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Friday, February 17, 2012

Keeping the Home Fires Burning

Leviticus 4:1 thru 6:30

Our readings may seem a little boring right now but they are so rich with purpose and meaning. 
I want us to look at this one verse today. 

Leviticus 6:13, Remember, the fire must be kept burning on the altar at all times.   It must never go out.

For a fire to keep burning it has to be tended to faithfully.  This requirement would in turn serve as a special exhortation to the priests to be faithful in their duties so that the worship of the Lord could continue without interruption.

Not to get ahead of ourselves but on Sunday we will see that it is the Lord that ignites the fire that will burn on the altar for literally hundreds of years.

Point #1 God lights the fire, but it is up to the priests to maintain it.

The passion inside of us for God is like a blazing fire. 

Here’s how Jeremiah said explained it,  And I can’t stop! If I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! (Jeremiah 20:9)

God places the passion and fire there but it is up to us to maintain and cultivate it.

In verse 10-11 today, God instructed Moses that the priests were to remove the ashes every morning.  These ashes represented what would not ascend in the fire, and were a fitting symbol of the dross and corruption which attaches to all human services.

Point #2 Everything which would prevent the fire from burning was to removed... daily!

In a marriage, there are times the fires burn hot, and times, not so hot.  It is VERY easy to let life drown out the most important things and to have a great marriage you will forever need to intentionally step back and put your priorities back in their proper place.

It is that way with our relationship with the Lord.  He lights the fire, but WE have to remove all the obstacles that would hinder our quality time with Him... daily.

Point #3 Fires ignite other fires. 

If you have ever seen a massive wild fire you know that what you are seeing is not how the fire started out.  It began small and then it spread to everything it came in contact with.

My hubby always says this about passion… it is caught, not taught.  When we are on fire for the Lord and our passion burns bright, it will spread out to those we come in contact with.  We will not have to tell of the Lord and His greatness, it will be seen!

I want to leave you with this short illustration I read some time ago.

Years ago a fishing fleet went out from a small harbor on the east coast of Newfoundland. In the afternoon there came a large furious storm and when night settled in not a single fishing vessel of the fleet was in the harbor.

All night long the wind blew and thunder blasted. The wives, mothers, and children labored all night in prayer for their loved ones out in the storm. They called on God over and over to save their loved ones. Then to add to the horror of the night one of the houses caught on fire. Since most of the men were on the storm tossed sea it was impossible to save the house from burning to the ground.

To the joy of all who labored in prayer, when morning broke, there was the fleet safe in the harbor. Everyone was home safe. Yet, in the joy filled crowd there was one sad face, it was a picture of despair on the wife of the man whose house had burned to the ground.

Meeting her husband as he came ashore she rejoiced that he was alive but cried out in anguish, “Honey, we are ruined! Our home and all its belongings were destroyed by a fire last night!” But the man looked at her with excitement and exclaimed, “Thank God for the fire!” Then all the men around exclaimed the same. The woman looked confused then her husband announced, “It was the light of our burning house that guided the whole fleet into port!”

This house burned as a sacrificial offering which saved the lives of all the men on the fleet. If it had not caught fire and burned the fleet and all its men would have been lost.

We must steadily and unfailingly maintain the burning fire that God has ignited in our hearts.

There is a host of humanity that can be saved by it.  We must never let it go out!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Equally Committed

Numbers 7:1-89

We have finished our third book of the Bible and are moving right along to Numbers.  We will remain here and in Leviticus for a couple weeks. 

Today we saw all of Moses', and the children of Israel's, hard work come to completion with the erection and anointing of the temple and the presentation of offerings from all 12 tribes. 

I am sure you noticed that all 12 tribes gave the same exact thing.  One commentary I read explained how this shows us they were all equally committed to supporting the Tabernacle and the work of the Lord.

As soon as I read that I immediately thought of my church, your church and every church in the world.  I began to wonder, if every one of our members were equally committed to supporting the church and God's work, the things we could accomplish for His glory would be mind blowing.

How many more people could we reach with the Good News?

How many more families could be transformed?

How many more teens could we challenge to be a light in this dark world?

How many more dads could we teach and train to be men of honor?

How many more women could we encourage to be all God’s designed them to be?

How many more children could we spark a passion for God and a desire to live for Him all the days of their life?

How many more needy people in our community could we minister to with food, clothes and a warm hug?

Not every person can be committed on the same level.  Some have more time than others.  Some have more money than others.  Some have more experience than others.  But no matter what, we can all be fully committed on the level God has enabled us.

God no longer dwells in a temple, He dwells in us (1 Corinthians 6:19).  Therefore, if anything is going to be done for Him it is going to come through us.  We are His hands and His voice. 

