Thursday, February 28, 2019

Benedictions ...

"The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you;
 the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
- Numbers 6:22-27 
What do you say when your friend or loved one goes out the door to that job interview? How do you encourage your child as they leave for their big game or college entrance exam? Or what are your reassuring words before your spouse goes up to the platform to perform? Could it be, "Good Luck"?, "Knock them dead?", "Break a leg?" or "You go girl"? These may be good "pumps", but no power.
The word "benediction" comes from the Latin bene and dicere, which together means "good saying". The passage above is the oldest benediction found in the Bible, referred to as the “Priestly” or “Aaronic” Benediction. It calls for the Lord's protection, presence, provision, and peace to be upon His people. These are words that do more than "pump"... they are all power.
The challenge for believers is to be more thoughtful in our "benedictions". The Pastor blesses his congregation and we see that as appropriate. But, do you ever consider blessing your loved ones, friends or family as they begin the day, leave for a trip or face a new challenge? Why not say a little more than "Good luck" and give a "Good saying" that calls for the Lord's protection, presence, provision, and peace? Bless them with words of power.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Carrying Tables ...

"This is the service of the clans of the Gershonites, in serving and bearing burdens: they shall carry the curtains of the tabernacle and the tent of meeting with its covering and the covering of goatskin that is on top of it and the screen for the entrance of the tent of meeting and the hangings of the court and the screen for the entrance of the gate of the court that is around the tabernacle and the altar, and their cords and all the equipment for their service. And they shall do all that needs to be done with regard to them." - Numbers 4:24-26 
"And this is what they are charged to carry, as the whole of their service in the tent of meeting: the frames of the tabernacle, with its bars, pillars, and bases, and the pillars around the court with their bases, pegs, and cords, with all their equipment and all their accessories. And you shall list by name the objects that they are required to carry." - Numbers 4:31-32 
I've always appreciated those great spiritual giants of the church who carried tables, prepared for dinners and cleaned up afterward. This group included people from all corners of the church family. Some were deacons, others were choir members and still others were teachers and preachers. Yet, they were all members of the body and gave of themselves to do mundane tasks to make fellowship and ministry possible. The naval term would be ... "All hands on deck".
When we read about the specially appointed spiritual assistants to the Priesthood, we might expect their jobs to be more spiritual and less physical. Yesterday we considered their responsibility to guard the sheep. Today we see the basic and mundane work of carrying curtains, frames, bars and pillars. They regularly prepared the place of worship and packed it up for travel. They were assigned their jobs and when their labor of love was called upon ... "All hands on deck". 
In present day, our church is full of many specially gifted people. Some teach, others lead, and still others counsel or preach. But, the physical labor of the church is the job of everyone. Paul commended the believers in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 by saying ... "We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."  Today, the health and strength of the local church depends on modern day "levites" who are ready and willing to carry tables, prepare, and cleanup to make fellowship and ministry possible ... "All hands on deck".



Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Guarding the Sheep...

"And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister to him. They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle. They shall guard all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and keep guard over the people of Israel as they minister at the tabernacle." - Numbers 3:5-8
We live in perilous days for the church. The shooting of parishioners has been far too often and incredibly heart wrenching. Who would have thought that this day would ever come in America? Recently, the local sheriff's department hosted an information session with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security for houses of worship. We were given a basic presentation on guarding our pastors and congregations from active shooters. As with David of old...we must guard the sheep.
As the worship center for Israel was established, the Lord saw the need to protect the priests and congregation. The reasons were largely related to the nature of holiness in the tabernacle. The call for separation of the unconsecrated congregation and the holy of holies involved a steady watch by the levites. The use of the word "guard" occurs ten time in this one chapter. It was a God appointed stewardship for the levites to protect the leadership and  congregation... they were to guard the sheep.
As I often meet with pastors from three different states, I ask if their churches have security teams. I receive an affirmative answer every time. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security strongly encourages the same. Do we really need appointed individuals to guard our churches? Shouldn't we just trust the Lord? Let's stop and take a lesson from today's passage. Our pastors, church family and our precious children are a God given stewardship to protect. So, let us be vigilant in prayer for spiritual and physical protection, AND for modern day "levites" who are called upon to guard them. Let us be like the men of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12:32... "who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do" . As with David of old... we must guard the sheep.


Monday, February 25, 2019

Lead the Way Lord...

