Monthly Archives: March 2017

Leviticus 11-12; The Most Tolerated Sin In America

I had some routine blood work done recently. Most of my levels came back in the normal range. But my cholesterol was a bit high, and my potassium level was on the high side of normal. Plus, I’m about 25 pounds overweight. Just great.

Gotta quit buying those chips.

I was reading God’s instructions to the Jews about what animals they could and couldn’t eat. Considering they were nomads with no refrigeration or antibiotics, and knowing the diseases the unclean animals tend to carry, it makes sense. God, always looking out for us, wanted His people to enjoy good health.

But I didn’t make the passage personal until I pulled out good old Matthew Henry. Listen to what he says:

“The Lord is for the body, and it is not only folly, but sin against God to prejudice our health for the pleasure of our appetite.”

Wait. What?

It occurs to me God didn’t just suggest a healthy diet here in Leviticus. He made it a sin to eat certain foods. Now I know in the New Testament He makes it clear that all food is acceptable this side of the cross. But aren’t there other Scriptures that have things to say about a healthy diet?

Deuteronomy 21:20 says if parents have trouble with a rebellious son, they should take him to the elders and say, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of the town should stone the son to purge the evil from among them.

Jesus seems to recognize drunkenness and gluttony as being in the same category in Matthew 11:19.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul calls our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit. And isn’t self control one of the fruits of the Spirit? (Galatians 5)

desiringgod.org says that gluttony is the most tolerated sin in America. (February 18, 2015 Eight Lessons on Gluttony) I don’t want to sugar coat this (pun intended). Look around. How many obese people consider themselves Christians? I’m not judging. Just wondering if we who are overweight should consider the possibility that we are sinning against God by how we are treating His temple.

I’m wondering if the time I spend eating, and preparing food, or thinking about food, is disproportionate to the time I spend in God’s Word and in sharing the gospel. Have I made food an idol?

The other day I told you about a friend who prayed for strength to lose weight. I’m beginning to think the Lord is speaking to me about this very thing. I don’t want to put my health in jeopardy just for the pleasure of my appetite.

Matthew Henry reminded me this is no joke. I can no longer think it’s no big deal if I overeat.

Dear God, I want to surrender all of me to you, including my appetite. Help me, Lord. I am weak.  You know I don’t have to be hungry to eat. I eat when I’m depressed, I eat when I’m celebrating or with friends, I stress-eat, and I eat when I’m bored. I like to eat. But, God, if it’s a sin, I repent of it. Help me to use food as You intend, to make me healthy and strong in order to serve You well. May the fruit of having Your Spirit living in me reveal itself in self control.

 

 

 

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Leviticus 10; Lessons From Scripture

I was a bit bothered by the fact that Nadab and Abihu were struck by God and killed immediately for disobeying Him, yet Aaron, who didn’t eat the sacrificed meat like the Law said he was supposed to, got a free pass. So I started digging.

One trusted commentator suggested it was a matter of intention. Nadab and Abihu wanted glory for themselves. Aaron meant no harm. That confused me more because I don’t see anywhere else in Scripture where God overlooks the disobedience of people who have good intentions.

So I went to another source and read that Nadab and Abihu died because they were drunk while performing the duties of a priest. We can assume they had been drinking because of God’s instruction to Aaron after the fact. But is this account intended to be an argument against alcohol? The author seemed to think so. I wonder.

Matthew Henry reminded me that God had actually included instructions for the priests as to what to do with leftover meat from the sacrifice. (Leviticus 7) The meat that wasn’t eaten could not be given to anyone else, could not be put on ice for the future. If it was not eaten by the priests and their families, it was to be burned outside the camp.

Aaron had just watched two of his sons die. He obeyed God in that he didn’t tear his clothes and make a public display of mourning. But I’m sure the man had no appetite. The meat had done it’s job on the altar as the sacrifice. It was given to the priests “to take away the guilt of the community by making atonement for them before the Lord.” (vs17) And the priests did that.

Aaron assured Moses that they had sacrificed their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord (vs19).  Moses realized that was true, and was satisfied with that response.

I think God is telling me today to let Scripture define Scripture. When I question what I read, and I do often, I ultimately need to let God’s Word speak for itself. I’m thankful that Henry pointed me in the right direction. It’s easy to get caught up in causes by reading into things, like whether or not a preacher should be allowed to drink alcohol. I want to be careful that when I infer truth, I don’t do it on the basis of a solitary verse or story.

Nadab and Abihu died because they disobeyed. It doesn’t matter their intentions. They sinned, and God is reinforcing the truth that the wages of sin is death. That’s a truth that is repeated often in Scripture. And that’s the lesson from this story I want to take with me today.

 

Leviticus 8-9; The Holy Spirit

I understand that oil in the Old Testament represented the Holy Spirit. Oil played an important role in the sacrifices, and in the ordination of Aaron and his sons. I am reminded that the oil was important because the Holy Spirit was not living in men at that time.

