Monthly Archives: February 2014

Impossible

Numbers 2&3 record God’s instructions to Moses about getting the Israelites organized and ready to get traveling to the  Promised Land. About a million people, including crying babies, rebellious teenagers, pregnant moms and feeble grandparents along with livestock, tents, and everything they owned were about to pack up and move.

There isn’t a fraction of that many people here on this tiny island where I live and I can’t imagine trying to organize everyone enough to get them all to travel across the bridge to the mainland, even in this day of internet, cellphones and SUV’s. It seems like an impossible task.

But Moses was faithful. He followed God’s instructions and the impossible was accomplished. The entire nation of Israel was divided by family, got in line, and prepared to take those first steps toward a destination they had never seen. 

Is there something God is asking of me? Do I blow it off because I think it’s impossible? Maybe he’s prompting me to talk to my neighbor about Jesus. Do I stay home because I’ve decided my neighbor is too far gone to even listen? Maybe God is nudging me to change careers, take responsibility at church, quit smoking, or some other task that seems beyond my capabilities. Do I come up with excuses like, “I can’t quit my job and make less money doing something else, I have a family to support”, or “I can’t teach a Sunday School class”, or “I’ve tried to quit smoking and I just can’t”, or… (add your excuses to the list).

As I read the Bible I see a God who delights in accomplishing the impossible. Not the least of which is the changing of lives through the blood of his Son, Jesus. The lesson here today is: If God is in it – there is no such thing as impossible.

Father, I pray your children will hear your voice. May we recognize the times when you are asking us to do things that seems impossible. Help us to understand that you are best seen during those times when you give us the ability to share the gospel, teach that class, or do some other task that in and of ourselves is impossible. May you find us faithful, Lord, and may we watch you accomplish the impossible in each of us today.

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How Good Am I?

“I am the Lord who makes you holy”

God’s instructions to Moses recorded in the book of Leviticus concerning the priests repeats that statement several times. The priests were given specific requirements to follow from how to wear their hair, what to eat, what to wear, to how to treat their wives. And so that they wouldn’t start to feel overly good about themselves when they followed all God’s rules, so that they wouldn’t get prideful and begin to believe they were “all that”, God kept reminding them that it was he – not anything they did- who made them holy.

It’s the same with us in 2014. Many good people give to the poor, care for their families, tell the truth, pay their taxes and are faithful to their spouses. Many Christians go to church, abstain from alcohol and don’t go to movies, they read the Bible and never take the Lord’s name in vain. But the Bible tells us no one is righteous – not even one! It tells us all people have sinned and fall short when compared to God’s standards. And God reminds us it is by grace we are saved, not of anything we have done, so no one can boast.

The set apart life, the good we do is a natural outflowing of receiving grace. None of that can ever be a payment toward God’s favor. So the answer to the question I posted in the title is: Not good enough.

It’s Sunday morning and I hope you are planning to go to a Bible believing fellowship of believers to worship the Savior. You may  teach a class or sing in the choir. You may have already written your check for the offering. But God would tell us this morning that none of that will get you closer to heaven. None of it. If you are going to church to get on God’s good side, you are going for the wrong reason.

“I am the Lord who makes you holy.”

Heavenly Father, thank you for reminding us today that it’s all about you. In and of myself, I am a sinner. I might be a good person. I might even attend church. But without your grace I am no better than the most wicked God-hater there is. I pray for your people today as we go into churches to worship you. May we do so with grateful hearts, humbled by your forgiveness, and determined to live lives pleasing to you. Not because we want you to love us more, but because we want to love you more and serve you because of your grace.

The Name of Jesus

Have you ever read something in the BIble that spoke to you, then later had that very passage be reaffirmed in something that happened or something that was said later on? That’s what happened to me today.

I was reading in Numbers 9 this morning and, as usual, wrote in my journal about something that stood out to me. I thought about posting it here, but talked myself out of it. Then in church today the pastor spoke on John 3. It’s the same message God gave me in my own time in his Word. So I thought I would go ahead and share it with you. Here’s what I wrote this morning:

“The Israelites were getting ready to celebrate Passover in the desert. Some of the people were ceremonially unclean because they had touched a dead body. So they went to Moses and said, come on Moses. We are good guys. Can’t we do the Passover thing with everyone else?

