to arm the men for war before sending them off to battle. The spiritual journey is not an easy path.  It is an endless series of spiritual battles.  The battles are often invisible and yet crucial.   Good preparation is necessary to ensure victory.
  • We have to be properly armed in order to endure rigorous training and difficulties and become strong spiritually. The Spiritual Disciplines help equip us for spiritual warfare.  The undisciplined warrior is ineffective and weak.  We must embrace the Spiritual Disciplines daily to become strong spiritual warriors.

 

PRAYER:

  • What are the spiritual battles I am facing (and fighting) right now? How am I doing?  How do I equip myself for the spiritual warfare?
  • Pray for discernment and preparedness for the spiritual warfare around me.

 

HYMN:

Battle Belongs – youtu.be/johgSkNj3-A

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Jan 20, 2023 – Numbers 030

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Numbers+030

 

 

Numbers Chapter 30   (ESV)

1 Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, saying, “This is what the Lord has commanded. 2 If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.

3 “If a woman vows a vow to the Lord and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house in her youth, 4 and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. 5 But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the Lord will forgive her, because her father opposed her.

6 “If she marries a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, 7 and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. 8 But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he opposes her, then he makes void her vow that was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she bound herself. And the Lord will forgive her.

 

REFLECTION:

  • Read aloud this passage.
  • God values the family. He taught the Israelites to value their family promises.  Spiritually mature persons fulfill the promises they make to God concerning the family and do not enter such promises rashly.
  • The degree of agreement between our words and our behavior creates or destroys our integrity. We are responsible for the words we say, and we should keep our promises even when doing so proves personally disadvantageous.  We must not break our promises.

 

PRAYER

  • What is the rashest promise I can recall making? What promise have I made lately “with my fingers crossed”?  Was I able to keep either one?
  • Under what, if any, circumstances would I see myself exempt from a marriage vow, promissory note, or donation pledge? How can this chapter help me overcome such “excuses”?
  • Ask God to help me to be faithful and not break my promises, learn to respect others and in turn, respect myself.

 

HYMN:

Deeper in Love – youtu.be/O9Hoij2kXrU

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Jan 19, 2023 – Numbers 029

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Numbers+029

 

 

Numbers Chapter 29   (ESV)

1 “On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets, 2 and you shall offer a burnt offering, for a pleasing aroma to the Lord: one bull from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish; 3 also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the ram, 4 and one tenth for each of the seven lambs; 5 with one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you; 6 besides the burnt offering of the new moon, and its grain offering, and the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offering, according to the rule for them, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord.

7 “On the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation and afflict yourselves. You shall do no work, 8 but you shall offer a burnt offering to the Lord, a pleasing aroma: one bull from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old: see that they are without blemish. 9 And their grain offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the one ram, 10 a tenth for each of the seven lambs: 11 also one male goat for a sin offering, besides the sin offering of atonement, and the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offerings.

12 “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall keep a feast to the Lord seven days.

 

REFLECTION:

  • Read this passage quietly. It’s best to read the whole chapter to appreciate the atmosphere.
  • Taking time to rest is important in the spiritual life. Rest is not merely the state of doing no work.  Rest is a time for refreshment.  It may be a time to reflect on the past or plan for the future.  It is also a time for worshiping God.
  • The Sabbath is an intentional time set apart for worship. Our souls receive true peace and strength when we worship God.  Rest is a Spiritual Discipline that requires and also restores our trust in God.  Our trust grows as we see how God fulfills our needs even when we are working.  We realize we don’t need to earn God’s provision.  Rest helps us restore in the unconditional, unfailing, and forgiving love of God.

 

PRAYER:

How am I keeping the Sabbath?  Do I intentionally carve out time for Rest?  Am I living the love of God?  Lord, help me.

 

HYMN:

Be Still My Soul – youtu.be/mq59iE3MhXM

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Jan 18, 2023 – Numbers 028

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Numbers+028

 

 

Numbers Chapter 28   (ESV)

1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Command the people of Israel and say to them, ‘My offering, my food for my food offerings, my pleasing aroma, you shall be careful to offer to me at its appointed time.’ 3 And you shall say to them, This is the food offering that you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs a year old without blemish, day by day, as a regular offering. 4 The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; 5 also a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with a quarter of a hin of beaten oil. 6 It is a regular burnt offering, which was ordained at Mount Sinai for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord. 7 Its drink offering shall be a quarter of a hin for each lamb. In the Holy Place you shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to the Lord. 8 The other lamb you shall offer at twilight. Like the grain offering of the morning, and like its drink offering, you shall offer it as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

9 “On the Sabbath day, two male lambs a year old without blemish, and two tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, and its drink offering: 10 this is the burnt offering of every Sabbath, besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.

