Leviticus Bible Study

Life Found Through Obedience

I had an interesting conversation with a friend this morning about how her son broke a rule, got into danger, and had to be rescued.  It wasn’t that she had set the rule in order to reduce his fun, it was to keep him safe.  Another example she gave was a time when she had warned him not to play with a toy a certain way or else it would break.  He didn’t listen and his toy broke.  Again, the caution wasn’t given so that he wouldn’t have fun, it was so that he could enjoy the toy for longer.

I know that I have thought, “Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t I?” My friends are out drinking, partying, and staying out past curfew with no consequences.  Why shouldn’t I be able to do that too?

In talking to people about God and the Bible, I always find it interesting when they say that they would have to stop doing things they enjoy in order to be a Christian.  I agree, some habits and pleasures of this world do need to be changed. Yes, sometimes those things carry an appeal that we don’t want to give up or are challenging to give up.  But I do believe that everything God says has a purpose.  Every rule or caution was meant to keep us safe, not take away our fun.

If I think about some of the top temptations of this world and where they ultimately lead, whether it is visible to the world or not, is shame, guilt, and brokenness (both of the self and relationships). In each case, we elevate whatever the need is that causes us to sin, above God and his provision.  I know I’ve said it before, but when his timing or provision doesn’t come the way we want it, we tend to seek it from someone or something else.  This is idolatry.

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As we get into the portion of the Bible where God starts laying down some rules and going into the steps towards purification, it may seem like he is taking away their fun and being too strict.  But again, God has a purpose in every word and law he says.  He wants us to live in freedom and abundance through him, not the fake and instant gratification that the world gives.

Keep that in mind as you ready on.

S – Scripture: Leviticus 16-18

  • 16:8-10 – “He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the LORD and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the LORD. The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the LORD. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the LORD.”
  • 16:17 – “No one else is allowed inside the Tabernacle when Aaron enters it for the purification ceremony in the Most Holy Place. No one may enter until he comes out again after purifying himself, his family, and all the congregation of Israel, making them right with the LORD.”
  • 16:22 – “As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land.”
  • 16:29-30 – “On the tenth day of the appointed month in early autumn, you must deny yourselves. Neither native-born Israelites nor foreigners living among you may do any kind of work. This is a permanent law for you. On that day offerings of purification will be made for you, and you will be purified in the LORD’s presence from all your sins.”
  • 17:3-4 – “If any native Israelite sacrifices a bull or a lamb or a goat anywhere inside or outside the camp instead of bringing it to the entrance of the Tabernacle to present it as an offering to the LORD, that person will be as guilty as a murderer. Such a person has shed blood and will be cut off from the community.”
  • 17:11 – “for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.”
  • 18:3-5 – “So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the LORD your God. If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the LORD.”
  • 18:27-28 – “All these detestable activities are practiced by the people of the land where I am taking you, and this is how the land has become defiled. So do not defile the land and give it a reason to vomit you out, as it will vomit out the people who live there now.”

O – Observation:

  • The Purification Ceremony which took place once per year, involved two goats.  One was sacrificed as a sin offering and the other carried the sins of the people away into the wilderness. This goat was called the Scapegoat.
  • No one could enter the Tabernacle while Aaron was in the Most Holy Place, purifying the people of their sins.
  • A complete Sabbath was to be observed on the day of the Purification Ceremony.  No work could be done by anyone.
  • Sacrifices could only be done at the Tabernacle or else the person was as guilty as a murderer. It had to be done near the presence of the Lord. In this way, the animal and the act of sacrificial offerings would be respected.  The blood is what gives life to the animal.  It’s death, and the pouring out of it’s life blood, gives the person a new and clean life.
  • The Israelites were to live differently than the Egyptians (where they came from) and the Canaanites (where they were going). God’s commands had a purpose, and if followed completely, would give life, not restrict it.
  • All forms of sexual immorality were spoken against.  The Israelites were required to stay pure in their marriages and relationships.

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A – Application:

I love the line in Leviticus, “If you follow my commands and decrees, you will find life through them.” In moments of rebellion, when I decided that God’s “abundant” life wasn’t abundant enough for me, I ended up finding myself in a place that I never wanted.  What I thought was going to be life-giving ended up being destructive to myself and many relationships. It was in those times that I saw how false the world’s pleasures truly were.  Sometimes it’s hard to not give in, or to think that a little won’t hurt. That little bit has a way of taking over, doesn’t it?

So what does God’s abundant life look like? How is it better than the world’s life? What are the challenges that go along with it?

