Morning Devotions; March 16, 2023

Psalms 5:3 In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.

Probably ever since the Garden of Eden people have discovered or realized that it’s a good idea to approach God first thing in the morning. It’s not that the time makes any difference to God, but it certainly makes a difference to us. In the simplest terms, it’s an expression of priorities, quite literally putting God first, ahead of all the other demands of the day. After all, our relationship with God should be the foundation of our relationship with everyone and everything else. When we fail to recognize and acknowledge that fact, everything else gets all out of whack, as the saying goes. These days electronics are a huge distraction, making constant demands for our attention, and that makes a practice of devotion to God all the more difficult. However, the rewards for dedication and faithfulness are immense. The world chases meaning, peace, and joy, and all of those are supplied by meeting with God every morning, in a way and to a degree that those without faith simply cannot imagine. When we start each day focusing on God, submitting our issues and our concerns to Him, then His guidance, His comfort, and His peace abide with us throughout the day to a degree that cannot happen otherwise. We think we simply don’t have time, but that is forgetting that God created time, and it is saying that other things are more important than God. The most common objection is, “I can’t get up that early,” but if we would make it enough of a priority to go to bed earlier at night, that wouldn’t be an issue. That’s why the devil does all he can to have the “most interesting” TV shows on late at night, not to mention people using their phones or tablets even after they go to bed. We indeed need sufficient sleep, so that isn’t the issue. What is the issue is whether the late-night stuff is more important to us than meeting with our Creator and hearing from Him.

I’ve written before about how I tried to start a devotional practice as a college student, but I think it lasted about three days. It wasn’t until I was a married father, out of the Army, even, that the Lord showed me the level of pride that had been blinding me and keeping me from recognizing my absolute need for Him. I honestly don’t remember the details, but I think it was around that time that I started having a consistent time of praying and reading the Bible each morning. My epiphany was in November of 1972, so I’ve been having daily devotions for about 50 years now. It was around 20 years ago that I was at a seminar led by Wayne Cordeiro and heard him explain his SOAP system of devotions. After reading a longer passage, either from reading through the Bible or from some other Bible reading program, you choose a specific section, from part of a verse to a few verses, that speaks especially to you, and write that in our notes. That’s the Scripture. You then rephrase that, putting it into historical context and contemporary context. That is your Observation. Then you ask God what difference that should make in our life, and that’s the Application. You follow that up by recording your response to God to all of that, as a Prayer. As Wayne said in that seminar was true for him, ever since I started doing that I’ve never been at a loss as to what to preach! Most importantly, I now have a rock-solid assurance that God indeed speaks to me, regularly and often in detail, and I am deeply grateful. As a pastor I seek to encourage all of the believers to follow that pattern, but so far few have. Those who do, however, live lives of joy and hope that are exemplary.

Father, thank You for Your grace in getting me on the right path. Thank You for the joy and privilege of pointing others in that direction as well. May more and more discover the incredible grace of walking with You, starting first thing each morning, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Self-examination; March 15, 2023

Psalms 4:4 In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.

I have long liked the way the NIV and some other English translations render the first part of this verse, so I was surprised to see that the Japanese translation I use renders it as, “Be fearfully respectful, and then do not sin.” I have heard more than one teacher use the English version to say that anger in itself isn’t sin, but it has the potential to cause us to sin. That in itself is true enough, particularly since Jesus got angry enough at the way people were desecrating the Court of the Gentiles in the temple that He made a whip to drive them out. (John 2:15) However, this might not be the best passage to back that up! However, the point about examining our hearts when we’re lying in bed is the same in both languages, and is an important one. When the world gets quiet around us, particularly after we’ve gone to bed, all kinds of thoughts can run through our minds. We tend to replay things that have happened, nurse grudges, and plot revenge. David is saying not to do that. Rather, we are to be honest about our own motives and actions and not be complaining to God about what has happened. (Though David himself did a good bit of that!) These days, with so many opportunities for electronic distraction, many people seem to do all they can to avoid examining their own hearts, and that can be dangerous indeed. Many people are fundamentally lonely, and they seek to fill that void with noise of one sort or another. Given some of the lyrics around today, that can be like swimming in a septic tank! We need to be willing to let the Holy Spirit shine His light into every corner of our being, and then we need to be honest about what He turns up. If we will do that, and respond appropriately to what He turns up, then we will grow spiritually to be the happy, mature children God desires.

