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

 

Exodus Bible Study

All That We Need and More

 

S – Scripture: Exodus 36-38

  • 36:1 – “The LORD has gifted Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other skilled craftsmen with wisdom and ability to perform any task involved in building the sanctuary. Let them construct and furnish the Tabernacle, just as the LORD has commanded.”
  • 36:6-7 – “So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: “Men and women, don’t prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary. We have enough!” So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings. Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.”
  • 38:22-23 – “Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made everything just as the LORD had commanded Moses. He was assisted by Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, a craftsman expert at engraving, designing, and embroidering with blue, purple, and scarlet thread on fine linen cloth.”

O – Observation:

  • The Lord gave special abilities to Bezalel, Oholiab, and others specifically for the construction of the Tabernacle and all its furnishings.
  • They made everything as the Lord had instructed.
  • The Israelites were so eager to give that they gave too much for the project.  Moses had to ask them to stop giving!
  • The sum of gifts brought was: 2,193 pounds of gold, 7,545 pounds of silver, 5,310 pounds of bronze, plus the tax (which was 1/2 a shekel) from 603,550 each man.  WOW!

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A – Application:

I’ll let the Word speak for itself this time:

God has provided and will continue to provide all of the resources we need to carry out his purpose in us.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” Psalm 23:1

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 1 Peter 1:3-4

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23-24


Each person has been given natural and supernatural gifts in order to serve those in need. Not one is greater or lesser than the other.  All are necessary for the body of Christ. Of course, one of the greatest gifts (besides our salvation), is the Holy Spirit.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.” 1 Corinthians 4-6

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.” 1 Corinthians 6:19

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When we use the gifts and resources God has given us, we can bless others, and God promises more blessings in return. This shouldn’t be our motivator for doing good, as nothing more that God’s gift of grace can save us from our sins and get us to Heaven. When we give freely and cheerfully, not expecting anything in return, God can open up his storehouses of blessing and make great change among his people.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:8-10

“Remember this–a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’ And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

“Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.” Deuteronomy 15:10

“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,’ says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!'” Malachi 3:10


We have great motivation to share in our blessings.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:3-8

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1

“Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.” James 1:17-18

Isn’t God’s Word so good?  I honestly have nothing more to say, haha! My hope is that these verses leave you with something to ponder today or this week.

What verse(s) stuck out to you? What gifts has God given you that you aren’t using in their full capacity? Is anything holding you back from giving or serving others, using your gifts? Are you holding any blessings (time, energy, money, prayer, etc.) back from others because you fear not having enough for yourself? I know I’m guilty here! What other verses come to your mind?

Please share some of your answers in the comments. I’d love to pray with you about them!

P – Prayer:

God, your Word is such a gift.  You have given us so much and we don’t deserve any of it. Salvation, the Holy Spirit, eternal life, purpose here on earth, spiritual gifts, community, love, joy, hope, and so much more.  You care about every little detail of our lives. Nothing we can do will bring us closer to salvation.  Only by accepting your gift of grace cleanses us.

Father, I have nothing to offer you, except my life.  Take it and use it, Lord.  Help me to not hold anything back.  I know you will restore me.  Grow the gifts you have given me so that I can use them in full capacity for you. It’s in your wonderful name I pray, Amen.

 

Exodus Bible Study

Closer Leads to Bolder

I would consider myself an introvert. This means that I like putting my energy more towards the inner self, ideas, and concepts.  I get energy from and form decision in a quiet space, usually alone.  I often like to figure out a solution on my own, with my own knowledge and strength. I prefer that independence.

However, my dear friend leans slightly more towards the extraverted side.  She, to my sometimes closed off self, can read between the lines of what I say, or see on my face what is in my heart, and ask the tough questions.  She draws me out of my self and graciously coaxes me to be vulnerable.  She’s not afraid to handle to ugly, the hurt, and the doubt in my heart. She wants to know because she loves and cares for me.

We’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs in life together.  We’ve been there to witness each others successes, failures, celebrations and tragedies. Life is ugly sometimes, and fortunately, we have found great comfort and strength in knowing that we can reach out to the other with it all. We both have dreams to fulfill and we can pray for each other and keep each other accountable to follow where God would lead us. I know she has my back and I have hers as we try to be bold and live out our purposes on this earth.

Friendships like that are hard to find.  I am so grateful that I have her in my life.

Like my friendship, we see Moses’ close relationship with God in the coming chapters. They have this beautiful exchange that shows a friendship so true, that they can ask bold things of each other.  God can call Moses to do great things, and Moses can ask God to do even mightier things to help him through it.

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S – Scripture: Exodus 33-35

  • 33:11 – “Inside the Tent of Meeting, the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”

Moses’ first request: “If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.” (v.13)

“The LORD replied, ‘I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest–everything will be fine for you.'” (v.14)


Moses’ response: “How will anyone know that you look favorably on me–on me and on your people–if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.” (v.16)

“The LORD replied to Moses, ‘I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.'” (v.17)


Moses’ final petition: “Then show me your glorious presence.” (v.18)

“The LORD replied, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.’ The LORD continued, ‘Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.'” (v. 19-23)

  • 34:5-7 – “Then the LORD came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, ‘Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty.'”
  • 34:29 – “When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the LORD.”
  • 35:29 – “So the people of Israel–every man and woman who was eager to help in the work the LORD had given them through Moses–brought their gifts and gave them freely to the LORD.”

