Monday, October 28, 2013

Exodus 34 - God's Presence - Our Raidance

Moses in this chapter visits God on Mt Sinai. God comes down in a cloud and proclaims His Name -The Lord. There is power even in the mention of God's name. I am sure that Moses felt the power surge. 

God then proclaims something I had underlined in my Bible and a promise we can all rest in as children of God. "The Lord is compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love and failthfulness, maintaining to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."  Ex. 33:6-7. God hates sin and it can't be overlooked a price must be paid for sin, but we have a compassionate God who is gracious and loving. 

Moses worships and asks for The Lord to go with the people. The Lord proclaims some of the mighty works He will do if only the people will obey. Obedience- isn't that where we all get stuck?  God's holy standard is beyond us so we give up and return to our own ways. We don't want to be chided by our friends and neighbors so we go along with the flow and turn our backs on holy living. We entangle ourselves in the affairs of the world. 

God calls us to be different and to enjoy His presence. Moses did and his face was radiant. We too have the offer of God's presence and no doubt we too will glow when we obey and trust God with our affairs. The problem is we doubt God and take up our own resolution to the problems we see rather than seeking and obeying God. 

As we speak, I am challenged in my own faith to trust God and to look to Him to guide me. Indications suggest that my position will likely be eliminated. I don't know when for sure, but it does not enjoy the same favor that the prior management bestowed. I know that God prepared me for this position and that He is now preparing me to serve Him where He places me. Yet, I can't help feeling a little uneasy anticipating change without knowing what direction it will take. Yes, I can choose to trust God and intentionally make time for worship, study, prayer, and fellowship. I need God's wisdom and power but I also need Him to go with me. I cannot go alone; if God does not ordain the path and walk with me, it must not be travelled. 

Our financial affairs can so quickly entangle us and keep us from enjoying God's radiance. It is in this area of life that our joy is so quickly stripped from us as we pursue our own direction. Commit today to serve The Lord in obedience and enjoy his fellowship daily. 

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

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Exodus 33 - Sin in the Presence of God

People don't like to admit they are sinners. It just doesn't feel good, especially knowing God's punishment for sin. Particularly God's people like to think they are a little farther away from at least the deathly sins that would sentence us to Hell. 

In Exodus 33 we find the Israelites facing the prospect of having offended God so deeply with their pursuit of worldliness and worship of idols that God is prepared to send them to the Promised Land without his presence. God said in Ex 33:3 that if He were to go with them, He might destroy the people along the way. Their sin was as grave as that of the people in Noah's time. God's own people chose to follow the example of the world rather than to follow him. What rejection; what betrayal!  

Before we look down too much upon the Jews, consider how much of the world's influence, philosphies and practices have been adopted in our own lifestyle. How many of us have valued wealth, power, entertainment and pleasures over fellowship with our Lord?  A close examination of our activities and our conversations might betray out proclaimed faith. Even the ways we spend our money are banners to the world proclaiming our true values. They display our faith or lack thereof. 

The thought of going anywhere without the Lord's presence is scary. No protection, no love, no security, no hope. I think this chapter is a Come to Jesus moment for us to consider how our faith and our actions might be different. 

Moses intercedes in behalf of God's people just as the Spirit intercedes for us today pleading with God on our behalf giving us access to much undeserved mercy and compassion. If we are to see God's glory as Moses did we must be prepared to follow The Lord not in a casual way as so many carnal Christians do, but wholeheartedly abandoning our ways and seeking holiness over happiness. When we do this, we will find that we get our hearts desire. 

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

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Exodus 32 - Other gods

Have you ever waited on God - for a really long time?  What did you do in the wait?  Do you keep on believing or do you give into peer pressure to abandon God?  In this chapter we find that the Israelites don't do well in their wait for Moses to return from the mountain. They return to old ways of idolatry and deeply offend God. 

I think one of our hardest tasks is to wait. We want to see results immediately, but our activity in the wait reveals our true nature and either brings God glory or condemns us in our faithlessness. We can learn from the Isrealites a few lessons so that we don't repeat their poor choices, but we also learn something of Gods character and how he is offended by and judges sin. 

Lessons from the Israelites
One thing I learn from the Israelites is that I am in my heart so much like them. I am impatient and prone to start looking for other solutions in my wait. I try to affect the results I want in my own power, rationalizing along the way that this is what God would want me to do. I look to advice of others and eagerly seek their suggestions for solution. 

