Is your life exciting? Is your life complete? Is your life fun? Is your life an adventure?
Are you trying to go it alone? Are you trying to figure it all out on your own? Are you trying to make it thru in your own strength?
Do you realize that God has a plan for you? Do you realize that God’s plan is to give you a hope and a future? Do you realize that God’s plan through Jesus is to get to spend eternity with you? Do you realize with God when we face troubles of many kinds, we can take heart because Jesus has overcome the world? Do you realize with God when we face trials of many kinds, we can consider it pure joy because we know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance and that when we let perseverance finish its work so that we will be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Do you realize by inviting Jesus into your life and following after Him the benefits that come along with that? Have you ever heard about “more than you could ever ask or imagine”? Have you ever heard about “exceedingly, abundantly more”? Have you ever heard about “pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing”? Have you ever heard of “blessings”? Have you ever heard about how in our weakness God’s strength is revealed? Have you ever heard about joy and realized it is different and better than happiness?
Do you realize you can walk in the joy of the Lord no matter the circumstances of life that come your way? Do you realize that the joy of the Lord can be your strength? Do you realize we can have something even greater than happiness? We can be blessed! Blessings go beyond what you can ask for and even imagine! I have learned that I can’t outgive God! I have been blessed with things that money just can’t buy!
The Favour of God — Day 74: Bible In One Year 2017
Devotional, Psalm 34:1-10, Luke 1:39-56, Numbers 2:10-34, Numbers 3
1. Praise God for all his favour … Psalm 34:1-10
1I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
–from Psalm 34
Did you catch that? What those who seek the Lord will lack? That’s right “no good thing”! did you catch that? When we seek Him, we will find Him! When we seek Him, He will deliver us from all fear!
Have you tasted how good the love of God is? Have you seen how great His love for you is?
If not, why not invite God into your life! Pursue after Him! then tasted and see how great is His love for you!
In this psalm, David praises God for all the favour his relationship with God has brought to his life. He praises God ‘at all times’ (v.1) not just when things are going well or it is convenient to do so: ‘I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise. I live and breathe God; if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy’ (vv.1–2, MSG).
In particular, he praises God for:
David writes, ‘I sought the Lord, and he answered me’ (v.4a). God helped him in times of trouble, ‘When I was desperate, I called out, and God got me out of a tight spot’ (v.6, MSG).
Freedom from fear
David continues by explaining exactly how God had answered his prayers in this instance: ‘he delivered me from all my fears’ (v.4b).
Those who fear God are delivered from all their fears. ‘Fear [of] the Lord’ (v.9a) is the equivalent of ‘seeking the Lord’ (compare verse 9b, ‘those who fear him lack nothing’ with verse 10b, ‘those who seek the Lord lack no good thing’).
David does not say we will lack nothing, but he does say, ‘Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing’ (v.10b). Or as The Message puts it, ‘Worship opens doors to all his goodness’ (v.9b, MSG).
One of the things I noticed, even before I was a Christian, was the radiant expression on the faces of many Christians. ‘Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame’ (v.5).
‘God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray’ (v.7, MSG). It’s an amazing thought that as you pray and worship God you experience angelic protection.
‘All enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise,’ wrote C.S. Lewis. ‘… delight is incomplete till it is expressed.’
–Day 74: Bible In One Year 2017
2. Believe God’s promises of favour … Luke 1:39-56
39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
46And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
–from Luke 1
Will you trust in God? Will you believe His Word? Will you live out your life based on what you are hoping for because of your faith in God? Will you live out your life based on what you haven’t seen yet because of your faith in God? Favor doesn’t mean without problems as we know from Jesus’ Word that in this world we will have troubles, but He tells us how we can take heart because He has overcome the world! Favor doesn’t mean without trials, it just means that we know that we can consider it pure joy when we are walking thru it together with God!
