Monthly Archives: February 2016

Feb 19 – Politics. Ugh.

Leviticus 19-21

I’m going to be honest. I hate politics. You can imagine how much I am enjoying watching the news these days. I try to watch the debates, truly. But I get so frustrated not only with the candidates but with the people asking the idiotic questions to try to get the candidates to sling some dirt at each other.

Ugh. So when reading in Leviticus this morning, I wasn’t all that pleased that what jumped out at me was political. Ok, God. I’ll address it. But I’m not happy about it.

Socialism is the word of the day. Where before, the ideology was masked in the form of the Democratic Party policy of big government, taxing and spending, people are at least being honest about what it is they propose. Socialism. Give our money to the government and trust the all-wise, all-knowing elite to distribute it equally.

Please don’t tell me you believe in that.

I digress. Is it a shame that there are homeless, jobless, uninsured and needy citizens of our country? Absolutely. It’s sad that our government has made such a mess of things. But the shame shouldn’t be on the government (although it is), because the government shouldn’t be taking on the responsibility of the individual. Look where that’s gotten us.

When I read Scripture like Leviticus 19:9-10, telling us how to care for the needy, I see two things. 1) those who have share, 2) those who don’t have get out there and work.

I see no one having their possessions taken away so someone else could get something for free.

God, in these verses, is speaking to His Old Testament children. But I believe He’s speaking to us, too. Every Bible believing fellowship should have an outreach program. Ideally, there should be no one on welfare attending our churches, no unemployed. The church should be helping the people in that church.

I am as frustrated with the system as anyone. But, personally, I will never vote for anyone who even hints at a platform of socialism. I’m convinced we need to get our government out of our pockets and our decisions, and put the responsibility back on the individual.

That idea didn’t originate with me. It’s how God told His children to live. I’m pretty sure He knows how things should go better than any U.S. politician.

Dear God, I pray for the United States of America as we elect a new President. Father, I ask that You would speak to the hearts of Your children, may we be vocal about the things You lay on our hearts. May we stand up for the truth of Scripture. And may we vote according to Your leading. I pray that a godly man will live in the White House for the next four years. If that happens, it will be because Your children put aside politics and sought Your will. Then, Lord, may your Church be that avenue You can use to care for our citizens.

 

Feb 18 – Acceptance

Leviticus 16-18

God demands certain things concerning sexual relationships. He goes into great detail here in chapter 18 so no one can “accidentally” sleep with someone they shouldn’t. Read the list. It is a sin to have sex with a blood relative: a parent, a child, a half-sibling, a  niece, nephew, aunt, step-parent, grandchild. Having sex with a blood relative can send you to jail yet today.

God is also specific about the sin of having sex with an animal. I would think we can all agree that these sexual acts are sin, an abomination.

So how can anyone read 18:22 and not think the same thing? Homosexuality is a sin according to Scripture.

Someone recently told me the world would be a better place if everyone was more like Jesus, loving and accepting of everyone. But did Jesus accept everyone? What about the Sadducees and Pharisees? What about the rich young man who walked away from Jesus? What about Judas who betrayed Him?

I agree with my friend. The world would be a better place if people were more like Jesus. Jesus loved everyone so much He died for them. If He just accepted everyone He wouldn’t have had to go to the cross.

Jesus loved people enough to point out sin in their lives and demanded they repent. Jesus never turned a blind eye to sin that would lead a person to hell. He never glossed over sin or justified it. Jesus called the woman at the well out, then told her to quit sinning.

If I want to be like Jesus, I must love the homosexual enough to identify homosexuality as a sin. The truth is God does love everyone, and accepts anyone who confesses sin and asks His forgiveness. He is faithful and just to forgive every sin. But asking forgiveness comes before acceptance.

I know this is not a politically correct viewpoint. But I am not accountable to you. I love you in Jesus’ name. And sin is sin.

Feb 17 – Blood and Water

Leviticus 14-15

Don’t you love reading the Bible when something jumps out as though you were reading it for the first time? That’s what happened to me this morning. Today’s chapters include the required sacrifices for making a person healed of leprosy clean before God. Once again God’s instructions are very detailed. It includes lambs and birds and oil and wood and red string…

One of the sacrifices described includes the death of one bird, its blood sprinkled on a live bird. Then the live bird is set free to fly over the open field.

Dear one, isn’t that what happened to you when you accepted the fact that Jesus’ blood was applied to your account? Wasn’t your soul set free to soar just like that bird we read about today? Jesus blood was shed, that blood covered your sins, and you were set free. My heart is soaring just thinking about it.

Oh, there’s more!

As I was reading about how the priests were to go about cleansing a leprous house, another beautiful picture came to mind. Look at 14:51-53. The house was cleansed by running water and the blood!

My mind went immediately to the cross where Jesus died for me. What happened when the soldier pierced Jesus’ side? Out pour water and blood! That was not just some physiological phenomenon. That was God saying Jesus’ death on that cross was no accident. Jesus’ death absolutely fulfills every tiny little detail required to make me clean.

When the water and the blood poured out of Jesus’ side, that was God saying, “I love you, Connie, and I’ve got this covered.”

Dearest Savior, My heart is full this morning as I recognize how connected the Old Testament is to the Gospel. Thank you for showing us in such detail what is required for the forgiveness of sin. Thank you for the men and women who followed your instructions, who sacrificed the lambs, who washed the birds, who put the blood on toes and fingers, who baked the bread. I can’t even list a fraction of what Old Testament forgiveness requires right now. Yet I see quite clearly that what Jesus did for me on the cross was planned and executed perfectly to fulfill every little detail. You didn’t miss a thing. And you did that for me. Thank You for covering me with Your blood. My spirit soars. I worship You.

Feb 16 – Unclean! Unclean!

Leviticus 11-13

I wonder what it was like for a person who had to live outside the camp because he was unclean. God was very specific in his instructions concerning leprosy. The priest had to inspect the infected person, and if any spot no matter how small was identified as leprosy, that person had to live by himself, away from family and friends.

Unclean! Unclean!

Could the leper hear the laughter of the people inside the camp? Could he smell the aroma of dinner cooking over a campfire? Was there dancing and singing inside while he was forced to remain alone and  separated from all the activity? I bet those seven days seemed like an eternity. It would for me.

In a way, I think hell will be like that. Alone, separated, outside the gates of heaven, an eternity to realize their own uncleanness. Will they hear the praises and singing of those who were made clean by the blood of Jesus? And will those happy sounds magnify the shame of  being forced to sit in their disease of sin?

The Old Testament leper could console himself with the hope that after the seven days of exile, a priest could pronounce him clean again, and he could return to the camp. There will be no such hope for those in hell.

Jesus, our High Priest, will have the final say. He will declare clean those of us who have accepted His grace, the forgiveness He bought with His death on Calvary. And He will pronounce “Unclean” everyone who has rejected Him, even those who tried to enter heaven by some other means than the blood of the Savior.

There are two eternities. One is inside the camp where God is. The other is an eternity outside, in darkness and solitude, an eternity of living in uncleanness and regretting every decision that sent them there.

I’m praying for you.

Feb 15 – Standing On Ceremony

Leviticus 8-10

I tried to put myself in the scene described in these chapters today. What would it have been like to have witnessed Aaron’s consecration service? It must have been a pretty impressive ceremony. I think I would have wanted a front row seat.

The Bible says the congregation gathered at the doorway of the tent, in obedience to God. They were about to see history in the making. They saw the cleansing of Aaron and his sons, watched Moses put the tunic on Aaron, and everything that went with it. They saw the turban placed on Aaron’s head. They witnessed the anointing, the sacrifices, smelled the aroma, and watched as Aaron and his sons ate the ceremonial food.

