Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘God’

true_repentance

After God’s people had spent a considerable amount of time hearing his law and glorifying him through praise, worship, and feasting as they were commanded, they begin  a time of confession and repentance in Nehemiah chapter 9.  This is the function of God’s law.  It is meant show us our sin and lead us to Christ through our recognition of guilt and need.  Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”

Previously, they had been instructed not to weep or mourn, rather to celebrate.  Now they are commanded to mourn their sin.  First, they change their clothes.  The people put on sackcloth and mark their heads with dirt and ashes to show that they are mourning.  They begin to fast as a sacrificial proof that they are sorry and reliant upon forgiveness and provision from God.

Most times we would mourn first and later celebrate forgiveness and favor.  They celebrated first and then mourned.  God had it that way that they might be all the more aware of his goodness and mercy to them, as well as obedience to his order and command about how to carry out all things in his time and in his way.

The people of God were also commanded to separate from all foreigners during this time of confession and repentance.  Likely, this was because they had previously been commanded to be separate, not intermarry with those who follow foreign gods, etc., and had disobeyed, but such is a wise practice for other practical reasons as well.  Any of us who seek to genuinely bare all, bore our rightful blame, and confess intimately to God must always be wise about who is among us when we do so.  Let us not forget that there are those who seek only to gossip, destroy, and bring dishonor upon God himself when they hear about the failings of his people.

After God’s people had separated from those who weren’t of him, they began to confess their own sins as well as the sins of their fathers.  They read the law for a quarter of the day and offered confession and worship a quarter of the day.  Half the day would amount to six hours.  Six hours time they spent in the presence of God seeking forgiveness and favor knowing they did not deserve it, yet relying upon his great mercy.  When is the last time your church did that?

The people cried out to God in prayer and praise offering adoration and thanksgiving for the many great wonders God had done for them and their people.  They made it a point to remember who God really was and talk about his goodness to them in the past.  They spoke of his promises kept, his deliverance, his signs and wonders, his law, his providence, his forgiveness, his slowness to anger, his mercy, his leading, and his faithfulness even despite their own great sin.

Then, they made it a point to remember who they really were and they confessed all their sins, faults, and failings.  They spoke of their presumptuousness, their stiff-necks, their disobedience, their ignorance of his miracles and goodness toward them, their idolatry, their blaspheme, and their broken promises.

Matthew Henry says this, “They abused God’s prophets, slew them because they testified against them to turn them to God, so returning the greatest injury for the greatest kindness.  They abused his favors.  After they had rest, they did evil again.  They were not wrought upon either by their troubles or their deliverances out of trouble.  Neither fear not love would hold them to their duty.”  

At the end of the day, the bottom line was clear.  God had been altogether faithful to them and they had been altogether unfaithful to him.  They knew it and they admitted it.  They confessed it and they repented of their sin.  They made a covenant stating their desire and intention from that day forward to obey God and not turn away again.

Notice that it was not just the leaders who did this.  It was the whole assembly and all the people who belonged to God.

Christians, these this is a true picture of what a heart full of godly sorrow looks like.  These are the things one will do when he is serious about repentance and getting his heart and life right with God after sin.  He will carry out plans God’s way and in God’s time.  He will change his disposition to a somber, sober seriousness.  He will separate from all that would entangle him.  He will spend a considerable amount of time looking at God’s expectations; his law; his Word in order to recognize his own responsibilities.  He will duly confess his sin and repent.  He will make every effort to right his wrongs and promise to not sin in the same ways again.  He will surround himself with accountability and have others join together with him in his efforts to change.  He will leave spoken and written proof in the presence of God and many witnesses of his future intentions.  These are the things a man does when he is serious about correcting his failure against God and man and avoiding sin.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

tent

As the remnant moved on from Mt. Sinai in the aftermath of their sin, God’s mercy finds them once again.  What an amazing God we serve!