 

REFLECTION: 

  • Read this passage carefully as if I was to make the offering myself.
  • God commanded the people of Israel to provide daily burnt offerings. The people followed God’s specific instructions concerning every detail of preparing the offerings for God and conducting services of worship.
  • We must not be absent-minded or careless when we worship God, either in our preparations for or our manner of service. Nor should we worship only as we choose.  We must be prepared day or night to offer to worship according to God’s direction.  Constancy and repetition are keys to success in spiritual growth.

 

PRAYER:

  • What serves as a daily reminder of what God has done for me? Select a meaningful object or develop a regular habit as a reminder or symbol of God’s grace for me.
  • What kind of emotions do I bring to the Sunday worship service? What special things do I do on Sunday to remind me of what God has done for me?
  • How do these things help to strengthen my relationship with God?
  • Review the things God has done in my life. Choose one or two items to reflect.  Wait until my heart is filled with gratitude, then pray aloud to offer my thanksgiving to God.

 

HYMN:

The Heart of Worship – youtu.be/OD4tB1o6YLw

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Jan 17, 2023 – Numbers 027

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Numbers+027

 

 

Numbers Chapter 27   (ESV)

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Go up into this mountain of Abarim and see the land that I have given to the people of Israel. 13 When you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin when the congregation quarreled, failing to uphold me as holy at the waters before their eyes.” (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.) 15 Moses spoke to the Lord, saying, 16 “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation 17 who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” 18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him. 19 Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and all the congregation, and you shall commission him in their sight. 20 You shall invest him with some of your authority, that all the congregation of the people of Israel may obey. 21 And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the Lord. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he and all the people of Israel with him, the whole congregation.” 22 And Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and made him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole congregation, 23 and he laid his hands on him and commissioned him as the Lord directed through Moses.

 

REFLECTION:

  • This passage deals with another preparation for entering Canaan – appointing a new leader to take Moses’ Read it slowly.
  • A person’s spiritual leadership may be measured by how many leaders he/she has helped develop. Because he was looking ahead, Moses developed Joshua as a spiritual leader.  However, before Moses identified Joshua as the spiritual successor, he asked for God’s guidance (vv16-17).  God picked Joshua, explaining that he was “a man in whom is the spirit.”
  • God’s standards for the appointment of spiritual leaders are different from those of the world. God often chooses as leaders those who are especially sensitive and obedient to the voice of the Spirit.

 

PRAYER:

  • Who has been my “Moses” in the past? For whom am I a “Moses” or a “Joshua”?  How will I prepare for the inevitable transitioning?
  • Pray for the “Moses’s” of our church. Pray also for good “Joshua’s” to carry on the mission.

 

HYMN:

Seek Ye First – youtu.be/EsBpM9IcBts

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Jan 16, 2023 – Numbers 026

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Numbers+026

 

 

Numbers Chapter 26   (ESV)

51 This was the list of the people of Israel, 601,730.

52 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 53 “Among these the land shall be divided for inheritance according to the number of names. 54 To a large tribe you shall give a large inheritance, and to a small tribe you shall give a small inheritance; every tribe shall be given its inheritance in proportion to its list. 55 But the land shall be divided by lot. According to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit. 56 Their inheritance shall be divided according to lot between the larger and the smaller.”

57 This was the list of the Levites according to their clans: of Gershon, the clan of the Gershonites; of Kohath, the clan of the Kohathites; of Merari, the clan of the Merarites. 58 These are the clans of Levi: the clan of the Libnites, the clan of the Hebronites, the clan of the Mahlites, the clan of the Mushites, the clan of the Korahites. And Kohath was the father of Amram. 59 The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt. And she bore to Amram Aaron and Moses and Miriam their sister. 60 And to Aaron were born Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 61 But Nadab and Abihu died when they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord. 62 And those listed were 23,000, every male from a month old and upward. For they were not listed among the people of Israel, because there was no inheritance given to them among the people of Israel.

63 These were those listed by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who listed the people of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. 64 But among these there was not one of those listed by Moses and Aaron the priest, who had listed the people of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. 65 For the Lord had said of them, “They shall die in the wilderness.” Not one of them was left, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.

 

REFLECTION:

  • The second census was taken, only Joshua, Caleb and Moses were from the older generation. Flip through the whole chapter and then read the passage slowly.
  • A comparison of the censuses demonstrates that God could still fulfill His promises to the patriarchs even though the Israelites’ failures had postponed their fulfillment. This is one of the most important revelations of the Book of Numbers.

 

PRAYER: 

  • What does “inheritance” mean to me? What does my family have as an inheritance from my ancestors?  What do I want to inherit?  What have I already inherited?  What can I inherit from God? (See I Pet 1:4)
  • What has God been doing in my life so that parts of my past, positive or negative, have become good blessings? Or am I still struggling with my past and can’t see God’s faithfulness?
  • Thank God for my “inheritance” from my family. Pray for his faithfulness in making my past a more beautiful blessing and inheritance to be passed on to others.

 

HYMN:

Great is Thy Faithfulness – youtu.be/ErwiBz1QA4o