Equal, But Different

I love it.

God is not limited by cultural rules.  He created justice, he is just and he acts justly.

Whenever we see God’s actions and directions not lining up with current culture, we need to take note of it.  We know that God is right and our culture is wrong in every one of these instances.  Sometimes it takes our culture thousands of years to catch up to what is right.

The historical account of Zelophehad’s daughters in Numbers 27 is one of my favorite examples of this.  I’ll just call them Z’s daughters.

At that time in history, women were considered to be the property of men and most men had more than 1 wife.  When Z died without having any sons, Z’s five daughters asked to inherit his property.

What!?

That just wasn’t done.

Women didn’t inherit property.  They WERE property.

When Moses took this case to God, God said, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right.  You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance to them.”  Numbers 27:7.  He stipulated that they had to marry within their tribal clad so that the land stayed with in the family.  If you think about it, that makes a lot of sense since the land was physically divided by clans.  This kept everything organized as God had designed.

I bet there were many long and heated discussions by the male leaders of the families as they gathered around the campfire at night!  This story is only 4 paragraphs in the Bible but I’ll bet the arguments against doing this could fill up several scrolls if they had all been written down.

I’m sure the same concern came up that was discussed with King Xerxes later in the book of Esther.  If these women received this request now, they are just going to ask for more and more.  A dangerous trend was starting!  But we read that they made the right decision and obeyed.

It took thousands of years but – yes, women inherit and own property now.  As recently as the 1950’s women were generally considered not capable of inheriting and running large properties and businesses.  But way back in ancient times, God knew he had created women equal to men.  Different, but equal.  He set a spiritual leadership hierarchy in place within marriages that has everything to do with order and process and nothing to do with intelligence and aptitude.

And our culture has finally caught up to God’s truth in this area ….. in most cases.

Please help us live by your truth, Abba Father.

Hold Loosely

Stuff

Boxes of stuff.

Rooms of stuff.

Garages, sheds and basements full of stuff.

Stuff we’re not using but someone else would use it – if they had it.  Stuff that hasn’t fit us for many years but we still can’t give it away.  Stuff that’s broken and we’ve never found the time to fix it but we still keep it because we can’t part with our stuff.

God never meant for us to keep all of our stuff for ourselves.

God told the Israelites that their 50th year in the Promised Land was supposed to be a Year of Jubilee.  During this year, all of the poor people who had sold themselves as slaves were supposed to be freed and all property which had been sold was given back to the original owner.  It was intended to be a year consecrated for redemption and freedom.

Does it surprise you that my research shows that there is no evidence that the Year of Jubilee was ever observed?

I’m not surprised.  Many of us like to hold our belongings and our stuff very close. A lot of us  don’t want to give stuff away, if it has to go, we sell it.  We worked hard for these things.  We earned them.  Some of this stuff might be ‘worth something someday’.

Well, a lot of our stuff could be worth something to someone else who has less than us today if we could just loosen our grip on it and give it away.  Some of our stuff is broken and worthless and shouldn’t even be given away.  The bottom line –  we need to be able to let go of it.

The Israelites couldn’t do it, either, so they lost the chance to see God work in a supernatural way in their lives through celebrating the Year of Jubilee.  They didn’t experience the joy and freedom of having open hands when it came to their ‘stuff’.

God wanted the Year of Jubilee to be a holy year for the Israelites where they would see his provision for them as they gave the property back to the original owners and set the slaves free.

But there’s no evidence that it ever happened.

I was personally challenged by this many years ago when my husband and I decided to sell the house we lived in for over 14 years and go into Apartment Life ministry.  This meant we were moving from the 4 bedroom, two-story house with a pool where our two children grew up to an apartment.  We knew God was calling us into this ministry so it had to happen.

I remember walking through my big house packed with awesome memories and full of stuff crying with my hands open, pointed down, asking God to help me hold all these things loosely.  We sold and gave away rooms full of ‘stuff’ and moved into the apartment where the small amount of things we had left fit very nicely.  What a great lesson about how much I had that I didn’t need!  Since then, my hands hold onto people and God tightly but I hold onto ‘things’ very loosely,

It’s a great way to live – holding tightly onto God while loosely holding onto my belongings.  It’s awesome to see God obviously working in my life as I have more time and energy to spend loving him because my ‘stuff’ takes up less space in my life.