Wherever they settled Moses would pitch a tent outside the camp and meet with God.  Moses called it the “Tent of Meeting.”  Not only Moses, but any one of the people could go out to this place and seek the Lord.  This is quite amazing because God had just told them how his presence among them, even for a moment, would rouse his anger and consume them because of their sin.  (Exodus 33:5) Yet God is full of mercy and bent on reconciliation if his people only humble themselves, repent, and seek him in prayer.

We, too, must be ready and willing to extend mercy and be bent on nothing less than reconciliation with one another after offense and injury.  This is truly how we live the gospel and glorify God among fellow sinners.  This is how we look like God; imago dei.

When Moses went to inquire of God and intercede for the people, the people would get up, stand at the doors of their tents and watch.  (Exodus 33:8) This demonstrated their willingness and interest in being made right with God after their sin.  They didn’t sleep in and let Moses worry about their standing with God.  No.  Anxiously and intently, they watched and waited for God to show up and their leader interceded on their behalf.

Likewise, we ought to learn to watch and wait on God with great respect and diligence at all times, but especially after we have fallen into sin.

Once Moses entered the Tent of Meeting, a cloud would descent and stay at the entrance of the tent.  When the cloud was present, God was speaking with Moses.  During this time, all the people would worship at their own tent doors.

When we see God moving in the life of our leaders, we, too, ought to stand, wait, and worship.

Amazingly, here, God spoke to this man, Moses, face to face.  Moses is the only person we know of that had this kind of experience with the Almighty.  Yet, today, God speaks to each and every one of his people through His Word and His Spirit if we only listen.

Moses was so concerned with listening to God that he left his apprentice at the Tent of Meeting to live just in case God spoke when he was away from the tent.

Lord, let me listen like that!  God is always speaking.  The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. ~Psalm 50:1  Lord, help me listen.

Read Full Post »

yoda

Do you ever go somewhere and think, “This sure feels like a waste of time…” On the way you may be thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t even go…I don’t think I’ll enjoy this…but everyone else is going…I don’t want to miss out….but usually when I go to this place I am miserably bored, wishing I was home, and wondering what on earth could possibly be wrong with everyone around me because they are over the top excited to be here…”

Ok.  Do you have your place?  Mine is the movies.  Once in a great while I will actually enjoy a movie, but nine out of ten cause me to kick myself for not staying home and reading a more entertaining and exciting story.

Last night was one of those nights.  We went to see the new Star Wars movie and all I could think the entire time was how the Bible – the living, active, real in your life today story – is infinitely more exciting to experience than this movie – or any other entertainment the world has to offer for that matter.

But the theater was completely full.  I mean filled to the brim.  I had my normal I-wish-I-would-have-stayed-home-guess-I’ll-take-a-nap-in-this-uncomfortable-overused-chair experience while everyone else held lightsabers and wore fangirl t-shirts with edge of their seat excitement.  There was only one problem for me.  Every few minutes the sound of clapping, cheering, sobering sighs, and otherwise giddy excitement coming from row beside us would wake me after I’d dozed off.

These people must have been the only kind of Star Wars fans there are – fanatics.

A funny thing happened to me during my transient nap at the movie theater, though.  I felt, as I often do in this context, a certain sadness come over me – not because I felt like I was wasting time and money simply by being present – but, this time, because I realized that they were.

I had to ask myself when the last time I’d seen any young people – no – any people of any age at all – get that excited about the Word of God.  When was the last time I’d seen any passion in anyone – other than my husband when he preaches  – about what God was showing them in his Word – anyone cheering, clapping, sighing, and sobering over what they were seeing, hearing, and learning from the Scriptures?  I have been in church my entirelife.  That kind of genuine passion for the Lord is rare, and, for the most part, here in America, altogether obsolete.