I have probably earned an advanced degree or two in self-decep­tion, but thankfully I feel like I’ve put most of that behind me. At this point I am very aware of my weaknesses, and know that it is only by God’s strength that I can overcome them. The issue is simply being consistent in seeking His help, rather than wallowing in the weakness. I have had my times of insomnia, when I couldn’t seem to shut off my brain enough to go to sleep. That’s when I need to remember that David said to examine my heart and be silent. After all, God once told me out loud to shut up! I am never to fear self-examination, but at the same time I need to be careful that I am guided by the Holy Spirit, since the devil loves to destroy me with accusations. After all, the name, Satan, means, “the accuser.” If he says anything with roots in truth, I simply need to say, “Thank you. Lord Jesus, I repent of that and ask You to cleanse me,” and then trust that He really will do that. (2 Peter 1:9)

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me be quiet enough, on my bed and through each day, to hear You clearly, allowing You to correct, teach, and grow me, so that I may indeed by the child and servant You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Stubborn Faith; March 14, 2023

Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;
I will surely defend my ways to his face.

There are different kinds of faith, or at least different manifestations of faith. Job’s faith was a grit-your-teeth-and-dig-in-your-heels kind of faith, and sometimes circumstances call for precisely that. We can hardly see the present, much less the future, and our understanding is limited at best. Whether the Book of Job was historical or fictional is open to debate, but the reason it is included in the Bible is clear: we don’t understand suffering, and we’ve got to deal with that fact. Job’s example of hanging onto God and refusing to let go is one we all need to emulate at times. There are moments in reading Job that I have real empathy for his friends, because he is so stubbornly convinced of his innocence, when none of us are totally free of sin. However, that’s a reminder that Job’s put-down of his friends just before this famous statement could often be rightly applied to me: “If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.” (Job 13:5) As the secular proverb says, “Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” The whole book reinforces Jesus’ blunt statement, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) That’s precisely why we need to have a stubborn faith that won’t let go of God, regardless of circumstances, just as Job states here.

“Defending my ways” seems like quite a stretch, because my only real defense is that Jesus died for me. However, that defense is more than sufficient, as the whole New Testament makes clear, so I am to live my life in the obedience that comes from gratitude. I am troubled by some people who seem to have a very sincere faith, yet don’t have the joy and assurance of salvation. I wonder what legalistic rot was dumped on them! I was in an online meeting yesterday about Christian Coaching, and one of the participants in my breakout group was rightly saying that when we have the assurance of eternal salvation, we should be optimistic and joyful all the time. After all, the full statement by Jesus, in warning us of the troubles we will have, is, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) I couldn’t begin to say how many times I’ve quoted that verse, both to myself and to others. We all need to hang on and keep trusting, even if our physical death is part of the process.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all that You are doing in, around, and through me. May I be a consistent, effective conduit of Your grace, love, and hope to all I encounter, in person or online, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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To Whom Do You Pray? March 13, 2023

2 Chronicles 32:8 “With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.

Hezekiah’s words were true enough, but the rebuttal by Sennacherib’s officers (verses 10-17) was entirely reasonable by strictly humanistic logic. After all, monotheism simply wasn’t a thing back then, and the Assyrian empire had indeed grown virtually unchecked. It’s interesting that the Assyrians were aware of Hezekiah’s reforms and referred to them in verse 10, not understanding that destroying the “high places” and idolatrous altars greatly strengthened Judah’s position with their Creator. It all boils down to whom you’re praying to. If Yahweh were no more than the gods of other nations, then Judah didn’t stand a chance. As it was, they were in a beautifully secure situation, because they were depending in honesty on the omnipotent Creator of the universe, and He wasn’t troubled by the strength of the Assyrian army in the least, as He demonstrated in verse 21. It makes all the difference in the world to whom you are praying. Many people today have a very amorphous concept of God, and their “faith” is essentially wishful thinking. Current “your truth” and “my truth” is essentially polytheism, denying that there is an absolute standard. There is a Japanese proverb that says that even a sardine’s head can be an object of worship. That’s precisely the sort of thinking the devil wants to encourage, because he wants to deprive the Creator of the worship He is due. For many people praying to Jesus specifically is safer than praying to “God,” because they have so little concept of just who God is. However, if we seek Him in humility and truth He will meet us where we are and reveal Himself to us. (Jeremiah 29:13)