In some ways the favour on Mary is unique: ‘Blessed are you among women’ (v.42a). Mary is:
The mother of the Lord
Mary carried in her womb the Son of God, Jesus the blessed one (v.42b). When Elizabeth comes into the presence of the foetal Jesus she is ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ (v.41). ‘Joy’ is the characteristic response to Jesus – even the baby ‘leapt with joy’ in the womb (v.44).
Recognised for all future generations
‘From now on all generations will call me blessed’ (v.48). Mary has been known as ‘the Blessed Virgin Mary’ ever since.
Jesus’ DNA came from a combination of Mary and the Holy Spirit. He was the genetic son of Mary. He must have looked like her. He must have had some of her physical features. She brought him up. She trained and taught him. For thirty years she was the dominant female influence on his life.
The pinnacle of faith
‘Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’ (v.45). Mary believed that what the Lord said to her – something unique and humanly impossible – would happen. As the angel had said to Mary, ‘Nothing is impossible with God’ (v.37).
For Mary, what God had promised was as good as done: ‘For the Mighty One has done great things for me’ (v.49). Corrie ten Boom said, ‘Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.’
Of course, in many ways, Mary was unique. Yet in some ways the favour she talks about can apply to you and me. We are blessed by a saviour (‘God my Saviour’, v.47). The promise to fill the hungry with good things (v.53) – the promise of God’s favour to satisfy our spiritual hunger with his provision – applies to you and me.
–Day 74: Bible In One Year 2017
3. Experience now the favour of God’s presence … Numbers 2:10-3:51
10On the south will be the divisions of the camp of Reuben under their standard. The leader of the people of Reuben is Elizur son of Shedeur. 11His division numbers 46,500.
12The tribe of Simeon will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Simeon is Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai. 13His division numbers 59,300.
14The tribe of Gad will be next. The leader of the people of Gad is Eliasaph son of Deuel.
16All the men assigned to the camp of Reuben, according to their divisions, number 151,450. They will set out second.
17Then the tent of meeting and the camp of the Levites will set out in the middle of the camps. They will set out in the same order as they encamp, each in their own place under their standard.
18On the west will be the divisions of the camp of Ephraim under their standard. The leader of the people of Ephraim is Elishama son of Ammihud. 19His division numbers 40,500.
20The tribe of Manasseh will be next to them. The leader of the people of Manasseh is Gamaliel son of Pedahzur. 21His division numbers 32,200.
22The tribe of Benjamin will be next. The leader of the people of Benjamin is Abidan son of Gideoni. 23His division numbers 35,400.
24All the men assigned to the camp of Ephraim, according to their divisions, number 108,100. They will set out third.
25On the north will be the divisions of the camp of Dan under their standard. The leader of the people of Dan is Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai. 26His division numbers 62,700.
27The tribe of Asher will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Asher is Pagiel son of Okran. 28His division numbers 41,500.
29The tribe of Naphtali will be next. The leader of the people of Naphtali is Ahira son of Enan. 30His division numbers 53,400.
31All the men assigned to the camp of Dan number 157,600. They will set out last, under their standards.
32These are the Israelites, counted according to their families. All the men in the camps, by their divisions, number 603,550. 33The Levites, however, were not counted along with the other Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.
34So the Israelites did everything the Lord commanded Moses; that is the way they encamped under their standards, and that is the way they set out, each of them with their clan and family.
–from Numbers 2
1This is the account of the family of Aaron and Moses at the time the Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai.
2The names of the sons of Aaron were Nadab the firstborn and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 3Those were the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve as priests. 4Nadab and Abihu, however, died before the Lord when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai. They had no sons, so Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.
5The Lord said to Moses, 6“Bring the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him. 7They are to perform duties for him and for the whole community at the tent of meeting by doing the work of the tabernacle. 8They are to take care of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, fulfilling the obligations of the Israelites by doing the work of the tabernacle. 9Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to him. 10Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary is to be put to death.”
11The Lord also said to Moses, 12“I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, 13for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.”
14The Lord said to Moses in the Desert of Sinai, 15“Count the Levites by their families and clans. Count every male a month old or more.” 16So Moses counted them, as he was commanded by the word of the Lord.
17These were the names of the sons of Levi:
Gershon, Kohath and Merari.
