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Showing posts from March, 2012

When God Has Complete Possession

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When everything was completed and all the instructions had been given, Moses and the Hebrew people gathered to experience God.

Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34, 35, NIV).

God was pleased. The presence of His glory was proof of that, a glory so evident that there was room for nothing and for no one else.

So it is when God’s glory fills our lives. There is room for nothing and for no one else when God has complete possession.

Do What You Do Do Well

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"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, NIV).

The instructions have been given and now the work begins. Moses sends out the call for everyone to contribute whatever he can to the construction of the Tabernacle that will become the place of meeting with God. Those who can give are to do so (Exodus 35:4, 5). Those who can do are to do (35:10). There were some like Bezalel and Oholiab who were especially skilled, but no one was exempt from service simply because they were just "ordinarily" gifted.

The lesson is simple—we all have a contribution to make to the "common good" of the body. Whether that contribution be big or small it's still necessary. What if someone hadn't bothered to make those …

Much Better Than Oil of Olay

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"When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord" (Exodus 34:29, NIV).

I'm pea-green with envy. I don't think there has ever been a time in my life when people couldn't look at my face because the presence of God was reflected on it.

I wish. I want. I desire. I covet.

Moses had spoken with God. My speaking with God leaves a lot to be desired. I get sidetracked, distracted. I don't approach Him as He deserves to be approached—the worship isn't always there. Sometimes the submission is lacking, the confession scant, the shopping list preeminent.

Maybe I don't listen enough to hear His voice. Perhaps I don't stop long enough with Him to let His beauty settle on my face.

So it's not just wishing, wanting, desiring, coveting. Being green doesn't cut it. It's "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10, NIV…

Can't Live With Him, Can't Live Without Him

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After the incident of the Golden Calf (Genesis 32), a repentant Israel is distressed to learn that God has said that He will no longer accompany them on their journey to the Promised Land (33:5).

Typical of the human race, even the believing part of it, we have a hard time living under Him, but we know we can't live without Him.

Moses, as was his custom, met with God in a tent outside the camp. The presence of God was visible to all as the cloud towered over the place where the Almighty met with the not-so-mighty human. While the meeting took place it is written that: "whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance of his tent" (Exodus 33:10, NIV).

Moses, privileged to speak to God as face to face as it was possible for any man, pleaded on behalf of the people. There was a hard journey ahead and God was testing the resolve of the man who would lead this rebellious nation-in-the-making.…

When Clothes Should Say Something About the Man

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This was one case where the clothes did make the man—or at least were meant to remind the man of who he was.

The symbolism of the Jewish faith is rich in reminders and Exodus 28 is one huge illustration that is worthy of consideration even in this modern era.

The chapter describes the clothing that the high priest was to wear when he presented himself before God on behalf of the people.

The first thing I note is: "Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron, to give him dignity and honor" (28:2, NIV).

He was to feel different and the people were to see him as different as he assumed his role as mediator between God and his fellow Israelites.

Then: "Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel…and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones…Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the Lord." (28:9-12, NIV).

When Aaron presented himself before the Lord he was never to forget who he was repres…

Burn, Baby, Burn

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As I read the passage for today in my journey through Exodus I came across these verses: "Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come" (Exodus 27:20, 21, NIV).

1 Samuel 3:3 describes the boy Samuel, lying beside the altar during the night. He was probably tending the lamps when God called him. The lamps were an eternal symbol of the presence of God among His people. God was always on duty, as it seems at least one person was to be.

The picture reminded me that, as believers, we need to be always ready, day and night, to reflect the light of God in a dark world. This old hymn well expresses our mission:

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy,

From His lighthous…

The Blessing of a Generous Heart

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There was a commercial on television a while back that pictured people running around with their hands in the pockets of other people. I can’t remember what the commercial was trying to sell but the image returned to me this morning as I read Exodus 25. There are some who accuse the church of always having its hand out looking for money (which I guess is one notch better than having it in the pockets of the congregation). It was this perception that caused us as missionaries to be extremely careful how we handled teaching about tithing and taking up an offering for the ongoing ministry of the church. Here in Exodus 25 we find Moses receiving instructions from God about the building of the tabernacle, including how to collect the materials from which it would be built. He said: “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give” (25:2, NIV). There is plenty of teaching in the Scriptures about tithing but her…

