February 16, 2020

What I Read Today;

Galatians 2; Luke 3; Isaiah 14; Psalm 47; Leviticus 19-20

Galatians 2 is all about one thing.  Grace.

Grace.  That singular word that causes so much confusion.

Grace.  The idea that God loved me so much that he rescued me.

Grace.  The idea that Jesus willingly put on himself the sin and shame that I should have been prosecuted for.

Grace.  The mystery of God.

Grace.  The idea that we can’t save ourselves, so God saved us.

Grace.  The fact that God comes to all people no matter what they’ve done or said.

Grace is what God is all about.  He holds out the hand of grace and mercy to everyone who exists.  God offers to wipe away all the guilt and shame.  He offers his love to all who will receive it.

Grace.  The incredible mercy and love Jesus has showered on all of us.

February 15, 2020

What I Read Today;

Galatians 1; Luke 2; Isaiah 13; Psalm 46; Leviticus 17-18

God is about to spend a lot of time talking about sex.  It’s funny, A lot of people will become uncomfortable reading God’s word.  Yet those same people have no problem watching scenes on television that would have been rated X 40 or 50 years ago.

God spent a lot of time talking about sex because he could see the devastation that our sexual immorality would cause.  He could see how far some of us would fall.  Families are devastated when one spouse cheats on another.  Children will be scarred for life.

We don’t need to review the statistics to see the damage our sexual ethic has caused.  Spend five minutes on the internet, and you can see how far we’ve fallen.

Our immortality has caused our society, problems that will take generations to sort out.  That is why God gave Moses the words of Leviticus 18.  It was a warning.  A warning that has been declared old fashioned and out of place.

If God’s warning is out of place, then explain to me how it is that we are now seeing sexual assaults on the rise?  Why are we as divorce rates rise we see the deterioration of children’s behavior in our classrooms?

God created us as sexual beings.  But that was to be confined in the context of a marriage.  We decided we were smarter than God.  Look where that’s gotten us.

We need to return to the idea that it is wrong to cheat on our spouses.  We need to regain some personnel responsibility when conducting our personnel lives.  We need to make clear that it is never acceptable to force someone to have sex for us when we hold positions of power.  We need to find a way to get the message to young men that you are responsible for the children you create and that it is never OK to abandon that child.  We need to come back to God’s word to have an honest discussion about what is right and what is wrong.

Our children depend on us!

February 14, 2020

What I Read Today;

Leviticus 15-16; Psalm 45; Isaiah 12; Luke 1; 2 Corinthians 13

As we go through the book of Leviticus, we witness all of the ceremonies dedicated to sin, fellowship, and guilt.  We hear about holiness and the priesthood.  We listen as we read about ceremonial cleanliness.

Then we come to the day of atonement.

In spite of our best efforts, we are still not clean.  Even if we follow every jot and tittle of the Levitical law, we won’t be perfect. Our consciences will be screaming at us, accusing us every time we mess up.  That’s who we are.

God is trying to show us in the Day of Atonement, how incredibly difficult it is for us to get behind the curtain and fellowship with God.  He’s pointing out that only certain people can actually get to be in his presence.  Look at the procedure for entering into the Sanctuary, otherwise known as the Holy of Holies.

  1. Only on a specific day
  2. The priest must atone for his own sin through the sacrifice of a young bull
  3. The priest must bath in water
  4. The priest must put on his priestly garments
  5. The priest then must make a sacrifice for the congregation of two male goats and a separate burnt offering of a ram for a burnt-offering
  6. He made atonement for himself and his house then the congregation.
  7. He had to perform the ceremony for the rams, declaring one an offering and the other the scapegoat who would carry the sins out of the camp
  8. The priest would bring the incense inside the curtain so that a cloud of incense would cover the mercy seat.
  9. He would put the blood of the bull in front of the mercy seat and before the mercy seat
  10. He would then slaughter the goat for the people
  11. No one could be inside the tent while this was happening.
  12. When he was finished, he had to bath again
  13. The person who led the goat outside the camp had to bath
  14. The person who burned the offering had to bath himself

Why all this?

Because we are sinful.  No matter how well we live our lives, we don’t measure up to God’s standards.

But we don’t do these rituals anymore?  Why is that?

Because these rituals were pointing the people to the one who would set them free from sin and shame.  The ceremonies were pointing to Jesus.

We can enter the holy place now and experience the presence of a Holy God because Jesus paid for our sins.  He took the punishment so that we didn’t have to.

February 13, 2020

2 Corinthians 12; Mark 16; Isaiah 11; Psalm 44; Leviticus 13-14

We’ve moved a lot over the past 35 years.  It’s always exciting to find new places and meet new people.  But there is one constant in every move.  There is always a specific place in the state that dominates everyone else.  The focus on these areas is almost always viewed with eye rolls outside of the community.

Two examples of this are Chicago and Seattle.

When people think about the states of Washington and Illinois, the first thought is the two major cities.  Downstaters and folks from the Eastern half of Washington feel neglected because of all the attention given to the major cities.

