Sunday, September 22, 2013

Exodus 28 - Your Wardrobe Speaks

In Exodus 28, we have an outline for the garments of the priest who was to serve as the representative of the people before God. The Ephod, the Breastpiece, the robes and other garments spoke not only to the people but also to the priest wearing them.

Dignity and Honor

The clothing was to give dignity and honor to the wearer and to the position. We bring evoke right treatment of ourselves when we dress in a way that dignifies us. Later we will speak about modesty in dress, but when we dress neatly it shows we care about ourselves and we would like others to treat us with respect as well. 

We make a statement to the world by wearing clothing to dishonor ourselves. Revealing clothing that exposes our undergarments or worse, our areas which should remain covered causes people to think of us in less than flattering ways. We as God's children should dress in ways that do not stir lusts or degrade our image. 

Aaron was a priest. In dressing the part he brings honor also to his position and reflects holiness to God. Likewise when we dress for our work we reflect not only on ourselves but on our employer and our profession. 

The details of the garments added to the honor and care that was given to the dress. The ornamentation was to add to the dignity of the position and the person.

Signs and Remembrances
When we dress, we show something of our character and the things we value.  We like to call it our style.

In this chapter I am struck by the symbolic nature of some of the pieces - the shoulder plate and the breastpiece with the names of the tribe of Israel, the Holy to the Lord gold plate on the turban, even the bells around the hem all spoke about the Holiness of God and his love for the people. Aaron was to be a representative of the people to God but also a reflection of God to the people. He was to hold the nation dear to his heart and bring their sacrifices to The Lord. 

I think of how people wear jewelry that has a cross or other remembrance that keeps God before us as a reminder but also before the people we meet witnessing to them. We show our faith in our dress and we demonstrate to the world that we hold God high in our lives.

Contrary,  when we have symbols of rebellion, death, and hatred reflected in our dress, we publicly speak against God and witness against Him. 

The point of this passage is that God sees and cares about the details. Our adherence to the details is a reflection of our character and obedience to The Lord. Consider what statements you make in your dress today. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Exodus 26 & 27 - Detailed Plans

As a financial planner, I love to see detailed plans of life goals and how they will be accomplished. Likewise in these chapters God lays out detailed plans for the Tabernacle and its furnishings. He outlines a materials list, colors, patterns, size, and even assembly instructions. 

God intended for his place of meeting the people to be sturdy, functional and pleasing to the eye. With cherubim a woven into the fabric and gold and silver decorative touches. Each piece served a purpose with nothing unplanned or unused. 

The plans for the construction were incredibly detailed. God does not leave us to work through projects without guidance. He cares about the details and guides his people. He is also concerned with the details of our service to Him. He doesn't satisfy Himself with what is leftover, but He has a plan and a purpose for each servant. 

There was employment for skilled artisans, weavers, tent makers and builders. I am sure that many gifts from the people provided for the materials and the precious metals used in the construction.  I feel sure there was a role for everyone in this project. Later,  the priests will bring offerings and serve The Lord here. 

When I was a young Christian, I thought that service to The Lord was limited to religious work. The missionaries and the ministers were at work for The Lord, but in this chapter we see that artists and all types of skilled workers have a place of service. 

God has equipped each of us to serve Him in a special way. He has gifted us with special personality traits and skills we can use. He was in the details of our education and even gifting us with mental and physical capacity for service. Each servant is equipped differently and performs differing roles, but as his child he will not call us to a task and leave us without the wisdom, strength and capacity to complete it according to His plan. A measure of our obedience is how closely we obey His plan for us and how willing are we to engage ourselves in service. 

What has God planned for you?  It doesn't have to be the assembly of the tabernacle, it could be mining the ore or cutting the trees. Where God has placed you in service, serve him with all your heart and look to Him for the results. You may be keeping house, raising children, or recovering from an illness, but as long as we have breath, God is concerned with our service and calls is to witness and work for Him.  So whether it is the details of our health, our home, our worship or our work God is in the details. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Exodus 25 - God's Building Campaign

When I think of building campaigns in the church, I almost want to cringe. We have more churches on every street corner that are under-utilized than ever. Often congregations forfeit true ministry (funding Christian discipleship and missions) in order to have a building that is large and updated for every purpose. 