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O – Observation:

  • Moses had an intimate relationship with the Lord. They spoke face to face, like friends. God said that he knew Moses by name, how beautiful!
  • God knew exactly what Moses was asking when he said, “who will go with us?” There was more to the question. I love God’s response: that he would be the one going with him, that everything would be okay, and that Moses would have rest. Moses’ heart must have needed to hear that.
  • Moses must have needed more reassurance that God was going to go with them. He didn’t want to leave if God wasn’t going to go too.
  • Moses asked bold things of the Lord: to see his glorious presence.
    • When we know God, we know we can ask big and bold things, and he will answer.
  • God allows Moses to see the back of his glorious presence as he passed by.  He hid Moses in a crevice in the rock with his hand until he it was safe for him to look.
  • As God passes, he calls out his name, “Yahweh.” What an amazing thing to have been able to witness! I can’t even imagine!
  • When Moses finally came down from the mountain after 40 days and nights, his face had become radiant as he spoke to the Lord.
  • The supplies needed to build the Tabernacle with all of it’s accessories, including the priest’s garments, were given freely and eagerly as an offering from the people.  Everything that was needed, was provided.

A – Application:

I love this exchange between Moses and God.

What it says about Moses:

  • He was a friend of God and was favored by him. He knew God intimately because he had spent time with him.
  • Moses longed to understand God and his ways.  He want to know him fully so that he could trust him more.
  • He needed to know that God was going to go with him as he led millions of people to the Promised Land.  Here was a man that knew that he couldn’t do any of what God asked for on his own.  Here was a desperate soul, pleading for assurance that he wouldn’t be alone on his journey.  He wasn’t going to take a step without God going with him.
  • Revealing the glory of God to the world, through himself and the Israelites, was of the highest importance to Moses.  He knew that they were an imperfect and forgetful group, but they were chosen by God, to show the world who the Sovereign and Everlasting King was.
  • Moses wasn’t finished, he asked if he could see God’s presence.  Maybe he needed a tangible reassurance of who God was and is.  This was a bold request, but one done only because he knew God.
  • As he came down the mountain after being in God’s presence, his face glowed.  Being with God so intimately showed on his face!

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What it says about God:

  • He hears the words we are speaking, but knows what we are really asking and needing.  He knows our heart and motives better than we do. Based on God’s first response, I gather that Moses was overwhelmed and possibly tired. There may also have been a sliver of doubt there. Not only did God promise to be the one to go with Moses and the people, but also that everything would be fine and that he would be able to rest.
  • God loves and favors his children.  He wants to bless and protect them. He knows us each by name. I am so comforted by that!
  • He will answer bold prayers when we ask, though often in his own way.
    • What if Moses had never asked? He would have missed out on an amazing blessing. Even a glimpse of God’s Presence is so much more that I could hope or imagine! I love too that God placed his hand on Moses as he passed by.  What an amazing feeling that must have been! God can and will reveal himself in tangible ways when we need him to and it’s okay to ask.
  • It’s too good not to repeat: “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty.”
    • God is all of these things and more.  He is all we need at exactly the time we need it.  He is so good.

Lessons of how God responds:

  • God can answer, “yes” for what we ask, but it can also involve more or something we hadn’t thought that we needed.  He sees the bigger picture of how answering our requests will affect us and he knows what we really need.  Typically, we need the know that everything will be okay and that we can have peace in him.
  • Sometimes it’s with a word, a vision or sign, or a touch that God answers. Often, God answers prayer through other people’s words and actions.  I’ve experienced all of them at different times, and the best way I can describe how it felt was how I think GRACE really feels. In times of hurting, it was a tender and gentle grace.  Other times when God was calling me to action, it was a fierce and bold excitement, knowing that God was with me and his grace made it so that I didn’t have to be perfect, just willing.

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Lessons on how to pray and do life:

  • When we KNOW God, we can pray BOLDLY to him.  The more I study God’s character in the Bible as well as speak to him and experience him throughout my life, the more in tune I am with what his purpose is for my life. As I allow him into my heart, I notice more that my desires begin to intertwine with his.  I see steps of faith that I need to take, people I need to encourage, and opportunities to serve more often because my will is growing deeper into his. I begin praying more crazy and bold prayers because I know God wants his glory shared on earth and I have finally come to a place where I am 100% willing to go out and do anything possible for that to happen.
  • He knows our hearts, even when our words can’t describe exactly what we need.  Knowing this allows us to just come to him in surrender.  Our prayers don’t have to be clean and perfect, they just need to happen.
  • When we spend time with God, it changes us.  We become more and more like a light that breaks through the darkness of this world.  People do recognize something different when we have God shining through us.
  • When we spend time with God, our faith grows and God can ask us to do even greater and bolder things for him.  We have built up a secure trust and hope in him, that we respond in obedience.  In this way, we bless others and can be blessed in the process. This cycle can produce an amazing story that glorifies God for generations.  We never know how the actions God calls us to will affect eternity.  It’s crazy to think!

Action:

What bold prayer have you given up on? You, and maybe many others need you to keep praying that bold prayer!

I encourage you to start praying that again today and let God speak truth to you. I’d love to hear how he answers you!

