Boldness

Many of us are spiritual wimps; though we have the Spirit of Jesus within us we lack the boldness of Peter and John.

One Word –

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31

Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 25, 26, 27; Acts 3, 4

Big Idea –

Most of us are familiar with the healing of the lame man outside the Temple gate. Peter and John had no silver or gold to offer the man, but what they had they gave. What did they have? A confident hope that the resurrected Christ was with them to heal this man. At their word the man was immediately restored and jumped to his feet.

Needless to say people were astonished at what they had witnessed; a crowd gathered and Peter and John used this opportunity to share their hope in the resurrected Christ with them. When the religious leaders heard of it they had them arrested and held in prison overnight. The next morning they heard for themselves what had happened. They were upset that Peter and John were making them responsible for Jesus death and wanted them to be silenced. Nevertheless there was no denying the miracle of a lame man now waking after over forty years of living as a cripple.

The disciples were further threatened by the religious leaders not to preach or teach in the name of Jesus. Yet they rejoiced that they were counted worthy of suffering for Christ. Upon returning to the other disciples, they gathered together and prayed that the LORD would continue to give them boldness to proclaim the name of Jesus, and that as they did God would confirm the message with signs and wonders. After they had prayed Luke tells us “the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”

Rather than give into the pressure and threats made against them, they prayed and God answered them with boldness. Over the last several weeks I have been preaching on hope – specifically the harvest of hope. This week I shared about how hope makes us bold – boldness comes as a result of our hope in Christ.

And so I’m reminded today to examine the condition of my ‘tree of hope’ – that is my life? Am I grounded firmly in Christ? Is Jesus my absolute hope? If so then I don’t need to work up fruitfulness; the harvest comes naturally from the life within the tree. LORD we need the same boldness of Peter and John, to believe you for the impossible.

Exemplify –

I must ask the LORD to help strengthen my hope with absolute confidence that He will give me the boldness I need to make Him known.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, thank You for Your Holy Spirit that leads me in truth. Help me to look to you with a confident hope and respond to the leading of the Spirit with boldness, to proclaim the hope I have so others might be healed and come to know You as their Savior and LORD.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

Selective Hearing

I thought my daughter mumbled, but when I got hearing aids I realized the problem was with my ears and not her voice. Sometimes I don’t hear the LORD clearly either.

One Word –

And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.” So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. Numbers 22:20-21

Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 22, 23, 24; Acts 1, 2

Big Idea –

Some of us don’t like taking “No” for an answer. Balak didn’t. He sent his princes a second time to Balaam asking him to come and curse Israel. Balaam didn’t like God’s “No” either. He went a second time to inquire of the LORD if he could go with Balak’s princes. Did he really think he could change God’s mind?

A casual reading of the story might cause us to think God changed his mind. Although sending an angel to kill Balaam hardly seems like the LORD changed His mind. Fortunately Balaam had a donkey that saw the danger sparing Balaam’s life with only a strong warning to say only what the LORD commanded him.

Look again at what God said when Balaam inquired the second time; “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.” I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but commentaries confirm that the translators are playing with the English translation. The NIV actually says, “Since these men have come to summon you,” as thought Balak’s princes had twisted God’s arm into letting Balaam go with them. These translations hardly make sense when you consider how Balaam’s donkey ‘stubbornly’ avoids the angel of the LORD sent to kill his master.

A better translation would simply be “If these men come again to call you, rise, go with them.” Balaam heard what he wanted getting up and going with Balak’s messengers. But the LORD told  him to wait and see if they came again to inquire. I can’t help but wonder if Balak’s emissaries might have become like the two squadrons of soldiers sent to arrest Elijah, dead men walking consumed by fire from heaven. But Balaam did not wait to see if the messengers would ask him again to go with them to Balak; he chose to hear what he wanted and rose early in the morning and went with them anyway.

How often do we do the very same thing? We too sometimes only hear what we want ignoring the LORD’S clear instructions. To Balaam’s credit when he stood the four times looking over Israel, he spoke only the words given to him by the LORD, words of blessing and not the cursing  Balak desired.