I am prone to giving up on God (while still claiming to be His). My solutions are often as idolatrous as the nation of Israel, because think about it - if God is not the source of my deliverance it is from another source and that is against God. 

Aaron was quick to give into public pressure. It is so hard to stand against the masses when they have turned against God. I think that is why we hesitate to tell people about the love of Jesus Christ and the hope he offers to save us from God's wrath against our sin. 

We need to take the High way and stay on it. We need to look to God in our time of waiting and pray all the more for His intervention. We also need to be guarded about the advice we receive. Does it align with what we know God's direction to be or is it from another source?

God's Character
We see in verse 7 that God is altogether aware of the corruption taking place. He sees it in you and me and He saw it in the Israelite camp. If God ever asks us what we are doing it is not because He doesn't know; it is because He wants us to admit it. 

God calls the people stiff necked (Ex 32:9). They stubbornly resisted God's leadership and were quick to return to their idols if Egypt. To some degree they left their heart in Egypt and wanted to avoid the hard path of Holy living.

God's anger burned in Him against the betrayal if His people. They were His and He had gone to great lengths to deliver, preserve and protect them, yet they demonstrated no loyalty, no gratitude. 

Moses Intervention
Ultimately the penalty for sin is death.  If we do not have a Savior who can stand in the gap and accept the penalty for our sin we have no hope. 

Moses offered to be that person before God, but he couldn't redeem the nation. He was sinful himself. 

The only hope was that God would relent if his wrath to preserve His name among the other nations. No doubt the people deserved judgement, but if God's people were destroyed, what hope would the rest of the world have?  God had given promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and He couldn't allow them to go unfulfilled. 

Moses returned from the mountain and his own anger was so great that he broke the laws given to him by God and called for an oath of allegiance that those who were for God exercise war against those against Him. The war was not started by the Levites as we see in Ex 33:18 that Joshua reported there were sounds of war among the people. But to be sure, when you fight on God's side you are in the winning side. Many fools perished that day for actively opposing God and I am sure with the subsequent plague of judgment in the people many more perished for walking away from God. 

My reader friend, sin is an abomination to God and it's end is death and hell. As Chrisitians we must forgive, but we must also point others away from sin. To be more personal, we must never give excuses or justify sin in our own lives. We must call it by name and put sin to death or it will cast us into death. Don't discount sin but take you sword to it. The word of God us sharper than any sword. Apply it daily and sin cannot stand. 

Finally dear friend, be prepared to stand against the tide. Many seek their own ways and believe they can approach God on their own merit but we must have our feet firmly planted in our faith in God. Do not waiver and don't give up in out waiting. The Lord's return is soon. Be ready. 

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Exodus 31 - Uniquely Qualified

Work is part of God's plan for his people and part of his provision for our lives is in His gifting of our skills and talents. In Exodus 31, we receive some principles related to work we can all use.

Our abilities are from The Lord
Contrary to the self-made man principle, we do owe a debt of big gratitude and service to The Lord for the skills and talents he has given. As Chrisitans we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit I guide us as we apply our talents. 

We have a Holy calling
Our talents are not our own; they are a gift from God given to us for a purpose. As God's people we should be about applying ourselves in service to The Lord and connecting with the Spirit for direction. 

Too many Christians make excuses for not serving The Lord claiming to have no talents or not to know God's leading.  To say things like that is to reject the notion that God has a plan and you are a part f it. It also discounts the abilities you were given as if your service should not be required because you are still waiting in line for your talent gift and you don't know what that will be. 

I think of Joni Erickson Tada who being a quadriplegic could easily say she has been DISabled. She could easily say that because of her disability that someone else should be doing the work of service. But instead, she has found that her disability had uniquely qualified her to serve in a special way giving voice to the needs if the disabled and encouraging them to not give up and to be engaged with God. At a very minimum we can all praise God and we can hold his leadership high. 

Sabbath Rest
God called each and every one of his people to be at work for him but we need rest and God called us to honor his rest each week. The Sabbath would be the seventh day or Saturday, but many Christians choose to observe a day of consecration and rest on Sunday which is the day The Lord rose from the grave and began an entirely new type of week for us where we as sinners can receive permanent and total forgiveness of sin. It is cause for celebration and should be cause for us to give up the mundane daily tasks to thank him for giving his life for us. 

