Posts Tagged ‘encouraging one another’

Numbers 10:11-36 (Part 3)

The Israelites Leave Sinai

Excuse the grammar in my title today, but it is a quote that we will come back to later in this blog. However, let’s begin today by talking about my wife, Elena, and me…

Every morning, during the week, we have a routine that we follow, Elena and I. I have the alarm set for 4:27am. I hit the snooze button on my phone’s alarm app twice. At that point, after the alarm comes to life a second time, at 4:45am, I must make the choice of whether I am going to get up at that appointed time and go into the garage and exercise on my weight bench and treadmill for 50 minutes to an hour or go back to sleep. If I choose sleep over exercise, I have a secondary “on-demand” alarm set for 5:36am. If I choose this path on my morning decision tree, I will go back to sleep and when the on-demand alarm goes off at 5:36am, I will hit it once and then get up for real at 5:45am. The next part of my morning routine is virtually non-negotiable. It happens whether I have exercised or slept. It is very rare that I do not sit down and study the Bible and publish my daily blog. There has to be extenuating circumstances such early travel, early appointments, or I am sick to the point of having a groggy mind. It is part of the routine and it is the most important part of the day for me.

 

Next, Elena arises from her night’s slumber and fixes the coffee, another morning necessity. She does her morning Bible readings and devotionals. She then fixes my morning breakfast, usually an egg sandwich with ham chunks in the eggs. Cheese is an optional add-on that I choose or not choose daily. I eat this sandwich as I am finishing up my daily blog. Then, after completing my blog, and realizing how late I am for getting to work at my desired start time, I jump into action and get my shower, dry off, get dressed, do the drying and styling of the hair (what styling my now 50 something hair will allow as it has developed a mind of its own over the past 4 or 5 years), shaving the face, brushing the teeth, the taking of my daily blood pressure medication, the packing up of my things into my book bag and then it’s Elena’s turn to do her checklist for me. “Wallet? Keys? Checkbook? Glasses? Badge?” is the routine. I respond affirmative to as much of the list as I can. If there is a negative response to any of those questions, I must go retrieve the missing item from the checklist.

 

After the checklist function has been completed, there is something that we do that is as equally necessary. We kiss during a final-before-I-leave embrace. She tells me to have a great day. I tell her to do the same and we always, without fail, tell each other “I love you” before I walk out the door. The encouragement and the “I love you” is a must to me. You want your spouse to be encouraged as they start their day. Go be great. Have a great day. Knock ‘em dead today. And I love you. How can you walk out the door and not be ready to take on what the day holds at work when you have been told that you are loved and to have a great day! The rest of the day may fall apart from the point you get to the office or wherever your workplace is. However, for that moment, as you walk to your car and begin your commute, you are encouraged. You are ready for the wilds of the work day. You are ready to take on the world. That is one thing Elena and I always do for each other each time we part from one another. We tell each other that we love each other and offer some form of encouragement to one another.

 

Let’s think about that as we read this passage for the third time today, Numbers 10:11-36, and let’s pay attention to vv. 29-32:

 

11 On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle of the covenant law. 12 Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran. 13 They set out, this first time, at the Lord’s command through Moses.

 

14 The divisions of the camp of Judah went first, under their standard. Nahshon son of Amminadab was in command. 15 Nethanel son of Zuar was over the division of the tribe of Issachar, 16 and Eliab son of Helon was over the division of the tribe of Zebulun. 17 Then the tabernacle was taken down, and the Gershonites and Merarites, who carried it, set out.

 

18 The divisions of the camp of Reuben went next, under their standard. Elizur son of Shedeur was in command. 19 Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai was over the division of the tribe of Simeon, 20 and Eliasaph son of Deuel was over the division of the tribe of Gad. 21 Then the Kohathites set out, carrying the holy things. The tabernacle was to be set up before they arrived.

 

22 The divisions of the camp of Ephraim went next, under their standard. Elishama son of Ammihud was in command. 23 Gamaliel son of Pedahzur was over the division of the tribe of Manasseh, 24 and Abidan son of Gideoni was over the division of the tribe of Benjamin.

 

25 Finally, as the rear guard for all the units, the divisions of the camp of Dan set out under their standard. Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai was in command. 26 Pagiel son of Okran was over the division of the tribe of Asher, 27 and Ahira son of Enan was over the division of the tribe of Naphtali. 28 This was the order of march for the Israelite divisions as they set out.

 

29 Now Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place about which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised good things to Israel.”

 

30 He answered, “No, I will not go; I am going back to my own land and my own people.”

 

31 But Moses said, “Please do not leave us. You know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you can be our eyes. 32 If you come with us, we will share with you whatever good things the Lord gives us.”

 

33 So they set out from the mountain of the Lord and traveled for three days. The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them during those three days to find them a place to rest. 34 The cloud of the Lord was over them by day when they set out from the camp.

 

35 Whenever the ark set out, Moses said,

 

“Rise up, Lord!

    May your enemies be scattered;

    may your foes flee before you.”

 

36 Whenever it came to rest, he said,

 

“Return, Lord,

    to the countless thousands of Israel.”

 

 

By complimenting Hobab’s wilderness skills, Moses let him know that he was needed. People cannot know that you appreciate them unless you tell them that they are important to you. Encouraging one another builds relationships. Complimenting those who deserve it helps them know that they are valued. If I had any advice to give to my son-in-law now with regard to my granddaughter, it is that, in families, it is so easy to only see the negative and talk about the negatives. But for my granddaughter’s sake, I would plead that Curtis will praise Ralyn when she does good things or excels at something. It is so easy to pick about what others do and undermine their confidence so that you or I feel better about ourselves. Yet, it shows maturity and humility on our part to be able to praise others for the contributions that they make to our lives and to their own lives.

 

Don’t you think for a minute after this compliment from Moses, that Hobab took his contribution to the tribes of Israel more seriously and with more passion. Think about those people that are under your leadership whether it be at home, at work, at church, or wherever. The teams, the families, that will bust through walls for their leader is that they know that their leader cares about them. That’s not to say that there are times that scolding is necessary to motivate as well. However, recognizing people for the contributions that they make to your team is necessary as well. Sure, we see those movies where there is this tough football coach, like Coach Boone (played by Denzel Washington) in the movie, Remember the Titans, but in his toughness, he also showed those boys in many ways how he cared about them. He would go to the mat for those boys and they returned the favor by giving him their all on the football field on Friday nights. Show people that you care about them in whatever way that suits your personality. Let them know that they are loved in whatever way is appropriate for the relationship. Let them know that you would take on the world to defend them. Let them know that you would take the fall to protect them. Let them know that they are valuable to you. For dads, that means your child’s dance recital is more important than work sometimes. It means praising them when they do something great. It means encouraging them while teaching them when they fail. For bosses, it means taking the heat for one of your employees so that they are not hit directly by another supervisor (you may scold them yourself for their error but to the outside world you protect them). For leaders in the church, it is important for us to recognize those we lead for the contributions that they make and not just expect them to do it. Moses could have just let Hobab go home to Midian, but through his praise of Hobab, he gained a fully committed person to the cause of the Israelites. Some praise can go a long way.

 

We must first have our value deeply rooted in our Savior Jesus Christ to be able to compliment others, I think. When we are insecure in our own value, we find it hard to encourage others. We let pride get in the way as insecurity is a form of pride just as much as arrogance is. We have great value to Jesus. He died for us. He thinks we are that valuable. Once we take in that grandest of all loves, we are humbled by it. Once we are humbled by the person and work of Jesus Christ, we can find it easier to show others just how much they mean to us. Do you think you are less than? Think about it. Jesus Christ died on the cross not only for all mankind, but He died for you personally! He died so you would have the opportunity through Him to be reconciled to God. That makes you pretty darned important. Don’t you think? The Creator of the universe thought you were so important that you were brought into existence through the miracle of conception and he thought that you were so important that He sent His Son to die for your sins! One of my favorite lines from the movie, The Help, is “You is kind! You is smart! You is important!” That is how Jesus feels about each of us. We should be humbled AND encouraged by the fact that Jesus Christ thought that you and I were worth going to the mat for, worth dying for. Now, go forth, believing that you have great value in Christ and share that same encouraging attitude with others. It does not matter what the world says about you or to you, you have great value in Christ and that’s all that matters in the end! Now, be encouraged and go be an encourager! Amen and amen.

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Romans 15:1-13 — To give God glory and to understand God’s glory. Giving God glory is our aim or should be in everything we do. Knowing Scripture helps us understand God’s glory.

