Category Archives: 04 – Numbers

Not Saying What Others Want to Hear


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 24-27

Today’s Key Passage – Numbers 24:10-25

 

Balaam was a sorcerer who was often called upon to place a curse on others.  Balak summoned him to place a curse on the Israelites, and offered to reward him handsomely in return.  Balaam was a greedy man who used his religion as a source of profit, so ordinarily he would have likely done what Balak asked, but God spoke to him directly.  God told Balaam to only say what He told him to say.  God even spoke to Balaam through his donkey (See Numbers 22:21-35).  After being asked several times by Balak to curse the Israelites, Balaam refused to go against God.  He chose to only speak what the Lord told him to speak.  While he could have simply said, what Balak wanted to hear and would have received riches for it, he chose instead to do what was right and speak the truth.  (Later in the Bible, we will learn that Balaam would eventually go back to his evil ways and allow his greed to turn him away from God, but in this case, he stood firm.)

Today, we are often put in situations where we can say what others want to hear or we can say what is true.  What do you say when your wife asks if you like the new blouse she bought even when you really do not?  What do you say to your friend who asks if he should try out for the worship team even though he was not blessed with the gift of music?  In situations like these, often the easiest thing to do is to simply say what the person wants to hear.  You could easily say that the blouse is beautiful or that your friend has a great voice, even though you do not really feel these things are true, and your wife or your friend would walk away feeling great about what you said.  It sounds like a good plan, right?  The problem is, when relationships are built on lies they will eventually fall apart.  What happens when your wife decides to buy more blouses exactly like the one you did not really like?  Will you ever say anything?  Solid relationships with other people are built on trust, and the only way to build that trust is by telling the truth.  Even when it might not profit us, we are still called to tell the truth.  Of course, there are ways to speak the truth in love and ways to speak the truth in hate, and we should always choose to speak in love while also saying what is true.  When we begin to practice radical honesty in a loving way, we will begin to see our relationships grow and prosper like never before.  The next time you are asked a question where you are tempted to say what the person wants to hear, remember the story of Balaam and remember to speak the truth in love.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Taking Credit for God’s Work


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 19,20; Psalm 28; Mark 5

Today’s Key Passage – Numbers 20:1-12

 

About ten years ago or so I was working in the corporate office of a company near where I lived.  One day, I came up with an idea for an operational program that would change the way we ran operations and would ultimately save the company money.  I slaved night and day for at least a month working on this project and setting all of the pieces in place to ensure a successful launch, and when everything was put together I presented the idea to my boss.  A few weeks went by and I did not hear anything about the project, until one day I was sitting in a meeting with my boss, my boss’s boss, and several top executives from the company.  During that meeting, my boss was asked about the department and she brought up the project I was working on.  The only problem was that she presented the idea as if it was her own.  I sat in the meeting listening as she took credit for the work I had done.  Of course, I did not say anything during the meeting, but I can still remember how I felt that day.  I was certainly angry, but more importantly I felt betrayed by what she had done.

Though I had not thought about that situation in years, when I read today’s key passage I immediately remembered how I felt that day.  In our passage, we see that the Israelites were experiencing a drought.  They were thirsty and were agitated and were complaining to Moses.  Moses and Aaron went directly to God and asked for His help, and God told them to go back to the Israelites and to, “Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water.”  Instead of following God’s instructions what did Moses do? He went back to the Israelites, but instead of simply speaking to the rock Moses said, ““Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.”  In essence, Moses took credit for God’s work.  Moses acted as though he and Aaron had the power to bring water from the rock, when actually God was the one with that power.  God saved the people from their thirst in the desert – Aaron and Moses were just his messengers.  I can imagine that God felt the same way I felt ten years ago.  He was angry and felt betrayed by what Moses had done, and punished him by not allowing Moses and Aaron to enter the Promised Land.

