Wednesday, February 29, 2012
1Cor. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1Cor. 13:13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
It's leap day today and the normal software I use for my daily devotions had nothing to read today. Somehow no one had programmed in the fact that every four years we find ourselves with a leap day. I went back to a portion of yesterday's reading found in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul was talking about the very most important thing for Christians to understand. That is, the very nature of God. The very nature of God is not completely comprehensible for us yet, but someday it will be. So, on this leap day, let's be reminded about what is the most important concept for us to understand. Living the Christian life is not about things that we are able to do -- preach, prophesy, speak in tongues or other languages, but rather, to comprehend the very nature of God, himself. God is love. We all remember memorizing that little bit of scripture, but we don't really know all that it means for us.
Paul says that while we live here on this earth we only see God dimly, as if through a mirror. That is, we are unable at this time to see him face to face. We are able to participate in God, but from a distance. We are able to experience his nature -- his holy love, but only from a distance. However, later Peter tells us that we are invited to become "partakers of the divine nature." We WILL see face to face, we will comprehend in a way we have never thought imaginable and it will finally dawn on us that the things of this world, and even the spiritual gifts are nothing compared to the incredible nature of holy love which God wants to pour out on all of us.
Now, faith, hope and love remain -- not the spiritual gifts! But the greatest is love. Why? Because love represents knowing God, himself, on an incredibly intimate level.
I'm not sure that we, as Christians, truly comprehend the calling which we have. It is not to be soul winners, or intercessors, or church planters, or missionaries, but rather, our calling is to get to know God, and to get to know God, is to fall deeply in love with him. While we may yet see dimly, we are to seek his face on a daily basis. God's nature is love and he is deeply in love with you and me. Right in the middle of the Bible we find the "Song of Songs." Often it's a chapter we want to avoid, and yet, if we read it within the context of Christ being the bridegroom and all followers of Christ being the object of that love, we will begin to understand the potential depth to be found in our relationship with God. We are so in love with him that we desire nothing more than to seek him on a daily basis.
Everything else in life, even the good things, are nothing compared to falling in love with him. Paul had come to a point in his life where he understood this. The church in Corinth was arguing about so many different things and Paul wanted them to simply understand that love -- God's holy love -- was at the very core of our relationship with him and with others.
Yes, faith, hope and love remain -- but there is nothing to compare to love. So, on this leap day -- let's take a leap of faith and allow ourselves to fall deeply in love with Jesus Christ
Thank you for your incredible love and help me to continue to grow in that love every single day. Amen.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Num. 27:1 ¶ Then the daughters of Zelophehad came forward. Zelophehad was son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh son of Joseph, a member of the Manassite clans. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
Num. 27:2 They stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and they said,
Num. 27:3 “Our father died in the wilderness; he was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin; and he had no sons.
Num. 27:4 Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brothers.”
Num. 27:5 ¶ Moses brought their case before the LORD.
Num. 27:6 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
Num. 27:7 The daughters of Zelophehad are right in what they are saying; you shall indeed let them possess an inheritance among their father’s brothers and pass the inheritance of their father on to them.
Num. 27:8 You shall also say to the Israelites, “If a man dies, and has no son, then you shall pass his inheritance on to his daughter.
The day will soon come when the children of Israel will cross over into the promised land. Before they go each family is to receive their inheritance and their assignment in the new country will be based on the census which is being taken. However, in the culture of the day, the clans or families were all appointed according to the male head. However, here we encounter a family where the males have all died out. Only the women are left. The daughters of Zelophehad must have been amazingly strong women. They were their clan leaders, and therefore they took courage and came and spoke to Moses regarding their concern. They were being left out, simply because they were women. Moses took this concern to God and God told Moses that the women were correct and that this was unfair. From that time on the laws would be changed and if there were no male heirs, the women would receive the inheritance.
There is a popular television program these days called "Downton Abbey" around which the central theme is the inheritance. Less than 100 years ago in England a daughter could not receive the inheritance of her family. Some male heir the family may not even know would be the recipient of the family fortune. If this was still true less than 100 years ago, we must recognize how revolutionary God's response was so very long ago.