If your stuff owns you to any degree, take the challenge – start holding it loosely today.

Please help us hold loosely to everything that is not about loving you and loving others, Abba Father.

You Probably Have Heard of It

You may even have felt that you were one –

a scapegoat.

This is where someone who is innocent is punished for something someone else did.  I know I have often heard this term used when a big corporation is sued for something they did and they fire a person with a relatively minor role in the situation who was just doing what their bosses told them to do.  The corporation does this so it looks like they took action to remedy the issue.  This minor player is a scapegoat – taking the blame for everyone else who had a hand in the bad decision.

Did you know that this term comes from the Bible?  Thousands of years ago the Israelites actually had a scapegoat.  God started this ritual in order to temporarily deal with the sins of the Israelites.  He told the head priest to lay both of his hands on the head of a goat and

‘confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion and sins of the people of Israel.  In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat.’  Leviticus 16:21

Then the scapegoat was driven into the wilderness, carrying all the people’s sins with it.

Until the next time they sinned.

You can see how temporary this was.  I think God used this process to help make the people aware of all of their sins and to visually show them their sins had to be paid for and taken away.

This is a very clear message about how much you and I need a Savior.  Something had to be done about our sins.  You and I can’t rebel and disobey over and over again while having a personal relationship with a Holy God.  Someone had to paid the price and provide a way for us.

And his name is Jesus.

He is the Way.

And the Way is open for everyone.

Jesus paid the price for our sins – once and for all.  We are saved from the penalty and condemnation of our sin by recognizing our Savior and putting our faith in him.

You and I don’t need a scapegoat anymore.

We are saved through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross – erasing our past, present and future sins from God’s sight.

Thank you, Jesus.

The Things I Didn’t Do

I don’t always take the opportunity to share my story about what God has done in my life with a friend.

I don’t always help others like God asks me to do – sometimes I’m too focused on my own to-do list.

I don’t always give God all the credit when his blessings are so evident in my life.

These are all things I should be doing but I don’t always do.

God calls these ‘sins of omission’ in his Word. “They must make restitution for what they failed to do in regard to the holy things.” Leviticus 5:16.

This verse is talking about the laws God gave the Israelites about how to take care of the Tent of Meeting and the various offerings they were supposed to make.  We no longer have all those laws – 

but you and I still have sins of omission.  These are things that God wanted us to do but we didn’t do.  Things God wanted us to say but we didn’t say.

We get lazy.  We are afraid of what people will think.  We get distracted.

We fill up our calendars with all kinds of things and there is no more room for God.  We don’t spend any time reading his word, talking with him, worshipping him.

Sins of omission.

When I put my faith in Jesus who paid the price for all of my sin for all time on the cross, I no longer needed to make the restitution that this verse speaks about.  This Journey Toward the Truth is about letting God transform my heart and mind so I gradually become more like Christ.  Out of gratitude for what God has done in my life, I want to avoid both types of sins – what I do that is wrong and what I should do but don’t do.

I have found, as I grow closer to God, I hear his voice more clearly and doing what he wants me to do has become easier.   As I listen with my heart and mind open to the Holy Spirit, I’m getting better at saying what he wants me to say and doing what he wants me to do.

As a result, regrets for what I don’t do are few and my joys for keeping in step with God each day are many.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Little by Little

One step at a time.

It can be difficult to trust God’s direction with my next step when I have no idea how this is going to work out.

It’s tough to persevere through each struggle, not losing sight of my Father God.

“Little by little”.  Moses uses these words as he is speaking to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land.  “The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little.” Exodus 23:30.

Moses also said, “You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once or the wild animals will multiply around you.”  Exodus 23:29

God did not give the Israelites victory over all of their adversaries all at once because the wild animals would have taken over the empty land.

I would love it if God would just take my trials and problems away – all of them – all at once.  Take them all away, Father!