I had the immense blessing and privilege of being raised in a household of faith that knew the Creator and interacted with Him daily, consistently, in love and obedience. Prayer was as natural as breathing, because we knew to Whom we spoke, and He responded. The only idol I had real trouble with was myself. For a while I really did elevate myself and my opinions above my Creator, until He was gracious enough to show me the utter stupidity of that attitude. However, I see that in others all the time, easily recognizable because I’ve been there. Here in Japan people will go to Shinto shrines, clap their hands and ring the bell to get the god’s attention, and ask for whatever it is they want. At home they will pray to their ancestors in ostensibly Buddhist fashion (though Gautama never said to do that). They have no concept of a personal relationship and interaction with their Creator, and they observe authentic Christian prayer with amazement. For 40 years I have prayed for my students at the beginning of each class, and every year I have multiple students comment on that and what a blessing it has been, in the Comments section I always have on my test papers. I need to demonstrate that my prayers aren’t empty words spoken to the air, but are rather genuine communication with the God who loves each person enough to die for them.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I do pray that my life would be an effective demonstration of Your reality, so that more and more people would leave the devil’s lies and some into Your truth, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Hunger for God; March 12. 2023

2 Chronicles 20:13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.

This is one of my favorite stories in the whole Bible. The setting is an insurmountable, disastrous problem, potentially fatal to everyone mentioned in this verse, with a large army headed their way that they had no power to oppose. Their response was exactly right: gathering before the Lord and acknowledging their total dependence on Him. With their hearts so prepared, God was free to speak through someone who was previously not known as a prophet, but everyone recognized it as something the Lord was saying to them, and acted accordingly, and the results were miraculous. You could say that the people mentioned in this verse had peak hunger for God. He certainly has a way of responding to that! Such hunger has triggered major moves of God throughout history, and we’re seeing one unfold even today. College-age young people, written off by many religious people, are turning to the Lord in repentance and faith, their hunger for God taking precedence over even their need for food and sleep. That level of spiritual hunger is precisely what the Lord was talking about when He told Jeremiah, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) People today are so bloated with material goods that they can’t recognize their need for God. In nations like Japan and America we tend to feel sorry for people in “poor” countries, not recognizing that material goods do not equate genuine wealth. It’s like Jesus said to the church in Laodicea: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17) We need to recognize our need! Thankfully, Jesus followed up that stern warning by saying, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.” (Revelation 3:19) We can choose to wake up and recognize our need, and it is time to do so.

I am preaching to myself here. My physical needs are met, and even on the spiritual level I am greatly blessed, but there is so much more the Lord wants to pour out on and through me. The thing is, with the Lord there is always more, because He is infinite. I am to be grateful for all He has already poured out, but never think that is all, or, in a sense, even enough. There is a beloved song, I am Satisfied with Jesus, that is true enough, but the problem comes when that devolves into a kind of self-satisfaction. I am certainly not all I could be in Christ! It can be a difficult balance. The Lord has told me to rest, relax, and rejoice in Him, but that doesn’t mean I’m in any way to stop pressing in for more of Him. He is indeed marvelously satisfying, but there’s always more!