Often it is cultural norms which keep us from all that God truly has for us. In the culture of Moses' day it would have been unacceptable for the women to be the heirs. Something remarkable happened in this story. One is simply the courage of the women. They didn't wait around for someone else to right the wrong, but rather, they gathered themselves together, and as a team went before Moses, presenting a very logical and well thought-out argument. Interestingly Moses didn't just give his approval. He was probably a little thrown by the unusual request. Therefore he had to go and meet with God and get advice from him. The response of God reveals how counter-cultural the kingdom of God really is. The kingdom of God is counter-cultural for there is a new culture within the kingdom. Here we catch a glimpse of God's intended future for his people where there is equality among the genders which is not provided within the contemporary culture of the day. It is a foreshadowing of Galatians … Gal. 3:28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Gal. 3:29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
The foreshadowing was that the inheritance would be available to all! Thankfully, that is the day in which we live. The inheritance truly is available to all, no matter who we are or where we fit within the social strata of the day. We may all come before God and claim our inheritance. We must not allow the structures of society to keep us from all that God intends for us. We must step boldly before the throne as his sons and daughters, and claim our inheritance, serving him faithfully in his kingdom.
Thank you for the inheritance you have provided. May we not be shy about what you have given us, but rather, may we walk boldly before you. Amen.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Mark 6:34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
Jesus often uses shepherd imagery when speaking about the relationship which is found among people and their need for a leader. Of course, the people of his day certainly understood this language for there were sheep herders to be seen in every direction. You understood how sheep behaved when there was no shepherd. They would do dumb things, both singularly and collectively. The shepherd gave direction and protection. The people of Israel, the ones who should have been following God and his word were not. They were lost and Jesus recognized this. He was not angry with them because they had lost their way, but rather, he had compassion on them. That day he brought them the protection and direction that they so desperately needed.
Two things can be seen here in this story. One is from the perspective of the sheep and the other is from the perspective of the shepherd. As sheep, if we do not constantly keep our eyes on the shepherd, there is a good chance that we will wander off and get lost. Suddenly we discover that we are no longer with the herd. Where are we? We end up in a dry and barren place where there is no water and no grass on which to feed. We wither spiritually and when we finally look up, we discover that we no longer see the shepherd and we wonder if we can ever find our way home. The good shepherd, however, never stops seeking for the lost, or for those who have wandered away. When the little lost sheep begins to cry out, the shepherd hears and begins to call to the lost one. Listening closely now, the lost sheep can hear his voice and make their way back to him.
Some of us are called to be shepherds. This statement about Jesus' response is significant. The sheep were lost, and yet, Jesus was not angry or upset with them. The sheep are the ones who had wandered away from God and not obeyed his word. Yet, Jesus had compassion on them. The people had placed themselves in danger -- yet Jesus wanted to protect them. The people even showed up to listen to him and hadn't brought any food with them. They were unprepared for their simply basic human needs. Yet, Jesus had compassion on them -- and he fed them.
Some of us may be called to official roles as shepherds, and others may find themselves as the spiritual shepherd of someone in need. Jesus' response was one of compassion. I guess I have to ask myself about my responses and whether I show compassion -- and patience! Jesus did not hold against them HOW they had become lost and without a shepherd. He simply had compassion on them and that day shared with them the good news -- and fed them. Those who arrived as lost sheep, went home having been found.
Lord, may you develop within me the heart of the good shepherd, full of compassion for the flock(s) which enter my life. Amen.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Psa. 29:3 ¶ The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;
The God of glory thunders,
The LORD is over many waters.
Psa. 29:4 The voice of the LORD is powerful,
The voice of the LORD is majestic.
Psa. 29:11 1The LORD will give strength to His people;
2The LORD will bless His people with peace.
Mark 4:37 And there *arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.
Mark 4:38 And He Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they *awoke Him and *said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
Mark 4:39 And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and 1it became perfectly calm.
Mark 4:40 And He said to them, “Why are you so timid? How is it that you have no faith?”
The Psalmist was already aware of the power in the voice of the Lord. He had experienced the peace which came when God spoke in the midst of the storms of life. It was through the voice of the Lord that God's very glory was revealed, his presence made known to his followers. His voice would bring strength and peace. This was God's promise.