Then seven days later, the congregation came near again, and stood before the Lord. More sacrifices were offered and then…

the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. (9:23-24)

I wonder if we are missing something with our casual approach to worship these days. I certainly don’t think we have to go back to the kinds of ceremonies we read about today here in Leviticus. But is there something we can apply to our approach to God from what we read?

I think the Old Testament people went to this important church service in obedience, and with hearts focused on God. They didn’t go for a worship experience. They seem to have gone, however, expecting to worship God.

There is a subtle difference I am convinced we need to be careful of. Going to church for a worship experience puts the focus on me, on my experience. Going to church to worship God takes me totally out of the picture, and the focus on God alone.

There was nothing casual about this ceremony. And God’s glory appeared to them with fire from on high. Their response was to cry out and fall on their faces in worship of a Holy God.

May we worship God as He deserves.

 

 

Feb 14 – For Love

Leviticus 5-7

It’s Valentines Day. You hear the word “love” thrown around a lot today. Got me to thinking about what love is all about.

Ravi Zacharias said, “Love is as much a question of the will as it is of the emotion.” Do you remember the popular book from years ago, “Love Is A Choice”? And I’ll always remember a former pastor saying, “Love is something you do.”

So as I’m reading about all the sacrifices and how detailed were God’s instructions, a lightbulb went off. God gave these instructions for love.

Here’s God, separated from the people He created and who He loves with the strongest emotion possible. Here’s God wanting to fellowship with his children but cannot because of sin in their lives. Here’s God, bridging the gap so that sinners could be forgiven, and fellowship restored.

What I read today isn’t a list of arbitrary hoops for people to jump through. This was God, reaching out and saying, “Here’s how you can come to Me. Please come to Me!”

God wants them to ask Him for forgiveness. He’s anxious to do that. God wants them to shed blood on an altar so He can. God is rooting for them, cheering them on, calling to them, and gladly forgiving them when they ask.

These chapters I read today is about love. I think I’ve always read them as though they were about rules. But the message here is definitely love.

God is love. God demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son, Jesus, to bridge that gap created by sin, once and for all. And it’s the same God as the One who gave Moses these directions in these chapters in Leviticus. He’s still anxious to forgive us when we come to Him, He’s still rooting for us, calling to us.

So today, if love is something you do, I would challenge you to love God by doing what He’s asked us to do. Accept Jesus as Savior, repent of sin, live for the One who loved you and gave Himself for you.

Sure, love is an emotion. But that emotion is meaningless and empty if it doesn’t include choice, and action, and obedience.

Thank You, Lord, for demonstrating Your love for Your children by providing a way for them to be forgiven for sin. Thank you for loving those Old Testament people enough to want to fellowship with them. And thank You for Jesus, who is our perfect sacrifice here in the 21st Century. Thank You for love. Thank You for You.

Feb 13 – And He Will Be Forgiven

Leviticus 1-4

The priests were given specific instructions for sacrifices for sins. And the instructions varied according to the sin a person was confessing, and on the animal they brought to be sacrificed. Every one of the million or so Jews in the desert required an animal sacrifice for the sins they committed. And, if they were like me, they probably needed to visit the priest every day.

Next time I complain about being too busy, I’m going to remember what a day in the life of Aaron and his sons must have looked like.

“The priest shall make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven.” Those words are repeated several times in the chapters we read today. Of course they pertain to the work of the Old Testament priests who stood over the altar and shed the blood of thousands of animals so that the children of God could be forgiven for their sins.

But we live after the cross. Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Perfect Sacrifice, fulfilled all the requirements handed down to Aaron for atonement for sin, for forgiving us. He died once and for all.

It’s not that what we read today isn’t still required for forgiveness. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” still applies today. But praise God, Jesus’ blood covers it all!

Every detail has been perfectly fulfilled by Jesus. And because He offered Himself to be sacrificed, I can go to Him and know forgiveness is mine for the asking.

My Priest, Jesus, has made atonement for me, and I am forgiven.