But God doesn’t do that.  Little by little, step by step, he leads me through the struggles.  He draws me closer as together we move through the confusing and dark times.  God does not eliminate all of my issues because then I would be very tempted to count on myself and not on him.  I need to remain dependent on him or wild animals (bad choices and wrong thinking) will multiply around me.

I have found that it takes a lot of trust to move forward when I don’t know what’s ahead.  I have had to learn to take one step at a time understanding that I’m not in control but my loving Father is.  He is working all things out for my good and, little by little, I have come to a point that I am 100% confident of that.  No questions.  No doubts.

I don’t ask him any more to take away all of my problems.  Now I ask him to please walk closely beside me as I go through them.  Each day I do my part by taking a step forward keeping my eyes focused on my Father God.

He does everything else.

Thank you, Abba Father.

The Transformation Continues…..

Reading.  Studying.  Listening.  Memorizing.

God has been seriously re-shaping my heart since I became a committed believer about 30 years ago.  When I was young, I had a close relationship with Jesus but it got lost in a season of rebellion and confusion about the truth in my young adulthood.  Six years of wandering and trying out all the things the world offers taught me how empty my life was without God.  I discovered that all the ‘fun’ and partying and working extra hard for ‘stuff’ was meaningless and a dead end.

So I re-committed my whole heart to God over 30 years ago and I’ve been on this Journey Towards the Truth ever since.

God tells us in Deuteronomy 10:16, “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.”  Looking back, I see all kinds of evidence that God has been working on my heart, circumcising the parts that needed to change –

  • He cut out the rebellious part of my heart.  This is amazing to me because I’ve always had a strong rebellious part to my personality.  Now, no matter what happens, my heart submits to God’s will.  He knows best.
  • God cut out the stubborn part of my heart.  I translate “stiff-necked” as being stubborn and God has softened my heart towards everything that is about him and comes from him.
  • God cut out any parts of my heart that were unbelieving.  I don’t have to understand it all to believe.  If God says it, it’s true.  God has taught my eyes to look beyond what is in front of me.
  • God has changed the part of my heart that wants to control things around me.  I know who is in total control and it’s not me.  I have learned to trust God with everything and I’m 100% confident that he is working all things out for my good.
  • My heart was shattered into a million broken, mangled pieces when my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer was killed in the line of duty.  I can feel God molding a new heart inside of me out of the debris.  This heart is centered on God and has a strong focus on my forever home.

Circumcising my heart sounds painful but it has actually set me free from the lies and worries that the world around us tries to impose on us.

And the transformation continues…..

Thank you, Abba Father.

There’s No Question

What should I do first?

I can’t do everything so what should I make sure I do?  I know that setting the right priorities is my life is extremely important so I don’t miss doing the most important thing.

But what is the most important thing?

After reading God’s word, it’s clear to me – no question – that the main thing I was created to do has been the main thing since the beginning of time.  Over 3500 years ago, Moses told his people to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  Deuteronomy 6:5.

The main thing.

When I get this right, I put God in a position in my life where he makes me whole, gives me a purpose for each day and helps me with everything else.

That’s my reality.  When I seriously started putting God first, he helped me be a better mother, a better wife, a better employee, a better boss, a better friend…..a better person.

I know, it sounds like loving God with our whole self means more stuff to do – seriously studying the Bible, faithfully participating in worship, serving God with my spiritual family, developing a solid prayer life and regularly meeting with others to grow my faith and be encouraged.  When  I decided to obey and put God first in my life I didn’t need any more things to do.  God challenged me to get my priorities straight at a time when I was a young wife and a mother of two little kids who travelled regularly for work.  My calendar was over-stuffed!  It’s a good thing I’ve never been very excited about watching TV because I had no time to watch anything – for years.

I found out that this was the perfect time for me to put God first because, as I watched, he supernaturally worked it all out.  Very quickly, I felt less stretched, less stressed and more joyful.  God took away my worries and the heavy weight of my responsibilities which often kept me awake at night and gave me peace and purpose – he filled a hole in my life that I wasn’t even aware I had.

I had been a Christian my whole life but I had never let God have first place in my life. Putting God first made all of the rest easier – and more fun!

