Day 82

Your Hotline to God

Wisdom Psalm 37:1-9
New Testament Luke 4:38-5:16
Old Testament Numbers 15:1-16:35

Introduction

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia led to one of the biggest crises our world has ever faced.

Up until that moment, the Cuban Missile Crisis was probably the closest we have come, until recent events, to World War III.

In October 1962, there was a standoff between President Kennedy of the United States and Premier Khrushchev of the Soviet Union over planting missiles in Cuba. The crisis was averted because communication was established.

It was decided to put one red telephone on the desk of the President of the United States, and another on the desk of the Premier of Soviet Russia. The communication link was called the ‘hotline’.

Communication is vital to all relationships. Setting aside time to build and nurture communication is essential. Jesus has given you a ‘hotline’ to God, but it is not just for emergency use – it is to be used all the time.

Wisdom

Psalm 37:1-9

Of David.

1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
  or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
  like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
  dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
  and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord;
  trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
  your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the Lord
  and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
  when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
  do not fret —it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
  but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

Commentary

Open up before God

How can your desires be fulfilled? The psalmist, David, says, ‘Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart’ (v.4). Rather than pursuing the things you desire, if you delight in God he will give you the desires of your heart. Letting God give you things is so much better than trying to get them for yourself. He promises:

1. Faith in the midst of your fears

There may be lots going on that could make you afraid and even panic. But three times David repeats, ‘Do not fret’ (vv.1,7b,8b). Nor are we to be envious (v.1b). Rather, turn to the Lord, bring him your fears, and ‘trust in the Lord’ (v.3). Faith is trust. It is the opposite of fear and panic.

2. Guidance in your decisions

‘Commit your way to the Lord’ (v.5). This is the key to guidance: bring the decision to God, ask him to act and trust in him. Over and over again, I have used this verse in my own life. I have also used it when praying with others who are struggling with decisions, especially about their jobs or potential marriage partners.

It is a simple three-part process. First, to commit the decision to God in prayer, asking him to open the doors that are right for you, and to close the ones that are not right. Second, thereafter trust that he is in control. Third, watch in faith for him to act as you continue on your ‘way’, in the expectation that God will act.

3. Peace in your heart

Make use of your hotline to God. Set aside time to ‘be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him’ (v.7). This is the source that makes your ‘righteous reward shine like the dawn’ (v.6). This is the way to avoid fretting and anger and to find peace and hope (vv.8–9).

Prayer

Lord, keep me from fear, envy and anger as I trust in you. Today I want to commit my way to you. I will be still before you God. I will delight in you.

New Testament

Luke 4:38-5:16

Jesus Heals Many

38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” 44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

5One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Jesus Heals a Man With Leprosy

12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.

14 Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”

15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Commentary

Listen to the word of God

Your hotline to God involves two-way communication. It involves both speaking to God in prayer and listening to his words. This was the secret of Jesus’ own ministry. No one has ever had a more powerful ministry than Jesus. No one has ever had more demands on his time and energy than Jesus.

Everyone wanted his help. When they asked for Jesus’ help to heal Simon’s mother-in-law, he healed her. He laid hands on all who were brought to him and healed them. He kept on preaching the gospel (4:44). He healed those with leprosy. The crowds increased; ‘crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their illnesses’ (5:15).

How could he do it? What was his secret? What was the source of his power? ‘At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place’ (4:42). ‘Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed’ (5:16). You will never cope with the demands of life in the kingdom of God unless you are being recharged through your hotline to God.

The crowd was pushing in on Jesus ‘to better hear the Word of God’ (v.1, MSG). Using the boat for a pulpit Jesus taught the crowd (v.3). Hearing the word of God through Jesus transformed Simon Peter’s life.

Peter not only caught a big catch of fish, he also caught a big vision of what God could do with his life. Three years later, he preached a sermon in which 3,000 people were converted in one day. He laid the foundations whereby 2,000 years later over two billion people profess the name of Jesus. What lessons can we learn from this acted-out parable?

1. The potential is vast

They had not caught any fish but there were plenty to catch. In the Sea of Galilee there were phenomenal shoals of fish that covered the sea as if it were solid for as much as an acre.

Although cleaning nets is important for fishermen, the primary purpose is to catch fish. The primary task of the church is mission. Jesus says, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch’ (v.4). There are so many people who need to hear the message about Jesus.

2. Nothing is impossible with Jesus

Peter’s first reaction was negative and pessimistic. He didn’t think it would work, ‘We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything’ (v.5a). However, possibly after a long pause, he says, ‘But because you say so, I will let down the nets’ (v.5b). Jesus made what seemed impossible possible. ‘When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break’ (v.6).

3. It cannot be done alone but only in partnership

‘So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink’ (v.7). Partnership is the key to mission. Disunity is so off-putting to those outside the church. Partnership and unity are very attractive.

4. It is a vision worth going for

Peter’s first reaction was to sense his own unworthiness: ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ (v.8). At the same time, he and the others were astonished at the catch of fish (v.9). They must have been very daunted but Jesus said, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people’ (v.10). They saw it was a vision worth going for: ‘So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him’ (v.11).

Prayer

Lord, thank you that you have given me a hotline to you. Help me, like Jesus, to seek solitude with you, to withdraw to lonely places, pray and hear your words.

