Sunday, December 19, 2010

He Will Carry You...

I thank the Lord for deciding to grant me another year of life upon this earth. Another year to serve, learn, grow and love. At the same time another year full of hard times, trials, doubts, fears and uncertainties. Yet as life goes on I know my Master in a more intimate way. I feel much more connected to His heart, I value more and more what is important to Him and less what is important to me. I don't know what your life is like but we all go through times when life seems dark, when it seems that there is no way out. You feel trapped, scared and helpless. I want to show you a promise from God in the book of Deuteronomy 1:29-31.

Let's go back a little. Israel escapes from Egypt, they are on their way out but their is just one thing. They are backed up against the Red Sea and the Egyptian army, their is no way out. Put yourself in their place, what would you do? Freak out, run around, maybe try to swim and make it to the other side or just surrender? Just at the right moment God parts the sea in two and gives you a way out. Wow! How many times have we heard this story and never really realized how heightened the emotions must have been that day. After this God led them through the wilderness, gave them the law in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. The people entered into a special covenant relationship with God and received a new way of life. They went from being slaves to being the sons of the King of the universe. They were even promised to receive a special new land which flowed with milk and honey. After God came to meet Moses on Mt. Sinai, Israel headed out to take over the new promised land. To make the story short, they disobeyed and the penalty was death to all but two men. They would had to wander in the desert for 40 years until every last one of them died! We come to the point where they are all gone and a new generation rises up and is ready to enter the promised land. After they had crossed the Jordan and defeated two kings Moses decided to give the law again in a sermon type of way. That's the book of Deuteronomy the constitution of Israel as a nation. Israel had seen God carry them through the wilderness with many miracles and wonders.

The verses I want to focus on are 29-31. God is calling His people to do a hard task, take out the nations before them. Some are giants, most are bigger than them and all in all it's a scary situation for them. What does God say? He tells them, " Do not be shocked, nor fear them. The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place." I cried as I read this passage yesterday, God carries us as a father carries his son. Do you realize how much God loves you? You might be going through some really hard times with the economy, with your family, who knows. But I want to let you know, if you have given your life to the Lord Jesus, if you have repented from your sins and truly believed in Him, God carries you as a father carries his son. What's your Red Sea, what impossible situation are you facing? Know that God is right there, He might not speak to you in an audible voice, He might not even let you feel His presence but know that He's there and after all is done you will be able to say, "The Lord carried me through it all just as a father carries his son."

Why does God do this? I think for a couple reasons. First, so that we know Him in a more intimate way (by the way what are we without a living relationship with Him). Second, to make us depend on Him and not on ourselves. Last and most important, to grow our faith. When the moment comes that God asks us to do something difficult we will need to have a deeper faith to be able to trust Him. And when we've went through the storm with Him we will know that He is faithful and that we can trust Him with our lives. I challenge you to fully give yourself over to Him and trust Him. You will then discover that God truly loves and cares about you especially when you are going though life's impossible moments.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

No Longer I...

Over the span of a year and two months I've been in Peru. To be honest I haven't enjoyed hardly any of it. Most of the time it's a chore and I can't count the number of times that I've wanted to return home. I can truly say that it's only by God's grace that I'm still here but surprisingly I can say that I'm glad that I haven't went back. I write to tell you that I now am understanding what Paul meant when he wrote Galatians 2:20 that says, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." This verse has nothing to do with salvation from our sins but in fact a painful process that results in a beautiful thing. The Lord Jesus said that Paul would suffer much for the name of Christ, this is certain. He was flogged, beaten, ship wrecked and even stoned. He passed many nights without food, sleep or adequate clothing. Paul is a man who knew what it meant to suffer for the name of Christ and out of those sufferings and difficult times God imparted wisdom to him and something even more important, a personal and intimate relationship with his Savior, Jesus Christ.