Exemplify –

Sometimes the LORD may speak in a still small voice, but often He speaks to me through His word. I need to listen and obey all the LORD says and not just hear what I want to hear.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, thank You for making Your word know to me and having ears to hear and recognize Your voice. Forgive me when like Balaam I have selective hearing or ignore all that You have said. Holy Spirit empower me to obey all that You have spoken through the scriptures and will speak as only You can to my heart.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

Following the Leader

Following the leader is easy until we think someone else doesn’t have to do the hard things and gets a bigger prize.

One Word –

Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” John 21:22

Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 19, 20, 21; John 20, 21

Big Idea –

We’ve read the story of Jesus restoration of Peter and most of us know it by heart. Three times Peter had denied knowing Jesus, so three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Each time Peter affirmed his love for Jesus, and each time the resurrected LORD told Peter to feed His sheep. Jesus then told Peter how one day he stretch out his hands being led to a place he didn’t want to go; this was a foretelling of how Peter would one day be put to death.

This is when Peter asked about John, the beloved disciple. Jesus’ answer is straight to the point. We could paraphrase it this way, “Peter, that’s none of your business; you just need to follow me.”

I must confess that I’m a lot like Peter. I look at others and wonder why they seem to have everything going their way. Like John, they are the beloved with none of the struggles or problems I’m facing. It doesn’t seem fair. We’re both trying to follow the Leader, but it seems they get a free pass on all the hard steps.  (I think if the truth be told, some of them might look enviously at me with the same feelings.)

It’s easy for us to compare ourselves with others, and often feel jealous that we aren’t enjoying the success we think they have. I think Jesus would tell us it’s time to mind our own P’s and Q’s; it’s time for us to simply follow Jesus.

Exemplify –

I need to let go of my self-comparisons with others and daily renew my commitment to walk in obedience to what Jesus calls me to do.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, forgive me for my lack of contentment, of those times when I feel like I’ve been cheated or am just as good as others who I think have it better than me. Holy Spirit, help me remain attentive to Your voice; may I not hear and forget, but empower me to hear and follow. Like Peter, You have restored me time and again; help me follow his example to follow in Your steps.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

Forgetfulness

How quickly we forget lessons learned to fall and make the same mistakes again.

One Word –

But on the next day all the congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the LORD.” Numbers 16:41

Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 16, 17, 18; Luke 24

Big Idea –

The people are accusing Moses of murder; that he is responsible for the death of Korah and those who rebelled with him. Less than twenty-four hours have passed since Moses said, If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the LORD.” (vv. 29-30).

This is a pretty bold statement for Moses to make, but what happened next showed these were not merely the words of a man. No sooner had Moses finished speaking, the ground opened under Korah and all those standing with him; they all went into the grave alive. Moses did not speak his own mind; he spoke the word of the LORD.

But rebellion against the LORD is contagious. Korah’s criticism was not just spoken against Moses; his death showed that he “despised the LORD.” The infection of Korah’s words remained within the hearts of many in the camp. As the sun rose people again began to complaining against Moses and Aaron. Even though they had witnessed God’s judgment against Korah and his rebellious friends as well as the LORD’S affirmation of Moses, they took up Korah’s complaint.

The previous day these people had fled in fear that the earth would swallow them up as well. But on this day they had forgotten the lessons taught the day before. Even as they could look and see the place where the earth had opened its mouth to take Korah to the grave, these stiff-necked people stood yet again in opposition against Moses, which was actually again unknowingly against God. We should not be surprised that the LORD’S judgment was equal to that of Korah’s. A plague took the lives of 14,700 people that day, and more would have died had it not been for the intercession of Moses and Aaron.

Paul told us that “these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction,” (1 Cor. 10:11). Do we really think we are that different from those the LORD had delivered by His outstretched arm from their bondage in Egypt. They witnessed God’s power to save; we have only heard what God has done for us. If we live according to the flesh rather than the Spirit, the infection of criticism and rebellion is still just as infectious and deadly. Let’s be careful that we don’t unwittingly take a stand against the LORD by the words we speak.