Presumption

“When the cat’s away…” Remember that old adage? Exodus 24 is a short chapter and seemingly not terribly significant considering all the tremendous events that take place around it. Huddled between the giving of the Ten Commandments and the description of how the Tabernacle was to be built and furnished, Exodus 24 feels like one of those comic relief moments that break the tension in a book or movie. Except that it’s not funny. It’s a little sad actually. The chapter begins with God instructing Moses to come up the mountain. He is to take Aaron, seventy of the elders of Israel and two priests, Nadab and Abihu, to the foot of Sinai with him. They must stay at the bottom while Moses goes up to talk to the Lord. The people are to stay back. “When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, ‘Everything the Lord has says we will do.’” (24:3, NIV). The next morning Moses offers sacrifices to the Lord and read the record of the covenant that God had …

Just Some Friendly Advice

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Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning’” (Exodus 20:20, NIV). Bit of a contradiction, isn’t it? Don’t be afraid, but be afraid? From the foot of Mount Sinai, the light show was terrific—and terrifying. The sound rolled over the Hebrews like a shock wave. The top of the mountain was enveloped in smoke that hovered ominously overhead. To coin a phrase, they were “scared spitless” (20:18). They had been warned to stay away from the foot of the mountain—a warning that they had no problem paying heed to! If this was only the overture, and God was about to speak, they were afraid of what the sound of His voice might produce. “You deliver the message, Moses, because if God speaks to us directly we’re all dead men” (20:19, my translation). Moses’ statement in verse 20 was both a promise and a warning. The Hebrews did not have to fear the fist of God meting out judgment. This display of might was not …

Approaching God—Yesterday and Tomorrow

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The last book of the Bible, Revelation, describes in part at least, future things. Much of that prophecy shows us a redeemed people worshiping Almighty God. They do and will continue to recognize His holiness and do as is announced in Revelation 4:8, 9 (NIV): “Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne…” Then, as I look back at Exodus 19, I see a similar scene. A holy God has made His throne the top of Mount Sinai. The people are instructed to approach Him in a way that recognizes His holiness. “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that…

Jethro: Pre-Church Growth Specialist

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Last night I had a meeting with our ladies’ committee. We were planning a couple of upcoming events for the women of our church and the community. It’s a lot of work and if I had to do it myself…well, I probably wouldn’t. Our combined gifts and personalities make the improbable possible. In Exodus 18, Moses’ father-in-law confronts Moses about trying to do everything by himself. The issue wasn’t so much the workload that Moses was carrying but the responsibility that he had assumed that wasn’t his. People came to Moses to “seek God’s will” and to have Moses settle their disputes (18:15, 16, NIV). Jethro then gave his son-in-law some good advice: “You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform” (18:19, 20, NIV). The primary task of a spiritual leader is not to make decisions FOR people, but to teach them how to make good decisions for themselves. This is …

With Hands Lifted Up

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What might have happened if…? “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset” (Exodus 17:11-13, NIV). What might have happened if Moses, as leader, hadn’t bothered to go up on that hill to intercede for Joshua and the troops who were facing the army of the Amalekites? What might have happened if Aaron and Hur had not been with Moses to help him continue to intercede through a long, tiring day? It’s not such a leap, in fact no leap at all, to equate this story to the church today. As we lose the battle for holiness, for victory over the world that has invaded the church, we can ask ourselves who’s interceding on behalf of that church? Leaders? Laymen? Moses talked to the Lord privately a lot. He is described as Go…

Stand Firm. Stay Calm. Keep Moving.

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Is your back against the wall? No place to run? Take a tip from Israel’s experience in Exodus 14. They’ve escaped Egypt, but Pharaoh has changed his mind and is pursuing them, intent on bringing them back. It finally clicked that he had just allowed his whole labour force to walk out on him. Though the King of Egypt didn’t know it, his decision was divinely orchestrated (14:4) so that both Egypt and Israel would know Who was the LORD. Moses knew that and we assume he passed that information on to the people. However, the sight of the Egyptian army barreling down on them drove the implication of God’s promise from their minds. They panicked (14:10-12). Funny what fear does to us. The Hebrews were ready to bolt, to surrender, to throw a fit. “Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you to day. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” —Exodus 14:13, 14, …

Going the Long Way Around

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I could use a pillar of fire or a cloud of smoke. It’s not that I’m making some huge, life-changing decision to go somewhere or do something. It’s just that I’d like to know that the direction I am going in is the right one—especially on those days when I'm not so sure. Have you ever had times like that? The vision gets clouded, the path gets cluttered, the journey seems more circular (a.k.a. running around in circles) than anything else. Genesis 13 describes the beginning of the journey the Hebrews embarked upon as God took them out of Egypt. They began by marking the day with a ceremony that they were to observe for the rest of time—a means of remembering all that God had done, and a jumping off point in the lessons they were to teach their children about God (13:1-16). The chapter ends with this: “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither…