Monday, February 22, 2016

Do You Want Peace? Prepare Yourself to Receive the Blessing!




            The book of Numbers is normally considered to be one of the least exciting books of the Old Testament. A real snoozer. As the name implies, there is a lot of counting and number taking. Something only an accountant or mathematician might love. Yet there are some real treasure chest gems in that book to guide us in our search for Shalom. More gems for us to gather and store in our hearts. We’ll explore just one of them today and learn how to have peace by preparing ourselves and receiving the blessing.

           
            The first stop we’ll make is at Numbers 6:26, but to get the full impact of this Shalom type of peace, we’ll back up to verse 24. You may instantly recognize this passage as a common benediction your pastor bestows upon your congregation.

            “The LORD bless you and keep
                        you;
             The LORD make His face to shine
                        upon you,
             And be gracious to you;
             The LORD lift up His countenance
                        upon you,
             And give you Shalom.”

           
            This blessing is what God told the high priest Aaron (Moses’ brother) to say to God’s people. It is known as the “priestly blessing” and it comes to the people of Israel after their numbers have been counted, a full census has been taken, each tribe has erected a standard or banner signifying their lineage and location or dwelling place in the camp, so they all know where they belong — in their assigned place with their own tribe and family. And the priests have cleansed the camp according to God’s direction. Only after all of these things had been done could God bestow this kind of peaceful blessing on them.
           
            And after all of that preparation, the LORD can bless them through the priests with the above words. The blessing seems short, but it’s loaded with meaning.
           
            Dr. J. Vernon McGee points out that this blessing has the Trinity embedded in it — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
           
            He says, “The LORD bless you, and keep you” speaks of God the Father who is the source of all blessing. “The LORD make his face to shine upon you” speaks of the Lord Jesus as the One who makes His face to shine upon us. “The LORD lift up his countenance upon you” speaks of the Holy Spirit that both looks upon us and gives us Shalom — rest, happiness, security — when He resides in our hearts, and when we allow Him to govern our lives.
           
           It is a simple, beautiful picture of God’s love and desire to bless us, to look and smile upon us, and grant us the favor of a life of rest, prosperity, happiness, and health. It is a reminder of the total security we have as children of God.
           
            Contrary to what many think, God does care about us! He loves us deeply. His heart aches for us. He didn’t just create the universe and then drift off to some distant corner of the cosmos to leave us to wander aimless and vulnerable on this little planet. He wants us to know Him intimately; He wants us to seek Him daily; and He desires to shower us with spiritual blessings. He wants us to live in Shalom with Him, in spite of all that is swirling like a hurricane around us.


Questions to Ponder:

1) Do you feel as if you’re experiencing this blessing? Dr. McGee gives us some insight as to why many of us, and our churches, are not experiencing this blessing. He says,

            “Many churches today are not experiencing the blessing of God. The problem
            is that they are not properly prepared for the march. They are trying to
            start out without first setting things in order. They are like a soldier who
            forgot to put on his belt one morning. Believe me it is pretty hard to march
            and carry a gun without your belt or suspenders! And there are churches
            like that, my friend. They are starting out before things are set in order. Paul
            is writing to the church when he says, ‘Let all things be done decently and in
            order’ (1Cor. 14:140). Know your pedigree; that is, know you are a child of
            God; know your standard; know what your gift is and use it for Him; and
            keep your life clean.”


            Are you prepared for your march, or do you need to back up and set things in
            order first, in order to receive the full blessing of God before the journey? Ask
            God to reveal to you where you may have been hasty and moved ahead of
            Him. Ask Him how you can back up, prepare, and fully receive His blessing, so    
            you are not laboring in vane to build your house!


2) One thing I like to do, which I have found to be tremendously effective, is to pray the Scriptures. I encourage and invite you to pray this priestly blessing in the following way:

            “Please, Lord, bless me and keep me; Lord, make your face to shine upon me. Please 
            be gracious to me, and look and smile upon me, and grant me Shalom.”

           
I love to watch our pastor pray this blessing upon our congregation at the end of the service, as he walks down the center aisle, hands outstretched, his giving eyes meeting our expectant ones, as though he wants each of us to be covered and showered in God’s love and blessings.

Maybe someone in your life needs you to pray this prayer for him or her. Your spouse? Your son? A friend? It is a wonderful prayer to pray on a daily basis for any of them, and it takes little time to pray it. Personalize it by placing their name in the passage. 


Who do you know who needs this blessing from God this day? Raise your hands to heaven and pray it aloud, for you and for others!





Next week we’ll stop at the end of Numbers to study one more passage on Shalom before we move on to Deuteronomy.


Until then, may your week be full of blessings that you receive and give, your heart be full of joy and thankfulness, and your days be filled with laughter! Build a little heaven in your life right now, and watch your heavenly garden grow!

In Christ’s love and peace,

Andrea

When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on earth. ~ A. W. Tozer


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