View from above

I love how precise God is. In Numbers 1 we learn the number of men in each tribe over age 20.

The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinaion the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said:  “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and able to serve in the army.    Numbers 1:1-3

All together the men counted came to 603,550, not including the women, children, and teens. This group was probably  near 2 million. God tells the tribes to camp in specific locations around the tabernacle. They camped in this order each time they moved and set up camp again – for 38 years.

The arrangement of this camp is astonishing! Using the census numbers for each tribe and laying it out as specified, we see the formation of the camp forms a cross. Since this cross spans about 12 square miles, you would not see the shape easily from Earth. But God certainly had a stellar view of the cross from Heaven!

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This picture is given prophetically about 1450 years before Christ hung on the cross for our sin. God is amazing, faithful, and true.

Numbers 2 gives the location of each tribe as drawn in the figure: 

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.”

On the east, toward the sunrise, the divisions of the camp of Judah are to encamp under their standard. The leader of the people of Judah is Nahshon son of Amminadab. His division numbers 74,600.

The tribe of Issachar will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Issachar is Nethanel son of Zuar. His division numbers 54,400.

The tribe of Zebulun will be next. The leader of the people of Zebulun is Eliab son of Helon. His division numbers 57,400.

All the men assigned to the camp of Judah, according to their divisions, number 186,400. They will set out first.

10 On the south will be the divisions of the camp of Reuben under their standard. The leader of the people of Reuben is Elizur son of Shedeur.11 His division numbers 46,500.

12 The tribe of Simeon will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Simeon is Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai. 13 His division numbers 59,300.

14 The tribe of Gad will be next. The leader of the people of Gad is Eliasaph son of Deuel.[a] 15 His division numbers 45,650.

16 All the men assigned to the camp of Reuben, according to their divisions, number 151,450. They will set out second.

17 Then the tent of meeting and the camp of the Levites will set out in the middle of the camps. They will set out in the same order as they encamp, each in their own place under their standard.

18 On the west will be the divisions of the camp of Ephraim under their standard. The leader of the people of Ephraim is Elishama son of Ammihud. 19 His division numbers 40,500.

20 The tribe of Manasseh will be next to them. The leader of the people of Manasseh is Gamaliel son of Pedahzur. 21 His division numbers 32,200.

22 The tribe of Benjamin will be next. The leader of the people of Benjamin is Abidan son of Gideoni. 23 His division numbers 35,400.

24 All the men assigned to the camp of Ephraim, according to their divisions, number 108,100. They will set out third.

25 On the north will be the divisions of the camp of Dan under their standard. The leader of the people of Dan is Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai. 26 His division numbers 62,700.

27 The tribe of Asher will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Asher is Pagiel son of Okran. 28 His division numbers 41,500.

29 The tribe of Naphtali will be next. The leader of the people of Naphtali is Ahira son of Enan. 30 His division numbers 53,400.

31 All the men assigned to the camp of Dan number 157,600. They will set out last, under their standards.

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Health: Body and Soul

I’m reading the Chronological Bible with a group of women on Facebook this year. There are more than 300 of us from all over the world. We just made it through Deuteronomy and Leviticus. It’s tough. Lots of rules and regulations. Some of which don’t seem to make sense at first glance. Like this:

You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud. There are some that only chew the cud or only have a divided hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you.   Lev 11:3-4

God wants us to be healthy – inside and out, body and soul. So he gives instructions to His people on how to do that. These Old Testament dietary rules had their time and place, for specific religious and health reasons. Thank goodness Jesus tells us, in Mark 7, not to worry about these food laws. We hear this in Acts 10 and 1 Timothy 4 as well.  Even so, we should eat well. Our bodies are a temple for the Spirit . We need to care for it.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.   1 Cor 6:19-20

Homemade Kombucha is an easy way to feed your body probiotics. These live bacteria and yeast are good for you, keeping your digestive system healthy.  Once you obtain a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast (Scoby), you can make Kombucha at home. You can order Scoby, get it from a friend, or make it yourself using tutorials online.

Here is a breakdown of how easy it is to make this tangy tea-based drink.

Bring 7-8 cups of water to a boil (212 degrees F for black tea, 170 for green). Remove from the heat, add 1/2 cup cane sugar and 7 tea bags. Steep for 4 minutes.