"The LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, And there shall be with you a man from each tribe, each man being the head of the house of his fathers... And these are the names of the men who shall assist you..." - Numbers 1:1, 5 

"While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” - Acts 13:2

When you wake up in the morning what is your first thought? Do you turn on the news? The weather? Facebook? Twitter? Snapchat? What about turning to the Lord and asking for his plan for the day? I know a sweet retired missionary lady who starts each day in neutral and just goes where the Lord leads her.
One morning, many generations ago, twelve men woke up and received the call to number their extended families. Then they were given the task to lead those families into the coming years. On another occasion many years later, two men heard the voice of the Holy Spirit call their name for missionary work. These men just started in neutral and went where the Lord led them.
You might think that God only calls great leaders, pastors, or missionaries, but He has a plan for you too. It all begins as you open your eyes every morning. Each day is another small step in accomplishing God's bigger work. He has a plan for you today, tomorrow and the next. Why not start each day in neutral and just go where the Lord leads you?


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Good Health ...

"So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.” - Leviticus 18:30
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." - Philippians 4:8-9
We have water filters in our home. There are two in the crawlspace, two on the refrigerator, and one on the coffee maker. Every filter is intended to purify the water so our health doesn't suffer from contaminants. Good health needs to be protected.
This week we read a vast number of rules and regulations to protect good health. You might discount these since they were written at a very different time. They didn't have the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in those days. But, the Lord took care of His people. Good health needed to be protected.
Whether it's physical or spiritual health, the Lord is still concerned with our well being today. We may have the FDA and CDC to keep a watchful eye for our physical needs, but we are the only ones that can take care of our spiritual condition. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, he gave very helpful guidelines for our spiritual thoughts and actions. Good health needs to be protected.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Choose Wisely ...

"But the land shall be abandoned by them and enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them, and they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they spurned my rules and their soul abhorred my statutes. Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the LORD their God." - Leviticus 26:43-44 
"He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years." - 2 Chronicles 36:20-21
"Paper TIger" ... is an expression that originated from the Chinese phrase zhilaoho (纸老虎紙老虎). It refers to that which outwardly appears to be powerful or dangerous, but in truth is weak or ineffectual. The late Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Communist Party of China would often refer to American Imperialism as a "Paper Tiger". Anyone can express doubt in another's power and promise, but eventually, truth will prevail.
When the law was given to Israel, it came with a many warnings. God meant business when He spoke and He had the power to fulfill His word of promise. The years would pass and the nation would stray far and wide from godly living and regular obedience of the law of God. The larger majority expressed no fear nor expectation of retribution. You might say that they considered Jehovah to be a "Paper Tiger". But eventually, truth prevailed.
When God warned that unrepentant sin would lead to a loss of blessing and a long time away from the land, He was serious. The two passages above speak of two different times in history, but the latter fulfilled the former. Paul gave a similar warning in Galatians 6:7, where he writes to the professed believer... "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap."  Be wise in how you choose  to live my friend, because God is not a "Paper Tiger", and eventually, truth will prevail.


       
  

Friday, February 22, 2019

Be careful what you say...

"And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin." - Leviticus 24:15
"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain." - Exodus 20:7 & Deuteronomy 5:11 
Last November, the Pakistani Supreme Court ruled that Asia Bibi was to be released from prison. Her case stems from an argument with a group of women in June of 2009. She was accused of making offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad during the encounter. She was later beaten up in her home and arrested. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan takes a very strict position on blasphemy.
The event that is recorded in Leviticus 24 is very sobering. The commandment was quite clear from the very first appearance in Exodus 20. Using His Name in cursing, or in careless language was seen as blasphemy and the penalty was death. God's Name was to be honored with great reverence, for He was and is... Jehovah God.  The LORD takes a very strict position on Blasphemy.
While the Lord refrains from striking blasphemers dead today, He is still offended and holds the offender guilty of sin. Consider your language my friend. How often do you respond to a shocking announcement with the words, "Oh My God"? How often do you use the Lord's Name in an expletive? The issue goes much further than disobeying a commandment. It raises the question of your love and respect for your Lord. If you love Him, you'll honor him with every word. Please take a very strict position on Blasphemy.

    

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Old Stuff ...

