Numbers 17:4-5Put these staffs in the Tabernacle in front of the Ark of the Covenant, where I meet with you. Buds will sprout on the staff belonging to the man I choose. Then I will finally put an end to the murmuring and complaining against you. The context of these two verses is that the Israelites were still grumbling about Aaron’s family being the ones chosen to be priests. It seems that this was like being royalty and the people were jealous (hence Korah’s rebellion). God finally said, enough is enough. Put all the staffs, one from the leader of each tribe with his name inscribed on it, in front of me and I will show you. Well, sure enough, Aaron’s staff not only budded, it blossomed and produced almonds! That’s pretty conclusive proof of God’s will. In my life, I yearn for affirmation, especially in areas like singing/worshiping and teaching/curriculum. I’ve struggled with this for years. And, often, God gives me affirmation from people, just not always from whom I want it. I greatly desire to see myself the way God sees me because I know He affirms me and has given me the gifts I have. I think it’s a lot like a woman’s desire to know she is beautiful. Every woman (I think) has a desire to know she is beautiful and wanted. We express it different ways, but it’s there. For me, I expressed it in modeling (when I was in college). But, now I have the love of an incredible God who has given me the love of an incredible man. I know I am beautiful in their eyes and that is enough… but I still want to know I do well in these other areas, that what I do matters. I seek the acknowledgement of this from people around me and in authority over me. Why is it not enough to know that God gave me gifts and therefore they are good? I don’t know. There is a song called “Royalty” by Alberto and Kimberly Rivera that basically expresses how God sees me and it’s an amazing song. The first time I heard it, I cried. I will try and post the lyrics one of these days soon, but I don’t have time today. It speaks to the longing in my heart to know I am important and good and lovely and valuable. Affirmation from God. And I still pray to see myself through God’s eyes, instead of seeking to find myself in the eyes of others.
Sadly this is a note in passing since Kainoah woke up before me this morning (yeah, 4:50am is really early, even if you normally get up at 5am), and as much as I love him, his wakefulness isn’t particularly conducive to study! The Year of Jubilee has been on my mind since my amazing husband mentioned something that he feels God told him about it. So, today I spent a little time (after trying to figure out where the Year of Jubilee commands were) refreshing my memory and doing some research. In brief: It was the Sabbath Year – the land was to rest without any plantings or harvesting. Anything that grew was for those who were slaves, servants, and foreigners, as well as livestock and wild animals. Interestingly enough, if these laws were followed, the year preceding the Year of Jubilee would provide enough food to last them through the entire year and past it until they could plant and harvest in the next year! Talk about provision – I’m thinking there are some interesting parallels to our lives in that…. It was the year of freedom – land that was sold or lost due to bankruptcy or debt would be returned to its original owner. It was a year of redemption from bondage – those who were slaves to debt had their debt canceled and they were set free. So, I’m not sure what John feels his message means, but I’m going to keep reading because there are definitely interesting implications in it, no matter what our situation.
Last night John and I went to the Hillsong United concern at the First Baptist Church Orlando. It was amazing! If you don’t know the band, they are an offshoot of the Hillsong church in Australia that was made famous by Darlene Szcheck (sp?). They write their own songs, and it’s a more rock version of the traditional Hillsong stuff. We went with a bunch of other people who are also on the worship team at my church. One thing I noticed was their passion. It was really hard to miss it. And it wasn’t just because they were on stage with lights and screaming, worshiping crowds around them. They worshiped on stage, too. It made me wonder why they seem so passionate about God and worship in Australia, seemingly more so than here in the US. I thought about why I am not always as excited as I want to be when I lead worship. I came to this conclusion: we fear man’s opinion. When I lead worship at some place, I know the “mood” of the church and pastor and know that if I get all excited and bounce around the stage it makes them really uncomfortable and they get a little like deer in headlights. And I thought about when I’m leading worship at my church or worshiping from the congregation. There are a lot of people who don’t “get into” worship… In the US we get complacent and used to having the ability to worship freely. We are so afraid of looking foolish for God’s glory that we stifle the passion we have for Christ. We forget to focus on God, not caring what others think if we raise our hands or fall on our knees or cry a little, or get on our faces in awe and reverence. Instead we stand there holding out hand or crossing our arms to forcably keep our unruly hands from raising, keeping our eyes open lest some one, heaven forbid, think we’re weird for praying the song back to God. We fear man, not God. Man’s opinion, not God’s opinion. Think about David. The man danced naked in front of thousands of people, reveling in God’s love, passionately displaying His love for his God. Ok, so I don’t think that dancing naked is the answer (at least not in public). But if there is a passion bubbling up inside, who cares if you look foolish to the people around you. If you’re being obedient in worship, looking like a fool is nothing. I’d rather look foolish in my worship of God than look like a fool to God for refusing to show my gratefulness, love, adoration, amazement, and thankfulness to Him. So, you can count on me to be there, hands raised, eyes closed, tears leaking, bouncing in my shoes, loving on my God. Not always, but when the Spirit moves, I hope I always go there. Foolish or not. Will you be a fool for God?
