Monday, July 28, 2014

The Definition of Faith…(Numbers 9:23)

The word "faith" is only truly expressed when it become "faithfulness". To say you have "faith" is evidenced by actions. James knew it when he said, "You say you have faith?... Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith from my works." Furthermore, he says, "You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe…" (James 2:18-19)

Faith is a great thing. Or should I say faith is a "grace" thing. It really is a gift from God that we give back to Him and is evidenced by how we choose to live our lives - for Him or apart from Him.

In the Old Testament in the book of Numbers, while the people of Israel are being formed into a nation in the crucible of the wilderness wanderings, we find a simple yet poignant definition of faith…

"They camped at the Lord's command, and they set out at the Lord's command. They carried out the Lord's requirement according to His command through Moses." (Numbers 9:23)

The people inhabiting Canaan and the surrounding countries must have watched with awe as this mass of humanity seemingly wandered aimlessly closer and closer to their lands. They had evidently heard of what God had done - the parting of the seas, the defeat of Pharaoh's army, the provisions of food and water. They saw the massive army of 600,000 plus men, all armed for battle. And they watched them move for a day, camp for one day or maybe one month, and then set out again. This would go on for forty years - seemingly random, wasted movements.

But it was not random and it was not wasteful. It was faith in action - faithfulness.

They camped when God said "camp". They set out when God said "move". The carried out the Lord's command whatever He asked of them.

Faith - expressed in faithfulness.

We would do well to do the same...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The First Three Laws of Holiness…

"The Lord spoke to Moses: 'Speak to the entire Israelite community and tell them: Be holy because I, Yahweh your God, am holy.' Each of you is to respect his mother and father. you are to keep My Sabbaths; I am Yaweh you God. Do not turn to idols or make cast images of gods for yourselves; I am Yahweh your God." (Leviticus 19:1-4)

This whole chapter is an interesting passage. It has to deal with God's laws regarding holiness. There is much to the chapter but I want to look at the first three things that He says He requires from His holy, set apart people…

1. Respect your parents. It is the first commandment with a promise (e.g. so that you will live long in the land). And it somehow plays prominently in what God desires for His holy people to look like. Those who respect, care for and obey their parents.

2. Keep God's Sabbaths. Note that He calls them "His" Sabbaths. They are not ours (although we greatly and wonderfully benefit from His Sabbaths). We keep them and keep them holy because they are His and He has commanded us to.

3. Have no idols and make no cast images for yourselves. In other words, we are to have no thing, no possession, no position, no "toy" to come between us and our total love and devotion to God.

Here's the thought I had. When we think of "holiness" today, we think of piety, of righting living. We think of personal holiness and devotion. I, errantly, think of mystically sitting in the woods and just spending time with God. While all these things are not bad, I am struck that God's idea of holiness has more to do with positive actions and practical implications in our relationship with Him and with others.

Respect your parents…Keep God's Sabbaths…Don't let anything come between you and God…

Kind of redefines holiness in our current age, doesn't it?