Monday, January 27, 2014

Leviticus 18 - Sexual Misconduct

Sex was created by God. Adam and Eve were encouraged to enjoy one another and to fruitfully multiply. The fruit of the sexual pleasure was children. Sexual desires are built within each one of us, but Satan whispers in our minds perversions of sex that should not be. He creates in us desires to explore sex outside the boundaries of the marital union. He convinces people to pursue their passions in all sorts of ways that are perversions of God's ordained pattern. 

In Egypt and in Canaan, their worship if other gods included perverse sexual rituals and God places clear warnings in from of the people to not repeat these practices - Lev 18:3. Sexual desire is a powerful driver and can lead any of us astray if we do not guard ourselves. Many a family is broken and many fortunes are ruined because of sexual misconduct. Their testimony for Jesus Christ shattered. 

We live in an era where some of these practices forbidden in scripture are now called "normal, natural" expressions of ourselves and should not be condemned. Sex outside of marriage is considered normal and homosexuality is embraced. Some would even have us believe that it is endorsed by God himself. Others reject God and make their own rules saying what happens between consenting adults is private and acceptable. 

We have twisted God's plan and deceived ourselves into believing we are at peace with God when we have pursued our own passions. We have not held marriage between a man and a woman high. Divorce is so easy and so frequent that our younger generations no longer see marriage as desireable. Children are born into disfunctional situations where father is not committed to mother, so can children expect their parents to commit to the children's needs?  

We cannot call right what God calls wrong. Dear children of God, we are called to be examples of holiness to the world so that they can have the hope of a Savior that we have accepted. We must not live like the world or embrace its false religion. Purity is something we should hold high and guard in our lives. Yes we are all sinners descended from Adam , but we have been given God's description for Holy living and we are called to pursue it. 

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

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Leviticus 17 - God Alone

God's ways are perfect. Yet He lays out His prescribed order for sacrifice to the Israelites. Even though His ways are so much Higher and unfathomable, He wants His people to know Him and His plans. He wants people to know the joy of restored fellowship so He lays out His plans and He sets forth His warnings to not violate those plans. 

In this chapter, God makes it clear that there are only two ways - His way and every other way. We cannot offer substitutes to God and have Him pleased. Cain tried and found himself separated from the fellowship of God as well as so many of the generations after Him. We cannot offer God In our own way and according to our timing presuming that God is willing and waiting for any token we might throw His way. He is holy and calls His people to obedience that the nations can see what a marvelous God they have. 

In this chapter we see God's rules about the sacrifice and the prohibitions to eating blood since the life of a being is found in the blood and the blood is a symbol of atonement before God (Lev. 17:11).  

God continues to look for people who will be his representatives here in earth. Those people who will hold him high a before the world demonstrating their love through obedience. Will you be one?  When we manage out financial affairs honestly and wisely, we demonstrate our respect for our provider. After all everything in the Heavens and Earth belongs to Him and we are merely caretakers of his possessions. God alone deserves our alliegiance. 

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

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Leviticus 16 - Before God

Man is prone to making his own way and defining sin in such a way that it does not include himself, but God makes it clear in scripture that you cannot come into His presence whenever and however you want. Times may have changed, but God has not. He cannot accept sin, but he does provide a way for sinners to be reconciled.  Throughout this chapter, we see foreshadows of Jesus the only provision for our sin. 

The priest stands in the gap for the people petitioning God's forgiveness. The priest had to atone for his own sin, but Jesus never had to atone for sin, because he was the only one without sin and the only one worthy to stand before the Father on behalf of the people. 

The animal that was selected as the sacrifice is a picture of the sacrifice Jesus offers on behalf of the people. The day of atonement came annually because the blood was not able to cover the sin of the people sufficiently. Jesus' sacrifice is all sufficient to cover all sin for all time.  God makes it clear that sin yields death and the people must either accept a substitute or bear the penalty themselves. 

The sins of the people were placed on the scapegoat who would wander the wilderness. Sin leaves us lost and separated from God. Jesus bore our sin and suffered that penalty of separation so that we could know the joy if fellowship with God. On earth that fellowship is but a shadow of the fellowship that we will have in eternity - the same fellowship Adam enjoyed before sin entered. 

Atonement has been made for the people. We can be proclaimed clean from all our sins. As the priest sacrificed for the sins of the people, Jesus offered the perfect sacrifice sufficient for big sinners like me and sufficient for you too. 

No matter how successful we may be, if we are not reconciled with God and accept the substitutionary sacrifice offered for our sins we are without hope. Praise God we can enjoy peace with God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

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

Friday, January 17, 2014

Leviticus 15 - Unclean

This chapter focuses on bodily discharges that make a person ceremonially unclean. God was providing for hygiene of the nation to prevent contamination, but there are some principles we can apply to our conduct and to our finances as well. 

Uncleanness impacts others
When someone came into contact with an unclean person they were also considered unclean. (Lev. 15:7,11,24,27).  The world looks for Christians to be pure and holy. Engaging in the impure conduct of the world defiles us and places us in the same category. 

When we engage in cheating or stealing even small acts defile our reputation and harm the gospel. We must keep from impure associations and activities wherever possible. 

"You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in in leanness for defining my dwelling place which is among them". (Lev. 15:31). While we live among the world we must take care that we do not become worldly. Not only is our integrity at stake; God's fellowship is as well. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Leviticus 14 - Within and Without

In our last chapter, we saw the instructions God gives to the priests for treatment of skin disease and mildew. It seems a bit odd that these two conditions would be linked together in two consecutive chapters. In Chapter 14, the focus is on cleansing rituals after the condition is corrected. 