So we come to this passage and the apostle Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Paul had learned the biggest struggle of every Christian, surrender. He had been beaten and bruised so many times that He learned to submit to the will of God. He could finally say I no longer live, Christ lives in me! This is to say that his will had been submitted to the will of Jesus and he could now say, not what I desire but what You desire, and in this way Paul died to himself and to his own desires. But what did he have to do to get to this point? Be put through God's school of hard knocks and learn little by little to die to self and submit to exactly what his Lord Jesus wanted of him and the result was amazing. Paul did miracles, healed, taught of Christ and led many into a personal relationship with Jesus.

You see, the truth is that we are all called to this level of surrender and commitment to our Lord. Our biggest struggle as people is giving up what we think to be ours. Our stuff, our cars, our house and most of all, our free will. We don't trust God! This is our great problem. We have one life to choose who we will serve and we only have two options, ourselves or our Lord and Commander Jesus Christ. The Bible says in Matthew 16:24-27, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.'" Christ is our Commander and we are called to get in line, shut up and obey His orders. To finish I want to ask, Who do you serve?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Leviticus 5:14- 6:7 (Guilt Offering)

We made it to the last sacrifice. This last one also has to do with sin but it's a little different. Have you ever heard someone say that all sin is the same? I've heard it many times and asked them to back up that argument biblically but they couldn't. We're going to see here that God does not view all sin as the same. The Guilt Offering, also known as the Awsham in Hebrew, is a sacrifice that deals with holy things or things that are set apart. As we continue with the subject of holiness we're going to see that God holds a high value on the things that He calls holy. Let's jump in and take a look at what God has to say about the things that He set apart for holy use.

First off, did you know that some sins have a higher price than others. In the sin offering the common people could offer four things: a female goat, female lamb, pigeon or a turtledove. In Leviticus 5:14-16 we see that the Guilt Offering required a ram, no exceptions, not even for the poor. The ram in the Jewish culture was a symbol of prosperity because it held the seed and had the power to reproduce. When we violate the holy things of God we lose part of our future or prosperity. How so? The Guilt Offering was used in the case of sexual sin as well (Leviticus 19:20-22). Did you know that your sexuality is a holy thing set apart by God for your husband or wife. When we choose to live outside of the boundaries that God has set for us we are out of His protection and can/will lose a part of our future (Leviticus 18 gives guidelines on what God expects as far as sex goes). If you choose to sleep around and you have a child or obtain a sexual disease, those are things that cannot be taken away and will most definitely affect your future. How are you treating your sexuality?

Next in verses 17-19 God says that even if the person sinned while being unaware it is still sin. Our level of understanding doesn't make sin something else, it's still sin. I man who once asked me, "Well, don't you think that if you don't know it's sin that for you it's not sin?", I didn't know how to respond because I didn't have as good of a grasp on the Bible but later I found out that it's not true. Even if you don't know, it's still sin. Our responsibility is to know the Bible and find out what God expects from us.

Another case of use for the Guilt Offering is in the personal relationships of Israel (Lev 6:2-3). The examples here are the following: deceit (in regard to a deposit or security entrusted to him), robbery, extortion, and finding something that was lost and then lying about it. When we use our relationships with others in order to gain we are taking something that is set apart and using it for an unholy purpose. Not only did the person have to offer the Guilt Offering but also had to pay back 120%. There's too many people who believe that after wronging someone all that is due is a simple I'm sorry. Let's use the break it buy it principle here. If we harm someone or cause some damage it's our responsibility to go above and beyond and make the situation right. This is not only meant to look out for the other party but also meant to fix the relationship as well. God is all about relationships. In the law it's easy to think that God was so demanding and cruel but it's really the contrary. If we look at the context of Israel just coming out of slavery we have to understand something. They had no idea how to live in peace with each other. God gave them the the civil code (Exodus 20-23; Numbers 5-6, 15, 28-30) while they were in the desert so that they would know how to relate with their God and also how to have right relationships with their neighbors. God is all about relationships and desires us to live in peace and love with other believers.