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

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P – Prayer:

God, thank you for loving us so much that you want to have an intimate relationship with each of us.  You know us all by name and long to bless and protect us.  There are so many prayers out there that have been given up on.  There are desires that are buried deep because we don’t think they are possible anymore.  God, I pray that, as we’ve learned today, you answer those BIG and BOLD prayers. It’s in your timing and your way, but you do it.  Grow us in those times of waiting in order to prepare us for exactly what those desires will have us do and be.  You are so good and you do such amazing and miraculous things.  Amen.

 

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #40 - Closer Leads to Bolder

Exodus Bible Study

Worshiping Through God’s Timing

When I left for college, I knew that finding a church was going to be a crucial thing. One campus church had a service on Thursday nights in an auditorium.  A group of us decided to go the first week we were there.  I walked in to the giant room where the only lights were coming from the stage. I could see the students raising their hands and singing to God with such passion and abandon. I hadn’t ever really experienced that kind of holy energy before.  It was captivating!

So it began. I would go to church on Thursday and Sunday, as well as join a Small Group.  Pretty much all of my friends went to church, so I was completely surrounded.  There was no way I could forget God.  But it was a choice to go through college that way.  Things could have been different if I didn’t make the effort to keep myself close to God.

Living life with a bunch of Christians, through tough times and good, was a constant reminder of God’s awesomeness.  We prayed boldly for each other, we did missions trips together, we supported those in and outside the family of God in order to be a light to the world.  We worshipped wildly and brought God’s Kingdom down to our little campus. It was an amazing time.

As I read through these chapters in Exodus, I was reminded of how important it is to set aside time for worship and remembering God and all that he has done. The Israelites, unfortunately, missed the mark here, and teach us crucial lesson for us today.

S – Scripture: Exodus 30-32

  • 30:6 – ” Place the incense altar just outside the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant, in front of the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–that covers the tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. I will meet with you there.”
  • 30:10 – “Once a year Aaron must purify the altar by smearing its horns with blood from the offering made to purify the people from their sin. This will be a regular, annual event from generation to generation, for this is the LORD’s most holy altar.”
  • 30:15-16 – “When this offering is given to the LORD to purify your lives, making you right with him, the rich must not give more than the specified amount, and the poor must not give less. Receive this ransom money from the Israelites, and use it for the care of the Tabernacle. It will bring the Israelites to the LORD’s attention, and it will purify your lives.”
  • 30:21 – “They must always wash their hands and feet, or they will die. This is a permanent law for Aaron and his descendants, to be observed from generation to generation.” 
  • 30:29 – “Consecrate them to make them absolutely holy. After this, whatever touches them will also become holy.”
  • 30:32 – “It must never be used to anoint anyone else, and you must never make any blend like it for yourselves. It is holy, and you must treat it as holy.”
  • 30:37 – “Never use this formula to make this incense for yourselves. It is reserved for the LORD, and you must treat it as holy.”IMG_8508
  • 31:3 – “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts.”
  • 31:13 – “Tell the people of Israel: ‘Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.”
  • 32:1 – “When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. ‘Come on,’ they said, ‘make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.'”
  • 32:4 – “Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, ‘O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!'” 
  • 32:8 – “How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted down gold and made a calf, and they have bowed down and sacrificed to it. They are saying, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”
  • 32:11-12 – “But Moses tried to pacify the LORD his God. ‘O LORD!’ he said. ‘Why are you so angry with your own people whom you brought from the land of Egypt with such great power and such a strong hand? Why let the Egyptians say, ‘Their God rescued them with the evil intention of slaughtering them in the mountains and wiping them from the face of the earth’? Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people!'”
  • 32:14 – “So the LORD changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people.”
  • 32:16 – “These tablets were God’s work; the words on them were written by God himself.”
  • 32:22-23 – “‘Don’t get so upset, my lord,’ Aaron replied. ‘You yourself know how evil these people are. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.'”
  • 32:25 – “Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of control, much to the amusement of their enemies.”
  • 32:26 – “So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, ‘All of you who are on the LORD’s side, come here and join me.’ And all the Levites gathered around him.”
  • 32:31-32 – “So Moses returned to the LORD and said, ‘Oh, what a terrible sin these people have committed. They have made gods of gold for themselves. But now, if you will only forgive their sin–but if not, erase my name from the record you have written!'” 

20170928_191735O – Observation:

  • Places, objects, incense, and oils were being set apart as holy. Anything that touched them would also become holy.
  • People were being set apart with special gifts, directed by the Holy Spirit.
  • Blood had to be spilled, offerings made, hands and feet cleansed with water, and a ransom of money had to be paid in order for the forgiveness of sins.  This had to occur daily, weekly, and yearly!
  • A reminder for obeying the Sabbath is given.  This is meant to be a day of complete rest so they wouldn’t forget the Lord and his holiness.
  • We, as humans, can be quick to forget what God has done. So when we don’t see God working, or we feel like he is distant, or it’s taking too long, we begin to take things into our own hands.  This leads to idolatry and pride in our own strength and provision.
  • Aaron had a moment of doubt or confusion or weakness.  Instead of bolstering the Israelite’s faith in God, he made the golden calf that led to their idolatry.  Then, he tries to cast the blame off of himself and onto the people.  (This reminds me of Adam in the Garden of Eden.)
  • What and how we worship (when we call ourselves Christians) is a representative of who God himself is.  If people see us valuing something more than God, it makes it seem like it’s okay to do.  It shows that God isn’t really All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and Wonderful.  It shows that he isn’t enough to fulfill our needs. It appears that all you have to do is say a little prayer and then go off and do whatever you want.  God will forgive you anyway, right? Far from it!
  • When our worship goes to someone or something else, it diminishes the power of the Cross. If I do this, I’m saying that I need something more and that I can get it myself. Those things never last. But when I come to God, broken, weak, and surrendered, he is all that I need, forever.
  • Moses prayed boldly for the forgiveness of his people, and moved God away from  his anger against the Israelites. His argument was: How would it look if the God who had done miraculous things to get his people out of Egypt, turned on them and destroyed them?
  • God’s glory (and sharing it) is important.  He can take the weakest in faith and power, and raise them up.  In doing so, his glory is shown throughout the world.
  • The people had to make a choice on who to serve: God, or the Golden Calf. Those that chose the latter, perished. We always have the choice.

IMG_8511A – Application:

I am reminded of a story in Luke, about a woman who believed that all she needed to be healed, was to touch Jesus:

“A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. ‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, ‘Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.’ When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. ‘Daughter,’ he said to her, ‘your faith has made you well. Go in peace.'” Luke 8:43-48

Jesus was anointed and set apart as holy.  Just like the alter in the Tabernacle, anything that touched him, would also become healed and holy.  What amazing faith!

Another story that came to mind was a parable that Jesus told:

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls.  When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” Matthew 13:44-46

The woman had nothing left to lose. She had tried it on her own, and nothing made her better. The man in the field and the merchant sold everything they had for the Kingdom of Heaven. They became poor in the sight of the world, but rich in the glory of God’s Kingdom.

I want that kind of faith! I want that to inspire my worship. How powerful is Jesus’ holiness in my life?  How valuable is the Kingdom of Heaven to me?  Am I willing to give up my pride, need for instant gratification, my accolades and accomplishments, my wealth and possessions, in order to bring glory to God and enter his Kingdom? Is waiting worth it? Is the Kingdom worth the struggle and the wait?

20170926_180044I can roll my eyes and get frustrated with the Israelites, but how often is that me? How often do I doubt God’s work in my life and change my focus to an idol, in order to try to take back some control or explain why something happened, instead of letting God do his thing? How many times have I lost patience with God for taking too long to let something happen?  Or allowed me to suffer for too long? How often do I grumble when I don’t get my expectations met? How is it that I can claim to have such a strong faith, yet doubt God just as strongly? What idols do I hold in my life currently?

If I’m honest, I’m struggling with these things daily.  I am constantly questioning God’s timing and goodness.  But when I stop, rest, and remember all that he has done so far, I can refocus my worship on him.  And it is a sweet and beautiful time of peace.

We are called to live differently.

We are set apart as holy. The power that Jesus carried in him, is now in us. 

Our ransom was paid by the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

How and who or what we worship matters.  It shows our trust in the Greatest and Mightiest God when we worship him in the good times and bad.

The Sabbath is still necessary today.  We need reminders for who God is.  We need to practice gratitude for all that he has done for us.

How we live and worship either represents God’s glory, or not. When I give my worship to something else, I’m saying that God’s timing, provision, and power are not enough for me. Idols never last.

When everything is stripped away of this life, God will be the only constant. 

I’ve been there, where God has been the only thing left.  It was a vulnerable place to be. But it was a place where God did his best and most powerful work.  As much as I fought for control, I was left to rely only on the holiness and healing of Jesus Christ. Nothing else worked.

I desperately want to stay in that frame of mind, even as God is answering some long-lost prayers of mine.  I never want to lose focus on God’s power and provision in my life.  In the seasons of thriving and of drought, I want God’s glory proclaimed by my worship.  Idols don’t last, God does.

I asked a lot of questions today.  How did you answer them?  What spoke most to you in this scripture or discussion?  Take a little time for reflection.  Ask God to speak to you specifically in regards to your potential idols or worship. He is so gracious and forgiving.  He longs for you to seek him like the treasure in the field.  He wants your focus to be back on him so that he can bless you and take care of you.  Take one small step today towards him and see what happens.

IMG_8501P – Prayer:

Lord, I confess that I have been just like the Israelites.  Sometimes my faith is dependent on how I feel or when things are going right. I confess that I start taking control and restrict my surrender when things aren’t going as fast as I think they should go.

You have made promises to me. Thank you! Help me to be patient in your timing. Keep teaching me and preparing my heart for when those promises are fulfilled. I want to look back and say that it was all you.  I want to glorify you with my life. I want others to come closer to you because of my testimony. Strengthen my resolve. Help me to see any idols that I have set up and bring them crashing down. You are all I want!

I pray for those reading this today, Father, that you would speak directly into their lives.  Reveal any idols and bring them closer to you.  Help them to choose you in the bad times and remember you in the good times.  You are so good, all of the time. Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #39 - Worshiping Through God's Timing
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
Exodus Bible Study

The Foreshadowing of Things to Come

I’m not sure what grade I was in, but I recall the first time I learned about what foreshadowing meant.  I thought it was the coolest thing! Since then, when I watch a movie or read a book, I’m looking for clues of what’s to come.

This part of Exodus is a foreshadow of what God had planned.  It’s the hint at the beginning of the book for what was going to happen later.  Yes, reading Exodus isn’t always the greatest, but when I look at it in this sense, I am encouraged and empowered. And since we have the whole story, it’s fascinating to tie the strange customs to their eternal purpose and meaning.

S – Scripture: Exodus 28-29

  • 28:3 – ” Instruct all the skilled craftsmen whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom. Have them make garments for Aaron that will distinguish him as a priest set apart for my service.”
  • 28:29-30 – “In this way, Aaron will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the LORD. Insert the Urim and Thummim into the sacred chestpiece so they will be carried over Aaron’s heart when he goes into the LORD’s presence. In this way, Aaron will always carry over his heart the objects used to determine the LORD’s will for his people whenever he goes in before the LORD.”
  • 28:35 – “Aaron will wear this robe whenever he ministers before the LORD, and the bells will tinkle as he goes in and out of the LORD’s presence in the Holy Place. If he wears it, he will not die.”
  • 28:36-38 – “Next make a medallion of pure gold, and engrave it like a seal with these words: HOLY TO THE LORD. Attach the medallion with a blue cord to the front of Aaron’s turban, where it must remain. Aaron must wear it on his forehead so he may take on himself any guilt of the people of Israel when they consecrate their sacred offerings. He must always wear it on his forehead so the LORD will accept the people.”
  • 29:9 – “Then the right to the priesthood will be theirs by law forever. In this way, you will ordain Aaron and his sons.”
  • 29:19-21 – “Now take the other ram, and have Aaron and his sons lay their hands on its head. Then slaughter it, and apply some of its blood to the right earlobes of Aaron and his sons. Also put it on the thumbs of their right hands and the big toes of their right feet. Splatter the rest of the blood against all sides of the altar. Then take some of the blood from the altar and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his sons and on their garments. In this way, they and their garments will be set apart as holy.”
  • 29:35-37 – “This is how you will ordain Aaron and his sons to their offices, just as I have commanded you. The ordination ceremony will go on for seven days. Each day you must sacrifice a young bull as a sin offering to purify them, making them right with the LORD. Afterward, cleanse the altar by purifying it; make it holy by anointing it with oil. Purify the altar, and consecrate it every day for seven days. After that, the altar will be absolutely holy, and whatever touches it will become holy.”
  • 29:42-46 – “These burnt offerings are to be made each day from generation to generation. Offer them in the LORD’s presence at the Tabernacle entrance; there I will meet with you and speak with you. I will meet the people of Israel there, in the place made holy by my glorious presence. Yes, I will consecrate the Tabernacle and the altar, and I will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will live among the people of Israel and be their God, and they will know that I am the LORD their God. I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them. I am the LORD their God.”

20170904_163340O – Observation: 

  • God instilled special wisdom in the craftsmen so that they could create the sacred garments for Aaron and his sons.
  • The stones representing the twelve tribes and the Urim and Thummin were worn by Aaron to 1. as a reminder that he represents all of the people of Isreal and 2. to determine God’s will, respectively.
  • Aaron had to wear the robe in order to go into the presence of the Lord or else he would die.
  • A medallion was crafted and to be worn as a symbol of the High Priest taking on the sins of all of the people.
  • The priesthood was limited to only members of the line of Aaron.
  • The ordination of Aaron and his sons into the priesthood began with the sacrifice of rams.  The blood was placed on their earlobes, thumbs, big toes, and sprinkled on the alter and the garments.  This was the way of making everything holy and consecrated.
  • Aaron had to place their hands on the animal that was being sacrificed. This, I’ve learned, is how the sins were transferred to the animal from the people.
  • This would continue for seven days.  After each sacrifice, the alter had to be purified by anointing it with oil.  When the week was finished, the alter would be considered holy, and everything they touched would become holy as well.
  • Sacrificial offerings were to be made daily, once in the morning and the evening. God would speak to the priest and meet the people there.
  • God promises to live among the people and that they would know him.

A – Application:

I needed a vocabulary lesson to get me started here.  A lot of times, these words are used interchangeably.

Anoint: verb (used with object)20170914_150521
1. to rub or sprinkle on; apply an unguent, ointment, or oily liquid to.
2. to smear with any liquid.
3. to consecrate or make sacred in a ceremony that includes the token applying of oil.
4. to dedicate to the service of God.

Consecrate: verb (used with object), consecrated, consecrating.
1. to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity: to consecrate a new church building.
2. to make (something) an object of honor or veneration; hallow: a custom consecrated by time.
3. to devote or dedicate to some purpose

Sanctify: verb (used with object), sanctified, sanctifying.
1. to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate.
2. to purify or free from sin: Sanctify your hearts.
3. to impart religious sanction to; render legitimate or binding: to sanctify a vow.
4. to entitle to reverence or respect.
5. to make productive of or conducive to spiritual blessing.

Commission: noun
1. the act of committing or entrusting a person, group, etc., with supervisory power or authority.
2. an authoritative order, charge, or direction.
3. authority granted for a particular action or function.


Like the craftsman and Aaron with is descendants, we too are set apart for holy work and given divine wisdom.  The Holy Spirit is the anointing that God gives to us.  It allows us to do incredible things beyond our natural ability for God’s purposes.

“It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” 1 John 2:27


Stones were placed on the robe that Aaron had to wear as a reminder that he represented all people as well as determining God’s will.   To be a witness to the world, we first need to carry God’s Word in our hearts.  We need to choose to set our minds and hearts on things above, not here on earth. We need to know what his voice sounds like so that we can follow it.

“I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations. I cling to your laws. LORD, don’t let me be put to shame! I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding. Teach me your decrees, O LORD; I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart. Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found.” Psalm 119:30-35

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

20170906_100447


Aaron had to wear a medallion on his head to represent how he carried the sins of all of the people.  He was anointed in order to be able to make the sacrifice that cleansed the people from their sins.  This had to be done daily.

Jesus was anointed and commissioned for an even greater purpose: to pay the ultimate price for the sins of the whole world, one time. He came with all authority to heal and free those in need.

“Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.” Mark 1:10

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19


Initially, only the line of Aaron would be able to serve as priests. Now we have become his royal priesthood to serve God and others. We are commissioned by God to go out and preach to everyone around us. Wherever God has called us to be, we can be a light. The same authority that Jesus had is now given to us.

“For you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.'” Matthew 28:19-20


I know, there is so much information here. The main thing that I got out of this section is:

That because of what Jesus did on the cross I am sanctified, made clean and new. God has anointed me with the Holy Spirit, giving me supernatural wisdom and power to carry out amazing purposes for him. He has commissioned me to spread the Good News to those closest to me, in my community, and around the world.

Whew!

The choice is mine on whether or not I tap in to that power or draw myself close to God’s Spirit.  He now lives in me! I must decided daily to dig into his Word, worship and pray in the Spirit for guidance, and serve others.  I must cling to the belief that God has given me all that I need and he is always with me.  When I do this, great things can happen, beyond my hopes and imagination.

This is true of you too!

Let’s go out, in the full power of God’s Spirit, and change the world!

20170909_072614

P – Prayer:

God, your Word is so powerful.  Your story is constant and true.  Thank you for sending your Son to take on my sin once, and for all.  Thank you for using the old system as a foreshadow of something better to come.  You are so good!

Father, I pray that you would use all of us in mighty ways.  That your Spirit would be so strong in us that it we can boldly go about doing your will.  I pray that chains are broken and people are healed because of the power that you have given us.  It’s in your matchless name that I pray, Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #38 - The Foreshadowing of Things to Come.
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.

 

Bible Verse Image
Holy to the Lord.
Exodus Bible Study

The Most Holy Place

It’s right about now in a Bible reading plan that things start to get repetitive, and dare I say, boring. I’ve brushed over these chapters many times before just trying to get to a part where things make sense or I know already mean a lot to me. Why do I need to know the dimensions of the Tabernacle? Why does it matter which materials were used to produce the walls, bases, Ark, Table, Lampstand, and accessories and how much they weighed?

I find that at the start of these chapters I need to pray even more that God would reveal exactly what I need to hear and learn.  I need to read expectantly and with an open mind.  After all, every word of the Bible is God-breathed.  It is all in there for a purpose. Sometimes it requires a little more digging, cross-referencing, and searching for answers.  It takes work.

However, it’s in these times when I press in, that God shows me something amazing, specific, and new.  I encourage you now, that though these chapters are lengthy and full of dimensions and commands, that you would read with intention.  Study the Bible expecting God to speak directly into what you are going through in your life.  It takes time and work and quietness, but it’s worth it when God speaks and your perspective is enhanced.

20170828_161152S – Scripture: Exodus 25-27

  • 25:1-2 – “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the people of Israel to bring me their sacred offerings. Accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them.'”
  • 25:22 – “I will meet with you there and talk to you from above the atonement cover between the gold cherubim that hover over the Ark of the Covenant. From there I will give you my commands for the people of Israel.”
  • 25:39-40 – “You will need seventy-five pounds of pure gold for the lampstand and its accessories. Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.”
  • 26:33-35 – “Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Then put the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–on top of the Ark of the Covenant inside the Most Holy Place.”
  • 27:20-21 – “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. The lampstand will stand in the Tabernacle, in front of the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron and his sons must keep the lamps burning in the LORD’s presence all night. This is a permanent law for the people of Israel, and it must be observed from generation to generation.”

O – Observation: 

  • The Tabernacle and all of its accessories were built by the offerings of God’s people.
  • Between the cherubim on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, was where God would meet Moses to speak directly to him.
  • The lampstand, to illuminate the Holy Place, was to be made of 75 pounds of gold!!
  • There is a separation between where God is and where the people can go.  Further, only by the shedding of blood can the High Priest enter the Most Holy Place once per year. No one else is allowed.
  • The light of the lampstand was to be kept burning throughout the whole night.  The priests were in charge of keeping the oil filled so that it could burn continuously.

20170828_161243A – Application:

For further explanation of the importance and significance of the Tabernacle, I looked to Hebrews. Like I said above, sometimes you have to dig. Instead of me speaking all of the time, I’m letting the Bible speak for itself.  It’s amazing like that!

Old Priesthood: Those designated by God to perform the sacrifices that purified themselves and the people.  This had to be done once a year with the blood of animals.

“That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place. In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.

When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use. This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies–physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.” Hebrews 9:1-10

 

The High Priest Jesus was sent to finish the task once and for all, so all could enter the Most Holy Place.