We can often be tempted to feel prideful about things that we did not actually make happen.  We can be tempted to boast to others about the things we have done.  In actuality, God deserves credit for all of the good things in our lives.  The job you have and the amount of money you make are not due to your “hard work”, your education, or your experience.  You have that job and that paycheck by the grace of God.  That idea that I came up with so many years ago that I was so proud of at the time was not my own doing – that idea was a gift to me from God.  He was working to make me successful, even though I did not know it at the time and was not giving Him any credit for His work.  It is ironic that I felt so angry and betrayed that my boss took credit for my work while all the time I was taking credit for God’s work in every area of my life.  While we are not called to put ourselves down or to be self-deprecating, we are called to be humble.  We are called to acknowledge what God has done for us and what He continues to do for us daily.  In Matthew 23:12, Jesus said, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  Let us all humble ourselves today before the Lord, and remember that He is the one deserving of all the glory.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

When Fear Overshadows Faith


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 12,13; Psalm 90; Mark 2

Today’s Key Passage – Numbers 13:17-33

 

Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan to do a little reconnaissance of the land.  He wanted to know what the land was like and what the people were like.  Did they have a large army?  Were their positions fortified?  Moses wanted to gather as much information as possible before going in and taking over the land.  When the spies returned, ten of the twelve spies had a negative report.  While all twelve men agreed that the land was indeed the “land of milk and honey”, ten of them were afraid.  They told stories about giant men who lived in the Promised Land who protected it from intruders.  Caleb and Joshua were the only two of the twelve who believed they should proceed as God directed them and take over the land.  These two men believed that with God’s help (which God had already promised to provide) they would be victorious.  At the end of the day, ten of the men were gripped with fear, while two of the men had faith.  Sadly, the majority opinion won out and the people decided not to go into the Promised Land.  Because of this decision, the Israelites would spend the next 40 years wandering around the desert.

Sometimes we can let our fear overshadow our faith.  It happened with the Israelites and it can happen to us.  Sometimes we felt led by God to do things that seem a little scary to us.  Maybe we are led to become a missionary or to become a pastor.  Maybe we are led to start our own ministry.  Maybe we are led to get married or to have kids.  Maybe we are led to adopt or to give our next paycheck to someone in need.  God often leads us to do things that might not make us exactly comfortable, and many times that is when fear comes in and starts to ruin everything.  When we let fear overtake us, we run the risk of allowing this fear to overshadow our faith in God.  If the Israelites had simply stood firm in their faith, they surely would have gone into the Promised Land and been victorious just as God said they would.  Instead, they allowed fear to overshadow faith and spent the rest of their lives paying the price.  When the first signs of fear arise, take immediate steps to put an end to it.  Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness.  Remind yourself of His love and the trust He deserves.  Never allow a little fear to get in the way of doing great things for God.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Nothing is Impossible for God


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 10,11; Psalm 27; Mark 1

Today’s Key Passage – Numbers 11:4-23

 

Each day, the Israelites woke up and found a brand new gift from God waiting for them.  Their daily needs were met by God through his gift of manna, which they found on the ground each morning.  It did not take long, however, before this gift was not enough for them.  They began to complain that they did not have any meat.  Their complaining angered God and frustrated Moses, who in turn took his complaints to God.  While God was not happy with the Israelites for complaining amongst themselves, He agreed to help Moses because he had brought his complaint directly to God.  God informed Moses that He would provide meat for the Israelites for an entire month.  When Moses heard this, his response was one of doubt and unbelief.  He questioned how God could possibly provide meat for 600,000 men for an entire month.  To Moses, the problem seemed too great, but God knew that nothing was impossible for Him.  No problem was too big for God.

It is easy for us to look back at the Israelites complaining or on Moses doubt and just shake our heads.  It seems unfathomable to us that the Israelites could complain about the free food they were provided every single day, which was literally placed at their feet by God, and it seems unfathomable that Moses would doubt the power and might of God given all of the things He had already done for the people.  Sadly, though, none of us are immune to this type of thinking.  How many of us have experienced times when we longed for something more that what God has already provided?  How many of us have wondered if God was listening to us and questioned why He was not stepping in immediately to help us in our time of need?  How many of us have seen a problem and thought that it was simply too great for anyone to fix?  When we start to feel worry in our lives, in essence we are doubting God.  When we wonder why God is not immediately changing our situation, we are doubting His absolute justice, power, mercy, and grace.

As I was discussing today’s reading with my wife, we talked about one of the verses in particular in this passage.  Maria told me that anytime she begins to feel worry over anything, she likes to think about this verse and it helps her eliminate the worry and get her focus back on God.  The verse comes near the end of the passage in Numbers 11:23, and it is God’s answer to Moses’ doubt – “Is the LORD’s arm too short?” The next time you start to feel worry, remember this verse.  The next time you start to feel doubt, remember this verse.  Recite this verse in your times of worry, and remember that nothing is impossible for God.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Following God’s Guidance


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 8,9; Acts 28

Today’s Key Passage – Numbers 9:15-23

 

If you are a follower of Christ, at some point in your life, you have most likely asked the following question – “What is God’s will for me?”  You may have wondered, “How can I know what God wants me to do in this situation?”  We all want to please God and we want to make sure we are following his direction, but sometimes it can be difficult to know what direction that might be.  It would be nice to have a cloud to follow during the day and fire to follow at night, as that would leave little room for our own interpretation, but following God usually does not work that way for us.  During times of frustration when we cannot seem to figure out which direction to go or how to proceed, we may even start to ask ourselves another question – “Does God still guide?”