At that moment my heart felt so sad for my generation and those younger because I know the absolute amazement the Word of God offers; the unmitigated adventure knowing and serving the Lord Jesus Christ in earnest really gives.  And I know that it is the very thing that many of these empty entertainment junkies of today are so desperately desiring.  Humans want adventure and excitement.  But in our day, they think it comes from watching fantasy movies like the Avengers and the Jedi rather than living a real life that follows the Living God.

Friends, real adventure and excitement come from following Christ!  Every single page of the Bible is like a new journey.  It is not always rainbows and butterflies, but it is good and it is real.  My generation is missing out on the real life living experience of knowing the God of the Universe because they have never taken the time to read, study, and know His Word.

Not long ago I was considering past events and asking the Lord why I had to go through some hard things.  At that very moment my husband said, “You raised your hand.”  It was in response to something else in a different context.  He had no idea that I had just asked the Lord these things.  God used him to remind me how when I was young I had written about wanting to be used of God and using the analogy that I was raising my hand hoping with all my heart to simply be called on.

To that end I say, if you go to church or begin reading your Bible and think, ““This sure feels like a waste of time…” Or if on the way you are thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t even go…I don’t think I’ll enjoy this…but everyone else is going…I don’t want to miss out….but usually when I go to this place I am miserably bored, wishing I was home, and wondering what on earth could possibly be wrong with everyone around me because they are over the top excited to be here…,” you are not investing and engaging in true Christianity.  Get to know God.  Get to know His Word – front to back, inside and out.  Become a light-bearing, card-carrying, scripture t-shirt wearing fanatic about Jesus Christ and then you will be the only kind of Christian there is – a true one – and you’ll have no need to be endlessly entertained by false wars in the stars.  In fact, those things will become incredibly boring compared to the real cosmic star wars you are fighting in the Name of the Lord.  Amen!

Read Full Post »

anionting

The very last item God instructed Moses to have made for the Tent of Meeting was anointing oil.  In Exodus 30:22-38, we find the instructions and specifications for its use.

The anointing oil that was to be used in God’s house was to be composed of the finest spices known to man.  Some of these included myrrh, cinnamon, cane cassia, and olive oil.  The tent, the Ark of the Covenant, the table, the lampstand, all the utensils, and the basin and stand were all to be anointed with this oil.  The priests were to be anointed with it as well and that was to be part of their consecration to God.  Anything that touched these items would become holy.

No one else was permitted to use or apply this particular blend of oil to themselves or use it in their own houses.  Only the tabernacle and the priests were to apply and use this oil.  It was to be holy and set apart for God alone and his own glory.  Anyone who duplicated or misused this blend of oil was to be cut off from the people of God.

God is serious about that which he sets apart for holiness.  Reverence and respect are to be used when handling and approaching the sacred things of God, and they are never to be used for the personal pleasures of men.

God was to be honored with this anointing oil.  The fragrant smell within his house was to set it apart as holy.  The different ingredients can be likened to the different gifts of the Holy Spirit in our gospel days.  The sacred spiritual gifts we are given by the Spirit are to be blended together in his house and used as a fragrant offering to the Lord by we, his people.  We must give our gifts back to him rather than serving ourselves by them.  If God has given us a gift in order to make himself known, we must regard that gift as holy unto the Lord and use it for his glory rather than our own.  When the people of God use their gifts and talents to serve themselves or build their own kingdoms, the result is disunity – or being cut off – from his true people.  When the people of God come together and bringing and blending the gifts we have been given together in unity, the result is a fragrant offering that honors the Lord.

Let us remember the words of Matthew Henry when offering the sweet and sacred gifts we have been given back to the Lord:

“…the like should not be made for any common use.  Thus God would preserve in the people’s minds a reverence for his own institutions, and teach us not to profane nor abuse any thing whereby God makes himself known…It is a great affront to God to jest with sacred things, particularly to make sport with the word and ordinances of God, or to treat them with lightness. (Matthew 22:5) That which is God’s peculiar must not be used as a common thing.”  