“So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the LORD. And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD.” - Leviticus 22:31-33 
Have you ever been to an "old school" flea market? Tables and tents are set up all over an open field or in an old run down warehouse. You can find everything from worn out kitchen utensils to rusty tools that aren't sold in the store anymore. You might find someone's worn furniture or an old eight track tape player. Rarely, if ever, will there be something new and in perfect condition. One person's trash may be another person's treasure.
When it came to gifts and sacrifices made to the Lord, His name was on the line. Whatever was to be given was to be in perfect condition. It was to come from sincere hearts that approached the Lord with holy desire and grateful lives. There was no place for blemishes, blind, disabled or mutilated offerings. The God who brought them out of the land of Egypt was worthy of nothing less than the very best. One person's trash was NOT to be the Lord's treasure.
Forty years of pastoring and earlier years of church work has exposed me to amazing discoveries. Year in and year out, church members would donate incredible "stuff" to the church. Yes, I've seen everything from worn out kitchen utensils to rusty tools that aren't sold in the store anymore. There has been worn furniture or an old eight track tape player given as well. I often wonder how believers can enjoy the overwhelming joy of NEW life and NEW mercies every morning, but bring to the Lord OLD "stuff" and believe that they are honoring His name. Be very careful my friend, not to profane His name by the OLD "stuff" you give. Your Savior and Lord is worthy of nothing less than the very best. Your trash is NOT the Lord's treasure.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What the World Needs ...

"You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. " - Leviticus 19:18
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” - Matthew 22:36-40
In 1965 Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote "What the world needs now is love, sweet love, It's the only thing that there's just too little of."  The song reached number 7 on the US charts in May of that year. Apparently, this message hit a nerve that resonated for quite some time. But then again has there been any improvement over the last fifty-four years? Isn't there still a great need for love today?
As Jesus responded to a Pharisee's inquiry with the above statement, he highlighted the greater love that was needed. While the world may join together in a call for loving one another, this love will never be what it needs to be without the greater love for God. But, once that love is realized, love for on another becomes a priority. We see old commandments given for an ancient people, more relevant than ever. Isn't there still a great need for love today?
How much do you love the Lord today my friend? Does he have your undying devotion that draws your heart, soul and mind into total commitment? Is the Lord the reason for your living? When love for the Lord is the driving force in your life, you can't help loving your neighbor as yourself. Such a love for God and others is "not just for some but for everyone"Isn't there still a great need for love today?


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Most Powerful Cleaner ..

"For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life." - Leviticus 17:11 
"Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." - Hebrews 9:22
The Amazon advertisement reads: "There’s dirt in your carpet, grease on your shirt, and juice on the couch? Good thing OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover treats it all. Activated by water, the unique formula unleashes the power of oxygen for safe, effective cleaning all over your home. It gets the tough stains out." After years of research and numerous household cleaners flushed down the drain, OxiClean has come to the rescue. The search for a powerful cleaner has ended.
By the time Moses appeared upon the scene and the commandments were given, sin had wreaked havoc on the souls of mankind. Would there ever be an answer for man's greatest need for cleansing? Could there be anything that possessed the necessary power to get the tough stains of sin out of the soul? Where could anyone turn to have the record of sins expunged once and for all? The answer was finally made clear... "it is the blood that makes atonement". The search for a powerful cleaner had ended.
We read Paul's exciting announcement in Ephesians 1:7: "In him (Jesus Christ)  we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace". Lewis E. Jones put it well in 1899 with following words ... "Would you be free from the burden of sin? There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood; Would you o’er evil a victory win? There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood." You see, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." But, if you will put your faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ to wash away your sin, you will be eternally clean. Your search for a powerful cleaner has ended.


Monday, February 18, 2019

God's Ways...

"The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 'When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a case of leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession, then he who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, ‘There seems to me to be some case of disease in my house.’" - Leviticus 14:33-35  
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28 
In 2017 we purchased a house that looked great on the surface. We had no doubt that this was a true blessing from the Lord. Then, three months afterward we discovered a serious presence of mold under the flooring and behind the cabinets. The tiles and kitchen walls had to go. Were we wrong about the house being God's blessing? Today, one year later, we can say "Yes", without reservation. We made new friends and saw the Lord work in ways we never expected. God's ways are always best.
If you read through these verses too quickly you may have missed the highlighted phrase, "I put a case of leprous disease in a house." If you did notice it, you may have wondered if it was a mistake in the printing. The answer to your question is "No". God is in control and works "all things" together for good; even moldy walls. Houses come and go, but relationships that lead people to Christ are priceless. God's ways are always best.
Don't be fooled by those TV personalities that preach a gumdrops and lollipops gospel. A friend of mine refers to them as being "nothing but smiles". The Lord has many reasons for bringing cloudy days into our lives. If no rain ever fell, no flowers would ever grow. A far better preacher named Charles H. Spurgeon put it this way ... "I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages”. God's ways are always best.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Single Offering ...

