Author Topic: Our spiritual journey  (Read 810 times)

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Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #48 on: June 08, 2017, 09:33:54 PM »
Hi,

Actually, sorry, I'm so tempted to rant, but won't.  If i could have worked out how to delete this I would have, I will say this though, this kind of unjust, judgement and treatment is exactly why my poor Christian husband will always be married to a non Christian.

Confused22

Mixed marriage was forbidden for the Jews in the past; Christians now are merely advised to avoid it if they have the choice. From the believer's point of view (and the Bible is looking at it purely from that point of view), it is harder; many people find it puts a damper on their relationship with God. But once a believer is married, they have to be committed to that marriage. If your marriage is working despite your differences, then all credit to you.
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #49 on: June 12, 2017, 03:44:27 PM »
Food again (Numbers 11)

The Israelites are the recipients of a daily feeding miracle - every morning, in the midst of the barren wilderness, there is nutritious food waiting to be collected. And yet within a year or two its very familiarity has made them contemptuous of it. Admittedly, a diet consisting mainly of manna must have been a bit monotonous; but when they start to pine for the variety of the food they had in Egypt (verse 5) they are getting things out of proportion.

Moses seems to be completely unprepared for the tidal wave of misery rolling through the camp, and falls into despair. The people under his care are like small children in need of constant attention and support - and they show no sign of growing up! (verses 11,12) He feels honour-bound to give them what they want, but can see no way to satisfy their demands - and so he believes he has lost all his credibility as a leader (verse 15).

The first time that God gave the Israelites meat, it was in grace, in order to meet a genuine need. But this time He will do the same thing in anger, to make a point - and so the outcome will be very different. They have begged for meat, and that's what they will get - but in such quantity that it will turn out to be a punishment rather than a blessing (verses 19,20).

Once again it's the time of year for quail to migrate over Sinai. By now Israel are in a very different part of the wilderness, but a strong wind blows the birds off course to where they are camped. The exhausted birds are easily caught and killed; there are so many of them that the people do nothing else for two days! The quail meat is dried in the sun for later consumption - but the pleasure of eating it is quickly terminated by an outbreak of severe food poisoning that causes many deaths.

Although food is essential to life, there are other things more important than the menu. The Israelites took their eyes off what they did have, and thought only of what they didn't have - a sure recipe for unhappiness. They wanted to go back to Egypt - but those who embrace the culture of Egypt will also embrace the plagues of Egypt.
"Better a little with the fear of the LORD
than great wealth with turmoil.
Better a dish of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred."
(Proverbs 15:16,17)
A surfeit of food is not necessarily a blessing; it may be a curse! Our loving heavenly Father gives us what we need (which is not the same as what we want); do we trust Him? "If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." (I Timothy 6:8 )
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline davetaff

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #50 on: June 14, 2017, 05:22:35 PM »
Hi Deborah
Good post thank you if I may add a little that came to mind.

Quote
The Israelites are the recipients of a daily feeding miracle - every morning, in the midst of the barren wilderness, there is nutritious food waiting to be collected. And yet within a year or two its very familiarity has made them contemptuous of it. Admittedly, a diet consisting mainly of manna must have been a bit monotonous; but when they start to pine for the variety of the food they had in Egypt (verse 5) they are getting things out of proportion.

Joh 6:32  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
Joh 6:33  For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
Joh 6:34  Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
Joh 6:35  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.


Do you think it's the same with the true bread from heaven at first people can't get enough then after a time they stop eating.
can it be that they eat to much the Israelites only received enough for each day maybe it's like most things in life to much of a good thing is not good for you.

Love and Peace
Dave 






 

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #51 on: June 26, 2017, 08:10:28 PM »
Hi Deborah
Good post thank you if I may add a little that came to mind.

Joh 6:32  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
Joh 6:33  For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
Joh 6:34  Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
Joh 6:35  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.


Do you think it's the same with the true bread from heaven at first people can't get enough then after a time they stop eating.
can it be that they eat to much the Israelites only received enough for each day maybe it's like most things in life to much of a good thing is not good for you.

Love and Peace
Dave 
 
You could well be right. Once the novelty wears off....
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #52 on: June 26, 2017, 08:11:18 PM »
Leadership (Numbers 12)

Moses has a lot on his plate at the moment - and now on top of it all he finds his leadership challenged by his own brother and sister! Ostensibly their grievance is his second wife (has Zipporah died?), who is a foreigner and not even of Abrahamic descent. (Perhaps Miriam wanted to see herself as Israel's 'first lady'!) But the real reason is simple jealousy; they are both older than Moses and resent being in the shadow of their 'upstart' younger brother.