Through the obedience of one They shall call on Me And be set Free One cry One Shout Unleashing heaven Victory proclaimed God’s name claimed Call upon me Chains broken Hearts made whole The obedience of one Voice Heart Life Surrendered Aloud
1 Corinthians 2:10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. Sometimes when I try to understand the Bible, I understand this verse better. I have no clue. And when I do things I realize I have no clue. For example, I had the priviledge of leading worship at my old church last week, and the part that I find the hardest is talking to everyone and praying. It’s not a big deal in a small group but for some reason I guess I figure they’re waiting for some great spiritual words of wisdom or eloquence to come from my lips. But, even Paul said that he would speak plainly and let the power of the Holy Spirit make things wise and eloquent. Later on he says that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (Is. 64:4) It doesn’t matter what we try to plan or say or do with grace or wisdom. God’s Spirit can move in our weakness, our stumbling, and our fear to turn even the most horribly incompentant conversation or simple prayer into something far more powerful than we could ever imagine. We may not see their impact, but God sees them and knows how He can use it to powerfully impact others. Despite our weakness – or maybe even because of our weakness.
In Numbers 16 it tells the story of Korah and his followers who rebelled against Aaron and Moses and, ultimately, against God. Korah was a Levite, which meant that he served God by serving the Tabernacle. He was mad because he wasn’t an actual priest (only the descendants of Aaron could be priests). So he led a rebellion against Aaron and Moses. Unfortunately for him, it led to his death and the death of his family and followers. The earth actually opened up, swallowed them all, and then closed back up around them. Now, you’d think, having seen that (sounds terrifying), the Israelites would decide that God was pretty powerful and that if He said something, it was the right thing. I’d also think they’d connect the dots and realize that Korah and his followers pushed God, and God punished their sins. But no, they blamed Moses and Aaron for the actions and deaths of Korah and his followers (as if Moses had made the earth open up!). For the second time in about as many days, God told Moses and Aaron to get away from the people so He could wipe them out. And for the second time, they interceded on the people’s behalf (despite the people’s words and actions against them). Instead God sent a plague which killed 14,700 people! It probably would have killed more if Aaron hadn’t followed Moses’ instructions to take the incense burner out among the people to make atonement for them. The Israelites failed to fear the wisdom and will of God. They grumbled against His chosen leaders and questioned not only his decrees, but also His ability to do anything about their willfulness. I’m like that a lot, I think. I see the power that God has, His ability to do anything, His promises fulfilled, and the wisdom of His way, and then I turn around and question Him about something else that I don’t understand or don’t like. It’s a miracle that God is so patient! I suppose though, that as His child He looks at me and sees Jesus instead of my filth and continued sinfulness. No matter how many times my sons question me or ignore my instructions or get disciplined, I love them, adore them, and would do anything I could to make them safe and happy. And that’s how God sees me. I may have consequences to my choices, but because of the Jesus and His sacrifice for me, I am a child of God and He loves me passionately, forgiving me over and over, loving me more and more. I am well and truly blessed to have that kind of relationship with my Heavenly Father. I am very thankful I didn’t live before Jesus came!
Isaiah 28:12-13 God’s people could have rest in their own land if they would only obey him, but they will not listen. So the Lord will spell out his message for them again, repeating it over and over, a line at a time, in very simple words. Yet they will stumble over this simple, straightforward message… Do you get the feeling that Isaiah, the author, is frustrated with Israel? It’s like when someone just isn’t getting it so you speak in very small, simple words so they understand. I think it’s funny (and sad) that God will spell it out, one line at a time, in very simple words. It’s great phrasing! But the message is sad. Even with God making it so easy to understand, they still don’t get it. It’s not that they can’t get it, they choose not to. He says they will not listen. “Can’t” implies that it’s not physically possible, but “will not” indicates that they just don’t want to. In the end, how often do we take something that was meant to be simple and make it far more complicated that it should be? I know I do… a lot, sadly. The first part of the verse made me think about the situation that John and I find ourselves in financially. I wonder how much of our situation is that we’re not listening or obeying in some areas in our lives. I know that in this situation we are definitely working on living within our means, but I wonder if there’s another, more subtle area that we’re missing. Is there a message God is trying to get through to us, and if we’d just listen and obey would we finally find a path out of this hole? If there is, I wish He’d make His voice a little louder so I can figure it out. I really want to get through this particular valley. It feels like we’ve been here for so long without a break and it’s getting tougher and tougher. And while I was writing that I was thinking that this burden is too heavy. And that made me think, “Why am I carrying a burden? Doesn’t God say to give those burdens to Him because He can carry any load?” I guess I tend to try and sort out all this stuff on my own (controlling the situation, maybe?). I need to remind myself to let it go and let God carry it and take care of it.