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Posts Tagged ‘Christian life’

KJV_Exodus_27-20

In Exodus 27 Moses was instructed on the making of the altar, the court, and the provision of the oil for the lamps within the tabernacle.

Firstly, there was an altar that was to be built outside the tabernacle and placed in the outer court.  It was to be made of wood and overlaid with bronze.  This altar was to have four bronze horns placed – one on each corner.

The bronze altar was a place of sacrifice, of safety, and of change.  The altar was a place of sacrifice because this is where the unblemished animals were brought and burned as an offering to God.  It was a place of safety because anyone who was ring pursued by justice could come lay hold of these horns and cling to them for refuge.  No one could administer justice or punishment while a sinner clung to these horns.  And it was a place of change because it was where justice was served to innocent animals and mercy was given to guilty men.  One went from being innocent and unblemished to bearing guilt and death.  The other went from being guilty and pursued by wrath and justice to safe and alive.  The altar was a picture of Christ, his innocence, his death, and God’s wrath poured out on him which, in turn, provided a place of mercy and refuge for us.

Consequently, when entering a place of worship, which this court was indeed, we all must fly to the altar for mercy.  We must undergo a drastic change from death to life on the basis of the sacrifice made by another.  Afterward, we must begin a life like unto our sacrificial Lamb where we are willing to die to ourselves that we might live for God.

The altar was positioned in such a way that it was the “first stop” and the central item upon entering the court in front of the tabernacle.  In this court was where the worshipers would gather.  This area was a type of church where men would come in out of the world and be separated for a time in honor and praise of God.  The pillars were indicative of stability and safety for the sinner who would run into the house of God and stay close to Him.  Note, the church should always be a safe place for God’s children.

Finally, the Lord instructed Moses on the oil that was to be brought for the golden lampstand.  This was the only source of light within the tabernacle.  The people were responsible to provide and bring the oil for the lamp.  The priests were to make sure that the light never went out.  They had to attend the lamp day and night.  Likewise, we are to bring our spiritual gifts and talents given to us by God into his house and keep the light of the gospel lit by their constant use.  Without our preparedness and willingness to give of ourselves, darkness will inevitably fall upon God’s house and light of the gospel will not be seen.  The pastors and leaders of our day are to act as the priests did in fanning the flame and encouraging our gifts and abilities that we might be even better equipped and of good use within God’s house and in the world.  Day and night the priests were to tend to this lamp, and day and night the leadership of God’s church has been given the responsibility to tend to all that would give light to His truth – that is – tend diligently and constantly to His people that they might shine and be of good use for God’s ultimate glory.

Let us not forget that making, obtaining, and offering the olive oil for the lamp was not a quick and easy job, either.  The olives had to be grown, harvested, pressed, and squeezed in order to obtain the oil.  Then, it had to be brought to the Tent of Meeting.  In the same way, our gifts and talents must be recognized, grown, honed, and practiced diligently for some time before we can gain a harvest and offer fitting and proper provision with them within God’s church.  Thank God for those who equip, inspire, and encourage others to use the gifts God has given to each of His people!

This is a skeleton outline of how a Christian life should progress.  We begin needing mercy.  When wrath and justice pursue, we fly to the altar for mercy and there we learn to follow Our Savior’s example of sacrificial dying for the good of ourselves and others.  After our change from death to life and back to death, we worship him in his courts with thanksgiving.  Finally, we bring gifts into God’s house that would be useful to His kingdom so that others may see the light of the gospel. What a beautiful picture!

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wilderness1

In Exodus 23:20-33, God gives Moses and His people instructions and promises about how to obtain the land to which he was taking them.  They had already been in the wilderness for some time.  Here, they are promised a home and great blessings.  They are given a guide and a few contingencies at the front of their conquest.  Let’s consider this.

In verse 20, God promises to send a guide to go before His people.  The guide is described as an angel and his job was to bring them to the place God had prepared for them to go and to live.  Some believe this angel was the preincarnate Christ.  Regardless, they were commanded three things pertaining to this angel guide.  They were told to pay careful attention, obey his voice, and to not rebel against him.  Their failure to do these three essential things in their attitude and behavior toward this guide would result in his failure to forgive them for it.  The reason given was that God’s name was “in him.”

The promises for obedience were guidance (23:20), possession of a good land in which to live (23:23-24), blessed food, water, healing of sickness, fruitful wombs, long life (23:25-26), and victory over many kinds of different, powerful, strong enemies (23:22, 27-28).  The victory was to be a slower, more gradual take over rather than an all at once overcoming of their many enemies.  The text says, “little by little,” as they were growing in number and moving into the new land, God would drive their enemies out.

Finally, in verses 32-33, they are given one final warning against idolatry.

Here, we find not only the instructions for the success of the people searching for the promise land, but also the skeleton outline for the life of every successful Christian.