“So Moses went to God and God said no. God made provisions for them to celebrate Passover at a later date but he made no exceptions to his rules. And just because he made it possible for the these people to celebrate Passover later it wasn’t a provision for just anyone who didn’t feel like observing the celebration at the appointed time. In fact, anyone in that latter category were to be killed. It was that important that God’s rules be followed.

“Once again, God is reminding us that he makes the rules. It doesn’t matter how nice you are, how helpful you are, how much money you give to charity, or even how spiritual you think you are. If you don’t follow God’s rules – you die. And it’s an eternal death, separated from God forever.

“Like it or not, Jesus is the only way to the Father. Except a man is born again he will not see the kingdom of God. You can believe what you want to believe. That’s up to you. But unless you believe the Bible is true, that there is no other name under heaven through which anyone can be saved, unless you accept this same Jesus as your Savior and are born again, your beliefs will lead you straight to hell.

“I didn’t come up with that. God did.”

That’s what God impressed on my heart in my personal devotional time. And that is the message that Jesus impressed on Nicodemus in the passage from John 3 that my pastor spoke about this morning. Dear one, if you haven’t confessed your sin and accepted the wonderful grace of Jesus, I pray you will do that today. Your loving Heavenly Father loved you while you were still a sinner. He died for you so that you can enjoy life, and have life eternal. Unless you accept him as your Savior you will never see God. You will never go to heaven. Your death will take you from this life to a horrible eternity. You can try to make up your own rules. You can reject God’s. But it won’t change God’s mind. 

At the Name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven, on earth and under the earth, every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

Some will do that while standing before him in glory, surrounded by millions of people who knew him in this lifetime according to his rules. Others will be forced to confess Jesus from the lake of fire. But believe me when I say, there will be no unbelievers in eternity. Not in heaven. And not in hell. 

Gracious Father, thank you for your plan of salvation, for wanting us to come to you, for going to the cross so that we can know you as our Savior. May all who read this bow before you and be born again, born into your kingdom. And may we share your truth with others who need you, too.

 

The Big Top

My dad used to tell us about the time when he was a kid and the circus came to town. He and his brother Bill went to watch them set up. (knowing Dad he probably skipped school). He told us about dozens of men who unfolded and laid out a colorful piece of material, attached some poles to it, then lifted it into the air, creating the Big Top that would provide the stage for the performance that night. Dad said it was the most fantastic thing he had ever seen.

So it was with a great deal of excitement that he and Uncle Bill woke up early the next day to go watch the tear-down. I can imagine them running to the spot with anticipation. But when they got there, the circus was gone! They had come and gone in a day.

I thought about that today as I read in Numbers 9 that the people of Israel broke camp every time the cloud moved. You remember that God inhabited the cloud by day and the fire by night over the Tabernacle.  They could be in a spot for a year, a month, or a day. It didn’t matter. When God moved, they packed up and moved, too. 

I picture the setting up of the Tabernacle much like that circus tent. Did people come from the towns to watch like Dad and his brother did? Were they as awed at the efficiency of the men and beauty of the tent itself? Was God revealed to those people through Israel’s obedience?

Ok, God, I get it. When you move me to go talk to my neighbor about you, you don’t want to hear me whine about how inconvenient that is. If you ask me to pack up and move to another place where you can use me to reach lost souls, you don’t want me to complain about how hard it is to fill those boxes. It’s not like I have to tear down and re-assemble a big tent every time you ask. 

My prayer today is that I will be willing and eager to go wherever, do whatever God is asking me to do and that I obey without complaining. Whether it involves asking a coworker to lunch, taking soup to a sick friend, babysitting for a tired mommy who needs a break, teaching a Sunday School class, or sending a card in the mail, if God asks me to move I want to eagerly obey. And may people see Jesus because of my obedience.

 

My Sacred Medallion

The New Testament tells us that one of the things Jesus did when he went to the cross is make us a kingdom of priests (or kingdom and priests). He is absolutely our High Priest, but we who know him have the privileges and responsibilities much like Aaron and his sons had in the Old Testament.