How quickly the promises are forgotten and when the disciples found themselves in a real storm in the middle of the sea they were terrified. Yes, they had Jesus with them and yet they were scared to death. How could Jesus be so calm -- filled with strength and peace, while water began to fill the boat? Because he was the son of God! They saw Jesus' calm as indifference instead of recognizing the very nature of God in him.
Jesus' voice simply reached out in glory and spoke to the water saying, "Hush, be still." That is when peace came to everything around him. But in the quiet and stillness he looked at his disciples who were now stunned and asked them why they were so timid. Did they not believe the promises of old that God could still the waters? Did they really have no faith?
God has promised that his voice can bring us peace in the midst of the storm. However, I'm wondering whether our lack of faith is allowing the storm to drown out the voice of God in our lives. It was the voice of God which stilled the waters and it is the voice of God speaking into our lives on a daily basis which can calm our storms. However, if we cannot hear him, we will not experience his peace. Therefore, maybe we shouldn't be asking where God is, but rather, where is our faith? What must we do to increase our faith and bet in such an intimate relationship with God that we do hear and recognize his voice?
The disciples were in close physical contact with Jesus, and yet they didn't have faith. We go to church on a regular basis -- in close physical contact with worship of Christ -- and yet, do we believe? Faith comes from intimacy in our daily walk with him. There is nothing that can substitute for the deeper, transforming walk to which we are all called.
Stop, read the word, take time to pray, and learn to listen for the voice of God every single day.
Lord, may I hear your voice and leading this day. Amen.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Acts 18:24 ¶ Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures.
Acts 18:25 He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Acts 18:26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately.
Acts 18:27 And when he wished to cross over to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. On his arrival he greatly helped those who through grace had become believers,
Acts 18:28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus.
Apollos was a very educated man who had been trained in a city known for some of the finest education in the world, Alexandria. He had received some rudimentary instruction regarding the Way of Jesus and was so passionate and eloquent that he traveled the world telling others what he knew. One would expect someone like Apollos to be a bit arrogant but yet, we don't get a hint of that from this scripture. Rather, it appears that Priscilla and Aquila take him aside and explain to him that there are things he doesn't know. There is not comment that he rejected this instruction but rather seemed to embrace it and allowed it to inform his ministry. Therefore he humbled himself to gain a further and more clear understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Another moment here is important. Not only was Apollos willing to receive further instruction, but think about the people who offered it to him. Here are mentioned Priscilla and Aquilla, a married couple whose occupation was to be tentmakers. They were not educated at the level of Paul, and certainly not Priscilla, for she was a woman! It is significant that she is even mentioned in this sentence for one would believe that only Aquilla would have done the education but the fact that she is listed leads one to believe that she was also significant in the educating for Apollos.
Apollos was discipled and then he took what he had learned and traveled to another group of people, and began discipling them. He used the gifts that God had given him to publicly preach the Good News, as well as teach and encourage those around him.
Here we find an excellent pattern for discipleship. First of all, there must be a disciple. This is one who may already know things about God, but recognizes that there is yet much more to learn. The attitude of the disciple must be one of humility. We never know who God wants to use to teach us a lesson. What is important is having a teachable spirit and allowing God to send into our paths anyone that he might want to use to help bring us to a deeper place in our walk with him. I am sure that for Apollos the use of a woman in this regard would have been the last thing that he expected. Who does God want to use in our lives today?
Second there must be those who are willing to disciple others. Aquilla and Priscilla went out of their way to go and to find Apollos. They could have just let his teaching go and ignored the problems with it, but no, they put themselves out on a limb and went to Apollos and approached him in a desire to help him. For this to be successful, those doing the discipling must also have a humble attitude. If one comes across as superior, they will never get to disciple others. Rather, as a mentor with wisdom one must be willing to go humbly to those who may need some gentle teaching and guidance and be willing to offer oneself in service to them.
Finally, the one who has been discipled must continue the process and pass it on. Dr. Jerry Porter often asks the question, "Who are you discipling, and who is discipling you?" This is exactly what was happening there in the early church. A network of relationships was being built in regard to discipleship. Everyone was willing to step out and take their place in the chain of the discipling network. The same must be true today. We must have the Pauls, Aquilla and Priscillas, the Apollos' and the folks in Achaia. In this way the process of discipleship continues to be handed down and the faith continues to spread.