Old Testament

Numbers 15:1-16:35

Supplementary Offerings

15The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘After you enter the land I am giving you as a home 3 and you present to the Lord food offerings from the herd or the flock, as an aroma pleasing to the Lord —whether burnt offerings or sacrifices, for special vows or freewill offerings or festival offerings — 4 then the person who brings an offering shall present to the Lord a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of olive oil. 5 With each lamb for the burnt offering or the sacrifice, prepare a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering.

6 “‘With a ram prepare a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with a third of a hin of olive oil, 7 and a third of a hin of wine as a drink offering. Offer it as an aroma pleasing to the Lord.

8 “‘When you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or sacrifice, for a special vow or a fellowship offering to the Lord, 9 bring with the bull a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with half a hin of olive oil, 10 and also bring half a hin of wine as a drink offering. This will be a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 11 Each bull or ram, each lamb or young goat, is to be prepared in this manner. 12 Do this for each one, for as many as you prepare.

13 “‘Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way when they present a food offering as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 14 For the generations to come, whenever a foreigner or anyone else living among you presents a food offering as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, they must do exactly as you do. 15 The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord: 16 The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you. ’”

17 The Lord said to Moses, 18 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land to which I am taking you 19 and you eat the food of the land, present a portion as an offering to the Lord. 20 Present a loaf from the first of your ground meal and present it as an offering from the threshing floor. 21 Throughout the generations to come you are to give this offering to the Lord from the first of your ground meal.

Offerings for Unintentional Sins

22 “‘Now if you as a community unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the Lord gave Moses — 23 any of the Lord’s commands to you through him, from the day the Lord gave them and continuing through the generations to come — 24 and if this is done unintentionally without the community being aware of it, then the whole community is to offer a young bull for a burnt offering as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, along with its prescribed grain offering and drink offering, and a male goat for a sin offering. 25 The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven, for it was not intentional and they have presented to the Lord for their wrong a food offering and a sin offering. 26 The whole Israelite community and the foreigners residing among them will be forgiven, because all the people were involved in the unintentional wrong.

27 “‘But if just one person sins unintentionally, that person must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering. 28 The priest is to make atonement before the Lord for the one who erred by sinning unintentionally, and when atonement has been made, that person will be forgiven. 29 One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether a native-born Israelite or a foreigner residing among you.

30 “‘But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the Lord and must be cut off from the people of Israel. 31 Because they have despised the Lord’s word and broken his commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them. ’”

The Sabbath-Breaker Put to Death

32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp. ” 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.

Tassels on Garments

37 The Lord said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God. ’”

Korah, Dathan and Abiram

16Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram , sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent 2 and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. 3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. 6 You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers 7 and tomorrow put burning coals and incense in them before the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”

8 Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! 9 Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11 It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him? ”

12 Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come! 13 Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you also want to lord it over us! 14 Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you want to treat these men like slaves? No, we will not come! ”

15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”

16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers are to appear before the Lord tomorrow—you and they and Aaron. 17 Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it—250 censers in all—and present it before the Lord. You and Aaron are to present your censers also. ” 18 So each of them took his censer, put burning coals and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 19 When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire assembly. 20 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.”

22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, “O God, the God who gives breath to all living things, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”

23 Then the Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”

25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins. ” 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt. ”

31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. 34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”

35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

Commentary

Prioritise communication with God

As you read the Old Testament and particularly some of the passages for today, you may find them quite shocking. There are no easy answers or glib explanations. There are many things that are hard to understand. Perhaps it is better to focus on what we can understand.

What is clear in this passage is the vital importance of your relationship with God and spending time with him. The expression ‘pleasing to the Lord’ appears several times (15:7,10,13,24). Offerings were required to make ‘atonement’ (v.25). ‘At-one-ment’ leads to us being at one with God. For this, forgiveness is required (vv.25–26,28). All this was preparing us for Jesus’ offering of himself, which brings total forgiveness and atonement so that you can have a hotline to God.

Jesus transformed our understanding of the Sabbath. The people of God placed huge importance on the Sabbath as a day set aside to spend time with God. The Sabbath rules may not still apply, but the Sabbath principle of taking time out to rest and spend time with God still stands.

The purpose of Sabbath rest is to force us to pause and stop ‘the lusts of [our] own hearts and eyes’ (v.39) becoming our idols. You are supposed to be consecrated to God (v.40) and God wants to bring you near to himself (16:9). It is because of the importance of this relationship that any threat to it, caused by insolence or rebellion (vv.1–2), is taken so seriously (vv.1-35).

We are so privileged to live in the age of the Holy Spirit and to be able to enjoy the freedom that Jesus has brought through the cross and resurrection. This enables you to enjoy a hotline to God without fear. These passages encourage you to make the most of this extraordinary privilege and to spend time alone with him, delighting in his presence and bringing your requests before him.

Prayer

Lord, help me to lead a life that is pleasing to you, to stay close to you each day and to find time to spend alone with you.

Pippa adds

Psalm 37:4

‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart’ (v.4)

I try to keep remembering that ‘delight’ has to come first; it is not just that ‘he will give you the desires of your heart’. But it is still an amazing promise – if we do delight in him, he will give us the desires of our heart.

Verse of the Day

Psalm 37:4

‘Take delight in the Lord, |and he will give you the desires of your heart’
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References

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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