Whether we know it or not; whether we believe it or not; whether we can understand it or not – God will be our guide.  Psalm 48:14 says, “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.”  There are many places in the Bible when we can see this, but one of the best places is the story of the cloud and the fire.  We saw how God used the pillar of cloud and fire in Exodus to get the Israelites safely out of Egypt, and we see it again in today’s key passage in Numbers.  I think there are four lessons we can learn from it about how God leads his people.

The first lesson is that God’s guidance is revealed one step at a time.  When the cloud lifted, the Israelites would go.  When it moved, they would follow.  When it stopped, they would stop.  Sometimes they would stay in one place overnight and move again and other times they would stay in one place for a long time, but they always had to follow God on a day-to-day basis.  One of the biggest problems we might have with discovering God’s will for us is that we want to see the whole picture.  We want to know right now where God is leading us and which direction He is going to take us to get us there.  Most of the time, however, even though God is fully aware of the complete plan He has for our lives, He does not simply provide us with that blueprint up front.  He provides us a step today, and another step tomorrow until eventually we get to where He wants us to go.

The second lesson is that we must follow God’s guidance even when we do not understand it.  If we truly want to follow God’s will for us, we have to move when He says to move and stay when He says to stay.  In Numbers 9, we see that the cloud would often move suddenly and stop suddenly with seemingly no explanation or reason.  Again, sometimes they would be in one place for a long time, and other times they would stop and set up camp only to find that they were heading out again the next morning.  There are times in our lives when we think we really want to move on to something new, but God may be telling us to stay where we are.  Likewise, there are times when we are comfortable and want to stay right where we are, but God is telling us to move on.  God demands our obedience.  When He says move, we move.  When He says stay, we stay.  We do this and we follow Him where He is leading because we love Him, even when we do not understand.

The third lesson we learn is that God’s methods for guiding us may change over time.  During the day, the Israelites saw a cloud.  That is what they needed to see to follow God.  At night, it would have been difficult for them to see a cloud so instead God led them with a pillar of fire.  While God never changed his guidance, He did change the method that He used to provide that guidance.  We often get wrapped up in thinking that God only leads people in one way.  We hear a story from a friend or a pastor about how God led them in a dream and we expect God to lead us in a dream, but God does not necessarily work that way.  Just because He uses one method to guide one person does not mean He will use that same method to guide you.  Maybe He will guide us in a dream or a vision, but He might also guide us through the Bible, advice from other believers, or inner convictions.  Sometimes He might speak to us with a loud voice that is easy to hear, and other times it might be a whisper.  The point is that God will lead you in exactly the way you need to be led.

The last lesson we learn from Numbers 9 is that God guides us as we stay close to Him.  The cloud that led the Israelites was not simply a symbol – the cloud was God’s presence.  When the cloud moved, if the people did not follow along with it they would be separated from God.  Knowing the will of God is not a question of where we should go or what we should do.  Those are important questions, but they are not the primary question.  The primary question is this: Are you willing to follow God wherever He leads you?  When we ask God what we should do, His response to us is “stay close to me”.  When we ask God where we should go, His response to us is “follow me”.  At the end of the passage in Numbers 9, we see this sentence, “At the LORD’s command they encamped, and at the LORD’s command they set out.” If we resolve to do the same thing, God will guide us.  If God says stop, we will stop.  If God says move, we will move.  The secret to knowing God’s will for your life is really the secret of knowing God.  The better we know Him and the closer we get to Him, the clearer His guidance will be for us.  When we seek to know Him, to follow Him, and to put Him first in everything we do, all of our guidance questions will be answered.  God is willing to guide you if you are willing to follow Him.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Not Saying What Others Want to Hear


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 24-27

Today’s Key Passage – Numbers 24:10-25

 