Lastly in 6:6-7 we see an even deeper issue. The sin that lies in our hearts. The very thing that separates us from God. How do we deal with that? Simple, by faith in Jesus Christ and turning around 180 degrees saying, "I don't want to go that way anymore, I don't want to sin against you anymore Lord Jesus". The good news is that God can and will clear the guilt in between us and Him and will make our relationship right. I thank God for His Son whom He offered on the cross. Jesus is our one-size fits all sacrifice. Through Him and only through Him can we approach God. The book of Leviticus is the heart of God and these five sacrifices show us some practical principles on how to approach a holy God as an unholy people. God has never changed His system, salvation has always been by grace through faith. These sacrifices are the grace of God. The fact that He showed them how to approach Him is grace or unmerited favor; and the faith of the Israelites in the sacrifice is what cleaned them of sin.

To finish up let's take a look at Romans 7:23-25, "...but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Wow! That's all I can say, Christ set us free from sin. Sin is anything that separates us from God and we had no way to approach God because of our sin. God set us free, let us not be conformed to our old ways but let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds through the Word of God. If you desire more of God, if you are sick of being defeated by sin, know that there is victory in Christ. He desires us to have a holy life. Amen!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Leviticus 4:1- 5:13 (Sin Offering)

The Sin Offering. As we go tearing down misconceptions of Leviticus and the five sacrifices that we find here we're just now entering into what are called the expiatory sacrifices or, sacrifices that deal with sin. The Sin Offering found in Leviticus 4:1- 5:13 is called Chata'ah in the Hebrew. The word comes from an archery term that technically means to miss the mark. That's what we're dealing with today, missing the mark. How many times do you feel as a Christian that you miss the mark? No matter how much we desire to be holy and pure we as humans make mistakes, it's a fact. Thanks be to our God who offered His Son as a one-size fits all sacrifice. Just by faith in His blood we have forgiveness of our sins, by His precious blood we are reconciled and made right with God. Thank You Lord!

This section of Scripture deals with unintentional sin. If we look at the contrary (intentional sin) we can get a better idea as to what unintentional sin really is. In the Hebrew the word intentional is defined as "done with a high hand", in other words it's sin done with a set purpose against God. Unintentional could be defined as passive sin. In this category sins such as the following would most likely be included: sins of ignorance, sins of omission, sins committed without conscious intent and intentional non-defiant sins (some example are in Numbers 15:22-31). I don't know about you but I've got some things like these in my life that need taken care of. Let's take a deeper look at the Sin Offering and pull out a couple principles along the way.

This passage is interesting because it's divided into four parts: The priests (vv3-12), the community(vv13-21), the leadership (vv22-26), and the common people (vv27-35). The first thing that sticks out to me is this division which appears to go from highest importance to lowest. In other words for each category God required a certain animal or animals, for the sin of the priest a bull was necessary and would have been of higher value than a female goat which would have been offered for a common person. The first thing we must know in our approach to understanding sin and it's effects is that the higher up you are and the more influence you have over the lives of others, the higher the price of sin for you. How is that to be applied today? If a Pastor sins and goes astray, how many more people will be affected than if a member of the congregation falls away and leaves the church? As leaders and representatives of God we need to realize that our sin has a high price, not only will it affect us but many others who follow us. In North America we really enjoy the idea of our "freedom". We don't want anybody to tell us what we can or can't do because we have our "rights", well let me tell you, you have fun living in your sin while you are young because people who you will love, people who you can't see yet, people who don't exist will feel the effects of your disobedience toward God. Many people tell me, it's just one smoke or one party, who's it going to hurt? The answer just might be the one's that you will grow to love the most. Our sin will always have consequences.

Next, in verses 4, 15, 24, 29 and 33 we see another interesting principle. The person who offered the sacrifice had to lay their hands on the animal and then it was acceptable for sacrifice. In the Jewish culture this laying on of hands was a symbol of taking responsibility for the sacrifice. The person was acknowledging that the animal was pure, without defect, and ready for sacrifice. We also see this in the New Testament when a leader was to be entered into the ministry. The apostles or leaders would lay hands on the man and acknowledge that he was a pure man ready to be used by the Lord in the ministry. Now that we know this, what does this actually say to us? Have you ever heard this? "The Devil made me do it!!!" I have and it's very much related with this principle. We must take responsibility for our sins and the consequences thereof. How many people run around wondering why their lives are falling apart. They don't even stop to acknowledge that it might have something to do with their licentious lifestyle that causes all to fall down. When we find ourselves far from God the first thing we need to do is recognize that we are the ones at fault. We must know that it's not God who separates us from Him but our very sin which acts as a vehicle which carries us far from our One, True Love.

The last principle that I would like to point out lies in Leviticus 5:7-13. If we go back to Leviticus 4:27-35 we see that the sacrifice was either to be a female goat (vv27-31) or a female lamb (vv32-35). In Leviticus 5:7-13 we see an exception. The Israelite if poor could offer a pigeon or turtledove. This wasn't so that the man who had lambs and goats could save money, this was for the poor, those who couldn't afford a goat or a lamb. How gracious of a God we have, One who understands our weaknesses and inabilities. God provided a way so that all could have a right relationship with Him. Although He is so big, He is so humble and loving, because of that He sent His Son Jesus to the earth to die for you and me. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, took our sins upon His very shoulders, and died on the cross in our place. The punishment that we deserved was taken on by Him. What does he ask of us? That we truly believe in Him, that we repent of our sin, that means turn 180 degrees and no longer live like we did before.

Although Christ died there are many who use His grace or unmerited favor as a license to sin. This is straight up wrong and disgusting. Let's go to 1 Peter 1:17-21. It tells us that we must conduct ourselves with fear while we are on this earth because we were redeemed by the very blood of God's Only Son. I ask that you be honest with yourself wherever you are, whoever you are. Are you using the blood of Christ as a license? Do you say to yourself that you can do it because God will forgive you? It says in 1 Peter 1:17 that God judges impartially according to each one's works. How is your heart, what kinds of movies do you watch, what kind of music do you listen to? God is coming back soon and He's coming back for a pure bride, a pure church. If He came back today do you think He would have reason to take you? God bless you all.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Leviticus 3 (Peace Offering)