What can we learn from the discipleship of Apollos? That we ought to be asking ourselves, "Who are you discipling, and who is discipling you?"
Lord, may I be willing to take my place in the network of discipling relationships so that it continues as you would desire. Amen.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Acts 16:13 On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there.
Acts 16:29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
Acts 16:30 Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Acts 16:31 They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Acts 16:32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
Acts 16:33 At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay.
Acts 16:34 He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
What is the connection between a women's gathering and a prison? In essence, one led to another and God used each for his work to be accomplished. On the Sabbath day Paul had gone to the river on the outskirts of Philippi to pray. There he discovered a group of women who had also gathered. These were women who were open to hearing the good news about Jesus Christ. Not only did they hear the good news but they accepted it and God quickly transformed them into the core of believers, establishing a brand new church there in the home of Lydia.
Lydia's home became the central location from which Paul and Silas were able to go out and preach. Then, as they often did, they got in trouble for their preaching. the problem was that their preaching was too good and people were responding and there were always those who didn't like the fact that people were converting. What to do with these two men? Why not publicly beat them and throw them into jail.
I can only imagine the concern back at Lydia's house when Paul and Silas didn't return and the news was brought to them that they had been thrown in prison. We always read about Paul and Silas singing in the prison late at might. I'm just guessing that across town at Lydia's house there was another prayer gathering. They weren't sleeping either and together the songs of praise and the prayers of intercession from across the town united as they were lifted up to the Father. Suddenly there was an earthquake and the prison doors broke open and the chains fell off of the prisoners.
God used that opportunity to minister to someone who would never have been at the river, and that was the jailer. That very night he was saved. He took Paul and Silas home and woke up his entire household and they were all saved and baptized. History tells us that this jailer went on to become a leader in the Christian movement and specifically there in Philippi. Christianity grew in that town that eventually, by about the 5th or 6th century they had two huge churches or basilicas in the city, each holding 300-400 people.
The faith of a little band of women who never gave up, and a jailer who was radically transformed laid the foundation for the complete transformation of a city, society and culture. Isn't it amazing that God can use a women's gathering and a prison to change the world!
So often we are looking for the "big" things of God. We want him to lay out some kind of huge master plan for his work and involvement in the world. Often when he throws the simple things before us we reject them because we don't think that it sounds exciting enough.
I remember our early years of ministry when we were in Austin, Texas. Every year the little church that we were in saw growth and people coming to Jesus Christ. People would ask us what we were doing and we'd tell them VBS (Vacation Bible School). That disappointed many people because that was not the answer they wanted. It was too simple. However, God had laid before us a very simple plan. Reach out to my children, love them, and their parents will want to know about Christ too. So every year the entire church geared up to get involved with VBS. The little church and the church yard became filled with children, every night returning with more. The people of the church loved on those children and made them feel as if they were welcomed. Every fall we called on every single family that had come to VBS and every year there were those who gave their lives to Jesus Christ. It was simple. It was God's plan.
God's plans are not complicated. He simply asks us to walk forward in faith and see that every single moment of life can be an opportunity for his kingdom's work to be done. Maybe it's a women's gathering, or maybe its in a jail cell.
Lord, may your kingdom come and your will be done here on earth. Amen.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Acts 15:21 For in every city, for generations past, Moses has had those who proclaim him, for he has been read aloud every sabbath in the synagogues.”
This one little sentence reveals the evangelistic hope of the spoken Word of God. The apostles had gathered in Jerusalem for their first council meeting. It was a serious discussion because there were many who were accepting Jesus Christ who were not Jews. Of course, the Jewish Christians were following all of the law of Moses for they had done this from their birth. However, they wondered what in the world to do with these Gentiles, for whom the Law of Moses would be foreign. After much debate and discussion they decided that they would focus on the basics. They would not require everything of the Gentiles that had been expected of the Jews, for they recognized that even by following all the rules, they were not saved. Paul reminded them that it was the grace of God that saved them all, Jew and Gentile alike. But then we come to this final sentence about the issue. The idea that there were those outside of the Jewish faith coming to a knowledge and acceptance of God was not new. We get a hint that because God's Word was spoken aloud every Sabbath, there were those who had heard it. Not just Jews, but those who passed by could have heard the Word. They had been captured by what they heard and they had turned to God simply by hearing the Word spoken aloud.