Read Full Post »

tax

In Exodus 30, Moses is instructed by God to impose a tax on God’s people.  Moses was commanded to take a census of every person twenty years and older.  Each person, regardless of wealth or poverty had to pay the same amount.  The cost was half a shekel, which compared today would have been about $10.

The reason God gave for this imposition is found in Exodus 30:12.

“When you take the census of the people of Israel, then each shall give a ransom for his life to the Lord when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them.”

The reason the people had to pay was that they needed redeemed.  This fee was  ransom they gave for their own lives.  The idea was to remind them of their need to be bought back and “counted” worthy.

This tax came with a warning.  Those who would not pay were in danger of being plagued.  Doubtless the illustration is the fact that we are plagued by sin when we’ll not acknowledge our need for redemption and obey God in all that he commands.

This small fee could never truly redeem them, but it pointed them to their need.  It pointed them back to Passover to the God who redeemed the from slavery and it pointed them forward to a Savior who would truly redeem them from sin.

Again, every one of God’s people – rich or poor – paid the same amount.   This makes it clear that all souls stand on level ground.  We all stand in need and the cost is uniform.

The atonement money collected was to be used to defray the expenses of God’s tabernacle and its operations.

When we take a step back and look at the big picture here, it is clear that, as all of these things were being done for God and his glory, they were simultaneously being done for God’s people and their good.  The tabernacle was built for God.  The tabernacle was built for God’s people.  The altar was built for God.  The altar was built for God’s people.  The Arc of the Covenant was built for God.  The Arc of the Covenant was built for God’s people.  The golden lamps were built for God.  The golden lamps were built for God’s people.  The priests were consecrated to serve God.  The priests were consecrated to serve God’s people.  The incense, the showbread, the tax, the veil, the oil – everything was for God, and everything was for God’s people.  God instructed all these things to show his people who he was.  God instructed all these things to show his people who they were. Amazing.

 

Read Full Post »

remember

After God instructs Moses on who will be the priests and the high priest, he describes in detail what they were to wear.  Let us consider these things and their significance.

First, the ephod is elaborated upon.  the ephod was a sleeveless linen garment which had fine thread, and, in the case of the high priest, had even gold woven into it.  It covered the chest to the hips and had two shoulder straps with an onyx stone on each side.  The stones were to have the names of all the sons of Israel engraved upon them.  Six tribes were to be written on one stone; six on the other.  These were called the “stones of remembrance.”  The settings were to be made of gold attached by corded golden chains.

Over the top of the ephod, a breastpiece was to be worn.  It was a folded piece of fabric which contained twelve precious stones – one for each tribe’s name.  Also, the urim and thummim – which were some type of spiritual help for decision making – were to be placed inside.  The high priest was to fasten this garment overtop of his ephod by way of golden cords, golden rings, and golden settings that he might have always the names of God’s people upon his heart.  Exodus 28:30 says this:

“And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the Lord. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly.”

In all of these instructions, one beautiful theme shines through: God remembering his people; God taking great pains to insure that his people know and understand their worth and importance to him; God writing their names on the heart of their intercessor – the high priest; God preparing his people to be the honored guests in his house.

This is such a beautiful illustration and example of God’s love and mercy for his people.  When we study this passage, and recognize the magnitude of God’s love and mercy toward us, it makes what we know about those he was choosing all the more tragic.  When the reality of this passage hit me, it literally broke my heart for God.  Here’s why:

Here, while God is instructing his prophet about the honor and beauty and glory he is about to bestow on his chosen ones, writing their names on his very heart and taking special and great pains to remember them and make sure they know how loved and remembered they are, they themselves are forgetting him.  It was during this very time that Aaron – the high priest God chose – was leading the people in the worship of an idol: the golden calf.  While Moses is receiving this instruction about how much God longs to remember his people, Aaron is forgetting Him.  Aaron is assuming and presuming that God has forgotten them.