This sometimes breeds contempt from people outside of those communities.

This sometimes happens within the church.  There can be a viewpoint that bigger is better.   A charismatic Pastor with a large Sunday attendance can sometimes be viewed as “more successful” than a small rural church with less than 100 people.

I remember one large church in the Chicago area that would host conferences to explain to people that particular church methods for success.  You could almost hear the eyes rolling in people’s heads.

Paul has been on a roll talking about this type of behavior in 2 Corinthians 11 and 12.  He winds it up in chapter 12 by saying, “when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I think Paul is saying that, while the number of people coming to Church on Sunday has some value, God puts each of us in a ministry for a purpose.  God definitely wants us to proclaim the Gospel to as many people as possible.  However, that doesn’t make a church with thousands of people attending each week more effective than a small church with less than fifty attending on a given Sunday, a bible study with less than 10, or a blogger with a following of 5.

God has given each of us a purpose and a ministry.  In the specific context of our ministries, it is essential to remember that success is measured not by external agencies or numbers, it is judged by God.  We are the vessels that the Holy Spirit uses.  We are successful when we are faithful to what God is asking you and me to do.

 

February 12, 2020

What I Read Today;

2 Corinthians 11; Mark 15; Isaiah 10; Psalm 43; Leviticus 11-12

Well, that didn’t take long, did it?

Jesus’ ascension had only taken place less than 30 years before Paul writes 2 Corinthians.  Already, people are struggling with how believers are to behave and worship.  Pretty amazing when you think about it.

Judaizers were former Jews who demanded that new Christians conform to Jewish traditions.  They would trouble the church around the Mediterranean until the fall of Jerusalem.  Paul battled in Corinthia, Galatia, Ephesus, and elsewhere.  Their brand of works righteousness would be talked about in the book of Acts.

While they were the first false teachers to come out of the woodworks, they would not be the last.

To this day, there is a fight going on between orthodox Christians and more liberal Christians.  The 20th century saw the rise of the prosperity Gospel.  We have new legalism coming at us in some parts of the church.  My personnel favorite today is the Gospel of the political party.

The true Gospel is simpler and easier to understand than all of them.  We need to focus our lives on turning to Jesus in daily repentance for the forgiveness of our sins.  Then we need to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives as we seek to draw nearer to Jesus.

Fads will come and go.  Some will be more popular than others.  But the true pure Gospel will always come out on top.

February 11, 2020

What I Read Today;

Leviticus 9-10; Psalm 42; Isaiah 9; Mark 14; 2 Corinthians 10

The nation of Israel was supposed to be a shining example of holiness.  God had wanted the nation to be such an excellent example that the other countries of the world would look up to Israel as a place of hope, justice, and, most importantly, salvation.

Unfortunately, after David’s death, it never quite worked out that way.  As Isaiah becomes the prophet to the nation, things aren’t going the way they are supposed to.

In Isaiah 9, Isaiah does something that hadn’t been done before.  He proclaims the Gospel to people outside of the Jewish community.  Isaiah tells of a man who will come and take the message that God loved them and wanted to save them to the world outside of Israel.

God never intended for the Jewish people to hide behind the closed walls of their kingdom.  He always expected the people’s faith to be so apparent that people in other nations would come to them out of curiosity and the desire to have what they had.  The Jewish people hadn’t quite gotten the message.

God was now going to change the rules.

He was about to force the Jewish people into exile.  This would begin the process of forcing them to show their faith to the world.  Then after they came back together, foreign governments would occupy the nation.  Again, people from around the world would see the Jewish faith.

Most importantly, he would send Jesus.  And no small territory could hold the message that Jesus left to the world.  It would explode out of the community and take the world by storm.

So here’s my question for you.  Are we taking the message of the Gospel outside of the walls of our church? Are we hiding inside the walls of our church and hope that people come to us?  What does our individual life say to those around us about our faith?

The Gospel won’t be contained.  Will you cooperate and help to take the message around your individual community?

 

February 10, 2020

What I Read Today;

Leviticus 7-8; Psalm 41; Isaiah 8; Mark 13; 2 Corinthians 9

I am a diabetic.  I wear an insulin pump.  This morning I was filling a new cannula, a tube that holds my insulin supply and putting in a new insertion site.  For insulin to work, it has to be inserted into my body.  This morning I didn’t get the connection quite right.  Insulin ended up dripping down the outside of my stomach, doing me absolutely no good.

In Isaiah 8, we hear about a church where the relationship to God was only skin deep.  The people were putting their faith in their kings, their wealth, and everything but God.  The Gospel wasn’t penetrating their lives.  They were going to church but it wasn’t having any effect.

God wants a relationship with us that is more than skin deep.  A relationship that effects how we live.  He’s looking to penetrate our hearts, minds, and to the very depths of our souls.  It is the intimate relationship he wants with you, not the superficial.

Strive to seek God today. Search for him in unexpected places.  Dive deep into your relationship!