How much has God done for you? You might respond by saying not much or you may truly recognize the grace (unmerited favor of God) in your life and you really desire to give back to Him for what He has done and continues doing for you. The Peace Offering, also known as “Shelmim” in the Hebrew has everything to do with giving back to God. The word shelmim means to settle or rebalance the account.  The offering was applied in quite a few different cases some of those are the following: successful military campaign (1 Sam 11:15), cessation of famine or pestilence (2 Sam 24:25), an acclamation of a candidate for kingship (1 Sam 11:15) (1 Kings 1:9, 19), national spiritual renewal (2 Chronicles 29:31-36), an annual family reunion (1 Samuel 20:6), and the harvesting of the first fruits (Exodus 22:29-31) (1 Samuel 9:11-13, 22-24, 16:4-5). These are a few examples that apply to the Peace Offering. We can tell by the list that these are obvious blessings given by the hand of God. The Israelites would offer this as something much more than just a mere spoken thank you, they actually gave things up as an attempt to resettle or balance the account in between them and God. There are a lot of rich principles in chapter 3, let’s take a look at some of them.
When we truly recognize the hand of God in our life how should we respond, with a thank you? What about a dollar out of our pocket into the offering plate? Verse 1 shows us that our offering must be without defect. Offerings with defect were not accepted. Entering into the theme of thankfulness we need to recognize that our offering must be with a pure heart and joy in our giving. For many people giving their tithes and offerings is like pulling teeth, it doesn’t come out easily and it’s a painful process. It’s true that it could hurt a little if you give generously but the joy in our hearts upon having the opportunity to give should override that little bit of pain. If we can’t give to God with a pure heart it’s much better that we don’t give at all. God expects us to have a clean, pure heart in giving back to Him.
Next we see in verses 3 and 4 that in our giving back to God our offering has to be the best. The verse tells us that the Israelites had to give the fat of the offering. The fat in their time was the best of the best. In Genesis 4:4 and 45:18 we see two examples of what the word fat meant for them. Before we move on we should ask why, why give God the best?  Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are a few reasons:  God, whether you believe He exists or not, gives us the very breath we breathe and could take it away in this very moment, He deserves the best because of who He is, He has done so many thing for us, and not to mention He owns everything including the clothes on our very backs. Knowing this we see that everything we have is just stewardship, things that we handle for a short time. We are responsible for these things and are expected to steward them responsibly. We should give God the very because if we can, we are showing that we have no other gods before Him, it shows that He is Lord of all our things. If you can’t give God the best of what you have, if you don’t have joy in what you give to Him it’s probably because there’s a deeper heart issue at hand. If you can’t give God your best it’s probably because God is not the Lord of all your life and that in His eyes is a problem (Luke 18:18-23).
Before we finish let’s take a look at 2 Corinthians 8. We can match up this chapter with Leviticus 3 because we see quite a few principles on what real giving looks like. It’s clear that this passage is about money (some of the principles have only to do with money) but it can be applied to most areas of giving in our life.
·         (v1) It’s not wrong to talk about money
·         (v2) The church in Corinth gave out of their poverty
·         (v3) Give what God enables you to give, give beyond your abilities, and don’t give because you’re forced, give because God wants you to
·         (v4) Don’t dread giving but rather be delighted in it
·         (v5) True giving starts with giving yourself to God
·         (vv6-7) Organized giving has to be instructed, aided, and taught
·         (v8) True giving shows spiritual maturity
·         (v9) Jesus modeled to us what true generosity really is and He won't ask us to do something that He hasn't already done
·         (vv10-12) Don’t hold back because of what appears to be lack (Mark 12:41-44)
·         (vv13-15) Giving is individual and communal, if everyone gives what they’re supposed to there will be enough for all (Acts 2:43-47)
·         (vv16-21) Handling of all funds must be open and honest
·         (v22) For people to be trusted with funds they must be tested
·         (v24) Giving is a testimony to others
The best example of the Peace Offering is what we do on Sunday mornings, the giving of our tithes and offerings. We are thanking God for the income that He's given us and re-balancing the account Although finances are just one area of our lives these principles can be applied in many other areas. We can give back to God in many ways, with the time He’s given us, with the gifts and talents He’s given to us, among many other ways. By sacrificing, we are showing that our hearts are thankful and that God is the Lord of all the areas of our lives.  How are we handling the blessings that our Lord has given us? Do we hoard them or do we decide to freely give back? Do we give to others and choose to be good stewards or do we choose to invest only in ourselves?
Before we finish this lesson I would like to share a story that I found on the internet, it’s called….
The Pearl Necklace
The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand she saw them, a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. "Oh please mommy, can I have them? Please mommy, please!" Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face. "A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma." As soon as Jenny got home she emptied her piggy bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday her grandmother gave her that new dollar bill that she was waiting for and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace. Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere, sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?" She responded, "Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you." Her father replied, "Then give me your pearls." Somewhat startled Jenny frantically said, "Oh daddy, not my pearls. You can have Princess, the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail., remember daddy? It's the one you gave me. She's my favorite." The understanding father said, "That's okay honey, daddy loves you. Good night." And with that he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?" The little girl said, "Daddy, you know I love you." Her father again asked for the pearls. "Oh daddy not my pearls, you… you can have my babydoll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper." The father again understandingly replied, "That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you little one, daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?" Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy and when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver she finally said, "Here daddy, it's for you." With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind father reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had them all the time but was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.

What are you holding onto?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Leviticus 2 (Grain Offering)

Today let's talk about the Grain Offering found in chapter 2 of Leviticus. Again the Grain Offering has nothing to do with sin. I want to the Lord for the book of Leviticus because it shows us how to approach a Holy God as an unholy people. The word in Hebrew for the Grain Offering is "Minchah", it means the apportioned offering. The way it was explained to me is kind of like a person who has a pizza, the grain offering is like giving God one slice of your pizza, that is apportioning. This offering is interesting, it doesn't involve any blood or animals but instead grain. In verses 1-3; 14-16 we see that the Israelites could bring their offering in a few different forms: fine flour, fresh heads of grain, or grits of new growth. The Israelites would bring their Grain Offering in whatever stage of growth. If the plants were fully mature and they had been harvested the Israelites offered fine flour, if the plants were still growing they would bring the grits of new, if they were about to mature they brought the heads of grain. Another important part of the Grain Offering is that the Israelites had to depend completely on God for their grain harvest. If there was no rain there was no grain and that's not good. Their economy wasn't like ours, there was no McDonalds or Taco Bell, they had to depend on the rain and who makes the rain fall? Now that we know a little bit of the context, how can we actually apply this to our lives?