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Cool to 70-80 degrees and add to your Scoby.  Place in a dark area for 5-7 days. Bottle the tea (reserving 1 cup for your next batch). Flavor it how you wish! I make my own sweet/sour mix and add a dash of that (recipe below), slices of ginger, and/or some fresh fruit.

Leave flavored bottles at room temperature for 2 days and then refrigerate (they will gain too much pressure from fermenting if you don’t refrigerate!)

Sweet Sour Mix: 1 cup white sugar disolved in 1 cup boiling water. Cool. Add 1 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup Nellies Key Lime juice.

Taking care of your body, however, does not save your soul.

The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”   Romans 14:17

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.   Ephesians 2:8-9

 

Believing in Lord Jesus, making friends with Him. That is how we are saved.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it.   3 John 1:1-3

Stain Penetrates (Like Sin)

Although you wash yourself with soap and use an abundance of cleansing powder, the stain of your guilt is still before me,” declares the Sovereign Lord.  Jer 2:22

The thing about staining furniture is it gets all over. Your hands, your rag, the floor. Even your arms and in your hair. God says our sin is a stain.

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Christ loved us so much that he gave himself up for us, making us holy by cleansing us. Ephesians 5 says he washed us with water through the word. He removes our stain (sin) so we are presentable before God, without stain, wrinkle, or blemish – holy and blameless. His sacrifice on the cross, his shedding of blood, pays our sin penalty and covers our stain. His word is our guide for living a holy, blameless life.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.   Rom 5:8

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Isn’t it wonderful that our God loves us so much! He cleans up our messes.

Carne Picada: 1st Meal in New House

Today we moved stuff. Things we have not used in 6 months. Stuff been stored and untouched. We rented a U-Haul, paid some muscular friends, and transferred the few items transferred across country from CA to FL into our new home.

To feed the men, I cooked a nice lunch in my new kitchen. I chose Carne Picada because it is quick to do and memorable. Carne Picada is a slightly spicy dish made with thin slices of beef.  Here is my recipe. Feel free to change the bell pepper colors. It doesn’t matter. (Yes, that is a basket of bread with 2 fish in the picture. I bought that in Bethlehem).

carne picada

Carne Picata

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs carne picada
  • 4 minced cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbl salt
  • 1 Tbl dried ancho chili powder
  • 1 Tbl brown sugar
  •  3 tsp dried cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 jalapeno, ribs removed, most seeds retained
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 chopped orange red pepper
  • 1 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes, drained, crushed by hand
  • Olive oil
  • Corn torrillias
  • Sour cream and/or guacamole (optional)

Mix the chopped garlic into the meat in a large bowl. Let it sit while combining the next 7 ingredients (dried spices) in a small bowl. Reserve 2 tsp of the dried spices. Sprinkle the remaining spices on the meat, coating evenly. Place meat in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Add 2 tsp olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion and bell peppers for 3 – 4 minutes. Season with 2 tsp of the dried spice mixture. Add the jalapeno and its seeds, cooking for another minute or until semi-soft/semi-firm. Remove from skillet.

Add 2 tsp oil to the skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the meat until it just barely brown. Add the drained and crushed tomatoes. Add the reserved vegetables. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Wrap 6 to 8 corn tortillas in a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides of the towel with water. Microwave for 30 seconds.

Serve Carne Picata in a bowl, topped with a dollop of sour cream and/or guacamole, and warm tortillas.

Serves 4 to 6

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.    Matthew 14:15-21

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Wisdom can be an elusive thing. Sometimes we think we know it all, when we actually know little. God says He is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.

My child, listen to me and treasure my instruction. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.    Proverbs 2:1-4

Wisdom can be hard to learn. People often learn best by making mistakes – after rejecting good advice of those with experience. God understands our nature to reject His good advice. He knows how stubborn we can be. He asks, “How long will you go on being simpleminded?” All the while, God also invites us into knowledge, imparting wisdom throughout His Word for anyone who wishes to receive it.

There is also wisdom in the phrase ‘measure twice, cut once. Now this is not exactly what God is talking about (because He cares about our souls, not about construction or wood floors), and I’m stretching things. But stay with me.

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Why do you think everyone has heard this phrase (measure twice, cut once)?  Because we humans always think we know stuff, when we actually don’t know stuff. We need God to have true understanding.

My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.    Proverbs 4:10-13

I want a long, good life. I want a straight path. I don’t want to stumble. I will try to listen Lord.