Exemplify –

I must discern with the help of the Holy Spirit if my criticism of others would be words spoken like Moses’ intercession or like Korah’s rebellion against the LORD.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, I thank You that Your Holy Spirit lives within us; empower me to live according to the Spirit and not the flesh. How quickly I can forget the lessons You have taught and give place to having a critical spirit of judgment rather than a heart of intercession. Help me to guard my words so I might only speak the truth with love.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

Complaint Department

Have you ever wondered why companies don’t have a “Gratitude Department?” Tells us a lot about ourselves doesn’t it!

One Word –

And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah,a]”>[burning] because the fire of the LORD burned among them. Numbers 11:1-3

Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 11, 12, 13; Matthew 28

Big Idea –

Let’s begin with a reminder, and something I hope we can agree on.

First, the book of Numbers tells the story of Israel’s journey though the wilderness (Jewish scriptures call the book of Numbers Bamidbar “In the wilderness…”). They are not in the wilderness by chance; they are in the wilderness [1] because God led them there, and [2] they remained in the wilderness because of their disobedience.

Next, I hope we can agree that complaining is a human condition that affects us all at one time or another. Numbers 11 tells again of how the people of Israel are trying God’s patience with their grumbling and complaining;  this is now the eighth time they have done so. And yet they are not the only one’s to complain. Show me any group of people and before long someone will begin to complain about something. The unfortunate reality is this, just like Israel God’s chosen people within the church complain too.

In these three verses we are not told what their specific complaint is. It is possible that it is related to the gambling that follows about wanting meat to eat. Yet I think the fact that no specific complaint is mentioned is significant, because whatever their complaint it was in the hearing of the LORD. Regardless of what you and I might criticize or fret about, our grumbling is not just with those we share our woes; God hears our protesting too. And one thing this story teaches us cannot be overemphasized; whatever our complaint might be, it ultimately is against the LORD.

When the people complained God’s anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.. I know the scriptures teach us that “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8), but have we forgotten that “God is a consuming fire” as well (Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29)?

I think it is significant that the fire of the LORD consumed those in the outlying parts of the camp. The arrangement of Israel’s camp sheds much light upon this (and not just from the fire). The tabernacle was located at the center of the camp; this is where God’s presence dwelt among His people. But where did the fire of God burn against those who where expressing their frustration and unhappiness? Those who complain the most were on the outskirts of the camp; they were the furthest from entering into the presence of God where they could come to know His heart.

So if I find myself complaining I need to remember these two things. First, God hears my grumbling, and two, every word of complaint takes me further away from enjoying the presence of God.

Oh, it could be that my complaining also moves me closer to the consuming fire of the LORD’S judgment as well. Worth thinking about the next time I’m tempted to complain.

Exemplify –

I need to continue to learn the secret of contentment with thanksgiving, rather than express my frustrations.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, forgive me for my shortsighted complaints; I’m so thankful that You bore my punishment upon the cross extending grace to me even when I my words express bitter discontent. I don’t want to move away from Your presence, but I want to draw near to You and know Your heart. Holy Spirit teach me contentment so I might draw near to God with a heart of true thanksgiving.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

On the Move

For many, the Christian faith becomes an easy chair – a comfortable place to sit and watch God move. But the LORD wants to get us out of our comfort zone and move with Him.

One Word –

At the command of the LORD they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out. They kept the charge of the LORD, at the command of the LORD by Moses. Numbers 9:23

Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 9, 10; John 18, 19

Big Idea –

God’s presence rested above the tabernacle as a cloud by day and fire by night. However, God did not just sit still; the LORD is not idle. God is on the move!

From time to time the cloud would lift and the Israelites would set out until it came to rest again. Sometimes they would camp only for a day or two while at other times they remained in one place longer. Yet they always followed God who directed them to move from place to place.

On first glance it seems all people had to do was look to the center of the camp to see if the cloud had lifted or not. Yet the cloud was not the only signal the people had of God’s movement; “They kept the charge of the LORD, at the command of the LORD by Moses.” Before the cloud lifted, God would speak to Moses instructing him to tell the people to prepare to break camp.