"And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." - Hebrews 10:11-14 
The smartphone is an amazing development. In one hand you have a telephone, camera, calculator, audio player, video player, video game, GPS, flashlight and a basic all around computer. It's an all-in-one digital multitool. It meets just about every daily need for the busy professional. Owning one single device makes all the difference in the world.
This last week, we have read through very detailed chapters in Leviticus covering the sacrificial system of Israel. We were introduced to the Burnt Offering (1:1-17), Grain Offering (2:1-16), Peace Offering (3:1-17), Sin Offering (4:1-5:13) and Guilt Offering (5:14-6:7). Every spiritual condition of God's people was met through this complex series of offerings. Having one single offering would make all the difference in the world.
What a glorious day when Yahshua Hamashiach (Jesus the Messiah) arrived to be our single offering. In him alone, every spiritual condition was met by one single offering. We are perfected for all time as we are being sanctified. Our Saviour walked the Via Dolorosa (way of suffering) and was offered up as our sacrifice for sins. His single offering made all the difference in the world.  
  

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Moccasins...

"And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”  - Leviticus 12:8  
"And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” - Luke 2:22-24


 Mary Torrans Lathrap, a nineteenth poet, wrote the thought provoking poem entitled "Judge Softly" or "Walk a Mile in His Moccasins". It provides the reader with a simple message of compassion, kindness, empathy and understanding. Within this convicting literary work we read such words as these... "There are people on reservations and in the ghettos who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds." The writer finally concludes with, "Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins." 
The instructions we find in Leviticus 12:8 were followed generations later by Mary and Joseph as they presented the baby Jesus at the Temple. They couldn't afford a lamb because they were simple people of meager means. From his very birth, our Savior identified with the common man.  In Luke 4:18 Jesus read from Isaiah 61, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor..."  Jesus came to redeem us from our sins, but he also took time "to walk a mile in our moccasins".
There is a well known hymn by John W. Peterson entitled "No One Understands Like Jesus". This is the answer to every heart-cry of desperation... "does anybody really care? " We have a friend in the One who was born in a stable, dedicated with turtle doves and pigeons, labored in a carpenter's shop and lived his last three years homeless. Come to Jesus, and lay your burdens at his feet ... because he took time "to walk a mile in your moccasins".


Friday, February 15, 2019

A Stark Reality ...

"Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace." - Leviticus 10:1-3
In August, 1945, the United States detonated nuclear weapons over two Japanese cities. Hiroshima was bombed on the 6th and Nagasaki on the 9th. Japan announced its surrender to the Allies on August 15. The two bombings eventually led to the death of approximately 200,000 people. While there have been many who have criticised the bombing as overkill, it ended the war and created a fearful respect that has prevented future nuclear war. The world woke up to a stark reality.
The Lord provided clear instructions concerning the priesthood, along with its nature of holiness. He would not be approached carelessly or lightly by the people, and especially by the ordained leaders. To worship God was an awesome responsibility and to walk close to Him called for reverence. Nadab and Abihu offered unauthorized fire before the Lord and dishonored Him. This would set a precedent for years to come and the Lord dealt  with it firmly and finally. God would be sanctified and honored by His leaders and His people. Israel woke up to a stark reality.
Another situation like this one is found in Acts 5:1-11 in the early days of the church. A man a wife chose to deceive the church leaders and God himself. On this occasion God also responded firmly and finally. While He is merciful and gracious, He must be approached with reverence and honor. He is not to be worshipped or served carelessly or lightly. May we learn from these two rare occasions and wake up to the stark reality of Hebrews 10:31 ... "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."


Thursday, February 14, 2019

For a Lifetime ...