Feb 12 – Just As God Commanded Moses

Exodus 39-40

There are at last eighteen times in the last two chapters of Exodus telling about the steps Moses took to get the tabernacle ready, that the words, “just as God commanded Moses” is recorded. It’s like a check list:

Finely woven garments just as the Lord commanded Moses. Check.

Ephod in place just as the Lord commanded Moses. Check.

Breastplate just as the Lord commanded Moses. Check.

Bread on the table just as the Lord commanded Moses. Check.

It doesn’t seem Moses was satisfied with doing a pretty good job. Moses was careful to obey every command to the smallest detail. Just as God had commanded him.

I’m reading my Bible this evening instead of my usual morning devotions. And as I think about these two chapters I find myself with my own checklist for the day’s activities.

God has given me some commandments. Like love my enemies, share the Gospel, resist the devil, turn the other cheek, pray without ceasing, not put anything or anyone above Him.

Just as God commanded Connie.

As I ran through my list of today’s activities I realize I could have done more. I mean I did ok. I didn’t do anything horrible.

But I see that Moses wasn’t satisfied with just “ok”. Neither should I be.

Feb 11 – Stop Giving

Exodus 36-38

I know of a fellowship of believers who took on an extensive building project. Lead by the Lord, they didn’t do a fund raiser. They didn’t take pledges. They didn’t hire a consultant. The pastor simply shared the plans with the congregation, and the money started rolling in.

People gave generously as their hearts were moved to give. In fact, the congregation was so generous with their gifts, that after a time with the building project’s expenses more than met, that pastor had to ask his church to stop giving.

True story.

Sometimes I think we strategize God right out of the picture. Sure the money is pledged and the buildings get built with the help of consultants and fund drives these days. But I’m not sure why we don’t trust God a bit more to move in the hearts of His people to fill a need instead.

The example I gave above can be found in the chapters we read today in Exodus. The children of Israel gave generously toward the building of the tabernacle. And God never once told anyone they had to. He simply laid the need on their hearts and they responded above and beyond.

And God is the same today as He was back then. Maybe its us who have changed.

 

 

Feb 10 – Let Me Do That

Exodus 33-35

Did you think of your church fellowship when you read these chapters in Exodus today? God moved people to action. And they obeyed. Some gave of their material possessions. Some gave of their time as they used their talents for sewing, building, carving, designing…

The Tabernacle would be made by hundreds of people, working together, following God’s leading. This is what being a church is all about.

There is a dear woman in my church who loves to sew. God laid on her heart to start a sewing ministry, not knowing how many women would even be interested. But she was faithful. Once a month from five to twenty five women gather in the fellowship hall. Some bring sewing machines, some have scissors, some bring irons. They have made Salvation Dolls and sent them to a missionary who uses them to introduce children in Africa to their Savior. They made draw string bags to put in the boxes for Operation Christmas Child. They’ve made walker bags for a nursing home in our neighborhood. They’ve made neck pillows, bookmarks, snuggle pillows for a children’s hospital, blankets, and they’ve only been meeting for about a year.

My sister feels led to minister to elderly women in her church who live alone. (Happy Birthday, Peggy. I love you!) Through her church’s visitation ministry, she visits about five women every month, takes them to the grocery if they need, takes them to lunch or the doctor, prays with them, or just sits with them. She sends them cards, and calls them just to say hi.

There is a church where a few retired men got together and formed a committee that will pick up used appliances, clean and repair them, then give them to needy people in the community. They fix furniture for the same reason.

I’ve shared that my church provides a free meal every month for the community. There are several people in this tiny fellowship who organize, cook, serve, and clean up month after month for about 100 people who enjoy a hot meal with all the fixins.

Some people are called by God to teach Sunday School, work in the nursery, mow the church lawn, cook, clean, sing, work with Youth groups, give financially.

And when these people follow God’s lead, great things can happen for our churches in Jesus’ name.

Do you feel God’s call to some ministry in your church? Don’t depend on someone else to obey your call. Step right up and say, “Let me do that!”