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that indeed, Your grace is sufficient, (2 Corinthians 12:9) but there is always more. Help me always stay hungry for You, not for the world and its pleasures, so that all of Your purposes for me may be fulfilled, on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Following God; March 11, 2023

2 Kings 17:15 They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.

I was struck by this wording in the NIV, and when I read the Japanese it was essentially identical. We often say things like, “You are what you eat,” but it is certainly no less true that you become like what you follow. That’s the whole idea behind apprenticeships and the like. Learning by doing is a very deep principle indeed. It is when we follow the Lord in loving, grateful obedience that we are transformed into the likeness of His Son. (Romans 8:29) God is always leading us, but the question is whether we are following. Every parent has experienced thinking their child was right behind them and then suddenly realizing the child had gone off somewhere else entirely. We do that to God! God is never unaware or taken by surprise the way we are, but that doesn’t mean He is pleased or that we don’t suffer the consequences for not following. Many songs have been written on this theme, and several years ago I added one to the count:

What does God desire of His people
for the life of happiness He’s planned?
Just to trust the Lord in all you think and do,
and follow every leading of His hand.

Lord, I choose to trust You and to follow,
surrendering my life in every way.
Lead me, Lord, for I am prone to wander.
Lord, I choose to trust You, and obey.

So far the Lord hasn’t given me a good tune for those lyrics, but He has given me the Japanese in the same rhythm, so I trust that someday those lyrics will be sung in both languages. That said, singing is good but is no substitute for doing. This passage in 2 Kings lists all the things the people did that separated them from God. They probably said all the right things at the right times in their festivals and such, but God was watching their actions as expressing their hearts. It has been shown statistically that the majority of self-professed Christians, in the US at least, live lives that are essentially no different from anyone else. Given the state of society, that can hardly be called following Christ! As James said, failing to apply the truth we know is just fooling ourselves. (James 1:22) Jesus was clear that sin starts in the heart, (Matthew 15:18) but temptation in itself isn’t sin. After all, Jesus Himself was tempted. We need to examine our hearts and examine our lives in the light of the Scripture and the Holy Spirit, so that we will indeed not deceive ourselves but follow Christ fully, for our blessing and His glory.

Naturally, I’m talking to myself. I’ve had times when I was following closely and times when I was essentially ignoring God, all the while thinking I was a fine Christian. As I wrote years ago, I am prone to wander, so I’ve got to choose to trust and obey, regardless of what the world, my flesh, and the devil have to say about it.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your incredible grace and patience toward me. May I indeed live out the truth I know, walking in consistent obedience, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Government; March 10, 2023

1 Kings 10:9 “Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.”

The story of the queen of Sheba has been dearly loved by many down through the centuries because it seems so dramatic and even romantic, since there is a strong tradition that “all that she desired” (verse 13) included Solomon’s DNA. My own impression is that the gifts included a copy of the Torah, since modern Ethiopian Jews trace their roots to this visit. That also would explain why the Ethiopian eunuch would have gone to Jerusalem to worship, thus encountering Philip on his return trip. (Acts 8:26-40) The interesting thing about the story here is that what inspired faith in the queen of Sheba was the quality of Solomon’s government. As a ruler herself she knew that good government isn’t an easy thing to pull off, and seeing that in Israel totally blew her mind. (verses 4-5) The thing is, good government is a gift from God. That’s why Paul told us to pray for those in government. (1 Timothy 2:1-2) Without good government everyone suffers, as is being amply demonstrated in many places around the world. Good government, as everything else, requires a foundation. The queen of Sheba recognized that the foundation of Solomon’s government was Yahweh, and she wanted that foundation for her own country. The problems that have plagued the US for the past several decades are rooted in the concerted effort to remove God from the foundation. Thankfully a backlash seems to have kicked in, politically and more importantly, spiritually. Current reports of revival spreading across the nation are encouraging indeed, as are the exposures of all the corruption that had so deeply infested the government. Parents standing up for their children, local governments being transformed, it’s quite exciting. However, we have got to remember that relying on people and human wisdom will get us back into the same mess, or worse. The only solid foundation, for good government or anything else, is our Creator, and we must never forget that.

