Archive for January, 2013

“Then you shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel: six of their names on one stone and six names on the other stone, in order of their birth. With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, you shall engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall set them in settings of gold. And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. So Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders as a memorial…. “You shall make the breastplate of judgment. Artistically woven according to the workmanship of the ephod you shall make it: of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, you shall make it…. And the stones shall have the names of the sons of Israel, twelve according to their names, like the engravings of a signet, each one with its own name; they shall be according to the twelve tribes…. “So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the Lord continually. And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the Lord . So Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the Lord continually.
Exodus 28:9-12, 15, 21, 29-30 NKJV

This amazing passage is worth reading carefully in its entirety. Here we have a type of Christ (the High Priest) being described in detail. I believe it is more than a dress code. It is a physical manifestation of Christ’s heart towards us.

Everything is to be high quality in materials and in craftsmanship. This affirms what scriptures says about Him doing all things well. But that isn’t what really catches at my heart. The names of the children of Israel are carried on the shoulders as a memorial. The stones are constant reminders of the responsibility the priests have to carry others before The Lord in their prayers and other ministry. They give confidence to everyone who seeks help from God because their family name is written for everyone to see. Christ has taken the responsibility to bring His people to God and minister to their needs. While this is wonderful there is better yet to come.

Judgment is placed on the breastplate over the High Priest’s heart along with the Urim and Thummin. These two stones were a direct line to God for yes or no answers. They were still available during David’s reign and he often called for the ephod to be used to find the mind of God. The intentions of God for us along with His judgment are carried over the heart of the High Priest. Hebrews tells us that we have sympathetic High priest in the heavens who understands our situations.

Yes, I am greatly comforted by knowing that I can always count on Jesus to perform His ministerial duties well. I am blessed to know that He is always remembering us and working things out for our best. More that that, I am humbly grateful to find my judgment is tempered by His heart of love. Mercy and justice have truly met to bring me real, powerfully effective salvation.

What about us? How can we forget our responsibilities as priests and kings under Him? Do we carry out ministry with diligence? Do we judge with a sympathetic heart?

Lord help me shoulder the responsibilities You have placed upon me. Don’t let me lose sight of Your people in the business of ministry. Please, help me have Your heart when it comes to discerning others. Let my evaluation of others be sympathetic and accurate. In all of this let those I serve be confident that they can count on You to carry them in duty and in love. Amen.

Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Acts 6:7 NKJV

I think it is interesting that what slows the church’s progress in sharing the gospel is usually internal. The disciples from the Hellenist were troubled by the lack of care given to their widows. When the problem came to the twelve they called a large public meeting and resolved things out in the open. They were intent on staying focused on their calling. Pretty much everyone liked the idea so they appointed seven Hellenist to distribute the food. They made it look so simple. They solved the problem without any bureaucratic waste. This set the church and her leadership free to return to ministering the gospel.

The word spread so effectively that many of the priests became followers of Christ. I hold this up as a model for us all. Let’s not get all caught up in inner struggles among ourselves. Let’s meet together openly to solve the problems that arise and then let’s get back to spreading the word.

...and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Acts 5:40-42 NKJV

The Pharisees were having quite a time with the Apostles. People were receiving life changing ministry that was affecting the area around Jerusalem. The Pharisees were worried that this belief in Jesus would spread and since there was nothing they could do to disprove what had happened they did the only thing they could without directly opposing God – they beat them and told them to stop.

These regular guys left their punishment joyfully thanking God that they were counted worthy. No longer were they worried about being first. They weren’t rejoicing because many had joined them. They were celebrating the shame they had received as a mark of being like Jesus. Not only did they say they were happy to have served Jesus in suffering they continued to minister and put themselves at risk.

I am thankful for the small part that Jesus has allowed me to play in His kingdom. I am happy that He has allowed me to participate in helping others hear His message of hope.