God always chooses to work through a human instrument. God could act alone. However, the LORD chooses to do His work and to move as He wills, not without us, but as we His people respond in faithful obedience.

The people’s obedience in the wilderness to cooperate with the movement of God is further shown in the chapter 10. God commanded trumpets to be sounded so the people could prepare to move out. When they broke came they did so following the leaders appointed to serve over each of the twelve tribes. Moses directed the priests to sound the trumpets. The trumpet blast told the tribal leaders to lead the people to break camp and follow God’s leading. Thus the people had to choose to respond with obedience breaking camp and following their leaders (see Numbers 10:1-28).

I don’t know about you, but I find it easy to get comfortable where I’m at. And when we get comfortable, we get lazy. It is usually at times like these that I will become aware of a need, or someone will ask about doing this or that. Now I’m not saying every time the LORD is speaking through these individuals or circumstances to get me moving in the direction He desires to go, but I can’t help but wonder if sometimes I missed out on what God wanted to accomplish through me because I was comfortable and didn’t want to move.

Exemplify –

I must remain faithful to hear and announce God’s word; to move out at His command and follow His leading both individually and corporately. It is time to hear the sound of the trumpets and move with the LORD!

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, I praise You because You are not idle or just sitting still. You are a God on the move. Forgive me when I get comfortable and don’t want to move, or fail to hear what You are saying, often through the people in my life.

You are calling me and our church family to set out to fulfill Your purpose. Your desire is to do a fresh work in and through us. You LORD will strengthen the church as take steps to follow the leading of Your Spirit. At times we may not understand Your ways, but You have given us Your Holy Spirit – the breath to fill our sails and give us words to speak. Holy Spirit help me and helpus as a church to move with You. Strengthen our faith to step out in obedience. Like Israel keep us united as we each in turn step out to follow You.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

Bless You

Someone sneezes and most people respond with a polite, “God bless you.” How often do we say things like that with little or no thought to its meaning?

One Word –

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,“Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
So shall they put my Name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” 
Numbers 622-27
Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 6, 7, 8; Luke 23

Big Idea –

God gave Moses specific instructions for how the priests were to bless the people. It is worth noting that while this was a blessing spoken over the people of Israel, the actual blessing is phrased in the singular and not the plural. Thus while the priest would say it when the people were gathered together corporately, the application was  made for each individual. For instance, we see how this works in thinking about Jesus’ words in John 3:16; God’s love for the world (everyone) is the motivation for God to send His One and only Son. Why did the LORD do this? So whoever believes (individual) will not perish but have eternal life.

The blessing included three parts:

  • The LORD’S keeping or protection for the individual;
  • The LORD look upon you with grace;
  • The LORD’S face look up to the individual to bring peace or completeness (the turning of the LORD’S face is like a father picking his child up over his head and looking with joy into his son or daughter’s face);

These were not just nice words spoken over God’s people. Notice again what the LORD said to Moses, So shall they put my Name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” This blessing literally placed the Name of the LORD upon the people. Talk about the power of life and death bing in the words we speak (see Prov. 18:21)!

Now don’t make the mistake of thinking the priestly blessing was just an Old Testament thing. God has made us as believers in Jesus a royal priesthood. Thus we have the right to proclaim the LORD’S blessing over His people. I sometimes wonder if we fully understand what that means (both the power of a spoken blessing and the reality we serve as a royal priesthood – lots to think about).

Yet this priestly blessing makes it clear that the power of life and death truly is within the words we speak. God has given you and me authority to speak blessing over His people. Let’s be careful not to misuse what has been entrusted to us by speaking curses instead.

Exemplify –

I must be careful to guard my words so the LORD’S Name and His blessing continues to rest upon His people, beginning in my family and extending to all those I speak to as well.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, I praise You for the privilege to speak on Your behalf, not just as a pastor, but as a believer whom You have called to serve as a royal priesthood. Forgive me for those times when I have been careless with the words I speak. I do not want to be guilty of pronouncing a curse. Instead help me Holy Spirit to speak words of blessing, words of life. Jesus You are the all powerful, eternal Word. May the blessing of Your Name be evident in every word I speak so as to place Your Name upon Your children.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.