I don’t claim to understand all of what that entails. There is so much symbolism in the account we read in Exodus 39. But one thing is clear to me, Aaron and his sons took a great deal of care in following every detail before they went before the Lord. Including what they wore.

As I read about the robe, the ephod, the breastplate, and the rest of the required clothing, I was convicted when I read about the sacred medallion Aaron wore on his turban. It was engraved with the words: HOLY UNTO THE LORD. It was placed in such a way no one could miss it.

I wonder if my spiritual sacred medallion is as visible to the people around me. Does my lifestyle scream that I worship God, that I make choices based on his Word, that I am a sinner saved by grace? Do people see Jesus in me, Holy Unto the Lord?

I pray that the days of my keeping my faith between God and myself are behind me. I pray that I will stand out in every circumstance of life as someone who wears Christ’s name honorably and proudly. I pray that the choices I make today will point others to the Savior.

I pray the same for you. May we be a kingdom of priests, set apart, faithful to God, HOLY UNTO THE LORD.

I Am Amazed

I was reading in Exodus today about God’s instructions to Moses for the building of the Tabernacle. I don’t think I ever read this portion of Scripture without being in awe.

I am amazed at the details of the instructions. God was interested in every stitch, every stone. And every part of that tabernacle held special meaning.

I am amazed at the amount of materials required to build the Tabernacle. Where did they get all that gold, bronze, and silver, all the wood and stone there in the desert? How did they dye the enormous amount of thread needed to make yards and yards of material so it looked like one piece of cloth?

I am amazed that, in the desert, men could forge golden cherubim, tiny hooks, utensils. They sure didn’t have the machinery we have today.
I don’t know how long it took to complete the Tabernacle but it amazes me they ever got it done. It took three weeks for my bathroom to be updated and it’s a tiny bathroom. There in the desert, so many individuals completed so many tasks. How did they do that?

God would remind me that the Christian life should look like that. Each of us should identify our gifts and use them to build the kingdom as we lead sinners to Jesus. The world should stand in awe of us and ask themselves, how did they do that?

Does seeing God alive and working in us amaze our unsaved friends and family? It should.

God, you are amazing. We who know you know that truth. Now, God, equip us to show the world just how awesome you are. In these days when the Truth of Scripture is being attacked and disregarded I pray that your people will stand, that we will work together, that the world will see your grace in us and want what we have. May they recognize your greatness because they see your greatness in each of us. And may they be amazed at what you do and who you are through us who represent you.

Manna from Heaven

The miraculous giving of manna by God to the Israelites in the desert is a beautiful picture of his provisions to us, his people. If we look closely we will see Jesus!

Manna came from heaven. The Jews didn’t plant or reap it, yet there it was every morning. They received exactly what they needed each day. It was sweet and satisfied their hunger.

Jesus told us he is the Bread of Life. Think about it. Everything that was true about manna in the Old Testament is true about our Lord. He came from heaven. We can’t do anything to earn his favor – we can only accept his grace. And he is all we need to face today.

Moses was instructed by God to take some of the manna and put it in a jar. He was to hide it away for safe keeping so that generations to come would have that tangible proof of God’s provisions. The jar eventually went into the Arc of the Covenant and went with the Jews wherever they traveled.

I was at a Bible study this week. They are studying the book of Revelation. In 2:17 God promises he will give the hidden manna to those who overcome, to the believers in Christ Jesus. Some of the women were adamant that that scripture referred to the jar of manna Moses had hidden away. We had quite a discussion as to where the jar is today. 

I think they were thinking way too small. I believe God revealed to John a most amazing and glorious truth. When we get to heaven we will have Jesus in the flesh. We will be in the presence of our Savior. I believe Moses’ manna will be forgotten when we see the Bread of Life standing there with his arms open, welcoming us home.

Dearest Lord, Thank you for Jesus, for grace, for the strength he so lovingly supplies for us to meet the challenges of every day. And, Father, thank you for your promise that one day we who know you as our Savior will actually be in your Presence. The Bread of Life will be ours for eternity. No longer hidden from our eyes. We will see you face to face. Oh glorious day!