I live in Japan, which has never claimed to be a Christian nation, but I still pray for the leaders. It was encouraging when a pastor was recently elected to the Upper House of the Diet, and reports are that he has been acting as a chaplain to other Diet members. Since my roots are in the US, I certainly pray for America as well. From about 20 years ago I have been increasingly aware of the American situation, helped greatly by the Internet, and my prayers have intensified. Even at this distance I’ve got to remember that God is always the only answer, and pray for His name to be acknowledged as holy and His rule and reign be established as His will is done. I can and do get specific about various situations, but I can’t begin to know all the details, much less have the wisdom to straighten it all out. However, I know the One who is omniscient, omnipotent, and loving, and I can and do rejoice in Him.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your plans that are indeed playing out all over the globe. We see much tragedy because of the devil’s schemes and human sin, but You are greater than it all, and You already have the final outcome in place. Thank You for the assurance that You don’t desire the suffering, and that in the end you will wipe away every tear. (Revelation 7:17, 21:4) Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Giving God the Glory; March 9, 2023

Numbers 20:12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

Even Moses fell into the trap of thinking he was important, rather than God being everything. His words in verse 10 and his actions in verse 11 display that, and he paid the price. God alone is powerful and God alone is holy, and we forget that to our peril. In the New Testament, the story of Ananias and Saphira tells us the same thing, where they paid with their lives for thinking they could fool the Holy Spirit. (Acts 5:1-11) It seems incredible that even for Moses, famili­arity bred contempt. Moses had been used by God so much he started to feel like he was the one doing the miracles, as his words in verse 10 betray. He should have learned more from Joseph, who told Pha­roah, “I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he de­sires.” (Genesis 41:16) Centuries later, Daniel had the same wisdom as Joseph: “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” (Daniel 2:27-28) We have got to be careful to give God all the credit, because He deserves it. When he chooses to use us we are to be grateful, but just as I quoted Paul a couple of days ago, we must not think anything good originates in us. (Romans 12:3)

I kind of get tired of being reminded of this, but I have certainly had my failures in this area. That God would continue to use me from time to time is a miracle indeed! I have had people say very flattering things about me and my dedication, but it is not as pure as God deserves. I am still very easily distracted. When God does something through me or speaks His truth through me I am to be very careful to remember that it is He doing it, and act accordingly. I have seen people “give God the glory” in ways that somehow stole some of the glory for themselves, and I don’t want to do that. Jesus was very frank about people who pray to be seen and heard, (Matthew 6:5) but I am not to let that keep me from praying when, where, and how the Lord directs. I learned a lot from Dr. Cal Guy in seminary, not just in class but anywhere, when someone would ask him for prayer and he would stop right there and pray, whether it was in class, on campus, or in a grocery store away from campus. It was never about him, but always about the One to whom he prayed. I want to be like that, in prayer and in every other facet of my life.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I feel like You’re getting me ready to be used in ways I’m not used to. Keep me from holding back, but rather be an open channel for Your grace, love, and power, for Your glory alone. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Trials; March 8, 2023

Numbers 14:11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?”

Since God is omniscient this was a rhetorical question, but it was an important one to put to Moses and have recorded. It is amazing at times what short memories we have for God’s blessings and how long we cling to memories of hurts and difficulties. We really aren’t so different from these Israelites! Since it wasn’t written until thousands of years after this event it was out of the question, but the Israelites would have greatly benefited from the hymn, Count Your Blessings. However, we do have that hymn, not to mention the whole Bible, available to us. The devil hates faith and does all he can to discourage it, so we need to submit to God and resist the devil, just as James admonished us to do. (James 4:7) That very much includes choosing to trust, choosing to believe. Frankly, sometimes that’s hard. Sometimes the problems in front of us seem like an insurmountable mountain range, not even a single mountain. However, in retrospect all of that will seem like the wrinkles in the road that they really are, from God’s perspective. As Paul so perceptively put it, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) (I quote that a lot!) We are constantly searching for “the easy way out,” when God, being more interested in our character than our comfort, is trying to grow and strengthen us by teaching us to overcome all these obstacles. As Hebrews so incisively puts it, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11) We need to learn to thank God for our trials. If we do, we will discover a peace and joy that will amaze us, not to mention the people around us, and they will want to know how we have such hope. (1 Peter 3:15)