Regardless of the day of the week, the principle is to observe a rest were work is put aside. This allows us to reflect on the fact that we are not self made people but God has created us and created in us unique abilities that used properly will build the kingdom of heaven. 

How has God equipped you for service and how can you honor him with the talents he has given you today?

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Exodus 30 - Ransom for Your Life

After consecration of the priests The Lord specifies how the priests are to consecrate the place of service to The Lord as separate and holy. In addition to the offerings of grain and animals, the people are to bring a money offering as a ransom for their lives. The people are consecrated to The Lord, but because sin is in our nature we are separated from our Creator. 

The offerings were to be used to maintain the service of the Tent of meeting. Our ransom was paid through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and we as Christians are consecrated to God for his service. But the principal of atonement is just as valid for us as it was for Israel because one thing that has not changed through the evolution of the ages is our sin nature. We are not more holy, more moral, more righteous than these who wandered the desert looking for their promised land. In fact, as I look at the news and consider our culture, we appear less worthy, less holy than the Israelites. We need Jesus' sacrifice more than ever. Our unbelieving friends and neighbors are on a fast track to Satan's dominion and only the atonement of Jesus can save them. We need to give them the message if life and not be content to see them perish, eternally separated from God. 

The Israelites were not saved by the sacrifices offered either. They were just a foreshadow of Christ's perfect sacrifice. The only one who could buy us back from the path of sin. Jesus' sacrifice covers back in history as well as forward. 

There is one more point from this passage I would like to expound for a moment. Please look at the text of verse 15, "the rich are not to give more than one half a shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make offering to the Lord  to atone for your lives."  Rich and poor are equal at the foot of the cross. This is not a percentage, but a flat tax where eveyone's share Is the same. 

We live in an era that believes the rich should pay more and the poor should pay less. We tax according to our provision and make exceptions for those who are less able to provide for the needs of the common good. I think we see in God's economy, everyone can contribute and everyone can serve. We obey God's commands to give Him the respect and honor due. We also serve one another as a bit of sacrifice of our lives following Jesus' example. 

I think of so many of our churches that languish because a few pay a higher price of doing the bulk of the work/service while the majority come to receive the benefits of the fellowship of believers.  It should not be so. There is a sacrifice to make and a service to perform; not because we are under law, but under grace. We serve in gratitude for our ransom paid and in following the example of our Lord. 

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

Friday, October 11, 2013

Exodus 29 - Consecration to God

Every believer is set apart at the time of their conversion to God. Salvation is a marvelous event where we realize that in our sin we cannot come into God's holy presence; but in applying Jesus' sacrifice to ourselves we can have the hope of eternity with Him. For many Christians that is the end of their story, but in Exodus 29 we see a ceremony of consecration for service to The Lord.

Every believer is set apart not just to receive the benefits of Heaven, but also to dedicate our lives to the service of The Lord. Even for those like me who understand their service is to The Lord, often the commitment is casual done as a quick prayer in the morning - "here I am available for your service".  

Exodus 29 makes clear that consecration to The Lord is serious business and should not be done lightly. God outlines specific dress, actions and sacrifices to be presented over a 7 day consecration ceremony as the priests enter their service. 

Servants are to once again recognize their sin and give an offering each day. We as believers should keep short accounts with God. To let sin linger in our lives deadens us as we become insensitive to its presence. Each day we should confess and thank God for the offering of Jesus for our sin. 

The burnt offering (Ex 29:15-18) is presented in obedience and gratitude to God to honor Him for his provision for our lives. Likewise our prayers and thanksgiving rise up to God as a pleasing aroma to Him. 

Offering our service includes all our senses (Ex 29:19-21). We offer our ears as instruments to hear the needs of those around us and to rightly respond. We offer our hands in service to work where we are placed and we offer our feet to God's service to guide us in the way we should go. This combination of awareness, service and location allow us to be effective for The Lord. Without any component we operate in our flesh and are not bringing glory to God. 

The wave offering (Ex 29:22-26) was presented in gratefulness to God and became the provision for the priests. The amazing thing about offering to God us that He offers is so much more in return. We cannot out give Him and every provision we have comes directly from His hand. 

As we consecrate ourselves for His service, our decisions become clearer, our loyalties solidified and our provision is assured. We enter into true fellowship with The Lord as he gets the glory for the efforts we expend in His service. 

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