Giving God glory is the dominating theme of this passage. First, our actions should be to give God glory in everything we do. Paul is telling us that we give God glory through how we treat one another. For Paul, it was the Jew vs. non-Jew, slave vs. free, rich vs. poor. By implication, we must be majoring on our similarities as Christians not on our differences. Satan wants us to be fractured. Satan wants us to be pointing fingers at one another. The fractures within the church as whole, all the different ways we have split ourselves up (Catholic vs. Protestant, and within Protestantism — Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc.) makes us less effective as a whole. Fractures within our local bodies make us less effective. Satan loves discord in the church. Discord within our local bodies and the church at large gets us focused on ourselves and not our primary mission. Our primary mission is to give God glory.

How to we give God glory within our body of Christ, by remembering that Christ did not come to earth to simply please Himself. He came to give God glory by His words, actions, and deeds. He gave God glory by teaching of God’s love. He gave God glory by encouraging all who were seeking God. Jesus gave God glory by offering God’s love to all who would listen to Him. He gave God glory by being obedient to the Father to the point of dying on the cross for our sins. He did not seek His own glory but rather to give glory to the Father.

How then do we put this into practice in our local church body? We seek not to glorify ourselves or those who are just like us. We give God glory by our own humility. We give God glory by not being territorial over our functions within the church. What does it matter who gets credit for something positive the church does as long as the job gets done? What does it matter as long as God is glorified? When our motivation is to glorify God, then, our egos do not need to be stroked. When ego comes into play, we find division and divisiveness within the body. Is this the kind of glory to God that we want to present to the lost soul. Do we want to present to them a group of petty people who are more concerned about the trees we have marked as our territory than we sharing the love of Christ? When we get it, that it is not about us, but rather about giving God glory by drawing all nations and all tongues unto Christ, then, and only then can we be effective tools. Let us seek unity with one another. Let us recognize and respect each other’s differences but let us seek unity in that we all are forgiven sinners. That is our common bond. Jesus is the source of our unity. Our unity comes from knowing that and expressing that and living that. Jesus is my Jesus and He is yours. We are both sinners covered in grace no matter if I am white guy and you are black, no matter if I am a man and you are a woman, not matter if I am educated and you are not, no matter if I am rich and you are poor, no matter if I am young and you are old. We are God’s kids. Our unity in that fact, that we are all kids of the King. That’s what people should see in us — that despite our differences we have unity in Christ. Our unity gives God glory and draws others to Him through our unity in a world of discord.

Paul tells us to that God is a God to be glorified because He has been faithful to His people. We can have confidence in that. How do we have confidence in that? By knowing Scripture. The more we know about what God did in the past, the greater the confidence we have about what He will do in the days ahead. The Bible gives us confidence in God’s glory. We have example after example in the Bible that God is faithful to those who seek Him and give Him glory. Knowing Scripture helps us to be less likely to see our own glory. Knowing Scripture helps us to not try to control things ourselves. Knowing Scripture is to know God’s glory. We don’t have to worry when we place our faith and control of our lives into God’s hand. We know from Scripture that He is faithful. When we live in this confidence, it helps us let go of our ego, our need to be in control. We know from Scripture that God’s got this. In our bold confidence in the Lord, we can more easily seek unity among our brethren. We are not scared for our future because we know what God has done in the past. Therefore, we seek God’s way and not our own because we know Scripture. When we all are trying to align ourselves with God’s unity results. In our unity, God is glorified. Without knowledge of Scripture, we give our opinions and our values greater rein and discord results. Each of us together reading Scripture daily under the influence of the Holy Spirit leads to unity. It is through Scripture that we are led to be more Christ-like. By being more Christ-like, we give God glory. By being more Christ-like we become unified.

Father, help us as Christians to encourage one another because we are all children of God. Help us to seek to build each other up. Help us to see what we have in common in Christ rather than majoring on our differences. Help us in so doing bring others to knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Through our unity and love for one another despite the ways that we are different, help us to draw people unto you because our unity makes us so different from the world of discord in which we live. Help us to be confident in all these things through understanding Scripture. Help us to see how faithful that you are so that we have great confidence in your faithfulness. Help us to have faith that you are the God of Scripture. In this confidence, we no longer have to worry. Without worry, we can be unified in giving you glory and demonstrating your faithfulness to your people in a world where anarchy and lies reign. Amen.