Consider that.  Consider that God was fitting to give Aaron not only the priesthood and make him the high priest – a place of great honor, God was also preparing to give him much gold to wear in honor of Him.  Aaron chose to worship a gift (gold) that God was planning to give him particularly in abundance in place of worshiping the God who was giving it.  In other words, God is up there giving these instructions to bless and honor these men with Aaron as the most honored and they are building an idol out of the very material that God wishes to use to honor them.  Aaron – the would-be high priest is leading the charge.

God had planned to write their names on the most precious stones known to man – to have the intercessor hold them on his very heart and they thought he had forgotten them.  They were in direct rebellion to God as he planned to honor and extend mercy to them.  This is the kind of God we serve.  This is the kind of people we are.  It is heartbreaking when we recognize how good and loving Our Father is as opposed to how foolish and disobedient we are.

Herein we realize how important it is to have an intercessor.  God said that Aaron would bear the judgement of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly.  This is the job of every minister who would intercede for God’s people.  Judgement is bore on our hearts because when the judgement of another is placed upon your heart, you are not vindictive and smug about the discipline needed, rather, you are broken and sorrowful -just as the Father is – when discipline for others is necessary.  By bearing judgement on our hearts, we feel the pain of their disobedience and mourn for their repentance rather than happily, vengefully attesting to the fact that they will get what they deserve.

Aaron was our first high priest; Christ is our last.  Never, ever think he has forgotten you.  Your name is written on his hands and his heart.

Read Full Post »

Print

Life is so long and so short at the very same time.  We close our eyes exhausted from chasing toddlers wondering if the day will ever end and when we open them we are looking back wondering how they could possibly look so much like adults.

Every single day is so very important.  Every day.  Our time here on earth is short.  We have but a few minutes before we are gone.  It seems it is only the good things that pass by so fast.

The seasons of discouragement and doubt seem to last and last.  If we are not careful, bad days can turn into bad years, and bad years can turn into joyless lives.

Every single day is so very important.  Every day.  Our time here on earth is long.  We have years upon years to make a difference and influence those around us for the good.  We cannot allow personal setbacks or problems distract us from our purpose and the greater good.  If we do, we will end up looking back on a life poorly spent and largely unaccomplished.

I have taken somewhat of a hiatus from writing my personal thoughts over the past couple months.  I have not felt particularly inspired.  Truth be told, I have felt unloved, discouraged, and even unnecessary.  I have experienced heartache, hardship, and hurt over the past year.  If I am being honest, it has been a hard year. Still, a good year. I have gotten to know my Father so much better. What could be better than that?

And, I have been healing.  I have been sitting at the feet of my Lord and allowing him to be all that I need.  Healing is not a process one can easily explain and share while undergoing it.  But by God’s grace, I can see light.  His provision is evidenced in so many blessings that I can’t help be be thankful.  I have finally come to the place where I can honestly say to the Lord, “Whatever your plan is, that is exactly what I want today.  Suffering?  Give me that.  Miscarriage?  You’re sovereign; I surrender.  Shunning?  OK.  It’s your world, Lord, and I am just your kid. It’s your plan.  It’s your will.  It’s your authority to which I bow and none else.  USE ME.  Whatever that means in my life, do that.  Just use me.  Somehow, someway, get glory from my meager little life.  That is all I want and it is all that truly matters to me anyway.

I open my hands.  I unfold them and I wait.

When I was a young Christian, I used to pray every single day that God would allow me to die a martyr for him.  What I have found over the past twenty years is that it is likely easier to die for Christ than it is to truly live for him.  We die once.  As each day begins, we must live over and over and over again.  So I changed my prayer:

Lord, whether I may or may not die a martyr, please allow me to live a martyr.  Allow me to live dying daily for you that you might use me.  Give me peace with your perfect, sovereign plan.  Let me not miss the opportunities you give.  I do not need to understand, I just want to be used.  Please use me in this long, short life.  Amen. 

Every single day is so important.  Don’t waste it.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »