June 12 – Wait, who? – Balaam

Read Numbers 22:1-41

King Balak and Balaam, the prophet, had it backwards. They thought they could get God to serve them.

But that’s not how it works.

Balak was afraid of God’s people so he sent for Balaam, thinking Balaam’s words could protect the Moabites from Israel. But when the prophet-for-hire didn’t get the answer he wanted, he tried again, and then again, until he got the answer he thought he was looking for. Then God sent him on his way. That’s when God gave words to a donkey so Balaam could understand what he refused to believe.

And Balaam came face-to-face with the truth that God does not serve man. He is the Almighty Creator, Lord of all. Man. Beast. Balaam. Balaam’s donkey.

Balaam tried three times to get God to change His mind and let him say what he wanted to say. Three tries before he would find the fear of God inside the truth that he was 100% incapable of speaking his own words rather than God’s. Balaam had let Balak convince him that he was the power behind his own words, whether blessings or curses. But God set him straight and finally Balaam saw clearly the truth that only He is the one to be feared, revered.

As you read this story, which character do you most relate to? Are you like King Balak, believing a certain person holds the power to make or break your life with their words? Are you looking to other people for salvation and safety? 

Maybe you relate more to Balaam, convinced that you can tell God how to run things. Trusting yourself, seeking your own thing, thinking you have the power to resist God’s plan and go your own way, do your own thing.

Or is it the donkey you relate most to? Sadly, the donkey in the story is the only one who actually obeyed God from the first. He spoke His words, delivered His message, let God be the Lord.

If only Balaam had let God be his personal Lord rather than seeking his own way, running after the money King Balak had promised, chasing the favor of the Moabites. But he did not. And that is what leads us to conclude right here that, sometimes, we should be like the donkey.

Bria Wasson

June 9 – Wait, who? – Korah

Read Numbers 16:1-50

I can almost hear Moses talking to Korah and his rebel friends:

You think I put myself in this role?!”

You think I chose this job?!

Why in the world would I choose to lead you ungrateful, pride-filled people who constantly complain against me and whine?

Korah and the Levites had been set apart from the rest of the people. Separated for God’s work to keep charge of the tabernacle. An awesome job, indeed. But Korah wanted more. He seems to have liked the idea of being in charge. So, he got some other Levites and leaders from around the camp and planned a coup.

They figured the job God had given them wasn’t enough.

If we are completely honest, most of us would admit having felt that way too.

You’re a mom who stays home with her small children, serving God by changing diapers, wiping noses, playing Go Fish thirty times a day. But there’s another mom serving in a more prominent way. Maybe she leads a Bible study or writes bestselling books and goes on worldwide speaking tours.

You are recently retired, called to mentor young men in a Grace Group. But you’ve seen other retirees who are “changing the world” in one fell swoop.

You work an hourly job where you spread the love of Jesus Christ with your words and your prayers and your friendship and your work ethic. But your neighbor is the president of a company and he has a much bigger platform from which to spread that love.

It’s easy to forget that we were called by God, not ourselves. We lose sight of the truth that God alone is who we serve. Not ourselves. He is the one who calls each of us according to His purpose and for His glory alone.

If Moses had appointed himself the leader, if Aaron had made himself the priest of Israel, then Korah’s plan would have totally worked. He and his band of rebels could have grabbed the big role of leading all those people and run with it.

But God was the one doling out the roles — from head honcho to manna-collector. 

It was up to them to serve faithfully, to walk humbly with God, in whatever role He’d given them. It’s up to us to serve Him faithfully still, walking humbly with Him, in whatever role He’s given us.

Bria Wasson

March 4 – A 7 Day Conversation with Ruth Friend LPCC – Embedded Stories

Read Numbers 14:23, 29-34

During this week, we are going to be listening to Ruth Friend, a licensed professional clinical counselor and dear friend of Grace Church, as she teaches us about the value of mental health and how we can go about honoring the Lord through it.

Today we talk about embedded stories and how we can recognize our own embedded stories and heal and grow from them.

July 15 – His story : Man’s rescue – Wandering

Read Numbers 13:1-14:45

HIS story of man’s rescue is not a passive, universal one where the Creator steps in and saves every person independent of their willingness. It requires a faith response of individuals. It always has. It always will.

After their miraculous release from Egypt and after God’s amazing provision as they encountered the obstacles of enemies, hunger, and thirst, the Israelites had witnessed firsthand the gracious, loving care of their Father. Surely, He was One who could be trusted! But, then again, could He?

One delegate spy from each tribe went on a scouting trip to bring back a report about the land, the fruit, the people, and their cities. Sure, the land sounded good. If the grapes were any indication, the crops would be great. But, it was the stories of the size and strength of the people and their fortified cities that scared them…not the “shaking in your shoes but moving ahead in faith anyway” kind of scared. No, this was the “we’re going to die if we go, so let’s pull up tent pegs and retreat” kind of scared. It’s true, there were two voices of faith, but the people listened to the ten voices of disbelief.

As a result of their disbelief, the people would wander for 40 years…and the older ones (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) would die without ever entering into the very land to which God wanted to deliver them. The thing that seemed most disappointing to God was expressed in 14:11: “How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?” Even though they had witnessed God’s past provision, that track record of His faithfulness seemed meaningless in the moment.

If you have walked with the Lord for any time at all, you have experienced His faithfulness and His provision. Do you find yourself just now in the presence of “giants” that seem undefeatable? Are there “cities” that seem like you could never conquer? Are you doubting God’s ability to rescue you from what lies ahead. Are you tempted to retreat? Allow His track record of faithfulness to count for something and trust Him with what lies ahead.

Steve Kern

May 16 – Trip to the Holy Land – The land of Edom & Petra

DAY 4 – THE LAND OF EDOM & PETRA

Theme: Believe

Read Numbers 21:4-9

Petra – just the word creates a sense of mystery!  Most people who visit the Holy Land today want to include a visit to this ancient city, built by the Nabateans in the 2nd Century B.C. A drive to Petra, “the red-rock city half as old as time” and one of the Seven New Wonders of the Ancient World, takes us through the Land of Edom in southern Jordan. During the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were not permitted by the Edomites to go through this land which would have been the shortest route.

God’s people complained because of the hardships they endured in this desert. Frankly, it’s a barren place, so it’s not hard to imagine their grumbling!  In summer – the temperatures are brutal!  And the flies threaten to carry you away!   All of this caused the Israelites to long for the land of Egypt.  They griped against the Lord and His representative, Moses, so God brought judgment into their lives through venomous snake bites.

At God‘s instruction, Moses created a bronze serpent and lifted it on a pole. As the people looked to that bronze serpent, they were healed of the life-threatening snake bites.

Jesus used that example to describe the power of His own crucifixion. “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. For this is how God loved the world:  He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14-16 NLT).

What must we do to be saved?  Acts 16:31 tells us, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”  Genuine belief can be summarized in the word, “trust.”  Just as we lean all of our weight on a chair when we sit down, so God invites us to lean all of our weight fully on Jesus to receive the forgiveness that He alone can provide through His death on Calvary.

Prayer of reflection:  Lord Jesus, help me to trust you fully as the Only One who can secure my salvation for eternity.

Bob Fetterhoff

March 23 – Mountaintops – Mount Hor

Read Numbers 20:1-29

Mt. Hor It was on that mountain that Aaron died.  A gravesite seems hardly to be the kind of place most of us like to visit.  It may seem difficult to view it as a place for a divine encounter.  And yet, this gravesite was. Mount HorWhat kind of eulogy could have been given for Aaron on that mountain?  He had been chosen by God as spokesman for Moses at the time of the Exodus.  Remember?  Moses had complained about his perceived inability to express himself clearly.  In response, God told Moses, “he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him” (Ex. 4:16).  Aaron had faithfully served in that capacity.

As a descendant of the tribe of Levi, Aaron also served as priest over the nation of Israel.  At times, his leadership was called into question.  But, even as late as Numbers 17, God confirmed His selection of Aaron once again with the budding of his rod.  Thus, Aaron led God’s people in the feasts and sacrifices. Aaron was also privileged to accompany Moses into the Tent of Meeting where they encountered God and were eyewitnesses of His glory.  I am sure that he could have told stories of God’s incredible majesty!

But Aaron was not perfect.  As Moses was on Sinai giving the Law, Aaron allowed himself to be influenced by the people of God.  He constructed a golden calf that was to serve as a visual representation of the One who had led them out of Egypt.  In clear violation of the 2nd commandment, Aaron had listened to man and not to God.  But God was gracious, allowing Aaron to live and to continue to serve. Similarly, in his final days, about which you read, Aaron and Moses together failed to reflect the holiness of God.  With the people thirsting for water, God instructed them to “speak to the rock,” from which water would flow.  Instead, the two of them struck the rock.  As a consequence for their disobedience, neither Moses nor Aaron would enter into the land promised them by God.  In fact, Aaron’s life ended on that mountain.

Although the precise details are much different, the basic realities of Aaron’s life are the same as yours.  Your accomplishments in life are reflections of God’s power.  Your mistakes in life are dependent upon His grace.  You will need both today…and both until the day you die.

Steve Kern

July 12: Mount Hor

Read Numbers 20:1-29 Mt. Hor It was on that mountain that Aaron died.  A gravesite seems hardly to be the kind of place most of us like to visit.  It may seem difficult to view it as a place for a divine encounter.  And yet, this gravesite was. Mount HorWhat kind of eulogy could have been given for Aaron on that mountain?  He had been chosen by God as spokesman for Moses at the time of the Exodus.  Remember?  Moses had complained about his perceived inability to express himself clearly.  In response, God told Moses, “he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him” (Ex. 4:16).  Aaron had faithfully served in that capacity. As a descendant of the tribe of Levi, Aaron also served as priest over the nation of Israel.  At times, his leadership was called into question.  But, even as late as Numbers 17, God confirmed His selection of Aaron once again with the budding of his rod.  Thus, Aaron led God’s people in the feasts and sacrifices. Aaron was also privileged to accompany Moses into the Tent of Meeting where they encountered God and were eyewitnesses of His glory.  I am sure that he could have told stories of God’s incredible majesty! But Aaron was not perfect.  As Moses was on Sinai giving the Law, Aaron allowed himself to be influenced by the people of God.  He constructed a golden calf that was to serve as a visual representation of the One who had led them out of Egypt.  In clear violation of the 2nd commandment, Aaron had listened to man and not to God.  But God was gracious, allowing Aaron to live and to continue to serve. Similarly, in his final days, about which you read, Aaron and Moses together failed to reflect the holiness of God.  With the people thirsting for water, God instructed them to “speak to the rock,” from which water would flow.  Instead, the two of them struck the rock.  As a consequence for their disobedience, neither Moses nor Aaron would enter into the land promised them by God.  In fact, Aaron’s life ended on that mountain. Although the precise details are much different, the basic realities of Aaron’s life are the same as yours.  Your accomplishments in life are reflections of God’s power.  Your mistakes in life are dependent upon His grace.  You will need both today…and both until the day you die. sbk