18These were the names of the Gershonite clans:
Libni and Shimei.
19The Kohathite clans:
Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.
20The Merarite clans:
Mahli and Mushi.
These were the Levite clans, according to their families.
21To Gershon belonged the clans of the Libnites and Shimeites; these were the Gershonite clans. 22The number of all the males a month old or more who were counted was 7,500. 23The Gershonite clans were to camp on the west, behind the tabernacle. 24The leader of the families of the Gershonites was Eliasaph son of Lael. 25At the tent of meeting the Gershonites were responsible for the care of the tabernacle and tent, its coverings, the curtain at the entrance to the tent of meeting, 26the curtains of the courtyard, the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar, and the ropes—and everything related to their use.
27To Kohath belonged the clans of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites and Uzzielites; these were the Kohathite clans. 28The number of all the males a month old or more was 8,600. 29The Kohathite clans were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle. 30The leader of the families of the Kohathite clans was Elizaphan son of Uzziel. 31They were responsible for the care of the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the articles of the sanctuary used in ministering, the curtain, and everything related to their use. 32The chief leader of the Levites was Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest. He was appointed over those who were responsible for the care of the sanctuary.
33To Merari belonged the clans of the Mahlites and the Mushites; these were the Merarite clans. 34The number of all the males a month old or more who were counted was 6,200. 35The leader of the families of the Merarite clans was Zuriel son of Abihail; they were to camp on the north side of the tabernacle. 36The Merarites were appointed to take care of the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts, bases, all its equipment, and everything related to their use, 37as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard with their bases, tent pegs and ropes.
38Moses and Aaron and his sons were to camp to the east of the tabernacle, toward the sunrise, in front of the tent of meeting. They were responsible for the care of the sanctuary on behalf of the Israelites. Anyone else who approached the sanctuary was to be put to death.
39The total number of Levites counted at the Lord’s command by Moses and Aaron according to their clans, including every male a month old or more, was 22,000.
40The Lord said to Moses, “Count all the firstborn Israelite males who are a month old or more and make a list of their names. 41Take the Levites for me in place of all the firstborn of the Israelites, and the livestock of the Levites in place of all the firstborn of the livestock of the Israelites. I am the Lord.”
42So Moses counted all the firstborn of the Israelites, as the Lord commanded him. 43The total number of firstborn males a month old or more, listed by name, was 22,273.
44The Lord also said to Moses, 45“Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. The Levites are to be mine. I am the Lord. 46To redeem the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of the Levites, 47collect five shekels for each one, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. 48Give the money for the redemption of the additional Israelites to Aaron and his sons.”
49So Moses collected the redemption money from those who exceeded the number redeemed by the Levites. 50From the firstborn of the Israelites he collected silver weighing 1,365 shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel. 51Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, as he was commanded by the word of the Lord.
–from Numbers 3
Enormous care had to be taken because of the huge responsibility and great blessing of God’s presence being in the midst of his people. The ‘Tent of Meeting’ (where God’s presence dwelt) was ‘set out in the middle of the camps’ (2:17). Everyone was given a role and a responsibility. In particular, a certain group of people were ordained (the Levites) to full-time ministry. They were ‘ordained to serve’ (3:3); they were ‘given wholly’ to God (v.9).
The life of God’s people literally revolved around the presence of God. It was the key to their identity, their successes and their blessedness.
We see in this passage though that God’s presence with his people was also limited. The people were barred from the sanctuary (v.10), the heart of God’s presence. The extraordinary message of the New Testament is that this separation has now been removed.
You can now experience the full blessings of God’s presence with you. This theme of the blessing of God’s presence is a recurring one throughout the Scriptures. Jesus brings God’s presence to us (John 1:14a). Jesus has given you the Holy Spirit, who is God’s empowering presence dwelling within you (1 Corinthians 6:19). We experience God’s presence especially when we gather together (Matthew 18:20). One day you will know God’s presence face to face (Revelation 21:3, 22:4).
–Day 74: Bible In One Year 2017