First of all, God wants your surrender and trust at whatever stage of life you're in. There's a lot of people who say, "I'm too young for God to use me or I'm too old, or I'm not sufficient" (Ex 3:11). It doesn't matter what your excuse is, God wants your obedience and surrender at whatever stage of life you're in. Just like Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:12 don't let people look down on your youthfulness. There is no such thing as too old or too young in the Kingdom of God, it's never too late to give to God.

Did you know that God wants what we have right now? I'm a missionary, I hardly have any physical possessions apart from the clothes on my back. Does that mean I don't have anthing to give back to God? No! That's just an excuse, God wants what we have in this moment. Maybe you find yourself in the same situation as me, you don't have much to give so you think you have nothing to offer God. Know that that's not true, there are many things we can give to God in this moment, perhaps things not tangible but things very important to us. If God asks that I give up a day of watching television so that I can spend more time with Him I must be willing to do that. We need to remember that God doesn't need anything, He just desires the heart of the sacrifice and wants to know that He is Lord of ALL the areas of my life.

In the Jewish culture they had to depend on the rain in order to have grain. This sacrifice was also meant to constantly remind the Jewish people of their God who provided for them. By their sacrifice they were recognizing that their harvest came from the Lord, not from their own hands. It would have made more sense to not sacrifice right. Without sacrificing you have more, well this is kind of where faith comes in. Are you going to show God that you trust Him and recognize that He is the one who blessed you, or will you hoard the blessing for yourself? How many times do we actually recognize who gives us all the things we have. In the society of the United States it's easy to become comfortable and think, "look at what my hands have done." If you find yourself in that train of thought let me tell you that it's not by your hands but by the hands of God that you are blessed. We must constantly remember Him, He wants us to remember that He is Jehovah Jireh (God our Provider). If we don't constantly remember God we will become prideful, our head will swell up, and we will start to believe that our success was brought about by our own hands.

I want to say again, God doesn't need our things. He does all this for us. Yes, for us, the sacrifice isn't for God, it's for what happens in our heart. If we don't continually receive from God and as a practice give to back to Him and to others we will become like the Dead Sea. Do you know why there's no life in it? Because it only receives and never gives anything out. A sea or lake that is alive not only receives but gives it's water out to other sources. God desires that we have life. That is why He desires that we give and sacrifice, so that we might experience true, vibrant life. There is life in death to ourselves.

"God we thank you Holy Lord for what you've done for us. Many times we are ungrateful and don't remember you, but today we just want to say thanks without asking for anything, just a simple thanks. God we love you and always want to be willing to sacrifice what we have in this moment. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Leviticus 1 (Burnt Offering)

I'm sorry for my inconsistency in blogging, I desire more consistency in keeping track of the things I'm doing and learning and am going to try to improve that. As I continue my study through the law I currently find myself in Leviticus. God is opening up His Word to me and challenging me to live a holier life. I would today like to share with you all some lessons God has showed me in the first chapter of Leviticus.

Leviticus 1 talks about the burnt offering, in Hebrew called "oleh" meaning everything goes up. Good stuff here in Leviticus 1, this sacrifice, as said in the post Walk Through the Law, has nothing to do with sin, in fact the first three sacrifices have nothing to do with sin, it's the last two, the sin and guilt offering that act as expiatory sacrifices or sacrifices that deal with transgression. The burnt offering is different in that it is the only sacrifice in which the priest has no part. Normally the priest would have a part of the sacrifice that he could eat but this one was wholly set apart for God.