Here’s how St. Teresa of Avila said it…

Christ has no hands but our hands, to do his work today.
He has no feet but our feet, to lead men in his way.
He has no lips but our lips, to tell men how he died.
He has no self but ourselves, to bring men to his side.

Remember way back on January 4th reading about the Tower of Babel?  All the people had come together to build a tower to reach the sky that they hoped would make them famous all over the world. 

The Lord said in Genesis 11:6,  Look!  The people are united, and they speak the same language.  After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!

Today... our common language is Love. 

Our mission is to make Jesus famous. 

And when we all unite and commit to the level we are able, there will be nothing we cannot do for His glory.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Going Too Far

Exodus 32:1 thru Exodus 34:35

The fourth word in our reading leaped off the page when I read it today.

When the people saw how long it was taking Moses… Exodus 32:1

The people of Israel had their eyes on the wrong person, Moses. They were looking at Moses and when they could no longer see him they assumed he was lost. And seeing how he, their only connection to God, was lost then God too was lost.

Three more things stuck out when I continued to read this account in Exodus 32.

First, how quickly the Children of Israel forgot all God has done for them; bringing them out of Egypt, supplying manna and quail for them, giving direction by a cloud and by fire, turning bitter water sweet, and splitting the Red Sea.

You would think they would never leave nor forsake their God after all this. And really they didn't completely forsake God because in verse 6 we see them celebrating the festival of the Lord. We'll come back to that in a moment.

Second thing that jumped out was how easy it was for the people to persuade Aaron to make them a god (verse 1 and 2).

Thirdly, while God is telling Moses to get Aaron and his sons and set them apart (because they will be His priests) Aaron is making another god for Israel to worship (Exodus 28:1).

Makes me wonder how many times God was preparing something for me while I was off worshiping my own things.

Now back to the Festival of the Lord.

We find them compromising by worshiping two gods.

If you will remember when Pharaoh was in talks with Moses, he too was trying to get them to compromise. He told Moses, Ok, go worship your God. Just don’t go too far into the wilderness. Exodus 8:28

See the Enemy does not mind if you come to church, just don’t go too far and sell out to God.

He does not mind if you take your Jesus to work, just don’t go too far and share Him.

He does not mind if you put a little in the offering, just don’t go too far and give your 10 percent plus your offering.

He does not mind if you give God your heart, just don’t go too far and give Him your whole heart.

You will never get all of God until you go too far and give God all of you.

We may be smarter than the Children of Israel and never worship a gold statue of a baby cow, but often times we too compromise and worship two gods, or should I say two trinities…

Father, Son and Holy Spirit (what God wants) and… Me, Myself and I (what I want).

Thankfully God, Moses, and the Children of Israel get it all straight but not without some intersession and bloodshed.

Kinda sounds like a foreshadowing doesn’t it?

Friday, February 10, 2012

We Know Somebody

Exodus 25:1 thru Exodus 31:18

Over the past few days we have been reading about God's instructions for His dwelling place and how Aaron and his sons were to be clothed as the priests of Israel.

Remember, Moses has been on the mountain for 40 days receiving very detailed descriptions of what the Tabernacle of God was to look like, how it was to be built, and how sacrifices were to be offered and when. 

Something that is very interesting to me is the fact that God spends only one chapter (Genesis 1) of the Bible speaking about Creation; the creation of heaven, earth, day, night, land, sea, plants, animals and man.  Only ONE CHAPTER.

But when it came to the creation of His dwelling place, the place where He would live among His people, 50 chapters of the Bible are dedicated to it. 

This shows how important we are to God.  He put more emphasis on His living among us than on His creation for us. 

God so desires to be a part of your daily life and He really does want to do life with you. 

I am not sure we will ever really get the fact that we, me and you, can at anytime have an audience with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.  

If you were to try and get an audience with the Queen of England or the President of the United States I don't think you would get very far.  Not unless you are somebody or you know somebody.  

Well, we do know Somebody and His name is Jesus and when He died the veil that separated God's people from the Most Holy Place was ripped from top to bottom (Mark 15:38) and now we can come boldly into the throne room of grace and find help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).   

We no longer need a temple, we are the temple.

We no longer need a priest, we just need a prayer. 

I hope you will meet me back here tomorrow because our reading is about to get very interesting.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day of Small Beginnings

Exodus 22:16 thru Exodus 24:18

One of my favorite verses of scripture is, Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin... Zechariah 4:10.

Everything that is great in your life started off small; maybe as an idea, a hope or just a dream.

I love the above quoted verse because it helps me keep going even when things seem so small and ineffective at the moment.

Today we read in Exodus 23:20-32 about the conquest of Canaan, the Promised Land.  I hope the children of Israel were comforted by these words of God: 

I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey...