Many churches go deep in debt and risk not being able to support the basics of providing for their pastor or building 
maintenance in order to have a lovely building.  In this chapter we see some principles of God's building campaign. 

Offering of willing hearts
God's building was not a function of fund raisers or product of selling foods or charging for special events. People were to give from their supply. Only willing people should give. No borrowing was required. People gave from the reserves they brought with them from Egypt. 

Specific offering
God outlined exactly what would be needed for this project. It wasn't a matter if giving what you feel like after the bills are paid. God has a materials list and exact plans for what is to be included in the building (ark). 

Extravagant offering
God lists his plan for gold, silver, bronze and special dyed fabric for the project. This was no plain tabernacle but extravagant. God asks for very detailed work - look at verses 18-21 for the descriptions if the gold cherubim and verses 31-36 for the lamp stands. These were works of art. 

Honor to The Lord
The rings for carrying the ark and the table were designed that no man would touch the holy places where God's presence was. We are not to make our own way to God or to discount His holiness; these errors in judgment lead to death. 

If we only understood God's nature and His principles we could avoid so many of the blunders that destroy the testimony of the church. By applying the principles to our own worship we hold God high,demonstrate obedience, and depend only on the willing offerings of the believers. In that way God gets they glory for anything we construct. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Exodus 24 - Our House of Mirrors

In this chapter we find God reaching down to His people and aligning His purposes with theirs. Moses shares Gods plan and reads the Book of the Covenant to the people and twice the people corporately confirm "we will do all that The Lord says". I have no doubt that the people were sincere, but what becomes clear is that they underestimate the holiness of God and overestimate their own ability to reach his standard of righteousness. 

Our view of ourselves
No one likes to think they are working against God or that we are out of fellowship with Him. We like to think of God as loving us and accepting us no matter what. The truth is that God loves us immensely - so much that he will not allow us to wallow in sin. BUT God is also holy and cannot be associated with sin. 

The people responding to God really wanted to believe that they could honor God's commands and meet the terms of the covenant being offered.  They offer their obedience with every intention of following through, but their sin nature they inherited from Adam works against even our best intentions. They thought they were able to meet the requirement, but the laws God gives make it clear that we cannot in ourselves meet the standard. We are hopelessly lost in sin. It is in us and we cannot separate ourselves from our sin nature no matter how much I want to and no matter how hard I try. We console ourselves by comparing our righteousness against the rest of the sinners in our lives, but if we rely on that we still fall woefully short of God's standard for acceptance. 

Our view of God
In our sin nature, we resist deep consideration of God's holiness. It is so starkly contrasted with our sin that it is like a bright light shining on the depravity of our souls. Our response often is to discount God's holiness. It makes us feel better about our condition of sin. God however demonstrates his holiness to the people. Look back at the chapter. 

Moses offers a sacrifice. The animal sacrifice would not be required if the people could meet their side of the covenant between themselves and God. 

The glory of God resided on the mountain as a devouring fire for six days before Moses was allowed to enter into God's presence. We are not able to stand before God apart from God's special accommodation. Even Moses needed to wait for an invitation from God. 

Thank God we have special provision in Jesus Christ - the only perfect bridge between God and man because he was fully God and fully man wholly equipped to be the perfect and lasting sacrifice able to pay the penalty for our sins. Not only did he pay the penalty of sin (death) for our sins but for the sins of all mankind from Adam to all generations after. 

We cannot meet God's holy standard but Jesus can and he makes his life an offering for us so that we can enjoy fellowship with God now and for all eternity. We can know our eternal home; if you have accepted Jesus' substitutionary sacrifice it will show as you make serving Him our life work. The work doesn't save, but it is our response to the gift Jesus gave us. If we continue to live for ourselves we probably have not realized the benefit of Jesus sacrifice on our behalf. 