1. It won’t be easy. We will have pain and sorrow just like the rest of the world. Jesus even warns us in John 16:33, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

It’s going to be tough living in this world.  It’s full of darkness and depravity. Jesus came to give hope for a better future, one that doesn’t include all of the crap that we experience on Earth. Which leads me to my next point:

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2. Delayed gratification vs. instant gratification. Our abundance may not look like the world’s or even be in this world.  God does have special and specific ways to bless us on earth especially when we are good stewards of what we have a share it with others. He does promise to provide all that we need when we need it.  It’s amazing to trust him in this! The trick is to be patient and expectant. It doesn’t always come in the time we think we need it or the way we expect it.  But it comes nonetheless and at just the perfect time.

Our greatest gift and provision, however, comes after we leave this world and go to Heaven.  Talk about delayed gratification! No matter what our circumstances bring us to here, we can cling to the hope of an everlasting future with God in his Paradise.

3. We will have to say “no” to many things this world offers and may lose friends in the process.  People won’t understand why even if we try to explain it. I’ve had people say that I’ll miss out or I’m a party-pooper because I won’t drink or be frivolous with my money, or whatever.  In reality, I may be missing out on some aspects of it, but I won’t have a hangover the next morning or a go into debt.  I’ll have good health and money. I may also go and find friends who are okay with not doing this things as well and find other forms of enjoying life. I count that as more of a win for me. (I have done both of these things so I’m not trying to be self-righteous here, they are just two examples).

4. The more we try to live in this world but not of it, the more Satan will attempt to pull us away.  I’ve heard it said that a lukewarm Christian is exactly what the Devil wants because they aren’t a threat to his kingdom.  A Christian on fire for God and living differently, sometimes pointing others to Christ, can be catastrophic towards his plans. The temptations may become greater and more often to test our faith in God. It’s in these times that we must rely on God’s Word and his people for support.

5. We are nourished through God’s powerful words and his Spirit working in us. We are blessed when we bless others.

“But Jesus told him, ‘No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4 (Jesus is speaking to Satan after being in the desert for 40 days and nights with no food and water.)

The things of this world won’t satisfy our deepest needs and desires.  We live and thrive by God’s Word because it teaches us to trust our Creator to provide everything we need.  It helps us learn his voice and follow him more readily. It fills us with a hope and love that last. By sharing this with others, God has more avenues to work and create good change. I want to be a part of that!

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Living God’s way isn’t easy.  It still comes with challenges. But the return is worth it. It may not feel like it at the time and it may seem like you are missing out.  Really what you are missing out is the shame, guilt, and brokenness that follows the ways of the world. God’s way is light, free, and guiltless. God is not the taker-away of fun, but the giver of abundant life!

What will you choose? What do you need to give up in this world to follow God and his abundant life?

Here are some other verses I found that go along with Leviticus:

“Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:3-5

“But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13

“And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, ‘Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.'” Matthew 26:27-28

“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time–to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.” 2 Timothy 1:9-10

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV

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P – Prayer:

God, I admit that sometimes it’s hard to wait on you for the things I think I need or want.  Thank you for your Word.  That in times I feel weak or without, it fills me.  Thank you for your Spirit that counsels me and speaks for me when I’m not praying for the right things even though my heart ultimately longs for you. God, I want your abundant life, not what the world offers.  Whenever I’ve tried the world’s way it’s only ended in pain.  When my hope and trust is in you I feel fully alive, even if times are hard. You are so good.

I pray for those reading who have been living in the ways of this world, trying to fulfill some need.  God, I pray that you would give them the strength to break that chain.  Begin to heal the wounds and provide what they really need.  You are all that we need God.  Thank you! Amen.

Leviticus Bible Study

Renewing Waters

I was eleven years old and I remember going to my dad in the living room and telling him that I wanted to be Baptized. What brought that on I can’t be sure of, but I know that the decision was mine. On February 22, 1998, my dad dunked me underwater and pulled me back up.  He then went on to Baptize my sister that same day.

I’m not sure how I felt in the moment (I can’t remember), or if I really understood the gravity of what I had just done. I was still pretty innocent of many things then. But I trust that I had established the basics of it. As I get older, I realize how important that day is in reminding me that I have been washed clean of all of my past, present, and future sins. On days that I feel ashamed because I screwed up, I recall that day. The realness of redemption and newness brings me to my knees. I can come to my Heavenly Father, dirty and messy, and be forgiven, washed clean again.

This story will make sense in a little bit.

S – Scripture: Leviticus 14-15

  • 14:7 – “The priest will then sprinkle the blood of the dead bird seven times on the person being purified of the skin disease. When the priest has purified the person, he will release the live bird in the open field to fly away.”
  • 14:17-18 – “The priest will then apply some of the oil in his palm over the blood from the guilt offering that is on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified. The priest will apply the oil remaining in his hand to the head of the person being purified. Through this process, the priest will purify the person before the LORD.”
  • 14:33-34 – “Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘When you arrive in Canaan, the land I am giving you as your own possession, I may contaminate some of the houses in your land with mildew.'”
  • 14:50-53 – “He will slaughter one of the birds over a clay pot filled with fresh water. He will take the cedar stick, the hyssop branch, the scarlet yarn, and the live bird, and dip them into the blood of the slaughtered bird and into the fresh water. Then he will sprinkle the house seven times. When the priest has purified the house in exactly this way, he will release the live bird in the open fields outside the town. Through this process, the priest will purify the house, and it will be ceremonially clean.”
  • 15:31 – “This is how you will guard the people of Israel from ceremonial uncleanness. Otherwise they would die, for their impurity would defile my Tabernacle that stands among them.”

