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Doing Life Together

word-1940813_1280All of us need to be encouraged on a regular basis given the stress of our lives and the problems we face. The biblical psalmist tells us to encourage ourselves in the Lord. But I never thought I would get encouragement from the first few chapters of the book of Numbers in the Bible.

Our pastor decided to begin a series on the book of Numbers. Admission here, I thought, “Really, Numbers, the book I sort of skip over when trying to read through the Bible. It isn’t the most exciting book to pick for a sermon series. Help me not to yawn!” But I was wrong. The beginning of the book is a set up for encouragement.  I left that Sunday service feeling reassured that God was present to help me deal with whatever problems I face.

At the beginning of the book of Numbers, the children of Israel had left Egypt and were 13 months into their journey to the promise land. As we know, what could have been about a 2-week journey ended up to be 40 years because of all the problems. Sounds like our lives!

In Numbers 1, God tells Moses to take a census–number all the men so that you know what you have when it comes time to go to war. God wanted the people counted. He knew in advance the people would face warfare. He was preparing the leaders of the army with a count of the troops. He counted them just as He counts us and knows our name. He sees us and is preparing us for the trials we face. I was reminded, God knows my name and counts me. I matter to Him and He is preparing me for my warfare battles.

Then God tells Moses to make sure His presence goes with them via the portable tabernacle. The message–God is with us in the battle. His presence never leaves. Even in the midst of our sin and rebellion, God’s wrath will not overcome us because of his presence through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And when sin is not the issue, He reminds us that when we face trials and tribulations, His presence is in us. He never leaves or forsakes us. No matter how difficult things get, God’s is present and sees our pain and struggles. As Philip Yancey reminds us, God doesn’t promise to take us out of the difficulty, but to walk us through it.

Next, the Lord tells the leadership to order the camp. Arrange people and leaders so that when they have to move, they do it in an orderly fashion.  In battle, you must trust the order to win and attack with purpose. There is purpose to order. And God arranged it so that the tribe of Judah led first in battle. They were the praisers, but also the tribe of the coming Christ. The Lion of Judah would break every chain! Christ battled sin and death. He led the way. Whatever your circumstances, trust God’s order, praise Him in battle and go forward with the confidence that He is with you.

God isn’t shocked by what happens in our lives. He isn’t surprised by attacks and enemy strategies. He prepares you, knows your name, and has ordered the journey. So be encouraged, the battle is the Lord’s and His presence is a powerful force to make you victorious.

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