Moses is entitled to feel threatened (their grumbling is sowing seeds of disunity, and undermining his authority), but he doesn't take any action himself. As a leader, he is neither arrogant nor overbearing; for there is nothing like a close encounter with the living God to make one humble! It is God who steps in swiftly to nip this bitterness in the bud by summoning Aaron and Miriam to judgement and striking Miriam (presumably the chief instigator) with leprosy for seven days. Having coveted the place of highest prestige, she is forced out of the community altogether for a while - giving her time to reflect on the gruesome consequences of jealousy and resentment.

Moses was no ordinary prophet or leader. The intimacy of his relationship with God was unique (he saw God's 'form', though never His face), and the revelations that he received were not one-way messages but a true conversation. These unusual privileges were the result not only of the unique role he had been called upon to fulfil, but also of the extraordinary diligence with which he carried out his commission. So it was a serious matter to speak against God's faithful steward? and should we not be all the more willing to submit to the authority of His Son (Hebrews 3:3-6)?
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #53 on: July 05, 2017, 03:10:00 PM »
Giving up (Numbers 13 & 14)

After just a few weeks on the march, Israel reach the oasis of Kadesh-Barnea, on the border of Canaan, and are within sight of their destination! However, none of them know anything about Canaan; not even Moses has ever been there before. And there are no maps or guidebooks... so reconnaissance is an essential preliminary to invasion. Twelve men (one from each tribe) are sent ahead to spy out the land, and in due course they bring back a report.

God has promised His people a land 'flowing with milk and honey'; and He has not deceived them. The land is indeed extremely fertile - but it is already occupied by fierce, warlike peoples. And the spies lay such emphasis on the difficulties and dangers ahead that the people become convinced that they will die if they attempt to conquer Canaan. The result is mutiny: on the very brink of achieving their goal, they refuse point-blank to enter the land God is offering them. They want to throw in the towel and return to slavery in Egypt (Numbers 14:1-4)! Only two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, are prepared to stand with Moses and with God - and they come within a whisker of being stoned to death for their loyalty.

To God, this is like a slap in the face. He is so angry that He threatens to obliterate the nation of Israel from the face of the earth and start all over again. Once again, Moses' impassioned intercession causes Him to relent. But this time the people cannot carry on as before. Those who are so determined not to trust God will never be able to receive the blessings that He wants to give them; the conquest of Canaan will have to be postponed until the next generation (Numbers 14:20-35).

Israel's fate is a most solemn warning: it really is possible, after making a commitment to God, to fall away and fail to reach our goal. "See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." (Hebrews 3:12) Despite the impression given by some evangelistic literature, it isn't enough just to 'ask Jesus into your heart'; we must then follow Him right to the end of our lives. Faith is not a box to be ticked, upon which we are given a 'free ticket to heaven' that we cannot lose; it is a lifetime commitment, trusting in God's promises all the way. And in order to claim the prize, we must finish the course! We are NOT talking here about doubts and hesitations, or moral lapses; all believers suffer from these, and although they can delay our pilgrimage they need not shipwreck it. 'Unbelief' is something very different, much less common, and much more serious: a deliberate abandonment of Christ, a rejection of all that He has done for us, and a refusal to follow Him any further. 

The Israelites who turned down God's great gift so flatly were not given a second chance; they had stated that they would prefer to die in the wilderness rather than fight for the land of Canaan, so God granted their request. And He will allow a professed Christian to 'change their mind', if they so insist. But if they do, they will discover that they can't simply go back into the world (just as the Israelites couldn't return to Egypt); they will spend the rest of their life stuck in a weary no-mans-land, neither one thing nor the other.

However, there were two exceptions to Israel's catastrophic failure: Joshua and Caleb. Forty years later, both of them would still be alive to claim their inheritance - and fit enough to enjoy it (Joshua 14:10-12)! Their story shows that if we are genuinely committed to God and believe His word, He will never let us down.
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #54 on: July 15, 2017, 09:19:15 AM »
Leadership again (Numbers 16 & 17)

During the long years of aimless wandering, it is hardly surprising that some of the Israelites become frustrated and resentful. A group of high-ranking men, led by Korah, misunderstand God's insistence on holiness for everyone and assume that it means all should have direct access to His presence, just like Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:3). But it soon becomes clear that they are interested only in the prestige conferred by holiness, and not in its responsibilities. Moses realises the implications of their demand, and is horrified. He himself would be as happy for all God's people to be priests as for all of them to be prophets (Numbers 11:29); but these offices can only be bestowed by God - and they already know what is likely to happen to anyone who approaches Him without His authorisation. So if Korah and his supporters really believe that they can all be priests, let them put it to the test by offering incense, and see if God agrees with them!