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O – Observation:

  • Extensive ceremonies for the purification of skin disorders, discharges, and mildew found in a home had to be followed.
  • The live bird was dipped in the blood of the sacrificial bird, then immediately into the clean, fresh water. It was then let go, as if to take away to uncleanliness of the person.
  • Blood from the dead bird was placed on the earlobe, thumb, and big toe of the person, just like in the purification of the priests.  Oil was applied to the same places after.
  • Anything or anyone an “unclean” person touched became unclean as well. Everything needed to be washed in order to become pure again.
  • God said that he would contaminate some of the houses. He would choose which ones and how badly.  Some of the houses would be able to be repaired, while others would need to be torn down.
  • If the Israelites did not purify themselves and their homes, they would die.  Their uncleanliness could not come in contact with God.

A – Application:

Sometimes sections of the Bible like this are hard to get anything out of.  Also, I don’t really want to read about oozing skin disorders and discharges.  It’s gross!

But as I pondered what God was really trying to say here, I was led to verses on Baptism and being washed clean so that we could be near to God.  I was reminded of Jesus’ journey through death and then being raised to new life. This is my interpretation that the two doves brought as a sacrifice for the purification of a skin disorder is another foreshadowing of God’s ultimate plan for us.

Let’s play this out: One was sacrificed and it’s blood poured out.  This is a symbol of Jesus’ death.  The second dove was dipped into the blood and then into water, being purified of the blood and death, and then set free.  With Jesus being raised from the dead, he conquered death and carried our sins away.

The second dove could also represent us.  We come to God dirty, disheveled, and burdened from our sin. As we are raised out of the water in Baptism, we are freed, purified, and new. Baptism is a beautiful outward expression of our hearts being washed clean and made new by a belief in Jesus sacrifice.

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“Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.” Romans 6:3-8

“Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.” Hebrews 9:13-14

You are not too far gone. You are not too bad, screwed up, or messy for God.  You don’t need to get in shape before going to the gym here. He loved us before we knew him, while we were living in sin! He desires to be with us so much more so he made a way to make it so. God wants you to live in freedom, not in the chains of your sin or the consequences of making bad decisions.

How would your life be different if you lived in the newness that God can offer? What would your life look like? What habits would you break, relationships you would build, or choices you would make?

I encourage you, if you haven’t been Baptized, start praying about it and studying it.  It could make the confirmation of being made new and washed clean real to you. If you have questions, please reach out! I’d love to hear from you.

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P – Prayer:

Will you pray Psalm 51 with me?

“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner–yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me–now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Amen.

 

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #47 - Renewing Waters

Leviticus Bible Study

That I Might Be Your God

Dan and I went hiking when we were in Hawaii back in August. We set out in late morning on the trail with excitement and energy.  As we continued, the mountain got steeper and steeper.  We kept thinking we were almost there but the trail just kept going up. The sights were magnificent, but we were losing steam.

Then, the stairs came! WHAT? STAIRS? On a mountain? Yes, it was the 400 stair glute-kicker at the end. Our energy and good attitudes were severely waning. As we passed people on their way down they offered encouragement, that it was all worth it.  We were so ready to be there.

Then, we made it and it WAS worth it.  As soon as we caught our breath we looked around and saw God’s beauty for miles.  His blue waters and lush mountains.  His wispy clouds at eye level. I couldn’t take enough of it in, it was so amazing.

The climb up was tough (even being in relatively good shape).  We wanted to give up a few times. If we had, we would have missed the awe of God’s creation atop that mountain.  As we made the trek down, we offered the same encouragement that we had received.  We didn’t want others to miss out on the blessing at the top.

This happens in other life situations, don’t you think?  Difficult situations arise that force us to push through (usually blindly and grasping for some sense of control) with the hope of experiencing normalcy, or goodness, or greater wisdom at the end.  It usually isn’t an easy journey, but you make it, and reap the blessings of perseverance and hope.

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We see this with the Israelites in many cases, but specifically in these next chapters.

S – Scripture: Leviticus 11-13

  • Chapter 11 – clean and unclean foods
  • 11:45 – “For I, the LORD, am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. Therefore, you must be holy because I am holy.” 
  • Chapter 12 – the purification process for women after giving birth
  • Chapter 13 – how to deal with skin disorders and diseases

Observation:

  • God saved the Israelites so that they would be HIS people.
  • It was only by his hand and power that freedom from slavery came to Abraham’s descendants.
  • God is holy, therefore his people must be holy.
    • The instructions and laws were established for that purpose.
  • God is still creating a holy people today.  Even with Jesus sacrifice, that cleanses us from all unrighteousness, we need to choose to stay away from corrupt things in this world. What we allow our eyes to see and ears to hear affects our belief and worship of God.