If you’ve made this commitment, you know what I mean.  If you’ve never done this, you want to go for it.  Try it.  It’s worth it.

It’s true – I still struggle sometimes and get my priorities mixed up.  But now I know where to go for peace and restoration.  My Abba Father is always waiting, ready to help.

Putting God first in our lives is not a suggestion from God, it is a command.  Like all of his commands, we are blessed when we obey.

May we be found faithful, Abba Father.

 

I Can’t

I can’t – it’s too hard.

I can’t – it’s too much.

I can’t – I don’t know how.

I can find a lot of reasons why I think I can’t do something that’s going to be difficult.  But I have learned if God wants it done there is no “I can’t”.  “I can’t” just doesn’t apply when the Creator of the Universe wants to do something through me.

Have you learned that yet?

The Israelites obviously hadn’t figured that out yet when the spies came back from the Promised Land and said, “We can’t attack those people, they are stronger than we are.” Numbers 13:31.   They didn’t get it.  God had said he was going to give them the land, he was going to give them victory.  “We can’t” was true but God could.  And he promised that he would.

Joshua and Caleb got it.  Caleb said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”  Numbers 13:30

Yeah, Caleb!  He was so right!  Yes, they could certainly do it because God had promised and he always keeps his promises.

It’s not about us having enough strength or enough money or enough time.  God enables us to do the things he wants us to do.  Do you believe that?

So I have to ask myself – are there any “I can’ts” in my life that I need to change to “I can’s” because God wants to do it through me?

What about you?  Any “I can’ts” where you need to trust God and step out in faith because “God can”?

Thank you for being our God of the Impossible, Abba Father.

 

Never Too Short

There are times when I am tired and discouraged and other days when I am sad and feel a little lost.   I also have hours of impatience and frustration.

When is God going to do something about this issue that is going on in my life?  When is he going to take care of this struggle?

How can God possibly work this out for my good?  I just don’t see how he’s going to do that.   Maybe it’s not going to happen.

Then God responds to me like he did to Moses thousands of years ago, ” Is the LORD’S arm too short?” Numbers 11:23.

I just have to smile.  This really sets me back in my place.  Because – of course, God’s arm is not too short.  He is the Creator of the Universe, the Great I AM.  He sees and knows everything.  Nothing is impossible for him.

When God said this to Moses, Moses was doubting that God could provide meat for all of the Israelites for a month.  The people had started grumbling about eating manna everyday and God responded by saying, “Tomorrow you will eat meat.”

As the leader of these complainers, Moses thought he had to ‘help God’ by figuring out how to get this done.  But he just didn’t see a way to make this happen.   It was impossible!

Yes, it was impossible for human hands.  But there are no limits for God.  His arm is never too short – it reaches across universes that we don’t even know about yet.

So we should not be surprised that the Israelites ate meat – they ate meat until they were sick of it.

God’s arm is not too short but sometimes our faith can be too small.  My faith can be too limited.

Do I really believe that God’s arm is never too short?

Do I really trust him?

Please grow our faith, Abba Father.

Keep Watching…..

Every morning,

looking….

What’s in store for me today?  Do I move?  Do I stay?

I’m imagining what it was like for the Israelites as they began their journey through the desert.  When the Cloud of Guidance covered the tabernacle, they stayed.  When the cloud lifted above the tent, the estimated 2.4 million Israelites packed up and moved on.

There were times they stayed in the same place for months and other times when they were moving again the next morning.

Every morning, they would look to the tabernacle to determine their direction for that day.  Everybody could see it – not just the priests and the leaders.  God made this visible to everybody – he wanted all of them to be able to see that he was the one leading them.

What would our lives be like if we had that clear guidance from God for each day?

Great news!  We can!

I know I can  look to God and his Word for guidance each day just like the Israelites did.  “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105.

He wants me to look to him before I stay or go….

before I agree to something….

when I’m trying to choose what words to say in a conversation about a difficult subject….

as I take steps forward on my journey towards the truth.  I know I need to keep moving forward and growing in my faith.

And I know I’ll stay on the right path when my eyes are focused on God.

I see your light, Abba Father.