At the same time, the Reubenites have a more prosaic complaint: that the Promised Land has not materialised. They too are resentful of Moses? leadership (perhaps all the more so as their own tribe has been demoted from its 'firstborn' status), and accuse him of making the whole thing up in order to become a self-appointed tribal chief. They seem to have forgotten that it isn't Moses' fault but their own that they are stuck in the wilderness! They will not even respond to his summons, which is in itself a calculated rejection of his authority. It shows that they are not really interested in resolving their grievances, only in making trouble (Numbers 16:12-14). Since they will not come to Moses, he has to go to them. He doesn't attempt to argue with them, for the opportunity for repentance has already passed. Instead he prophesies what God will do to them: a punishment without precedent, that will refute the charge that Moses has been acting entirely on his own authority. And no sooner has he finished speaking, than his words are fulfilled. Exactly as he has predicted, the ground beneath their tents suddenly gives way, and they vanish without trace, as if they had never existed (Numbers 16:23-34).

Meanwhile, Korah and his associates have had a whole night to reflect on the dangerous experiment they are embarking on. But none of them appear to have had second thoughts; all present themselves at the entrance to the Tabernacle, eager to act out their reckless ambitions. And they suffer the same fate as Nadab and Abihu, burned alive by the fire of God's holiness (Numbers 16:35).

All this looks to us as though God takes delight in striking people dead just for being a bit 'uppity'. But that would be far from the truth. We underestimate the importance of submission to authority: if this large mass of people are ever going to reach their destination safely and together, they must trust and obey the men He has chosen and appointed to lead them. And so, to put an end to the controversy (and to the fatalities), God offers them a sign that will confirm Aaron's status and authority as high priest once and for all (Numbers 17). This time it won't be a sign of death, but a sign of grace and life. Twelve staves (representing the twelve tribes) are left in the Tabernacle, in God's presence, overnight. The one belonging to His chosen priest not only comes to life, but blossoms and fruits in the space of a few hours. At this clear miracle, the Israelites are finally convinced - and Aaron?s position is never challenged again.

In our day, in a culture that has become suspicious of all authority, church leadership (and indeed the whole idea of the church as an institution) is regularly under attack. We know that we are all given the Holy Spirit (I John 2:20), we latch onto the concept of 'the priesthood of all believers'; and some of us interpret these truths as a licence to plough our own individual furrows, independent of any recognised church - which means having no accountability, either in what we believe or how we behave.

But Scripture tells us to "have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you." (Hebrews 13:17) God still chooses and calls certain individuals to lead His people - and for the sake of good order within the Church, the rest of us must submit to their authority, without jealousy or discontent. And now, as then, the best evidence of a divine call to ministry is the fruitfulness of that ministry. "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last." (John 15:16)
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #55 on: July 27, 2017, 08:14:30 PM »
Leadership yet again (Numbers 20:1-13)

After about 35 years of wandering in circles, Israel again find themselves near Kadesh-Barnea. This time the water supply fails, provoking yet another volley of complaints - and the airing of all their old grievances. And as usual, the people ignore God's existence and blame Moses and Aaron for all their problems - problems that they had brought upon themselves by their disobedience so many years ago! This grumbling, resentful attitude must have been absorbed from their parents, for by now only the very oldest of them have any memory of Egypt; most have lived their whole life in the wilderness.

Once again Moses and Aaron turn to God for help; and He tells them how to find and release the hidden water. They are to speak to the rock, which will obey them and thus put God's rebellious people to shame. But on this occasion - quite uncharacteristically - Moses doesn't follow his instructions faithfully. Years of relentless criticism must have taken their toll, and something inside him seems to 'snap', releasing all his suppressed anger and frustration. He strikes the rock instead of speaking to it (which is disobedience); but his sin is worse than that. In calling the people 'rebels', he sets himself up as their judge; in saying, "Must we bring you water?" he sets himself up as their deliverer. Thus he usurps the place of God and dishonours Him.

The people are happy with the outcome; they do not suffer as a result of Moses' sin. But God is furious. He had been willing to be gracious to His people, but Moses' words and actions have given the opposite impression. It's a terrible lapse for a man of such spiritual stature, and his punishment is correspondingly severe: he and Aaron will also be denied entry into the Promised Land.

Leadership in God's church is a tremendous privilege; but it carries with it a corresponding responsibility. The larger the group of people under someone's authority, the greater the temptation for that leader to behave 'like God' to them. And we who follow them are also tempted to idolise them, forgetting that they are as human (and sinful) as we are. Church history is littered with the names of popes, bishops, and other powerful men who started their careers full of promise but eventually tripped up by abusing their authority. Tinpot tyrants, physical and sexual abusers, and those who just enjoy the adulation of the masses... they leave a nasty taste in the mouth, and dishonour both God and the Church. So we need to pray for our leaders, that they may finish their course as well as they started...
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)