Balaam was a sorcerer who was often called upon to place a curse on others.  Balak summoned him to place a curse on the Israelites, and offered to reward him handsomely in return.  Balaam was a greedy man who used his religion as a source of profit, so ordinarily he would have likely done what Balak asked, but God spoke to him directly.  God told Balaam to only say what He told him to say.  God even spoke to Balaam through his donkey (See Numbers 22:21-35).  After being asked several times by Balak to curse the Israelites, Balaam refused to go against God.  He chose to only speak what the Lord told him to speak.  While he could have simply said, what Balak wanted to hear and would have received riches for it, he chose instead to do what was right and speak the truth.  (Later in the Bible, we will learn that Balaam would eventually go back to his evil ways and allow his greed to turn him away from God, but in this case, he stood firm.)

Today, we are often put in situations where we can say what others want to hear or we can say what is true.  What do you say when your wife asks if you like the new blouse she bought even when you really do not?  What do you say to your friend who asks if he should try out for the worship team even though he was not blessed with the gift of music?  In situations like these, often the easiest thing to do is to simply say what the person wants to hear.  You could easily say that the blouse is beautiful or that your friend has a great voice, even though you do not really feel these things are true, and your wife or your friend would walk away feeling great about what you said.  It sounds like a good plan, right?  The problem is, when relationships are built on lies they will eventually fall apart.  What happens when your wife decides to buy more blouses exactly like the one you did not really like?  Will you ever say anything?  Solid relationships with other people are built on trust, and the only way to build that trust is by telling the truth.  Even when it might not profit us, we are still called to tell the truth.  Of course, there are ways to speak the truth in love and ways to speak the truth in hate, and we should always choose to speak in love while also saying what is true.  When we begin to practice radical honesty in a loving way, we will begin to see our relationships grow and prosper like never before.  The next time you are asked a question where you are tempted to say what the person wants to hear, remember the story of Balaam and remember to speak the truth in love.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Taking Credit for God’s Work


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 19,20; Psalm 28; Mark 5

Today’s Key Passage – Numbers 20:1-12

 

About ten years ago or so I was working in the corporate office of a company near where I lived.  One day, I came up with an idea for an operational program that would change the way we ran operations and would ultimately save the company money.  I slaved night and day for at least a month working on this project and setting all of the pieces in place to ensure a successful launch, and when everything was put together I presented the idea to my boss.  A few weeks went by and I did not hear anything about the project, until one day I was sitting in a meeting with my boss, my boss’s boss, and several top executives from the company.  During that meeting, my boss was asked about the department and she brought up the project I was working on.  The only problem was that she presented the idea as if it was her own.  I sat in the meeting listening as she took credit for the work I had done.  Of course, I did not say anything during the meeting, but I can still remember how I felt that day.  I was certainly angry, but more importantly I felt betrayed by what she had done.

Though I had not thought about that situation in years, when I read today’s key passage I immediately remembered how I felt that day.  In our passage, we see that the Israelites were experiencing a drought.  They were thirsty and were agitated and were complaining to Moses.  Moses and Aaron went directly to God and asked for His help, and God told them to go back to the Israelites and to, “Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water.”  Instead of following God’s instructions what did Moses do? He went back to the Israelites, but instead of simply speaking to the rock Moses said, ““Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.”  In essence, Moses took credit for God’s work.  Moses acted as though he and Aaron had the power to bring water from the rock, when actually God was the one with that power.  God saved the people from their thirst in the desert – Aaron and Moses were just his messengers.  I can imagine that God felt the same way I felt ten years ago.  He was angry and felt betrayed by what Moses had done, and punished him by not allowing Moses and Aaron to enter the Promised Land.

We can often be tempted to feel prideful about things that we did not actually make happen.  We can be tempted to boast to others about the things we have done.  In actuality, God deserves credit for all of the good things in our lives.  The job you have and the amount of money you make are not due to your “hard work”, your education, or your experience.  You have that job and that paycheck by the grace of God.  That idea that I came up with so many years ago that I was so proud of at the time was not my own doing – that idea was a gift to me from God.  He was working to make me successful, even though I did not know it at the time and was not giving Him any credit for His work.  It is ironic that I felt so angry and betrayed that my boss took credit for my work while all the time I was taking credit for God’s work in every area of my life.  While we are not called to put ourselves down or to be self-deprecating, we are called to be humble.  We are called to acknowledge what God has done for us and what He continues to do for us daily.  In Matthew 23:12, Jesus said, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  Let us all humble ourselves today before the Lord, and remember that He is the one deserving of all the glory.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