I want to start out by asking, does God need anything? Does God really need our sacrifice so that He can gain something? The answer of course is no. So if God doesn't need my sacrifice, then why all these laws about sacrifices and giving to God? The answer is what it does for us. The sacrifice is for what happens to our hearts when we offer it to God, the divine truth that is revealed to us about God upon sacrificing. Now of course today we don't sacrifice animals, we're really not supposed to (and if you are doing it watch out for the Animal Rights Activists), this was the law for some Jews about 4000 years ago but we can still pull out great principles as to what God requires of us His people. Leviticus is all about approaching a Holy God as an unholy people. Knowing this we can ask, why did God decide to give the order that the Israelite people partake in the burnt offering and even more relevant, why did He decide to tell us about it? We'll get to that at the end but for now I want to point out some principles found in chapter 1 and then I would like you to filter those through the theme of the burnt offering which will be found at the end of the post.

Verse 1 brings out a good point, it'd be easy to pass by quickly but we see an important principle here. It says "Then the Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting." You see, a leader receives revelation from God when he spends time with God. That revelation will change the lives of many when transmitted correctly, truthfully, and with love. This book is revelation straight from the heart of God to His leader and then transmitted to the people so that they could have a closer walk with their God. We as well need to always be with God, learning from Him so that we can transmit the truth He reveals to us to those that need it most.

I won't be going through every verse but I do want to point out two very important principles. The first of those is in verses 3 and 10. When we offer things to God it has to be the best, if not, it's not a sacrifice. The sacrifices offered here had to be without blemish or defect from the best of the herd or flock (Definition of defects in Lev 22:17-25). God deserves the best. How many times when giving our offerings do we choose to give a dollar or a few quarters instead of giving from the heart, although tithing and money offerings pertain to the peace offering in Leviticus 3 the principle is the same. How often do we give God what is comfortable for us to give, how many times do we really step out in faith and say God, you've done so much for me, you deserve the best and then give to Him from our heart. If our sacrifices to God don't hurt us, our heart is probably not in it and the heart is what God really desires (Genesis 4:2-7). Like we said, He doesn't need our stuff.

The last principle that I want to share is in verses 5 through 17. We see here a list of processes as to how the burnt offering was to be prepared. Just as said, our lives are to be a living and holy sacrifice but we need to know that the how to get there is contained in the mind of God and in His Holy Word. This life must be lived according to God's standards not what seems right in our own eyes. Our standards will always fall short of God's. Even if what He has us do seems weird or ridiculous it's the right thing (Joshua 6:3). There are too many Christians walking around living so much like the world that they couldn't even be distinguished between a purebred heathen and a true believer. We have lost the importance of holiness in today's preaching. We try so much to be like the world and we even justify ourselves with reasons like, "I'll be able to reach more people for Christ because they'll see that I'm like them." This thinking is wrong, we are called to be holy as God is holy, so let's examine the scriptures, spend time with our Lord, and when He shows us the path to holiness let's be obedient to His voice.

We now arrive to our answer from the earlier question. This is the central idea of Leviticus 1. In Romans 12:1 Paul says, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." He is referring to the burnt offering in Leviticus 1. When he says, present your bodies, he's talking about an inspection, in fact the same inspection that took place when an Israelite offered his sacrifice, the sacrifice had to be blameless, without defect. Each sacrifice was to be inspected by the priest before being offered on the altar, in the same we we are to be inspected by God to show that we are blameless before Him. Friends and family, we must be holy and blameless, offered completely to God. The main principle of the burnt offering is surrendering every area of our lives to God, just as everything went up in the offering so must our life be, completely surrendered to God. I want to ask you personally, are you surrendered to God? You might say yes right away but really think about it. Your music, what you watch, what you say, the things you do, what you wear, are you really surrendered to our Lord? If someone was to look at your iPod would they be able to tell if you're a true follower of Christ or are you spending your days blending in with the rest of the world? Every day before I start my devotions I have to surrender to God, I have to die to myself because my heart always wants to stray away from my One True Love and always wants to fulfill it's desires not those of God. It's sad but true. I have to surrender and say "God, whatever you want from me today, I will give it to you", if I don't do this it's impossible for me to hear the voice of God. I love you all and pray that you will hear the voice of God this week and obey. God bless you all!!!