And he killed it, and Moses took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right footThen he presented Aaron’s sons, and Moses put some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet. And Moses threw the blood against the sides of the altar." - Leviticus 8:23-24
During the years of shepherding God's flock, I had the incredible privilege to assist and encourage two young men in their pursuit and achievement of becoming Eagle Scouts. On both occasions these young men earned the right to wear the Eagle Scout Badge. This badge has symbolism to remind the scout to be prepared, to do their duty to God and country and help other people at all times. Achievement is for a moment, but maintenance is for a lifetime.
The ordination of Aaron and his sons was a momentous occasion that lasted for seven days. Special clothing was worn, great sacrifices were given and dedication of life was made. The honor was overwhelming and the calling was irreversible... there was no turning back. But, what about the future? Each priest was to be given a symbolic "badge". Sacrificial blood was placed on the ear, hand and foot to remind them to listen to God, work for God and walk with God. Achievement was for a moment, but maintenance was for a lifetime.
Every believer is called upon by our Lord to take on a "badge" of symbolism after conversion... "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:19-21. As believers in Christ, we obey his command and identify as disciples on our day of believers baptism. Disciples of Jesus enter the future observing all that has been commanded, listening to God, working for God and walking with God. Achievement is for a moment, but maintenance is for a lifetime. 
   

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Deal with it...

“When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the LORD his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish, and shall lay his hand on the head of the goat and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the LORD; it is a sin offering." - Leviticus 4:22-24
Some  years ago, moral failure was discovered in a pastor that I knew. This wasn't the first time I heard of such a situation. But, this time it was close to home and the pastor denied the allegations until he could no longer avoid the truth. He had hoped to cover up the sin and continue on without dealing with the failure. Many leaders like this pastor believe that leadership exempts them from the need for common confession and repentance. Everyone needs to deal with their sin.
The passage above begins with precise wording... "When a leader sins" and "he shall bring his offering". First, It doesn't read "If a leader sins". Everyone sins, even leaders. Next, it doesn't read "he shall ignore". Everyone who sins must confess and repent, even leaders. This all comes together in 1 John 1:8-9, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Everyone needs to deal with their sin. 
Are you a parent, teacher, church leader, community leader, or employer? Do you feel that you are exempt from "common man" expectations? The words of Romans 3:22-25 state otherwise, "For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith." When David, the King of Israel was confronted by Nathan the prophet he said, “I have sinned against the LORD.” If a King can confess and repent so can you. Everyone needs to deal with their sin.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Never left behind...

"Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys." - Exodus 40:36-38
For six years my wife and I, with two friends, ran our church youth program. Every year we would take the entire crew for an end of the year overnight trip. All told, we traveled from Maryland to Massachusetts and many places in-between. We experienced tons of fun, food, and friendships, but when the van engine was started, everyone was on board. No one was  ever left behind.
There has never been a nation like Israel. No other people experienced the guiding presence of God Almighty as they did. His presence protected, provided, and prepared the way in all their journeys. No matter what was going on in life, everyone kept a keen eye on the cloud. When God stayed, they stayed and when God moved, they moved. No one was ever left behind. 
The lesson here is quite simple... Always keep your eyes on the Lord. The writer of Hebrews put it this way in chapter 12, verses 1 & 2, "let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith" When the Lord stays, you stay...when the Lord moves, you move. In other words, always follow His lead and travel in the center of His will ... because He never wants you to be left behind.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Work...

"According to all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so the people of Israel had done all the work. And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, so had they done it. Then Moses blessed them." - Exodus 39:42-43
I've been to more church growth conferences and leadership workshops than I can count. After the" new and better" presentations are given, along with the nifty notebooks and slick videos provided, it all comes down to doing one thing... WORK.
Building the Tabernacle was an overwhelming project. We were introduced to skilled craftsmen and generous givers along the way. The Lord provided the architectural designs with extraordinary detail. Moses gave stellar leadership through every phase. But, it all came down to doing one thing... WORK.
Are you spending hours on end looking for a new approach to the challenges of life? Have you already read tons of books on "Yadda Yadda for Dummies"? Are you looking for that "silver bullet" that will finally bring success to your business, church, marriage or health? Think about it - It will always come down to doing one thing...WORK. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Exactly ...

"And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it." - Exodus 25:8-9
Have you ever installed a dishwasher, brake drum, or sim card? Did you follow the directions? Were the guidelines loosely stated, with such terms as: "If you desire, you may ..." or "Placing any way will be fine..." I believe the answer would be NO. You found that the steps needed were quite precise. For good results, it's best to follow the instructions Exactly.
We've read a lot of instructions this week. The details have almost been mind numbing. Yet, those who were called upon to build the sanctuary stuck to the pattern step by step. Why? Because, from the very beginning, God made it crystal clear that every facet of the building and furniture was to be precise. They believed, that for good results, it's best to follow God's instructions Exactly.
It doesn't matter what God calls us to accomplish in life; His way is best. As a matter of fact, every believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19) Therefore, God is in the work of temple building with you. This being true, it's of utmost importance to stick to the pattern step by step. (Matthew 5:48 -"You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."Why? Because, for good results, it's always best to follow God's instructions Exactly.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Flood Gates ...