But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
Acts 4:19, 20 NKJV

Should I obey God or you? This is the question Peter and John put to the religious leaders. We are only saying what we heard. We are only telling what we saw. I noticed that those leaders ignored the question. What can make us bold like those two men who refused to be intimidated by those who were superior in position and training? There are three parts to the answer.

In verse 13 the Pharisees were having trouble accepting their boldness because of their lack of education. These commoners should have been frightened and fallen into line. Then they realized that they weren’t just ordinary, uneducated, blue collar workers. These men had been with Jesus. That is the first part of boldness in tough spots. Our boldness comes from spending time with Him. Without His personal coaching we will miss our opportunities to witness with confidence.

The second part is found in verse 19. We are commanded to be witnesses. Our time spent with Him will result in ministry. We will teach what He has taught to others and minister to their needs through prayer as well. Obedience to Him makes us bold even when we are nervous about the outcome.

The last part is to simply say what we experienced. I saw this and He said that so we prayed and God answered. Truth is strong. It gives us confidence to stand in difficult situations.

Hang out with Jesus, do what He says, then tell others about what He did as a result.

Uncut

Posted: January 27, 2013 in Uncategorized
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An altar of earth you shall make for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you. And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it. Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it.
Exodus 20:24-26 NKJV

I love the directions that the Lord gives Moses concerning how to build and altar. After the Israelites had seen God’s visitation on the mountain, after they had heard the thunder and seen Moses go up to talks with God they knew that He was more than one of the well crafted gods of the Egyptians. So the Lord told them since they knew that about Him gold and silver images weren’t going to make it. They were to build Him an altar of ordinary dirt and stones. They couldn’t even cut the stones to make them uniform. It wasn’t to be so high that it needed steps. Everything was to be kept simple. Their hope wasn’t in an image or an impressive altar, it was in the Creator Himself.

The book of Hebrews says that we are being built into a spiritual house for God. It says that we are being aligned with the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus. God isn’t looking for prefabricated stones to stack in a uniform way like so many interchangeable parts so that it doesn’t matter where we get stacked. He is looking for natural stones that He can assembly in an organic way. We don’t need to fix ourselves up. We only need to do what He called us to. The world’s hope is not I us it is in Christ Himself. We aren’t supposed to impress people with how well formed we are we are supposed to impress them with how well Jesus has positioned for His kingdom agenda. When we line up with each other the way Christ intends we make a new place for Him to record His Name and we open His blessings on ourselves.

Uncut To Honor Him.

Per Diem

Posted: January 26, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted.
Exodus 16:20, 21 NKJV

I have worked for companies that gave us a per diem (Latin for “for a day”) to cover our expenses for travel, training, or related expenses. Many of us took advantage of the per diem system to make a few extra bucks. We stayed at inexpensive hotels, bought groceries instead of going out, and generally cut corners so that our per diem was greater than our actual expenses.

The Israelites were trying to do the same with their manna. They wanted to gather extra so they could rest up on the next day. They were trying to get ahead with God. While building up savings is good economics it is terrible policy for spirituality. Our tendency to do it on our own is already strong enough to get us off track. God has prepared true per diems for each of us. As we meet with Him, He supplies us with what will take us through the day. The “stuff” that worked yesterday is rotten and we need fresh food. We need a personal provision of His person every day.

Filling up on His freshness!

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Acts 1:8 NKJV

We are commanded to make disciples as we go through our life. We are commanded to live a holy lifestyle so others won’t be able to speak badly of Christ or His Church. We are commanded to be holy because He is holy. We are even commanded to do all these things with love in our hearts. How can this happen?

We are only able to do this by the power we receive from waiting for the Holy Spirit to come upon us. Like many, I believe in a crisis moment when we are baptized in His Spirit, but the New Testament communicates that there are many times of being filled. This continuing refilling as we wait on the Lord is how we are able to be His witnesses ‘to the end of the earth.’

In the busyness of life it is easy to hurry along on our own. Without His power we won’t be able to accomplish His purpose.

Taking time to wait on Him.