Of course I’m talking to myself here. I’ve come further along this road than many, for which I’m grateful, but just like Paul, I can’t say I’m all the way there yet. However, I have definitely learned that grumbling, not just to others but particularly within myself, hurts me more than whatever the trial might be. I wish that knowledge kept me from doing it! I need always to remember that Jesus assured us that in this world we would have trouble, but in that same verse He promised us peace and victory. (John 16:33) I am very aware that apart from the devil I am my own worst enemy. The devil hates me, but he has power over me only as I yield to him. I need to follow James’ instructions to the letter, focusing on submitting to God so that resisting the devil will come almost automatically. (I do say almost, because my will is always involved.) I have seen even great saints fall into the devil’s traps, and I have no desire to be in that number. I need to focus on my Lord in gratitude, praise, and obedience, whatever is going on around me.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the good report yesterday when I went back to the surgeon who operated on my wrist. Thank You that it does continue to improve, with greater mobility and less pain. Thank You for this lesson in “pushing through to gain the victory.” May I not just apply that to physical issues but to everything, so that You may be glorified as Your will is accomplished in my life. Praise God!

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Humility; March 7, 2023

Numbers 12:1-2 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.

As I tell people frequently, one of the many things I love about the Bible is that it doesn’t dress people up, even the “heroes,” but presents them “warts and all,” as Cromwell famously said. One thing that jumps out to me about this passage is that the Bible isn’t against interracial marriage, but rather against interfaith marriage. Cush was in the area of modern Sudan, so the woman was obviously Black. However, she had evidently chosen to cast her lot with the Israelites and follow their God. Actually, there is only one human race, regardless of how much melanin or other physical markers we might have. Otherwise we couldn’t “cross-breed,” so to speak. Be that as it may, we are all prone to pick on unimportant details, and Miriam picked on this one to focus her jealousy against her brother, pulling Aaron into her vendetta. (Since the punishment specifically fell on Miriam, she was obviously the ringleader here.) Jealousy is a nasty thing, and it causes all sorts of damage. From this story it is evident that Miriam and Aaron did at least occasionally hear directly from the Lord, because they went to the Tent of Meeting (verse 4) and then came out to stand before the Lord (verse 5). That said, occasionally hearing isn’t the same as walking in the level of fellowship Moses practiced, as the Lord Himself made clear. However, jealousy blinded Miriam and Aaron and put them in a very dangerous place. As Paul much later commented, “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12) Jealousy and entitlement are rooted in self-centered­ness, and that never leads to anything good. The parenthetical note in verse 3 about Moses’ humility is very interesting. It seems likely that it was added by a later editor, rather than having been written by Moses himself, but it’s actually very appropriate. Moses recognized the reality that he had a special relationship with the Lord, but he didn’t let that puff him up personally. I think he was very aware of his own human failings and weaknesses, and on that basis he depended on God. That is an example we all need to emulate.

As I write frequently, I have certainly struggled with pride. However, humility doesn’t mean denying reality. It is an amusing story, but one time my parents were in a car with my grandmother, and my father, driving, was talking about his struggles with conceit. His mother chimed in with, “Why Max, there’s a difference between conceit and recognizing the truth.” My mother laughed to tell that story because she was very aware of my father’s weaknesses, but there was wisdom in what my grandmother said even so. Humility doesn’t mean we deny the gifts God has given us, it means recognizing those gifts are meaningless without the One who gave them to us, and that He has gifted everyone else too, even though their gifts are different from ours. When we look at ourselves soberly, as I quoted a few days ago Paul telling us to do, (Romans 12:3) then we will both recognize God’s gifts and apply them as He intends, for His glory.

Father, You’ve spoken a variety of things to me this morning. You have indeed blessed me incredibly. Some people have been jealous, and some have simply despised me. Help me relate to each one as You desire and intend, expressing Your grace and mercy as You have extended it to me, so that You alone may be glorified. Thank You. Praise God!

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