"And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.”  - Exodus 36:3-5
A number of years ago, the church I was pastoring faced an incredible financial strain. While we spent much time in prayer, the demand only grew greater. At the end of an entire year, the situation was finally resolved, but our church had paid out $111,000 during the process. To the glory of God, our little congregation had given over and above the annual church budget expenses to meet the need. When people give out of love, the flood gates open.
Moses announced plans to build a worship center for the Lord. The expense was going to be great, due to the materials required. The call was sent out for God's people to contribute as their hearts moved them. But, would enough be given to complete such a monumental task? Would their hearts meet the need? The above passage shows the amazing results of such giving. The gifts were "much more than enough". To the glory of God, every need was met in abundance. When people give out of love, the flood gates open.
When God's work is faced with needs, pray. But, don't just pray for dollars and cents. Pray for hearts to love the Lord more and more. Pray for God's people to be overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessings and care they have received from the Lord. I've never been a big fan of "fundraising" for God's work. I'm more of a "heartraising" kind of guy. When people give out of love, the flood gates open.


Friday, February 8, 2019

Grace and Truth ...

"The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” - Exodus 34:6
My dad was an incredibly gracious man. He was generous to a fault and and showed kindness when I needed it the most. At the same time he was firm and always meant business when I needed correction and guidance. He disciplined me when needed and forgave me when I apologized. Did I have two fathers? No; I had only one, but he practiced two God given qualities... Grace and Truth.
I have heard some people say that the God of the Old Testament was very different from the God of the New Testament. They come to a quick conclusion without considering the complexity of God's nature. God gave Moses the Law, but in addition, He revealed His eternal nature.  The above passage is one of the most profound statements concerning  the qualities of the God of the Bible... Grace and Truth.
The New Testament speaks of the Word becoming flesh and the Son making the unseen God known in John 1:14-18. Jesus gave us a closer and more intimate view of our God. We see Him walking on the shores of Galilee, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, blessing the children and raising the dead. But, we also see Him cleansing the temple, rebuking the pharisees and speaking of eternal judgement. We have One God who possesses two wonderful qualities ... Grace and Truth


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Called of God

"The LORD said to Moses, 'See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.' And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan..." - Exodus 31:1-6 
I worked my way through college. In the early years I had the opportunity to work alongside a master carpenter. I always enjoyed watching him work at his craft and create beautiful furniture from wood. Werner was a devout believer and often spoke of his faith. He also spoke of his love for wood and it's natural beauty. I never doubted that God had gifted and called me to the ministry and Werner to woodworking. We were both called of God.
When the time came for the Tabernacle to be built, craftsmen were needed. Not just men with tools, but those who were uniquely called of God, gifted with ability, intelligence, knowledge, craftsmanship and filled with the Spirit of God. Such men were Bezalel and Oholiab. In addition to priests and levites, God's work included those who were skilled in every craft. They were all called of God.       
Author Os Guinness wrote in his book "The Call", "But who are we? And what is our destiny? Calling insists that the answer lies in God’s knowledge of what he has created us to be and where he is calling us to go. Our gifts and destiny do not lie expressly in our parents’ wishes, our boss’s plans, our peer group’s pressures, our generation’s prospects, or our society’s demands. Rather, we each need to know our own unique design, which is God’s design for us." We are all called of God.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Walking Together ...


"I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God." - Exodus 29:45-46

  "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14 

 "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. " - Revelation 21:3

In 1956 Johnny Cowell published the song "Walk Hand in Hand With Me". It reached # 2 in the United Kingdom and # 10 on the Billboard chart in the United States. For years it has been a favorite wedding song for many young couples. I believe the song's appeal comes from its emphasis on two people in love walking together.
Our passage for today was found in the age old book of Exodus. As we look deeply into the last two verses of chapter 29 we find heart of God for His people. He so loved them that He miraculously delivered them from bondage. He did this to the end that He might dwell with them. This has been, and will always be God's desire... from the Garden to Exodus to Jesus to the new heaven and earth. God loves us, and so desires that we walk together.
Johnny Cowell wrote a secular song beginning with the following words..."Walk hand in hand with me, through all eternity, Have faith, believe in me, give me your hand". The Bible passages above speak of an even greater devotion. Our Lord wants to walk hand in hand with us every day. Jesus said in John 14:23, "...If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."  Don't go it alone my friend, take His hand and walk together.