I will be an enemy to your enemies...

I will bless you with food and water...

I will protect you from illness...

I will make all your enemies turn and run...

I will hand over to you the people now living in the land... 

I will drive them out a little at a time...

God did not bless the children of Israel with everything all at one time.  It happened little by little.  

That is such a great reminder for all of us today; we don't experience great blessings all in one huge moment but in a bunch of small moments put together.

If you are losing weight, it happens moment by moment, day by day.

If you want to be debt free, it happens moment by moment, day by day.

If you want a great education, it happens moment by moment, day by day.

If you want to have a great marriage, it happens moment by moment, day by day.

If you are saving for your kid's college fund, it happens moment by moment, day by day.

Little by little all things are possible.  Don't despise the day of small beginnings, or small moments, in your life because when you add them together they equal something great.

The day Jesus was born was not the day of our redemption. Jesus was born, then He became a boy, than a man, then started His ministry and then died for our sins.  A bunch of small moments put together for one great salvation.

And because of what Christ has done, and because of who he is, God blesses us... day by day... moment by moment.

Remember, it was the little by little blessings that got you where you are today, and it is going to be the little by little blessings that are going to carry you through to your promised land.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Never Forget

Exodus 7:14 thru Exodus 12:51

We have had some great readings these past couple of days. I totally forgot about the plague of darkness. The Lord told Moses it would be so thick you could feel it. Then I love what the Word said, But there was light as usual where the people of Israel lived.

It’s the as usual part that excites me.

Israel is in bondage and has been for 430 years but God still shinned His light on them. And He is still shinning His light on you and me!

In our reading back on January 5th God told Abram, You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they would be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. Genesis 15:13-14

Today we saw that promise on all points come to fruition.

I know that they were discouraged as each year changed and their situation did not. I know it got hopeless. But they still kept their faith and never forgot God and God never forgot them.

And when they came out, they had more wealth then when they entered in!

Take-a-way truth for us today… God keeps His promises.  

Never stop believing or crying out to Him.

In the end what did God instruct them to do? To celebrate annually the Festival of Passover. Why?  Because we have a tenancy to forget our pain, our deliverance, and the God we serve once we are living in our Promised Land.

I remember saying some time after giving birth to my children, It wasn’t that bad.  Now if you would have asked me while I was in labor that would not have been my answer AT ALL.

How fast we forget the pain of the birth of a child after holding them. But every year on July 11th and August 9th my kids’ births are celebrated. We remember the gifts they are and the day of my deliverance (literally).

The Passover was God’s way of never letting His people forget who He is, what He’s done and the promises that He keeps.

Take some time today to stop and remember the faithfulness of God in your life.
And may we never forget.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More Than Enough

Exodus 1:1 thru Exodus 7:13

Today we begin our journey with Moses. Remember, when we departed Genesis, Joseph had moved his father and all his brothers and their families to Egypt. Now many years have passed and the children of Jacob have become so vast the Egyptians are fearing them, causing them to enslave the children of Israel.

Today we also read about Moses' birth, his miraculous salvation (aren’t all salvation's miraculous), his murdering an Egyptian, his fleeing to Midian, his becoming a husband, father and shepherd.

And in chapter 3 he gets a call, a call to rescue God’s people.

God heard their groaning and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and with Jacob. And God saw the people of Israel and knew it was time to set His people free. Exodus 2:24-25

The children of Israel will no longer be defined by their years of slavery, but by their covenant relationship with God who has heard their cries and remembered his promises.

Moses, though, the one whom God called to go before Pharaoh is not too excited about his new marching orders and begins a protest and debate with God.

Moses: Who am I?

God: I will be with you.

Moses: Whom shall I say has sent me?

God: I Am Who I Am.

Our footnote said, I Will Be What I Will Be. What is it that God will be? Anything Moses (or we) need Him to be.

If you are sick, He will be your healer. If you are tired, He will be your strength. If you are bound, He will be your deliverer. If you are sad, He will be your joy. If you are worried, He will be your peace.

'I am' is the present tense of the active form 'to be'. As God’s name it means that He is constant, unchanging, always present, always God.

So when God said I Am he was letting Moses know I Am in control. I Am the center of the universe. I Am the creator and sustainer of life. I Am here. I Am more than enough. I Am God.

And if God's name is I Am then Moses' name is I Am Not.  And so is ours.

I Am Not the center of the universe. I Am Not the creator and sustainer of life.  I Am Not more than enough.  I Am Not in control and I Am Not God.

We should never be quick to protest God when He calls us to do something bigger than we are because He is the great I Am in us.

Moses is not enough, but God is more than enough for him.

And for me.

And for you.