Sometimes, today, I wonder if we appreciate the power of the spoken Word? We live in a day and age where we try to craft the "worship" experience around so many different elements that, at times, the Word becomes lost. Have you ever been to a worship service where the Word is never preached? Where no one even reads any scripture? Sadly, this can become the case. The truth is that there is power in the Word. The enemy would want us to hide the word in the background because he knows the power of the Word.
We become concerned with the style of worship and our "seeker-sensitive" format and yet, here we discover that there are people who have turned to God simply because they walked by the synagogue on a hot sabbath day when the windows are open and heard the Word being read. There's really nothing clever about that, is there? Except that it reveals to us the power of God, who, through his grace is doing all that he can to draw all men unto himself. And therein lies the key. He is drawing all of humanity to himself, not to our churches, not to our venues. When the Word is read or spoken, it draws people to the author, God himself. That is his desire.
What would happen if we gave more space for the reading of the Word in our own lives on a daily basis, and corporately in the worship setting. Maybe we, too, would experience more accidental conversions. There is power in his Word!
Lord, please help me to be faithful your written word and may it be a central feature of my life on a daily basis. Amen.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Acts 14:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
Paul and Barnabas were successful in their ministry in Iconium. They would travel to the synagogue and share the good news about Jesus Christ. Many Jews became believers and were becoming disciples. One would assume that many Greeks were also turning to Christ. However, there existed a group of Jews who did not believe. The word used here has been translated different ways. Sometimes it's called unbelief, while other translators have referred to it as disbelief. Somehow the use of the term disbelief feels more accurate for in it lies something that, in my mind, leads to activity. Unbelief sounds a little more passive. However, these folks were not passive unbelievers, but rather became activists. They went out actively with their disbelief and began to round up those who would listen to them and their tales of disbelief. They went to the Gentiles, those who were pagans, who would not have had any belief and they purposely stirred them up. These folks who would have benefitted so much from knowing the good news of Jesus Christ were easily persuaded to attack Paul and Barnabas. The language used here is that those active disbelieving Jews "poisoned" the minds of the Gentiles. Others might say that they were made angry, or even embittered against the disciples. What leads one to such anger that they must actively poison the minds of others to take action against those who have come to bring the good news? Probably the answer lies in jealousy. Jealousy can often bring about extremely violent action even in those who are supposed to be followers of God.
The world today is filled with unbelievers, those who passively don't know about Jesus Christ. There are many who fit into the pagan/Gentile category who simply have no belief. Where we must be cautious is to ever cross over into the area of "disbelief." Those who "disbelieved" were good people -- they were God's people. These were people who had studied the scriptures all of their lives. They had been living by the rules of the Torah, and yet, somehow they felt that this Good News, this new news was a threat. They watched as many within their own group believed in Christ as the Messiah, but they simply could not believe and they had to become activists against what was happening. I am guessing that they even convinced themselves that they were the guardians of the true knowledge of God and of the Faith. They were the protectors of the faith and theology of the past and they were not going to allow anything to change what they had always known to be true. They were not passive in their unbelief but decided to take action. They found those who were the weakest among them -- those who didn't know much about any kind of faith in God and preyed on their weaknesses to poison their minds. The poor, unsuspecting Gentiles believed without questioning, everything that they were told.
The sad end result of the behavior was that those who really needed to know Jesus Christ were hurt. They were used by the religious folks to their advantage and in the end lost out on getting to know the one who could have set them free.
There are times when things change within the life of the Church and sometimes we see the changes as a threat to our very understanding. We may not agree but our response may be one of unagreement or disagreement. There's a big difference here. Disagreement becomes hurtful and divisive to those within the Church, and to those who really needed to know Jesus Christ. Those who need to know Him become pawns in a game.
We may never agree with everything that happens within the Church community, but we may choose our response. The enemy is hoping that we go the direction of being "dissed."
