March 5

Numbers 11:27-29 (NIV) 27A young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." 28Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses' aide since youth, spoke up and said, "Moses, my lord, stop them!" 29But Moses replied, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!"

When Moses was too burdened with caring for all the people, the LORD had him bring all the elders together and put His Spirit on them. They all began to prophesy. Two men who were not called were out in the camp, and they were prophesying also. Moses' general, Joshua, insisted they be stopped. Moses answer shows us the heart of a genuine God inspired leader.

"Are you jealous for my sake?" "What are you saying Joshua? Do you think I should be jealous that they too have been given the Spirit? Do you want everyone to look to me? Do you think God should work only within the confines of our choices (in recognizing who is an elder)?" Moses never wanted to be the number one man. His mistakes and years of humbly shepherding sheep had taught him who he was. Do you know who you are? Once we see the depravity of the human condition we will desire everyone be full of the Holy Spirit to help us. It is not a competition! We are working together to see people choose the Kingdom of Light.

Leadership positions often foster rivalries. That is the petty jealousies of men. It is blindness to the Kingdom perspective and focused on the success of an individual. People today say the same thing as Joshua when people in the congregation are anointed to serve. A person who is not an official elder, but one in heart, will teach from the Word. That is how we recognize they are, an elder. The life comes before the title. Eldad and Medad were not officially recognized by anyone but God. Encourage the expression of the gifts in everyone. Recognize God's choices. Quench not the Spirit.

Meditation: Am I jealous for my leader or for God's kingdom?

March 5

Matthew 15:26-28 (NIV) 26He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." 27"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." 28Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

After Jesus gave the crowds some hard sayings, only the disciples remained (John 6:66-68). Jesus then journeyed outside the region He regularly taught in. He led the twelve to Tyre and Sidon. There were communities of Jews there, but we have no record of any teaching or interaction except this one story. A Canaanite woman came to Jesus to plead for her daughter's healing. She must have heard stories of His work on the shores of Galilee. She pleaded for mercy, but Jesus told her He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As she continued to plead, Jesus gave her a very hard saying. "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."

Let us put this into some perspective to see if we can read between the lines. Jesus already had gone to Samaria. They were not considered Jews by the Jewish standard, yet Jesus ministered to them. They declared Him to be the Savior of the world. Jesus was thrown out of His hometown for reminding them that prophets were often sent outside Israel to Gentile people. In the story following our text, Jesus went to the region of Greek cities and fed the 4000. (Mark 7:31f) Yet, He told the disciples to go only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Matthew 10:5).

It seems that there was a turning point here in the ministry of Jesus. He knew it was coming, for He knew the prophecies (Isaiah 11:10; 42:6). It was God's plan to offer salvation to the Jews first. The Apostle Paul follows the same pattern in His ministry (Acts 13:46-48). This Gentile woman's response was filled with faith. Compare that to the Jews response to Jesus' hard saying to them (John 6:52,66). Jesus often comes to us with a hard saying to test and strengthen our faith. Jesus' saying actually drew her closer instead of driving her away.

Consider: When Jesus speaks a difficult expression to you, will you respond like the Gentile mother or the Jewish crowds?