When Fear Overshadows Faith


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 12,13; Psalm 90; Mark 2

Today’s Key Passage – Numbers 13:17-33

 

Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan to do a little reconnaissance of the land.  He wanted to know what the land was like and what the people were like.  Did they have a large army?  Were their positions fortified?  Moses wanted to gather as much information as possible before going in and taking over the land.  When the spies returned, ten of the twelve spies had a negative report.  While all twelve men agreed that the land was indeed the “land of milk and honey”, ten of them were afraid.  They told stories about giant men who lived in the Promised Land who protected it from intruders.  Caleb and Joshua were the only two of the twelve who believed they should proceed as God directed them and take over the land.  These two men believed that with God’s help (which God had already promised to provide) they would be victorious.  At the end of the day, ten of the men were gripped with fear, while two of the men had faith.  Sadly, the majority opinion won out and the people decided not to go into the Promised Land.  Because of this decision, the Israelites would spend the next 40 years wandering around the desert.

Sometimes we can let our fear overshadow our faith.  It happened with the Israelites and it can happen to us.  Sometimes we felt led by God to do things that seem a little scary to us.  Maybe we are led to become a missionary or to become a pastor.  Maybe we are led to start our own ministry.  Maybe we are led to get married or to have kids.  Maybe we are led to adopt or to give our next paycheck to someone in need.  God often leads us to do things that might not make us exactly comfortable, and many times that is when fear comes in and starts to ruin everything.  When we let fear overtake us, we run the risk of allowing this fear to overshadow our faith in God.  If the Israelites had simply stood firm in their faith, they surely would have gone into the Promised Land and been victorious just as God said they would.  Instead, they allowed fear to overshadow faith and spent the rest of their lives paying the price.  When the first signs of fear arise, take immediate steps to put an end to it.  Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness.  Remind yourself of His love and the trust He deserves.  Never allow a little fear to get in the way of doing great things for God.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

To become a fan of The Daily Bible Plan’s Facebook Page, CLICK HERE.

To follow me on Twitter for inspirational tweets, click the follow button –

If you like this post, please SHARE it with others to spread the Word of God.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Nothing is Impossible for God


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 10,11; Psalm 27; Mark 1

Today’s Key Passage – Numbers 11:4-23

 

Each day, the Israelites woke up and found a brand new gift from God waiting for them.  Their daily needs were met by God through his gift of manna, which they found on the ground each morning.  It did not take long, however, before this gift was not enough for them.  They began to complain that they did not have any meat.  Their complaining angered God and frustrated Moses, who in turn took his complaints to God.  While God was not happy with the Israelites for complaining amongst themselves, He agreed to help Moses because he had brought his complaint directly to God.  God informed Moses that He would provide meat for the Israelites for an entire month.  When Moses heard this, his response was one of doubt and unbelief.  He questioned how God could possibly provide meat for 600,000 men for an entire month.  To Moses, the problem seemed too great, but God knew that nothing was impossible for Him.  No problem was too big for God.

It is easy for us to look back at the Israelites complaining or on Moses doubt and just shake our heads.  It seems unfathomable to us that the Israelites could complain about the free food they were provided every single day, which was literally placed at their feet by God, and it seems unfathomable that Moses would doubt the power and might of God given all of the things He had already done for the people.  Sadly, though, none of us are immune to this type of thinking.  How many of us have experienced times when we longed for something more that what God has already provided?  How many of us have wondered if God was listening to us and questioned why He was not stepping in immediately to help us in our time of need?  How many of us have seen a problem and thought that it was simply too great for anyone to fix?  When we start to feel worry in our lives, in essence we are doubting God.  When we wonder why God is not immediately changing our situation, we are doubting His absolute justice, power, mercy, and grace.

As I was discussing today’s reading with my wife, we talked about one of the verses in particular in this passage.  Maria told me that anytime she begins to feel worry over anything, she likes to think about this verse and it helps her eliminate the worry and get her focus back on God.  The verse comes near the end of the passage in Numbers 11:23, and it is God’s answer to Moses’ doubt – “Is the LORD’s arm too short?” The next time you start to feel worry, remember this verse.  The next time you start to feel doubt, remember this verse.  Recite this verse in your times of worry, and remember that nothing is impossible for God.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

To become a fan of The Daily Bible Plan’s Facebook Page, CLICK HERE.

