Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Faith of a Little Child...

Psalm 59:10-17
10 my God on whom I can rely.
God will go before me
and will let me gloat over those who slander me.
11 But do not kill them, Lord our shield,[a]
or my people will forget.
In your might uproot them
and bring them down.
12 For the sins of their mouths,
for the words of their lips,
let them be caught in their pride.
For the curses and lies they utter,
13 consume them in your wrath,
consume them till they are no more.
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth
that God rules over Jacob.
14 They return at evening,
snarling like dogs,
and prowl about the city.
15 They wander about for food
and howl if not satisfied.
16 But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
17 You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
you, God, are my fortress,
my God on whom I can rely.

Numbers 1:17-54
44 These were the men counted by Moses and Aaron and the twelve leaders of Israel, each one representing his family. 45 All the Israelites twenty years old or more who were able to serve in Israel’s army were counted according to their families. 46 The total number was 603,550. 47 The ancestral tribe of the Levites, however, was not counted along with the others. 48 The Lord had said to Moses: 49 “You must not count the tribe of Levi or include them in the census of the other Israelites. 50 Instead, appoint the Levites to be in charge of the tabernacle of the covenant law —over all its furnishings and everything belonging to it. They are to carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings; they are to take care of it and encamp around it. 51 Whenever the tabernacle is to move, the Levites are to take it down, and whenever the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall do it. Anyone else who approaches it is to be put to death. 52 The Israelites are to set up their tents by divisions, each of them in their own camp under their standard. 53 The Levites, however, are to set up their tents around the tabernacle of the covenant law so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelite community. The Levites are to be responsible for the care of the tabernacle of the covenant law. ”54 The Israelites did all this just as the Lord commanded Moses.

Mark 9:30-37
Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time

30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. 33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” 36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”


As David reflects on his enemies pursuing him, he prays that God would put an end to their harassment, but interestingly he says, “But do not kill them”. David wants God to be glorified, and he knows that if God takes out his enemies (fellow Israelites) that perhaps people will think God even destroys his own people. As for David, he will rely on the Lord and sing of his love in the morning and his faithfulness at night. David is a great model of praising God in spite of his circumstances, and also a love for God’s glory and his renown among the people more than his own personal success.

In the book of Numbers we see the completion of the census of Israel (hence the name of the book Numbers!). As they count up the twelve tribes of Israel including two from Joseph; we see that the total is 603,550 (it doesn’t appear that they were rounding off!). Remember this is just the number of men over 20, so conservatively there would be a couple of million Jews who are setting up camp in the desert to worship God. You can envision the twelve tribes camped all around the Tabernacle and the Levites leading them into worship each through the prescribed rituals and sacrifices of Leviticus. One day another king would come and desire for there to be a temple, a house of God for him to dwell, but for now they worship on the run! But this doesn’t minimize the presence of God’s holiness in their midst. It reminds us that God doesn’t need a grand cathedral, but God looks more to the heart of the worshippers to worship him in spirit and truth versus the grandeur of the building.

Finally, continuing in the theme of Mark of the “bumbling disciples”, we see that as Jesus shares an intimate moment with the disciples, sharing with him the ultimate purpose of why he came to earth, they are still discussing among themselves who was the greatest and how they might end up when Jesus brought in His kingdom. This will continue as we will see Jesus journey to the cross, and the very ones he counted on for support were not there in his hour of need. Jesus ends today’s teaching by taking a little child and saying, “Whoever welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me.” He reminds us that it is the simple faith of a child that he is looking for. In the simple faith and trust and adoration of a little child is the key to being great in our Lord’s eyes. Jesus re-defines true greatness in terms of simple faith, trust and giving one’s life to God. It is a great reminder for today that it doesn’t need to be complicated, and we often complicate matters rather than taking the simple road of faith and trust in Him.

How do you tend to be like the disciples worrying more about your own issues, than the having the simple faith of a child? As we welcome children and become like them we can become truly great!

Hear the word of the Lord, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: "There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land." Hosea 4:1 (NIV)

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" Luke 18:13

Holy One, sometimes we are sinners because it is simply the easiest way to live, doing what those around us do. Empower us to see and to live another way, the way we see in Jesus. Amen.

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