         

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A Holy People...

“You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the Lord.’" - Exodus 28:36
" But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation..." - 1 Peter 2:9
The movie "Gone with the Wind" came out in 1939. This film brought an explicative to the silver screen before the ears of the public for the first time and with it came great distress from Christians. Eighty years have passed and far worse than profanity has become regular fare on every screen. Sadly, Christians aren't so distressed anymore. As the world has drifted farther from moral absolutes, the Christian community has followed... not far behind. We've lost the sense of being a Holy people.
As instructions were being given for building the Tabernacle, a priesthood was also being prepared. Leadership was set apart to be a holy presence among the people. They were to set a godly example for the nation. Holiness was the God appointed radiance that would bring light to a dark world of heathenism. Israel was called upon to influence, not to BE influenced. They were never to lose their sense of being a Holy people.
Today, believers are born again as "a royal priesthood, a holy nation". We are called upon to "let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) We are God's appointed radiance that should bring light to a dark world of heathenism. We are called upon to influence, not to BE influenced. May we pray for moral resolve, standing firm in our calling and never lose our sense of being a Holy people.


Monday, February 4, 2019

From the Heart...

"The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me." - Exodus 25:1-2
Valentine's Day will soon arrive. Gifts will fly. Everything from flowers to diamond earrings and more. Ideally, these gifts will not be given as part of an annual obligation. Hopefully, the exchange will not come out of the fear of emotional retribution. The motivation for giving on Valentine's Day is a matter of the heart.
When the time came for the building of the Tabernacle, the materials needed were considerable. The Lord could have easily and rightly demanded the people to give what was needed. After all, they had been delivered from centuries of slavery and miraculously provided for along the journey. Victory was given against every enemy. They really owed the Lord, big time! But, the motivation for giving was a matter of the heart.
Our act of giving in worship today is no different than it was that day. Paul wrote to the believers in 2 Corinthians 9:7, "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." Just as the romance of Valentine's Day or the gratitude of freed Israelites ... giving to the Lord should always be...a matter of the heart.  


 
  

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Stand and See ...

"And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” - Exodus 14:13-14
Personal computers are a modern day wonder. I have lived through the ownership of an IBM 88, to having multiple laptops, tablets and smartphones. At every stage of development I had to go through a learning curve. The most often repeated lesson was the need for patience. It's never been easy for me to watch a little spinning circle while the screen message told me that everything would be fixed in just a few minutes. But, sure enough, the hidden hand wins the day! 
Over and over again, we saw the children of Israel grow incredibly impatient with Moses and the Lord. In the case of the above situation the people were at the end of their rope with the fear of complete annihilation. What were they to do? “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today." They came face to face with a little spinning circle and waiting for everything to be fixed was asking too much. But, sure enough, the hidden HAND won the day!
We have absolutely no idea what goes on behind the computer screen do we? All we can see is a little spinning circle. In the same way, we have no idea what goes on behind the storm clouds, threatening circumstances or brick walls of life. Yet, the Lord of the "divided sea" and "dry ground" is the same for you and me today. "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today." ... because HIS hidden HAND will win the day for you!


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Reverence and Respect...

“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people." - Exodus 22:28
The current atmosphere in America exhibits every form of criticism toward her leadership. From one side to the other, you find everything from raging hatred to mild, but loudly spoken complaints. One might say that we live in an age of democracy and free speech gone amuck. People shake their fist at God and spit in the face of their leaders. We no longer practice reverence or respect.
The above command was given in the midst of laws for social justice. No nation rises above its reverence toward God and its respect for leadership. Israel was no exception. As a newly formed nation, laws were given to promote peace, harmony, and above all else, holiness. They were to build on the bedrocks of reverence and respect.
The obedience of the above command has been a marked character trait of David, (1 Samuel 24:6; 26:9) and the Apostles (Acts 23:5; Romans 13:2-7; Titus 3:1-2; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5). May we choose, not to "tear down", but "pray up" our leaders ... 1 Timothy 2:1-2. Why not set a positive example that avoids every form of grumbling and complaining (Philippians 2:14; James 5:9)?  Let's lead our world back to the practice of reverence and respect.