God uses conditions within and without to help us develop right thinking regarding our condition of utter helplessness before God and recognizing that sin results in pain and separation. The skin disease kept the person separated from the camp and the mildew kept people out of their home. In each case the cleansing ritual was to offer a burnt offering, a sin offering and a guilt offering. God's Sovreignty and our sin were central to both cleansing rituals. 

Not all hardship is a direct punishment for sin, but all hardship should increase our faith and trust in God and should remind us of how fragile and helpless we are. We need a cleansing that only God can provide. 

God uses all types of circumstances to train us to keep our mind fixed on Him. It may be an irritating person, a disease, the negligence of another or a misery of our own making. In all things God is all powerful to resolve whatever we face and He is all knowing to see through right to the need of our hearts. 

Are you facing a trial today?  Count it all joy my friend because the trial is a testing of our faith and obedience. Will you stand firm through this trial and hold God close to your heart?  

Perhaps God is using this trial to show you that He indeed is real and that you are not able to save yourself from the evil in the world and the evil within us all. Great news!  We are all in the same boat having been born in sin and in great need of a Savior to save us from the penalty of sin. Greater news - God himself gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. 

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

Monday, January 13, 2014

Leviticus 13 - Suddenly Separated

There is a lie Satan would have us to embrace. This lie puffs up our own sense of self worth and discounts the hand of God in our lives. It is the lie that we are the masters of our own destiny and our well being is tied up in our own efforts. In Leviticus 13, we see the fate of those with infectious skin diseases in the Isrealite camp. They may have had all types of plans and mapped out their way to success but suddenly a rash appears and they are cut off from their plans, prevented from earning a living; separated from not only the camp but also from those who they love the most and who are depending on their provisions. 

Depending on our own efforts is a house of cards that will not stand the storms of life. There are forces at work beyond our control who can with just one event undo everything that has been accomplished. The leper knew that at the time of these writings.  His plans were altogether interrupted, perhaps for life. 

We don't know what type of disaster might befall us. It could be the accidental death of a child, a grave diagnosis, the loss of a spouse through death or divorce, or an accident that leaves us injured and unable to return to our routines. Financially, all our wealth could be lost in a moment. 

The leper may have done nothing to deserve this condition, but all of a sudden the rules and routines of life have changed and he suddenly finds how very dependent he is on the mercies of God. Separated from the camp he is vulnerable to the elements, wild beasts and without the means to provide for daily necessities. 

God is the ultimate Master of our fate and even in allowing difficulty, He may be testing our faith to see if we will become bitter or if we will cling to Him and depend on Him even more. God looks to us for obedience, but not self sufficiency. Our efforts are futile apart from God's power. Our best is just a speck in God's grand scheme. 

As a Financial Planner meet with families who have worked hard, saved any excess and are prepared to build a legacy to provide for the generations to follow. As believers it is right for us to place God at the center of each plan, and look for His divine power to secure it. Plans are great, but God is the author of our lives. He breathed breath into us and by His power we live and have our being. We don't know what our future may hold, but we can rest secure in the One who holds our future. 

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

Friday, January 3, 2014

Leviticus 12 - Purification

Aren't babies just wonderful?  They look so innocent and their skin is so soft. When I see a baby smile, I can't help but respond in kind. This chapter of Leviticus brings us to purification rites after childbirth. Most casual followers of scripture will likely find these rituals absurd, but if you consider that this ritual points is back to original sin and that each child brought into the world is a new sinner the passage gains perspective. 

Babies are sinners from the moment they arrive on the scene, not because of anything they have done, but because they are a child of a sinner who ultimately descended from Adam, a sinner. Purity cannot come from sin. 

Furthermore our sins are not based on acts of commission -those acts just make public the deep sin nature within us. That baby is a sinner from birth. He didn't need to "do" anything to demonstrate that sin; but just wait - in time he will. 

The mother purifies herself after bringing into the world a new sinner. Following God's command to be fruitful and multiply, she is obedient yet still not holy; still not pure. 

Interesting also is the accommodation made for the poor. The required sacrifice was based on what can be afforded. (Lev. 12:8). We should do likewise in making accommodations for the poor among us. Our purity is not based on the value of the sacrifice but on the obedience to the command. 

Obedience is the mark of submission. It demonstrates our love in most practical ways serving the object of our affection. Let's spur one another on to obedience so that we may honor God and run our race on earth well. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Leviticus 11 - You are What You Eat

"I am The Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy". Lev. 11:44. This chapter goes into a long list of things to be eaten and avoided - the clean vs. unclean. As Christians we do not adhere to such dietary restrictions as a matter of course. God gave Peter instruction in Acts 10 to eat what was formerly declared unclean. Paul speaks on applying the law to Christian living in Colossians 2:20-23. Furthermore he speaks specifically about the Christian freedom to eat in 1 Cor. 10:23-32. 

So how do we apply this passage to our lives?  I think that God is calling the nation of Israel to be set apart from other nations. To live among them, but be distinct. Eating is one of the more common activities we engage in and God was demonstrating that even in the mundane activities of life our alliegiance to Him should show. It's in the small things that our faith is demonstrated to the world. Our customs and our conduct speak to the world about our philosophy. It also demonstrates our faith in God. 

How do you know if a child will be responsible when given a car? Observe how responsible he is with his toys and his bicycle. In the small things we demonstrate Christ's character being formed in us. We separate ourselves from worldly indulgences and make holiness our aim. 

As the world looks at us are we engaging in unclean conduct?  What do our habits, our speech and our conduct saying about us?  What we take into our lives is a reflection of our values. Will we compromise virtue or keep ourselves pure?  Before we knew Christ we couldn't help but sin. But know that his spirit lives within us we now have the choice to live as the world or be set apart as God's child. We choose over and over again each day. 

The world is watching to see if our faith is real. Let's give them a demonstration today!  

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