Check out some of the results of a life lived in fellowship with God in Galatians 5 and Ephesians 5. This is the measure of a saved life. God places His spirit in us and grows fruit evidencing his power. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 


Friday, September 6, 2013

Exodus 23 - Living the High Life

Exodus 23 contains a number of principles we can apply to our lives to experience the fullness of life promised. These principles guide us along the high road of life and keep us from adopting the practices of the world. We cannot be light to the world if we adopt its ways, so God outlines for us His way to follow. 

We are to be people who are known for absolute truth. We should not twist facts to support our own preference or to distort justice for or against another. 

Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life" Jn 14:6. When we make truth our standard we walk in way of Jesus. We are to walk away from falsehood. 

In keeping with our commitment to truth, we should never accept a bribe. When we do we have blinded ourselves to truth and righteousness and allow out testimony to be compromised. 

We were made for work. God gave us our talents and has provided the opportunities we have been given. We should work hard and make sure our families are provided for, but in recognition that our provision is from above we should observe a rest and honor The Lord weekly. Rest is a service to The Lord oft neglected. Do we allow ourselves to believe we are our own Masters of our destiny when we refuse to observe His day of rest?

We are also to provide for the poor. There are those who cannot work for one reason or another and who should be provided for out of our abundance. It is not just the offering to The Lord we are to give but we are to give to those in need. For those who are unable we are to share the bounty from the abilities The Lord has provided us. 

From our labors we are also to honor The Lord with our first fruits. We are to do this in recognition that we serve God alone and that we are grateful for His abundant provision. 

God offers protection for his people as they enter into the land of promise. An angel is sent to guide. This angel gives Gods direction and bears God's name. This angel goes before the people to disturb and strike fear among the people in the lands. 

Notice a principle in verse 30, the inhabitants are not driven out in one year but little by little. The people were not ready to assume control of the land all at once. Likewise The Lord goes before us and prepares us for each new season of life. He does not provide everything all at once but as we need and can manage it. This explains why we must continue to strive, but it is in the striving that our character is refined and we apply God's truth to our lives and find it all sufficient. 

We may not have a visible angel to guide us to our promised land but we do have a living Lord who sees, who cares and who provides for our needs on earth and paves the way for us even now for our eternity with Him.   We can reject the worlds ways and embrace the high life of our Lord. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Exodus 22 - Restoration

This chapter focuses in what the people of God should do if there is an offense committed. The first half of the chapter focuses on property; the second half focuses on people.

If we steal, borrow or are in some way placed in care of someone else's property, we are responsible to the owner of the property. To not restore the owner to their full is to treat them as if they are not worthy and less important than ourselves. We have a duty to honor our friends possessions as we honor our friends. There is a principle involved: honoring of someone extends beyond their person to their stuff. 

As we apply this principle, consider if we have depleted value from another. If we stretch the truth on our income taxes we steal from the government (or the nation as a whole). If we fudge on our expenses to our employer or not fully engage in the corporate work, we are defrauding our employer. There is always a person at the end of the offense. Even filing bankruptcy defrauds not only the creditors to whom money was owed but also the other customers who bear that cost through higher fees charged. 

In the second part of this chapter, the topic turns to direct violations against a person and against God. We see that the vulnerable are not to be mistreated. The alien, the widow, the orphan, the poor all have value in God's eyes and should be treated respectfully. The way we treat others is a reflection of how we value our position before God. We were needy and aliens before God and He showed mercy to us. We demonstrate His character when we show that same mercy to others. 

God also demands respect. Our Creator deserves our worship, our sacrifices, our honor, even the dedication of the first-born in recognition that without Him we have nothing. Our very life is His. God outlines for us what respect for Him should look like and how repulsive it is to rob Him of His place. 

Our choices in our administering money, treatment of others and our worship of God say something about what we value and the character we bear. Will we bear God's character or will we defraud God and others by living only for ourselves?

I pray that as you consider God's word for our lives that you will choose to serve him with all your time, talents, gifts and service!  As He said in Ex 22:31, we are God's holy people. We should live in a way that demonstrates our allegiance. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.