Application:

When I sat and pondered these passages, I felt God saying:

“For I, the LORD, am the one who brought you up from _______________, that I might be your God. Therefore, you must be holy because I am holy.”

Each of us has our own answer for the fill-in-the-blank.  Typically, it’s only in hindsight that we can fully know. I see it throughout my life, times that God brought me through something for a specific purpose.

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He carried me through the rejection of a person close to me so that I would seek him first in relationships, know his unconditional love for me, and set boundaries and expectations for what true companionship. It was soon after that I met my future husband.  Further, the lessons I learned carried over into this new relationship and built it to last.

God guided me through a knee surgery that took me out of the sports that I loved. Those, at the time, were a huge part of my identity.  But because of the Physical Therapy I went through, I chose to go into Personal Training and help others heal through exercise.  What seemed like a setback ended up being one of the greatest trajectory changes in my life.

By his grace, God lovingly and gently pieced me back together after the tragedy of miscarriage. This was the longest and toughest journey I had been on.  Even though things haven’t completely fallen into place on how I can use my experience to bring God glory, I am starting to see future opportunities.

In each situation, I can hear God saying, “I brought you out of this so that I would be your God. It was by my hand that I carried you out and guided you through so that you could experience me and grow closer to me. You are becoming more like me with each trial you go through. The things you learn and unlearn are all preparing you for the great purpose that I have for you.”

When I look back at all that he has brought me through and how he really has worked everything out for a good purpose, I desire to holy. I want to shed off all that hinders me from being the closest that I can to God. I could never do enough to repay him for all that he has done, or do more righteous things to gain holiness. The great thing is, is that I don’t need to.  He’s given that as a free gift.  But I do want to honor him and spread his glory by how I live. I won’t be perfect, but I don’t need to be that either.

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“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes–these are not for you.” Ephesians 1-4

What has God brought you through? How has he brought good out of terrible situations in your life? Do you believe that he carried you through those for a specific purpose? Are you honoring all that God has done for you with your words and actions?

Take some time and reflect on all that God has brought you through and how you can now honor him with you life because of it. I’m not saying it’s easy, and it might bring up more questions, but God can handle it.  Work through it with him.

Another post to check out is this: Already Victorious.

P – Prayer:

God, even though going through those trials was not my favorite time, I’m so thankful that you made something good come out of them.  I can see clearly how you carried me and worked it all out.  There are things now that I’m waiting to see how you can use them for good. Guide and direct my path to the people and resource I need to bring you glory out of the new wisdom I’ve gained from my experiences.

It’s a hard thing to wrestle with you about why certain things happen.  God, I pray your mercy and guidance for those who are fighting for answers today.  Be near them. Let them feel your presence and know that you have them and will carry them through.  Thank you, Father. Amen.

 

 

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #46 - That I Might Be Your God

Leviticus Bible Study

God’s Righteous Anger

I know I’ve mentioned my time at a Vacation Bible School in Alpena, MI before.  There were crafts, games, lessons, and singing.  One of the most memorable lessons was on how God bridged the gap that sin caused between himself and his creation.  It looked something like this.

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I grew older, sinned more, and experienced the world and all of its depravity in greater capacities. As I come back to this simple drawing, I am amazed at its complexity and significance. It shows, even more, of the greatness of God’s love for me and the rest of his creation.

In the next chapters of Leviticus, we see God’s great wrath poured out on those who breaks his command.  It’s a tough read.  But it brings up some questions that we all need to wrestle with.  One being, how can God be so loving and so angry at the same time?

S – Scripture: Leviticus 8-10

  • 8:24 – “Next Moses presented Aaron’s sons and applied some of the blood to the lobes of their right ears, the thumbs of their right hands, and the big toes of their right feet. He then splattered the rest of the blood against all sides of the altar.”
  • 8:34-36 – “‘Everything we have done today was commanded by the LORD in order to purify you, making you right with him. Now stay at the entrance of the Tabernacle day and night for seven days, and do everything the LORD requires. If you fail to do this, you will die, for this is what the LORD has commanded.’ So Aaron and his sons did everything the LORD had commanded through Moses.”
  • 9:6-7 – “And Moses said, ‘This is what the LORD has commanded you to do so that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.’ Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Come to the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering to purify yourself and the people. Then present the offerings of the people to purify them, making them right with the LORD, just as he has commanded.'”
  • 9:23-24 – “Then Moses and Aaron went into the Tabernacle, and when they came back out, they blessed the people again, and the glory of the LORD appeared to the whole community. Fire blazed forth from the LORD’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.”
  • 10:1-3 – “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the LORD by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. So fire blazed forth from the LORD’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the LORD meant when he said, ‘I will display my holiness through those who come near me. I will display my glory before all the people.’ And Aaron was silent.”
  • 10:19-20 – “Then Aaron answered Moses, ‘Today my sons presented both their sin offering and their burnt offering to the LORD. And yet this tragedy has happened to me. If I had eaten the people’s sin offering on such a tragic day as this, would the LORD have been pleased?’ And when Moses heard this, he was satisfied.”

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O – Observation:

  • As the blood of the sacrificial animal was placed on the ears, hands, and feet, I am reminded of how we are to listen and hear God’s promptings on how we can serve others. We are the hands and feet of Jesus.
  • The rules and laws that God commanded needed to be followed perfectly.  In many cases, like with Aaron’s sons, death was the outcome of the slightest disobedience.
  • God would only show his presence after the offerings were made.  He would rain down in a fire of glory and consume the sacrifice.  The people were in awe and rejoiced in worship.
  • What happened to Nadab and Abihu is an example of God’s glory and anger for those who commit sins against him.  This shows how those closest to God (who come into his presence) cannot be tainted by sin.  The wage for our sin is death. Praise God for Jesus!
  • Aaron’s heart was broken for the loss of his sons. Maybe he was angry with God and needed to mourn.  Eating a blessing from God was possibly to much for him to handle. Or, maybe he felt that their sin was his fault. Those are just my opinions, trying to read between the lines.

A – Application:

It’s hard to read about God’s terrible wrath on Nadab and Abihu because of the slightest disobedience. His commands needed to be followed perfectly from the greatest to the smallest detail. His anger here is so real and terrifying. I shutter to think if that system were still in place today.  I wouldn’t make it, for sure.

How do we reconcile this loving and amazing Father with an angry and powerful God?  How can he be just and merciful at the same time? These are tough questions that I’ve had to wrestle with.

To start, let’s look back at the Garden, how God intended the world to be.

Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.’ So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.’ Then God said, ‘Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground–everything that has life.’ And that is what happened. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.”  Genesis 2:26-31

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When I stop and think of how there was nothing, just God’s Spirit hovering over some water, and then there were mountains, oceans, stars, land, animals, and humans, I can’t help but be in awe. We see God’s creativity, power, and mastery in the making of this world and all that is in it. Humans were created in God’s own image, to be in perfect community with him, and live without shame and fear. He was everything to Adam and Eve, and provided all that they needed. As I imagine a world like that, I find myself deeply longing for it.  We all do, because that is how it’s supposed to be.

Then,

“‘You won’t die!’ the serpent replied to the woman. ‘God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.’ The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it…So the LORD God banished them from the Garden of Eden.” Genesis 3:4-6, 23

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles…They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.” Romans 1:21-23, 25

It happened in the Garden with the Serpent and Eve, in Jesus day, and now.  Sin entered the world and we lost the perfect union with God.  Doubt of who God is and all that he can do when his timing doesn’t match up with ours, corrupts our thoughts. When we think he may be holding out on us, it begins to change our belief in his plan and purpose for us.  We start to believe that he has forgotten our hopes and desires. Then, we try to add to our lives by our own strength.  Our worship turns to ourselves, our power and provision.  This, for one, is idolatry and can lead to a multitude of other sins.

Soon, we find ourselves separated from God. You see, his righteous anger comes from the fact that he is divine and we no longer are because of sin.  We have lost the righteousness that he desired us to always have and to live the life that he wanted for us without sorrow, shame, and pain.  He is angry because this isn’t how it was supposed to be and the ones he created and loves are choosing to live a different life than he would have for them.

He has to be just because he is righteous.  But then, his love.  Oh, his amazing love for us.

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“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned…But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.” Romans 5:8-12, 15-16

Amen and praise God! Isn’t that beautiful! And just like that, when we believe that God did all of this for us, we are brought back into a relationship with him.  We are placed in the Garden forever, where shame and sorrow cannot follow. We are made new and set free.  I pray that you find that today.

God’s anger and wrath are real.  The price for our sin is death. But because of his even greater love for us, he saved us. It wasn’t when we followed the rules perfectly, that he saved us either. It was when we were at our worst and darkest. I find so much comfort in that.

This isn’t an easy concept to reconcile or understand. It might be challenging for you and for others that you come in contact with.  I still wrestle with it.  But that’s okay! If you still have questions, seek God’s answers. Get in the Bible, pray, speak to a mentor. Find the truth.  In the process, I know God will bring you closer to himself.

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P – Prayer:

God, sometimes you are hard to comprehend.  I can’t imagine all that you are.  These glimpses into your anger, wrath, and justice are difficult to unpack. But I thank you that your love is greater.  I thank you that you can and paid the penalty for my sin so that I could come back to perfect communion with you for eternity.  God, I want that for others.  I want them to experience your grace.  Help me to share that with those around me.  Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #45 - God's Righteous Anger

 

Leviticus Bible Study

Light to Your Darkness

One of the many interesting things that Dan and I have noticed since moving back to northern Michigan is how dark it is.  If you step outside you can see a multitude of stars, unhindered by light pollution from a city. Feeling the breeze, smelling the fresh air, and gazing at the vast sky puts me at peace.

Even though this may remind me of how small I am, the greater realization is that God is even bigger.  He created light to pierce through the darkest night and shine throughout the day. God also sent his son as a Light to the World. And like driving out, away from the noise and distraction of the city, we experience God when we get quiet before him.

As we continue in Leviticus, we see astounding parallels between the Old Testament traditions and the New Testament promise.

S – Scripture: Leviticus 5-7

  • 5:5-6 – “When you become aware of your guilt in any of these ways, you must confess your sin. Then you must bring to the LORD as the penalty for your sin a female from the flock, either a sheep or a goat. This is a sin offering with which the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the LORD.”
  • 5:11 – “If you cannot afford to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons, you may bring two quarts of choice flour for your sin offering.”
  • 6:12-12 – “Meanwhile, the fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must never go out. Each morning the priest will add fresh wood to the fire and arrange the burnt offering on it. He will then burn the fat of the peace offerings on it. Remember, the fire must be kept burning on the altar at all times. It must never go out.”

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O – Observation:

  • Realization, confession, and payment of the penalty (offering) was the progression towards the forgiveness of sin.
  • The Israelites could offer what they had as a sin offering.  It wasn’t necessarily about the type of offering, but the heart of the offerer.
  • The fire on the alter, for the different types of offerings, had to be kept going all day and night.  It was never to be allowed to go out.

A – Application:

I usually have to get up in the middle of the night and fumble around to get where I need to go.  My eyes are heavy with sleep and I have to reach out my hand to feel where the doors and walls are.  Sometimes I get a little afraid of what could be in the corner or my closet. Often, I’ve banged into something, giving out a painful yelp.

Then, I get to the little hallway with a window and a glimmer of light shines through. I take a breath and make it to my destination with more ease.

Have you ever felt like this when stuck in a sin? Maybe when you initially got into whatever habit it is and it fulfilled some perceived need for a time.  It was satisfying or pleasurable, even, at the start.  The “secret-keeping” part may have had a certain appeal as well. I’ve been there.

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Then, something shifted.  It became consuming and too much to keep up.  You start to feel like you are fumbling around in the dark, burdened with guilt and shame. You fear the consequences of what would happen if you brought it into the light and the people you would hurt.  I’ve been here too.

You see, keeping things in the dark is exactly where Satan wants you to be.  He wants you to feel like you have to stay there because it keeps you away from God, which is his whole mission.  His burden is guilt, shame, hopelessness, aloneness, and desperation.

Then, you do confess it to someone, maybe God.  It’s brought into the light, or to the Light, you could say.  You cut the distractions, the voices, the pain, and you surrender to God all of your baggage.  You just dump your dirty laundry at the foot of the cross. And you know what you experience?  Pure grace.  It’s not judgement or condemnation.  It’s grace driven by an unconditional love of a Father.

If you are trapped in sin, your first move is bringing it to the Light.  It’s confessing to God and the people in your life that have been affected by your sin.  Yes, there will be consequences that you probably will have to deal with.  However, your ETERNITY is forever changed!  And how you accept God’s grace and start a new life in him, will be a testimony to help others who are dealing with the same sin you had.  Your victory will be someone else’s HOPE and LIGHT.  Someone out there needs your story.  They need to you fight and overcome your temptations and sin.

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Here are some additional verses.  Write one out that speaks to you and keep it in sight this week.  Take action on the burden of sin in your life this week.  Bring it to the light, no matter how hard it may be.  You will have eternal grace in God and he will help you sort through the consequences.  Trust him in that.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16

“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

“The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:9

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.'” John 8:12

P – Prayer:

God, thank you for your unconditional love and grace. Thank you for accepting us while we were still sinners.  We don’t have to be perfect and sinless to come before you.  You want us to come with our burden and give it all up to you.

God, I pray for those who are struggling with some deeply rooted sins.  The burden must be so heavy.  May they come to you this week and know your grace when they confess and believe.  I pray that hearts and lives are changed because of your Good News.  thank you for sending us your Light. Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #44 - Light to Your Darkness

Leviticus Bible Study

Salt of the Earth

Clean. Pure. Spotless. Washed.

How do you feel when you read those words?  What emotions come to mind? For some, this is a longing.  A desperation to wipe away all of the bad things we have done or the hurt we have caused.  Our decisions have been destructive and we have found ourselves in a place we don’t want to be, questioning who we’ve become. For Christians, these words give hope and show how much we are loved. The sins of our past, present, and future are cast off of us like dirty rags.

Don’t we have such Good News?

As we begin our study of Leviticus, we continue to see God’s novel unfold.  Between the lines of all of the detailed descriptions of the sacrifices and offerings, we see God’s beautiful redemptive work taking form.  Despite what you may be thinking, these chapters have great news for us, and an even greater call to action.

S – Scripture: Leviticus 1-4

  • 1:4 – “Lay your hand on the animal’s head, and the LORD will accept its death in your place to purify you, making you right with him.”
  • 1:9 – “But the internal organs and the legs must first be washed with water. Then the priest will burn the entire sacrifice on the altar as a burnt offering. It is a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the LORD.”
  • 2:13 – “Season all your grain offerings with salt to remind you of God’s eternal covenant. Never forget to add salt to your grain offerings.”
  • 3:14 – “The priest must present part of this offering as a special gift to the LORD. This includes all the fat around the internal organs.”

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O – Observation:

  • A transfer of sin had to be made from person to animal. By laying a hand on the animal’s head and then slaughtered, the sin was removed.
  • Blood had to be shed from the forgiveness of sin. It was the only way to be found right with God back then.
  • The organs of the animal needed to be washed clean before being offered to God as a sacrifice.
  • Salt was used as a reminder of God’s eternal covenant.
  • All of the fat off the animal was presented to God. It was a “pleasing aroma” to him.

A – Application:

“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:5-7

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me–now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me… You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalm 51:7-10,16-17

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.” Matthew 5:13

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:15

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I know that I keep saying it, but I just love how the Old Testament/Covenant foreshadows the New.  It’s such a beautiful story to me.  Everything that God asked the Israelites to do had a specific purpose for that time.  Then, Jesus fulfilled the greater purpose of those rituals, festivals, and sacrifices. Now our hearts have been washed clean, we are the salt of the earth, and a pleasing aroma to God.

Though we don’t have to do any more to get ourselves into Heaven, we do have a mission on earth.  We serve God out of grateful hearts because of what he has done for us.  In this way, more people have the opportunity to experience all that God has for them too.

This may sound like a weird question, but how salty are to the earth?  Do those around you recognize that there is something different about you?  Do they see God through you?  You have potent Good News to share, are you sharing it?

I have to admit, that I’m probably not doing the best job at this.  As much as I enjoy writing about the gospel, speaking it is a different story. I feel like Moses, fumbling over my words.  Living it through every aspect of my life, with actions and words is sometimes a challenge.

As much as I want to be bold, I know that I hold myself back many times. Why? I have such Amazing News to share! News that changes lives for eternity! This is going to be a bold prayer for me, will you pray it with me?  I want to pray for opportunities to start sharing my faith.  Whew! Even typing those words makes me shaky!

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P – Prayer: 

God, your news is so Good! I want to share it with others.  I want to salt and light in this dark and hungry world.  I am understanding the gravity of eternal decisions that we make here on earth.  The life and hope you have given me is something that I know others need and want too.  There are so many hurts and so much brokenness in this world.  Help me to be bring those in need close to you, God.  Give me a boldness that surpasses my weaknesses.  Work through me.  All glory goes to you, Father.  Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #43 - Salt of the Earth

 

Exodus Bible Study

The Details of Our Lives

In grade school, some of my favorite assignments were done on grid paper. The projects involved mapping out exactly what our dream house would look like, or drawing out all of the supplies we would for our future job. I would draw elaborate rooms with all of the furniture and decor.  My house had a basketball court that functioned also as a volleyball and tennis court, and a roller rink! (There was also an outdoor tennis court, of course!) There was a pool and hot tub, indoors and outdoors.The upstairs had am epic game and movie room.  All of my favorite things were included.

My house now doesn’t have any of those things, and I never became an art teacher.  But it was amusing to draw them up when I was a kid and to look back on them now.  My desires changed and other passions developed as a I grew up. However, the dreams I had as a kid have manifested in different ways.  I became a teacher of exercise and nutrition.  One of my favorite hobbies, and what calms me and fills me, is doing some sort of art project.  How do your childhood passions show up in your life today? It’s fun to think about!

Those little details that we drew up as kids have purpose. They are intwined in our being by God. He drew us up and knitted us together especially for this world.  The details mattered to him when he created you. I’m not sure if he used grid paper, but his vision of a perfect dwelling place for his Spirit was drafted and you were the outcome. Isn’t that fascinating! I get teary-eyed when I think about that.

In the last chapters of Exodus we see God’s plans for his dwelling place (back then) come to fruition.  There are so many great lessons from it too!

20171008_140459S – Scripture: Exodus 39-40

  • 39:3 – “He made gold thread by hammering out thin sheets of gold and cutting it into fine strands. With great skill and care, he worked it into the fine linen with the blue, purple, and scarlet thread.”
  • 39:30 – “Finally, they made the sacred medallion–the badge of holiness–of pure gold. They engraved it like a seal with these words: HOLY TO THE LORD.”
  • 39:42-43 – “So the people of Israel followed all of the LORD’s instructions to Moses. Then Moses inspected all their work. When he found it had been done just as the LORD had commanded him, he blessed them.”
  • 40:31-32 – “Moses and Aaron and Aaron’s sons used water from it to wash their hands and feet. Whenever they approached the altar and entered the Tabernacle, they washed themselves, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.”
  • 40:34-38 – “Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle. Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle. Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. But if the cloud did not rise, they remained where they were until it lifted. The cloud of the LORD hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys.”

O – Observation:

  • Bezalel worked with great skill and to the finest detail to create what the Lord had asked.
  • Aaron wore a “badge of holiness” that stated, “Holy to the Lord.”
  • The Israelites did everything that the Lord had commanded them.  Every detail was accounted for.
  • Every time Moses or the priests needed to enter the Tabernacle, they had to wash themselves, as commanded by the Lord.
  • When everything was finished, the “glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.”  His cloud settled over it and was their guide.  When it moved, the Israelites packed up and continued their journey.
  • It was a cloud by day and a fire by night so that they could always see it. He never abandoned them.

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A – Application:

Like Aaron, we have been given the “badge of Holiness.” This was not by anything we have done or deserve, but by God’s deep love for us.

“For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.” Hebrews 10:10-12

“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7

“Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

Let that sink in. I felt like moving ahead while writing this and God prompted me to just sit here for a minute and bask in the gravity of what that means. Once, and for all time he has cast out the sin in my life.  That is past, present, and future sin.  The burden of sin is no more.  I feel light and free.

“He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:10-12

By God’s New Covenant, we have been made holy, “once for all time.” Praise God! Declare that today! Say it out loud over and over until it rushes in and takes hold.


One of the many things that I have noticed out of the last few chapters in Exodus is that God cares about the finest details.  He gave measurements and mapped out exactly how he wanted things built. Everything had a purpose. Each piece of the Tabernacle, instruments, and clothing were created in a specific order and design. The details of each command mattered.

The instructions that God has given us today (in the New Testament) are all written and given for a purpose.  He didn’t just give a list of rules as a way of chaining us or keeping us from having “fun.” There is a reason he says to stay away from certain things of this world. When we follow his instructions, it’s a sign of our love and devotion to him and his people. We are called to live differently because we are different. We are set apart and holy, made clean and pure, unchained by the sins of this world.

From personal experience, the weight of sin is far heavier than the call of obedience to God.

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Our greatest commandment is to Love God and Love Others. Again, it’s not just in the grandiose gestures (though those aren’t bad in any way), but in the small details of people’s lives. Our small acts of kindness in the ordinary, everyday things in life can make an eternal difference. Am I (or are we) following his command perfectly?

“And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

“Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.” 2 John 1:6


God has made us his home.  He is no longer just in one place but in all of our hearts.

“Jesus replied, ‘All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.'” John 14:23

“Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.” Ephesians 2:20-21

Like I mentioned above, “God drew us up and knitted us together especially for this world.  The details mattered to him when he created you. I’m not sure if he used grid paper, but his vision of a perfect dwelling place for his Spirit was drafted and you were the outcome.”

How we manage our physical being is important, absolutely! What we feed our eyes, ears, hearts, (and bellies), matters.  Our hearts are the outpouring of what we allow in.  When I watch, read, or listen to the things of this world, that seeps out into how I speak to others, how I worship God, and my attitude towards life and those around me. If I’m not feeding myself good, spiritual, and filling food (The Word, prayer, or fellowship with other Christians, to name a few), I won’t be as effective for God’s Kingdom.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” Matthew 6:22-23

I want to furnish God’s dwelling place with the fruit of the Spirit and fill my mind with good things, so that he can work through me.  My desire is to follow his commands to the letter, not because I think I can increase my standing with him, but because he has given me so much more than I deserve.  I cannot not add anymore righteousness or holiness or love-worthiness to myself.  I want others to know that they can experience the same freedom and joy. 

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:22-25

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

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P – Prayer:

God, thank you for creating me, with every detail having a purpose.  You can take what I think is weak or bad and make it work for your Kingdom’s purpose.  It gives such freedom to know that I can’t do anything more to earn your love or grace, you have given it all to me.  Forgive me for not being completely obedient in love others.  I want to be better in this area.  I know it comes from what I fill my heart with. I want that to be more of you and not things of this world.  Continue to transform my mind and heart so that I can better serve you. Amen.

 

*I hope these lessons gave you some good food to munch on and fill your soul. I’d love to hear your personal take on them.  Please comment below!

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #42 - The Details of Our Lives