“So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood–not the blood of goats and calves–he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. 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. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.” Hebrews 9:11-15

20170828_164150_resizedThe Holy Place – where religious duties take place.

Today, these may look like going to church, practicing a devotional time, attending a Bible Study or service project, mission work, prayer, Baptism, Communion, and many other things to do. These aren’t bad things at all, they are great things.  But they aren’t it.

Have you ever found yourself “going through the motions” at church or with your walk with God? Everything starts to just feel like a task instead of a relationship. We are doing great things, but for the wrong reasons and typically by our own strength. It’s here that we have lost sight of the The Most Holy Place.  The place where we meet with God to speak with him and him to speak with us.  It’s here that our strength and purpose is renewed. It’s here that we can surrender.

The Most Holy Placewhere we come to meet with God freely now.

“Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart.” Matthew 27:50-51

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:19-25

Jesus sacrifice tore the veil that separated us from God.  We can now enter freely and confidently, knowing that our sins (that keep us from God) are forgiven.

20170828_160349_resizedThe New Priesthood: US!!

“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

We have a mission now, as God’s chosen people, to be light in a dark world and point others towards God’s wonderful grace.

The Heavenly Place:  Like it states above in Hebrews, the earthly Tabernacle was just a glimpse of God’s Heavenly Dwelling Place.  Since Jesus cleansed us from sin and brought us into righteousness, we can live in Heaven eternally with God. What a beautiful thing!

“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” John 14:2-4

“No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there–no need for lamps or sun–for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:3-5


Do you fully believe in the power of what Jesus did?  Have you acknowledged the sin that has kept you from having a relationship with the God who created you, gives you hope and purpose and eternal life with him?

You can do that today. It doesn’t need to be fancy or with anyone else, just you and God.  There are no right words or prayers, just your heart.  If you need a guide, start with praying this to God:

“God, you love me so much that you gave your one and only Son, so that when I take that step to believe in you, I will not perish but have eternal life. I acknowledge that my sin and the ways of this world keep me from you and all that you would have me to be. I believe that what Jesus did was for me. I want to start living for you today. Amen.”

Amen literally means, “so be it.” It’s done, you are God’s forever.  Yah!!

Now, I would strongly encourage you to find other believers to strengthen and grow your new faith. Maybe it’s a small group of friends or a church.  Whatever it looks like, get some support.

And most of all, welcome to God’s family.

20170828_164558_resizedP – Prayer:

God, your Word is so powerful.  Your Good News is so good. Each word has purpose and points us to the love you have for us. A love so great, that you sent your Son to die in our place so that we could be together for eternity.  Nothing I ever say or do can make me right or perfect, it’s only by your gift of grace.  That overwhelms me and frees me at the same time.  I can’t thank you enough.  But I give my life to you, to use for your purpose.  Grow me and guide me to where you would have me make the most impact for you.  Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #37 - The Most Holy Place
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
Bible Verse Image
I will meet you there and I will talk to you.
Exodus Bible Study

It’s In The Clouds That We Find God

Have you ever looked out the window as your plane ascends, just as you are passing through the cloud cover? You can’t see anything around you but gray, puffy, air.  Sometimes, depending on what time of day you fly, you may climb out of the clouds just in time to see the sun peeking above.  It’s a beautiful and glorious sight.

I’ve always thought it would be cool to sit on a cloud and watch the sunrise or sunset.  I want to feel the soft, fluffy puffs wrap around my body like a blanket in the cool temperatures and rest in the comfort of the clouds.  Being on plane is probably the closest I’ll get in this life.  For now, I’ll hold on to the hope that in Heaven, I’ll be able to do it.

In the next three chapters of Exodus we read about God establishing more detailed explanations of the Ten Commandments. At the end, Moses climbs a mountain, into the cloud of God, and remains their for 40 days and nights.  God’s presence is all around him.  How amazing!

S – Scripture: Exodus 22-24

  • 23:2 – “You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”
  • 23:8 – “Take no bribes, for a bribe makes you ignore something that you clearly see. A 20170828_160234bribe makes even a righteous person twist the truth.”
  • 23:20-22 – “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you.”
  • 23:29-30 – “But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten you. I will drive them out a little at a time until your population has increased enough to take possession of the land. “
  • 24:10 – “There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself.”
  • 24:15-18 – “Then Moses climbed up the mountain, and the cloud covered it. And the glory of the LORD settled down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from inside the cloud. To the Israelites at the foot of the mountain, the glory of the LORD appeared at the summit like a consuming fire. Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”

O – Observation: 

  • God continues setting laws for the people of Israel to follow.  He breaks down specific situations and what the consequences are if someone disobeys the rules.
  • An Angel of the Lord was sent to protect and guide the Israelites safely to their Promised Land. They are warned to pay close attention to him and obey his instructions.
  • God promises to clear all of the current people living in their Promised Land, but not all at once.  There is an order and a timing for everything. God sees the whole picture and knows that the land needs tending as the Israelites move in.  If all of the people were to be taken out immediately, then the land would become desolate and wild animals would take over.
  • How amazing! To be in the presence of God and see his feet on the “brilliant blue lapis lazuli” surface.
  • Moses climbs higher on the mountain, into the cloud of God.  He is there for six days until God calls him from inside the cloud.  It looked like fire to everyone watching.  Moses climbs even higher and remained there for 40 days and nights. lapis-lazuli-115960_640

A – Application: 

There are many good lessons from these few chapters in Exodus.  God sends his angel to protect and guide the Israelites.  They are reminded to pay close attention to him and obey his instructions.  Just like God sending his Holy Spirit and angels to us, we need to be paying attention to where he calls us, knowing that they also protect us.

I also love the picture of God preparing the Promised Land for his people.  But they won’t get it all to themselves at once.  The land itself can’t hand the neglect that would be caused by not being tended to and left to wild animals.  God cares for all of his creation and works it all together for the betterment of his chosen people. The Israelites will get all that is promised to them, but little by little.

Even when I want something immediately, I can see the wisdom in the piece by piece method that God so often uses when admonishing blessings and promises on his people. If we got it all at once, what need for him would we have? How could our faith and hope grow if we always got what we wanted exactly when we asked for it?


But the greatest lesson I learned from this passage was the last few verses describing when Moses climbed the mountain into the glory and presence of God.  I broke it down into stages to help me understand the gravity of the scene.

Stage 1: Moses climbs the mountain and waits while God’s glorious cloud covered it.  He separates from the people, up to a quiet place.  Not much is said here, but I wonder if Moses needed the stillness and calm after leading a great number of people out of slavery and then through a dessert.  It’s in the peace that our hearts can settle, re-focus, and let go. There are no obligations or expectations, you can just be. You can just breathe.

Stage 2: After six days, God calls Moses by name from inside the cloud. I love the times when I have quieted my heart and surroundings so that I can hear the voice of God clearly in my mind.  I’ve never heard his audible voice before, I can only imagine it being terrifying, but amazing.  In the stillness it feels more like a tug or a thought that comes out of nowhere.  If I’m rushing through prayers, the Bible, and life, I often miss his voice.

Maybe those six days for Moses were a prep time for what was to come (it doesn’t really say what happens, this is just my thought on it). But he had to climb the mountain, into the cloud before God spoke to him and gave him further instructions. It took an action step in obedience on Moses’ part to get himself in a place where God could speak to him intimately.  We need that more than ever, don’t we? We need to fight for the time to sit and still our hearts so that we can discern God’s voice. This, I feel, is the key to great action, is first being quiet.

20170828_160103Stage 3: Everyone watching sees God’s glory come down on the mountain like a blaze of fire.  If I were an Israelite watching all of this go down, I would probably be slightly fearful of what could happen to Moses.  He is on a mountain that a fire from Heaven just crashed into.  Yet Moses kept walking up to meet God.

Or maybe, it would be just the thing I would expect from God.  After witnessing all that he had done through the plagues and parting the Red Sea, this might seem normal.  I think I like this mindset better: to be expectant of God’s amazing and almighty power.  To not be so surprised at his abilities, but pray specifically for them in their full capacity.  It’s like Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians:

 “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Ephesians 3:16-20

How would my life be different if I prayed and had faith in ALL that God is ALL the time? How much time would be spared of fear and worry if I fully trusted that my BIG and MIGHTY God could handle all that I prayed for and accomplish all of my needs or desires in amazing ways?

Stage 4: Moses ascends even further up the mountain, through the clouds, into God’s presence for 40 days and nights.

I love talking with people who are clearly seeking to climb their personal mountain to meet God.  They are longing for their passions and his purpose to collide.  Many times, I find myself in awe of the things God calls them to do.  These leaps of faith they take, though crazy, are all tethered to God and he is providing for each and every step as they go along, trusting in him.

Witnessing other people be obedient to God’s sometimes (but usually) crazy calling, strengthens me to trust in him as well with my journey.  When others walk boldly into a fire and cloud covered mountain in pursuit of God, I want to follow. I don’t want to just be a bystander. The excitement drowns out the fear.  It’s in the cloud that we find God and I want to be close to God more than anything.

20170828_155011


Do you find yourself at a particular stage?  Are you a bystander, watching others follow after God, but you are stuck? Where is God calling you to be at right now?  Do you need to be in the stillness for a time to renew and refocus?  Do you need to surround yourself with people who are pursuing God and will encourage you to do the same? Do you need to take the step into God’s cloud, not always seeing exactly what is around you, but trusting that he is there?

Take a little time today to just be still and evaluate where you are at.  There is no shame or guilt to be had with this, only grace. Quiet yourself and your surroundings so that God can swoop down like a blaze of fire onto your heart and stir you to where you need to go next.  Listen, then do.  It may take effort and accountability.  It may seem crazy and outrageous.  But you are tethered to a God who can do “infinitely more than we can hope or imagine.” Best of all, he loves you so much that he will never leave you to do it on your own.

P – Prayer:

God, thank you for your good Word today.  I love being in a place that I can hear your voice.  Forgive me for the times I rush through life and miss what you would really have me do.  I know that it’s never as good as you would have intended.  I don’t want to miss those blessings anymore.  I long to climb the mountain into your presence.  I long to be still and listen to where you would have me go.

I know that I’m not along in this and I pray for those who have that desire too.  I pray that you would speak to each person today.  Reveal where they are at and where you would have them be.  Renew and refocus their faith so they can be obedient to you.

You can do so much more than we can think or imagine.  Help us to be expectant of that.  Help us to pray boldly for that! You are so good, and you do great things.  Amen.