Well, even though we did measure twice today, we still made some mistakes with the wood. We just have to keep on trying to do our best. The floors are looking good, however!

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Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart.   Psalm 119:34

Lost and Found

Then Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught there in the synagogue every Sabbath day.  Luke 4:31

I found treasures today. Unpacking things stuck in boxes for 6 months, I uncovered something precious. Shells and stones from the sea of Galilee, collected from the shore at Capernaum.  Jesus was there. Jesus taught there. Treasures from the very place Jesus walked.

So this story, about uncovering treasures packed in a box long ago, has God’s fingers all over it.

First -about the move. Obviously, we’re moving. Our new place is just down the road a bit, in the same community. It’s a blessing, really… And an answer to prayer. Every time we’ve moved, since becoming a believer, God has been faithful to listen to our desires and provide.

When we first planned to move I did a lot of whining. My husband wanted to rent for a while and get to know the area. After all, we were moving about 2500 miles to a place neither of us had ever lived before. So his idea made sense. But I still whined.

I did not want to pack and unpack – two more times. Once from CA to the FL rental. And again from the FL rental to the FL home we’d purchase. So, what did God do? He led us to a furnished rental. I did not need to unpack. My stuff could stay stored until we bought a place.

My next complaint – renting in a place where we’d make connections, friends, and roots and then moving all over again. Well, I’m no spring chicken and don’t want to waste time redoing roots. I whined how unlikely it would be for us to rent in the same neighborhood where we’d buy. We didn’t have a clue about the area to start with. We didn’t know the in’s and out’s. How could we know where to rent and where to buy?

So, what did God do? Well, He allowed us explore every corner of the region only to find the perfect home in the exact same neighborhood. So much for my complaining…

Part 2 of this story is about Israel. In 2014 my mother took my sister and I on a cruise to the Holy Land. That’s how I ended up on the shores of Capernaum, collecting rocks and shells. Sweet. Jesus stood along that shore, collecting his first disciples a couple thousand years ago.

One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.   Mark 1:16

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That’s me in the middle. My mom on the right and sister on left.

treasures

On that fabulous trip, I also collected an olive tree branch/leaves from the Garden of Gethsemane, salt from the Dead Sea, and a Mezuzuh from the Kibbutz Kvutzat Kinneret near the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The Mezuzuh will hang on our door at our new home.

Convicted over $0.47

Kombucha. I love it.

My daughter Elana and son-in-law Alex bought me a kombucha making kit for Christmas. Basically the best gift ever. Alex helped me make get the first batch brewing and now I’m hooked. Making a batch every week. Now I have 5 scoby brewing. My favorite so far is made with fresh lemon and ginger.

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I have baby scobys ready for a new jar so I need more breathable cloth to cover the fermenting jars. Chris and I went shopping but I could not find a plain white 100% cotton square. I picked the next best choice, Flamingos….

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Well, here is where trouble began. Chris heaved a 40 pound bag of cat litter into the cart, which landed on top of the swatch. We picked up a few more things and headed to check out. We left the litter in the cart and the clerk came around to scan it. I knew the swatch was lying underneath 40 pounds. I didn’t say anything. But the Holy Spirit did.

By the time we got to the parking lot and were loading up the car I was fully convicted – almost. I told Chris we did not pay for it and he said we should take it back – right then. “It’s only $0.47. We’ll take it back next trip,” I said.

That was my next error.  I made some sad excuse, didn’t do the right thing, and pulled him into the sin. I feel like Eve. You know, when the Holy Spirit speaks, you should listen. Right then. Not later.

I’m embarrassed. Embarrassed before God. I can’t get flamingos out of my head. I feel like I robed a bank. And been convicted. Sin has a way of doing that to a Believer… convicting you and embarrassing you for making the choice. God sees right through you. He knows your intentions, thoughts, and feelings. Well, right now I feel like Eve again, embarrassed by my nakedness.

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.   Gal 5:16-17

I’ve been talking to God about this all day. But I won’t feel right, not until I make amends. Tomorrow I must go back to Walmart. I should have listened to God. Then I wouldn’t be in this mess. It may only be $0.47 but it may well have been $1,000,000. Sin is sin. Wrong is wrong. Character matters. Following the Lord matters. Being obedient to Christ matters.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)   Rom 8:9