Do I understand how blessed I am in 2017? When God says He will never leave or forsake me, He means it! And the Presence of the Holy Spirit lives in me.

Lives in me.

What more is there to say?

Leviticus 5-7; Rubbing Shoulders

I volunteer with our elementary school’s Good News Club. What a blessing! One thing we teach the kids is that sin is “anything we think, do, or say that doesn’t please God.” Our leader told the kids yesterday that if they don’t love other people, they aren’t loving God.

That got their attention.

I’m sure all of us would agree sin is an affront to God, and it effects Him deeply every time we sin. We know His heart is broken when we sin. We know He is angry when we disobey. And we know that our sin effects our relationship with Him.

We live in a “me first” society. If it feels good, do it. You can’t make anyone happy until you are happy yourself. Look out for #1. I am worthy. I am powerful, I am lovable. I am… I am… I am…

Reading these chapters today reminded me that my sin effects God. But it effects others, too. Even sins I might commit unintentionally can hurt my loved ones, neighbors, coworkers, even strangers. And sometimes I need to make restitution, apologize, or receive someone’s anger over what I have done.

We don’t live in a vacuum. We rub shoulders with people every day. Children can get hurt when parents cheat and/or divorce. Parents get hurt when children go astray. Friends get hurt by gossip. We all end up paying for prisons, hospitals, war.

You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. But you are responsible for how you live, how you treat people, how you obey God. You are responsible for not causing anyone’s unhappiness by your sin.

Love one another. That’s how people know we are Jesus’ disciples. Do good to those who harm you. Pray for your enemies. Think of others before yourself. And treat them the way you like to be treated.

Please don’t fall for the lie that it’s your life and you can live it like you want. It is your life. I pray you’ll live it the way God wants.

Leviticus 2-4; Many To One

Maybe it’s because we are approaching Easter. But I can’t help but think of Jesus as I read the instructions for the Old Testament Jews’ sacrifices for sins. The yeast, the oil, the lamb without defect, the blood.

So much blood.

The sinner had to lay his own sacrifice on the altar. And so do I. My godly mother’s faith couldn’t save me. I had to obey God myself.

The dear people in the Old Testament had to repeat those sacrifices year after year. There were many, many sacrifices made on those altars. But Jesus fulfilled the requirements for the forgiveness of sin with His own precious blood.

Jesus became my sacrifice that day He hung on the cross.  One perfect sacrifice.

I am overcome with love and gratitude for my Savior.

Leviticus 1; Smelling Like Jesus

There is a restaurant on this island that serves the best steaks. It’s not a fancy restaurant. It looks like an old barn. The interior is rustic, the tables worn. But, oh that food!

This restaurant happens to be on the only road going north/south on the island. So any time I want to go anywhere, I pass Bennie’s Red Barn.

When I read, “…an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord,” I get it. I’ve been known to slow down and roll down my window when I pass Bennie’s just to get a whiff of that meat on the grill. That is a pleasing aroma to me.

The Old Testament sacrifices hold so many precious reminders of Jesus, the fire of God’s holiness, the Blood, the Sacrifice of the Spotless Lamb. Jesus’ work on the cross was and is a pleasing aroma to the Father.

Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 2:15:

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

I’m wondering if that’s true of me. Am I the pleasing aroma to God that Jesus is?

I have a friend whose husband absolutely demands that she never, ever eat garlic. I’ve never met anyone who can eat a bite of food with garlic in it, then reek of garlic afterward like she can. Not just on her breath. It pours out her pores like a garlic diffuser.

That has me thinking this morning. Is what I am ingesting coming out as a pleasing aroma to God, or not so much? Do I spend time with Him, read and think about His Word, communicate with Him, so that I give God the same pleasure His Son does? Does God want to roll down the windows of heaven to get that whiff of me? Or do the windows go up because I smell like the world?

I want to be a pleasing aroma to God. And I want to be a pleasing aroma to people around me, too. Because I want to spend so much time with my Savior, that they’ll be drawn to to the scent of Him pouring out of me.

I want to smell like Jesus.

 

Exodus 39-40; Not For Show

The shewbread or “bread of the face,” or “bread of the Presence” has never really caught my attention before. But after doing a bit of research, I am thanking God for the precious truth that loaf represents.

Twelve loaves of bread, baked with the finest flour, were arranged every week on the table in the Tent of Meeting. It was there as a display, set out representing the Presence of God among the twelve tribes of Israel. The bread, however, was not to be eaten by anyone, no matter how hungry they might be.

Then, after a week, new loaves replaced the old ones, and the priests ate the week-old bread on the Sabbath. It serves as another example of Jesus.

Before the cross, God was accessible to only a few chosen people, and only periodically. Oh, His Presence was visible. Just not touched.

Then Jesus said, “I AM the Bread of Life,” and “Take, eat…” God is no longer out of reach to those who accept Him.

Fill me, Lord. Thank You for Jesus, the Bread of Life. Thank You for making Yourself accessible to us through Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for being everything I need for life and eternity. I want more of You. Fill me, Lord.