Numbers 15 commands, “Make tassels on the corners of their garments…and put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all of my commandments, and be holy to your God.”
In Deuteronomy 6, Moses also commands, “These words that I command you today shall be on your hearts. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them on your hand, and they shall be frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Not only is the Lord clear in His instructions to us in His word, He is generous in His reminding us to recall them, absorb them, and obey. Tying a red string around our index finger was His idea! Where and how am I establishing these remembrances? How easy it is to read, then rise and ‘follow after my own heart and eyes.’ When I’m steeped in His word, I learn to think, love, and live differently. “Blessed in the man who…delights in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1,2).
Your Spirit reminds and teaches me (John 14:26; 16:13); Your word, dwelling in me richly, lights my path (Colossians 3:16; Psalm 119:105). Thank You for the tassels and frontlets you give that remind me what You say, and to heed.
“This I know, that God is for me. In the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:9-11
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
“The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. The LORD is on my side as my helper.” Psalm 118:6-7
What comfort, what strength, what motivation and encouragement to know that God is for me! He is on my side! He has my back, He is cheering me on, abiding with me, constantly coaching, guiding, guarding me. We are on the same winning team. He Who is in me is greater than any enemy in the world (1 John 4:4).
May I live in this confidence by appropriating this truth that You, God Most High, are for me. You are on my side. Allelujah.
I rode my bicycle to the farmer’s market yesterday, and bought snow peas, okra, onions, bok choy, peppers, tomatoes, blueberries, and a triple berry scone. My bag more than filled the basket on the front of my bicycle, and as soon as I put up the kickstand, I was swayed by the extra weight and had to adjust to keep balance. It affects everything to carry a burden.
What weight of anger, anxiety, resentment is throwing me off kilter? What burden of extraneous activity, or sloth, is wobbling my peace? For what heaviness of heart for others, compassion, love, and helping– do I need to make adjustment, so I can balance what God calls me to do? “Cast your burden on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. [Cast] all your anxieties on him, because the cares for you.” Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Psalm 94:19
“God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there.'” (Genesis 35:1) What an invitation! God beckons me personally. God bids me up from everything else. God points me to the place “where he revealed himself” and God blesses there, “I am God Almighty [El Shaddai] , be fruitful and multiply.”
The earlier Bethel was where, 20 years earlier, the LORD appeared on the ladder, the mediator between heaven and earth, where Jacob committed to follow, to trust. Since then, Jacob now describes, “God answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”
Bethel. House of God. God bids me come. I hear. I ‘put away foreign gods, purify myself, change my garments, arise, and go up’ to meet Him there.
Thank You, LORD, for making the way. Thank you for your voice and our meeting place. Thank You for daily pillars of remembrance and recommitment and the sweetness of knowing we have communed. Thank You for the call to go from Bethel and be fruitful, in the strength of my God Almighty.
A thick grey flannel cloud hangs heavily where a fat moon rose last night, as though trying to suppress the red sun from rising. But as swarms of small black birds swoosh in ringlets and swirls, I see pink powder blushing that army blanket. You can’t hold back the light. It is strong, irrepressible, and changes everything.
Even fish are jumping in praise to their Creator, leaving circle songs reverberating in the wiggly water. Birds make a symphony, singing their various melodies, tweets, and chirps, and the now-broken clouds amble like sheep across the brightening east.
“All creatures of our God and King, Lift up your voice and with us sing, Allelujah! Allelujah! Thou burning sun with golden gleam, Thou silver moon with softer gleam, O praise Him, O praise Him! Allelujah, Allelujah! Allelujah!”
St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)
O God, Light of light, rise in my heart, color my countenance, make my life distinctly different because of You.
After a day of teaching at the Sea of Galilee, Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 4, “Let us go across to the other side.”They took Him in the boat, and He promptly fell asleep at the stern, though a great windstorm whipped waves that began to fill the boat. The panicked men awoke Him, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” and Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the sea,“Peace, be still.” All was calm. “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Jesus can lead us into storms, and even orchestrate them to develop our faith (Ps 107:25-32). Jesus knows the destination, and He uses the journey that we might arrive richer than when we depart (Hebrews 12:1-2). We will arrive safely; He is in control. When we fixate on the crash of circumstances and seeping flood of fear and ‘what ifs,’ we panic—but we can choose to gaze instead at Jesus, the One the winds and sea obey, asleep on the cushion, and have peace in the midst.
Where in my boat am I allowing the rising water of difficulty or concern over the unknown to distract my eyes from the One Who is near, and assures me of a safe arrival and good end? O Lord, may I rest with You, choosing Your peace in my turbulent heart.
“Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw him, he said, ‘This is God’s camp!’ Genesis 32
After 20 years near his Uncle Laban in Haran, Jacob followed God’s call to “return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” He was at a crossroads–on his way, but “greatly afraid and distressed”at the dread of meeting his estranged brother Esau. What did he do? He prayed, he practically planned and moved forward, and he wrestled with God at Peniel. He acknowledged God’s high place and authority, and claimed His promises.
We claim His promises by trusting His character to fulfill His true word. We exercise faith when we proceed in obedience. And when we get alone and wrestle with God, seek His face, and tenaciously press on to know Him, we are changed, and blessed.
Do I acknowledge my crossroads, my places of transition and fear and obedience, as God’s camp?
O God, may Your character and Your promises compel me to pray with faith, obey with courage, and cling to You in humility and gratitude.