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.


Friday, February 1, 2019

On Eagles' WIngs ...

"You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”   " - Exodus 19:4-6
Over the years, "Eagle's WIngs" has been used for a wide variety of endeavours. We have a wilderness retreat lodge in southeast Alaska, a restoration and renewal farm in Kansas City, a sloop-rigged sailboat traveling around the world since 2004, a men's tie company, as well as a travel planning agency for funeral needs. The phrase inspires and attracts people toward both business and pleasure. But, the most uplifting use is when God spoke of carrying His people to Himself..."On Eagles' Wings".
After the dust had settled and the people of Israel were drawing close to Sinai, the Lord sets before them a reminder and promise. Their enemy has been vanquished, they have been successfully carried through hunger, thirst and battle. God's purpose was simply stated in the words, "brought you to myself". They were to be a treasured possession, kingdom of priests and holy nation. The journey may have seemed difficult, but for God, it was smooth sailing..."On Eagles' Wings".
Take a moment dear child of God, and consider the words of 1 Peter 2:9-10, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." Sound familiar from today's reading? Our enemy has been defeated and God's promises are great since He brought us to Himself ... "On Eagles' Wings".