When we are called out of the wilderness and into the promised place God is preparing for us, we are given a guide.  His name is Jesus Christ and we are called to pay careful attention to Him (and Him alone), obey His voice (His sheep know His voice), and to not rebel against him.  If we fail to pay attention to Him, disobey Him, and rebel against Him those actions are indicative of refusing Christ as Our Lord.  If we refuse Christ, we forfeit the forgiveness and grace he offers and will not be pardoned for our sin. Because he is the Way as well as our guide, to refuse Him is to forfeit all of the blessings that following offers.

If, on the other hand, we do pay attention, obey, and not rebel, we are promised victory, protection, the bread and water of life, healing, fruitfulness in regeneration, and life everlasting.  Our victory, like theirs, is little by little.  All throughout this life through many toils and snares, we are moving toward the promised land of eternal life; the place He has prepared for us.  We are growing and our enemies are being eradicated little by little by God Himself on our behalf as we become sanctified thus gaining victory over sin in our own lives.   No other gods are permitted during any part of this journey.

How gracious a God we serve to give such tender care and guidance to us as we walk home through this worldly wilderness!  We are his children and he will fight for us if we but pay attention, obey him, and stop rebelling against him with our sin.  What a beautiful picture of Our Father’s mercy we have in Exodus 23.

 

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numberone

Finally, I made it.  Exactly halfway between slavery (Exodus 1) and glory (Exodus 40),  right smack dab in the middle, we find Exodus chapter 20.  Herein lies the ten commandments.  Halfway between slavery and glory, we find the law.

God begins his face to face meeting (well, more like face to finger…isn’t that just like a father?  Pointing his all-knowing finger and writing down the very important instructions we children need to obey?)  with Moses, by telling him two things.

The first thing God does is remind Moses exactly who He is and what good He has done.

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. ~Exodus 20:1-2

He then proceeds to give a huge, all encompassing law beginning with the ten commandments and extending to every aspect of Jewish life for the next eleven chapters and for the better part of the following book of Leviticus as well.

So, just so we are clear, God literally spoke all of these words.  They were His ideas and it is His authority that both establishes and upholds them – not mine.

Command number one:

“You shall have no other gods before me. ~Exodus 20:3

I have to be honest.  I had to stop right there, close the book, and spend a few days just thinking on what it would look like for me to have no other gods.  What if, truly, God was my only God.

In other words, what do I need to put away?  What have I elevated above or equal to Him?  How would my life change if He truly were my one, my only, and my greatest above all else, God?

I do not want to assume He is just because I want Him to be or because I wish he was.  I do not want to pay lip service to this commandment because it is the right Sunday School answer.  I want to know what it really means to cast down my idols.  I want to investigate what those idols might be and find real, practical, tangible ways to tear them down and remove them from my life.

The hardest part is when idols are good and necessary things, people, or places – gifts, even – from God Himself.  It is balance, affection, and attitude that generally makes the difference between whether something is becoming an idol that is being used for my glory or whether it is being being used rightly for God’s glory.

Consider those things and people and places and talents and gifts that you most enjoy.  Consider whether they have an appropriate place in your life or if God has reason to be jealous of the affections you are offering to them.  Because it is not a matter of saying, “I only believe in the One and Only True God.  Of course, I have always believed that.”  No.  It is a matter of living our entire lives in worship and sacrifice to Him alone in all things at all times.

That is what it means to have no other gods.  It truly is a daily battle of balance and being-ware.  That process starts with remembering exactly who He is and what he has done.

 He is the Great I Am, Creator of the Universe!  He has delivered us!  Let us love and serve Him accordingly.

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ImageWhen you’re running around with a magic fairy wand in your hand, getting your hair brushed is about the last thing on your list.  And it’s hard to change into a frog when you’ve got three heads of long, tangled hair to groom.

Usually, I just want the job done so I can move on to the next task on the Mom list.  And usually, they just want to run around and play pretend.  Somehow, we have to meet in the middle if there is going to be peace in this household.  I soon realize that the answer is neither to forget brushing their hair nor make them stop playing.  The answer is to do both at the same time.

And so I sing Rapunzel’s song as I brush their magical hair.  I tell them it’s glowing and they fill the house full of giggles and imaginary invisible animals.

I can’t help but think of the relationship between obedience and grace in this blessed fairy-tale I call my daily life.  Works without grace, though often named “good,” aren’t obedient works.  And playing pretend without obedience forfeits grace as well.  So the answer isn’t to forget doing good works.  It isn’t to stop offering grace to the young babes in the faith just because they like to play pretend and seldom like to obey.  The answer is to do both at the same time.

The Christian life isn’t about placing a greater value on whether you’re the one singing the song or the one holding the brush.  Maybe it’s about having the grace to see both as equally important.  Maybe it’s about learning to hold still while your elders brush your knots out.  Maybe it’s about learning to sing a song of brand new hopes and dreams when you’re the elder holding the brush.  Maybe it’s not all about obedience.  Maybe it’s not all about grace.  Maybe it’s about all of both at the same time.

I don’t know.  But I do know that, despite my big dreams and billboard ambitions, God gave me an audience of just three.  Their names are Mia, which means “mine,”  Addie, which means, “my witness,” and Maylee, which means “beautiful.”  They teach me just as much as I teach them.  I have a small calling as far as the world is concerned, but it is a good one.

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