To follow me on Twitter for inspirational tweets, click the follow button –

If you like this post, please SHARE it with others to spread the Word of God.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Following God’s Guidance


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 8,9; Acts 28

Today’s Key Passage – Numbers 9:15-23

 

If you are a follower of Christ, at some point in your life, you have most likely asked the following question – “What is God’s will for me?”  You may have wondered, “How can I know what God wants me to do in this situation?”  We all want to please God and we want to make sure we are following his direction, but sometimes it can be difficult to know what direction that might be.  It would be nice to have a cloud to follow during the day and fire to follow at night, as that would leave little room for our own interpretation, but following God usually does not work that way for us.  During times of frustration when we cannot seem to figure out which direction to go or how to proceed, we may even start to ask ourselves another question – “Does God still guide?”

Whether we know it or not; whether we believe it or not; whether we can understand it or not – God will be our guide.  Psalm 48:14 says, “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.”  There are many places in the Bible when we can see this, but one of the best places is the story of the cloud and the fire.  We saw how God used the pillar of cloud and fire in Exodus to get the Israelites safely out of Egypt, and we see it again in today’s key passage in Numbers.  I think there are four lessons we can learn from it about how God leads his people.

The first lesson is that God’s guidance is revealed one step at a time.  When the cloud lifted, the Israelites would go.  When it moved, they would follow.  When it stopped, they would stop.  Sometimes they would stay in one place overnight and move again and other times they would stay in one place for a long time, but they always had to follow God on a day-to-day basis.  One of the biggest problems we might have with discovering God’s will for us is that we want to see the whole picture.  We want to know right now where God is leading us and which direction He is going to take us to get us there.  Most of the time, however, even though God is fully aware of the complete plan He has for our lives, He does not simply provide us with that blueprint up front.  He provides us a step today, and another step tomorrow until eventually we get to where He wants us to go.

The second lesson is that we must follow God’s guidance even when we do not understand it.  If we truly want to follow God’s will for us, we have to move when He says to move and stay when He says to stay.  In Numbers 9, we see that the cloud would often move suddenly and stop suddenly with seemingly no explanation or reason.  Again, sometimes they would be in one place for a long time, and other times they would stop and set up camp only to find that they were heading out again the next morning.  There are times in our lives when we think we really want to move on to something new, but God may be telling us to stay where we are.  Likewise, there are times when we are comfortable and want to stay right where we are, but God is telling us to move on.  God demands our obedience.  When He says move, we move.  When He says stay, we stay.  We do this and we follow Him where He is leading because we love Him, even when we do not understand.

The third lesson we learn is that God’s methods for guiding us may change over time.  During the day, the Israelites saw a cloud.  That is what they needed to see to follow God.  At night, it would have been difficult for them to see a cloud so instead God led them with a pillar of fire.  While God never changed his guidance, He did change the method that He used to provide that guidance.  We often get wrapped up in thinking that God only leads people in one way.  We hear a story from a friend or a pastor about how God led them in a dream and we expect God to lead us in a dream, but God does not necessarily work that way.  Just because He uses one method to guide one person does not mean He will use that same method to guide you.  Maybe He will guide us in a dream or a vision, but He might also guide us through the Bible, advice from other believers, or inner convictions.  Sometimes He might speak to us with a loud voice that is easy to hear, and other times it might be a whisper.  The point is that God will lead you in exactly the way you need to be led.

The last lesson we learn from Numbers 9 is that God guides us as we stay close to Him.  The cloud that led the Israelites was not simply a symbol – the cloud was God’s presence.  When the cloud moved, if the people did not follow along with it they would be separated from God.  Knowing the will of God is not a question of where we should go or what we should do.  Those are important questions, but they are not the primary question.  The primary question is this: Are you willing to follow God wherever He leads you?  When we ask God what we should do, His response to us is “stay close to me”.  When we ask God where we should go, His response to us is “follow me”.  At the end of the passage in Numbers 9, we see this sentence, “At the LORD’s command they encamped, and at the LORD’s command they set out.” If we resolve to do the same thing, God will guide us.  If God says stop, we will stop.  If God says move, we will move.  The secret to knowing God’s will for your life is really the secret of knowing God.  The better we know Him and the closer we get to Him, the clearer His guidance will be for us.  When we seek to know Him, to follow Him, and to put Him first in everything we do, all of our guidance questions will be answered.  God is willing to guide you if you are willing to follow Him.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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