March 8

Numbers 14:18-19 (NIV) 18'The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.' 19In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now."

The LORD was ready to exterminate these whining people when Moses interceded for them. Because of the fact that God knows the future, I think He was not as desirous to destroy them as much as He was to bring out the heart of intercession in Moses. Moses interceded with God according to the character of God that had been revealed to him. He's saying, "Wait a minute. You told me You were abounding in love and forgiveness. You are just, but then there is that wonderful side of You that is so great in Love. Exercise that love now, and forgive these people."

When we plead with God according to His wonderful attributes, we are standing on a sure footing from which to plead. We can make a case that is legitimate. The people would be punished, but at the same time, God would exercise His great love. God answered Moses prayer because He was pleading according to the attributes of God. That is how we should pray too.

Do you know God is abounding in love? You can count on that. Just as He forgave them all the way from Egypt to the entrance of the Promised Land (a picture of our journey from the world to heaven), so will He forgive you when you look to His wonderful attributes. He forgives us not because of what we do but because of who He is. Yet, there is a warning here. We may not arrive at all He had for us because of our insistence on sin. That sin will affect generations to follow. Learn from these rebels who are so like us, and cast yourself upon the LORD.

Meditation: How can I follow Moses example of intercession?

March 8

Matthew 16:24-26 (NIV) 24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

After Jesus rebuked Peter for having man's preference over God's, He uttered these challenging words. Peter had a revelation that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. What was he going to do about it? He wanted to cling to Jesus physical presence. No one wants to lose their closest friend. But Jesus tells us that if we want to follow Him, we must deny ourselves. We have to put God's desires above our own. To take up a cross meant that you had received the death sentence. All that was left was a short walk and the painful execution. That doesn't sound like our portrayal of Christianity. But wait, we aren't done with what He required. Then He adds, "Follow me". Deny self, take the death sentence, and follow! Wherever He leads I'll go. I no longer direct my life!

Then Jesus shared a bit of Kingdom reality. If you are planning on saving your life, that is, keeping it for your own use, you will end up losing it. But if you lose your life, if you give it to God for Jesus' sake, you will find the purpose and meaning that God intended when He fashioned you in your mother's womb. That is an all or nothing expression of Kingdom reality. You hear it or you don't.

To emphasize the point, He asked what good it would be if you gained everything? Isn't that what saving your life is about? It is the attempt to gain the pleasures and treasures of this world. The result is a forfeiture of the soul.

Consider: Would you give up your eternal soul for the entire planet and all the world systems have to offer? No? Then deny yourself. Take up your cross. Follow Jesus!