Lord, help us in our times of unbelief to seek you and your response. Amen.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 13:3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
The young band of followers of Christ did absolutely nothing without the direct leading of the Holy Spirit. While they were all very bright people and would have had excellent ideas of their own, they didn't go out on their own. Instead they spent their time worshiping the Lord and fasting. They were able to be quiet and simply listen for the voice of God. Then came the unexpected. The one who had been the persecutor of Christians was to be set apart for God's work. He and Barnabas were to go out and travel together. Back in the upper room, BEFORE they prayed the disciples had gotten together and cast lots as to who should take Judas' place among the twelve. The lot fell to Matthias, a man that we never hear about again. However, when the followers of God take time to be quiet and worship him, they hear through the Holy Spirit that Paul and Barnabas are to be set aside for the work.
The next phase was more fasting and prayer, and after this they laid their hands on them and finally sent them off. It doesn't say that they spent the next month coming up with a strategic plan, but rather that they spent MORE time with God, in prayer and fasting and then sent them off in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Things did not always go well for Paul and Barnabas. They had their struggles and yet, as they were filled with the HOly Spirit, they went on and did their work and ministry with joy.
I am afraid that all too often we are in too much of a hurry to spend the time in prayer, worship and fasting that we need to find what God truly wants from us. Today, we see all kinds of issues and problems around us and yes, they certainly do need intervention, but are we waiting to discover what it is that God would want to do in that situation?
I am personally a "doer." I It's hard for me to make myself slow down and wait on the Lord because I see things and I want to deal with them now. However, the older I become the more this message is finally getting through to me. I must set time aside on a daily basis to simply be in the Lord's presence and to listen to him and soak in all that he wants to have me do. Then, the daily journey is one in which I simply follow his leading to those divine appointments that I may have missed when I was in such a rush to get so many things done. I have had to let go of some of the "things" and replace them with quiet time with him. However, I'm so grateful for the joy and peace which comes from the daily infilling and presence of God's Holy Spirit.
What does it take? Making a conscious decision to slow down and make space for God's leading in our lives each and every single day.
Lord, thank you today for your joy! Amen.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Ex. 36:4 so that all the artisans who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task being performed,
Ex. 36:5 and said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.”
Ex. 36:6 So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing;
Ex. 36:7 for what they had already brought was more than enough to do all the work.
The people had become excited about building the tabernacle and Moses had called for offerings. At this time they are so inspired that they are willing to give out of generous hearts. They gave until there was simply too much coming in the offerings. Those who were constructing the tabernacle had to come to Moses and ask him to tell the people to stop. There was no need for more! The language is amazing -- that the people were "restrained" from giving any more. It sounds like they literally had to hold them back from their generosity.
When the people of God get the vision for what God is wanting to accomplish they join together with him in his mission and something amazing happens. Somehow the relationship becomes synergistic -- that is, when the work of God is combined with the enthusiastic work of man, more is accomplished than any could ever imagine! So often we look at our resources and we believe that there is not enough. But when placed into the hands of God, it becomes a sweet offering which we have seen over and over again is multiplied to more than supply the need.
We have been living in difficult days in the life of the Church, especially in regard to finances. However, possibly we need to look beyond the economy and take time to examine ourselves at a spiritual level. There are a couple of questions that need to be asked. First of all, is what we're doing God's plan? Moses and the Israelites were fulfilling God's plan in the way that he wanted the Tabernacle built. It was God's plan for how the people were to worship him. There was nothing about humanities strategic thinking which the leaders were hoping to be blessed by God in this plan. It was God's plan, through and through.
It was also God's plan that the people would participate by bringing in just what was needed for the project. I'm guessing that at first there were those who replied that there would never be enough materials to build this thing. Can you imagine -- they were on a giant camping trip. How much stuff could they have with them? And yet, somehow God took what they brought to him, even when they had little, and multiplied it for his work until there was simply too much. You can sense the enthusiasm in the people when we are told that they had to be restrained from giving more. When we we join together with God in his work, the results are beyond what we in our own minds can imagine.
I don't think that God is finished with this kind of activity in the world today. The question is whether we are willing to stop and listen to his plan, and then, whether we are able to join together with him so that his work can be multiplied to levels we would never have thought possible.
Lord, may I be patient to seek you and your face, and your plans and to through this journey together with you. Amen.