Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Exodus 39-40

Of all the rich imagery we find in the garments of the priests, I am especially fond of the medallion on Aaron's turban described in verses 30 and 31.

30 Finally, they made the sacred medallion—the badge of holiness—of pure gold. They engraved it like a seal with these words: HOLY TO THE LORD. 31 They attached the medallion with a blue cord to Aaron’s turban, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

If we believe God to be the sovereign creator of the Universe, the One who rules all that is in existence, and One whose heart overflows with affection for His creation, how can we not have a seal upon us that declares Holy To The Lord? Once I am convinced of who He is, surrendering to His sovereignty, giving myself fully to His governance should be what naturally follows. How can I embrace His identity and then deny my own? Once I am convinced of His identity, what sort of self-perception can I possibly have except to live in complete surrender to Him?

What majestic garments God chose to adorn Aaron and the priests. Each component, although individually unique and symbolically distinctive, all shared one ultimate expression: God is God and man's great privilege is to serve Him. This idea of "holy" as inscribed on the medallion attached to Aaron's turban means to be set apart, consecration. For what and for whom have you set your life apart? What medallions do we wear: promiscuity, gluttony, bitterness, self-promotion, greed, anger, lust, addiction, apathy, profanity, drunkenness, laziness, isolation...? Who gave those medallions to us? Why do we insist on keeping them?

In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul speaks of the helmet of salvation. What medallion do you think is attached to that...an Exodus 39 seal...Holy To The Lord! I want to challenge you to consider something. What are your struggles? Possibly I listed some above. Cut out some round pieces of paper and write on them a word or two that describes an area of sin in your life that is a constant struggle. You might have several. Now shop around an find a coin, a medallion, something that can represent to you a commitment to be Holy To The Lord. What is actually on the coin or medallion doesn't matter...it may say OBX or South of the Border, some trinket you picked up on vacation. What matters is how you see it, how you will use it, how it will begin to re-shape how you see yourself...Holy To The Lord! Put those other paper medallions in something that is safe to burn, put on some of your favorite worship music, talk to God about your desire to live a life that is set apart to Him and Him alone, and then put a match to them!

Keep that coin with you for the next month and every-time you face a temptation that you are endeavoring to conquer, reach for that medallion and say, "I am Holy To The Lord." Do you know what 1 Peter 2:9 says about you and me?

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

Living in the Gap (Psalm 124:1)

Pastor Fred

Friday, January 13, 2012

Genesis 28

27 When the time came for Tamar to give birth, it was discovered that she was carrying twins. 28 While she was in labor, one of the babies reached out his hand. The midwife grabbed it and tied a scarlet string around the child’s wrist, announcing, “This one came out first.” 29 But then he pulled back his hand, and out came his brother! “What!” the midwife exclaimed. “How did you break out first?” So he was named Perez. 30 Then the baby with the scarlet string on his wrist was born, and he was named Zerah.

I love this story in Genesis! I am using the New Living Translation and the footnotes define Perez as meaning "breaking out" and Zerah as "scarlet" or "brightness" ...a story which gives us a rich offering is symbolism as we reflect on our own lives.

I love how the midwife was prepared. Properly identifying the firstborn in Jewish culture is vital. (If you want to read more about this, try New Unger's Bible Dictionary which is a mainstay in my library.) She was not casual about her responsibilities. What are you presently doing as ministry in your church? Are you just doing enough to get by? Do you have an attitude that if they gave you more responsibility that you would be more committed? Whatever it is that you have been asked to do, do it with excellence..."a pocket full of scarlet strings" kind of attitude!

Finally, I'm always captivated by their names. How? There is a prophetic promise in them for each of us! The birthing of your destiny, my destiny will always "break out" no matter how "bright" my present circumstances appear to be in the contrary. What does that mean? Often our present circumstance seem to be so prominent (bright) that they are irrefutable. We have a promise from God but our present reality is blindingly obtrusive, making believing in His promise exasperatingly difficult. Abraham was 100 before Isaac was born. He was blinded by the brightness of his natural condition...but come on, providence arrived, destiny could not be denied, Zerah was overcome by Perez!

Be prepared and above all else, be willing to believe for your own Perez moment!

Pastor Fred

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Genesis 16

We find here a great lesson for us all, to never make assumptions about God's intent. Sarai convinces Abram that God has prevented her from having children, in spite of a very specific promise from God to the contrary. Yes, they have waited for decades, yes, they are well beyond child bearing years, yes, they have grown weary of waiting...as we are at times as well in waiting on God. However, in our waiting, we must never make assumptions. Assumptions are conclusions that we reach apart from a divine revelation. Proverbs 3:5-6 comes to mind...

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

If you are in a place of waiting, don't make assumptions about God's intent, His apparent delay, His motives...trust, wait, believe!

Pastor Fred

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Genesis 13

These chapters in Genesis are like the words spoken in the first chapter about the oceans at creation, teeming with life! I am especially drawn to the beginning of the 13th chapter, where Abram and his entourage leave Egypt and return to a familiar place, a place where God had spoken to him previously, a place where he had a built an altar of worship.

In Genesis 12, we read that God promised this land to him when God appeared to Abram after he had left Haran and was journeying towards the Negev. Here, between Bethel and Ai, Abram built an altar to commemorate the promise, a marker for a divine encounter. Even though a famine, desperate circumstances forced them to travel to Egypt, Abram never lost faith in God's ability to keep His promise, evidenced by Abram's return to the altar between Bethel and Ai.

What promises from your past have you forsaken? What promises you believe God spoke to you in your yesterdays have you abandoned? For you, your journey may not be measured by a map or gps but rather the geography of the heart. Your "place" between "Bethel and Ai" is a place of believing, a place of faith. Find a quiet place today where you can return to an altar from days gone by, God wants to meet with you just as He met with Abram. God wants you to rediscover your faith in His ability to keep that promise. Remember, God's faithfulness is not measured by time, nor by temporal circumstances, nor by the doubt of others. His faithfulness is measured by His word. For Him, a promise made is always a promise kept.

Psalm 27:14 says that we must wait patiently for the Lord, being of good courage! Return today to your place of promise, believing again in the dream that God has spoken to your heart!

Pastor Fred

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Genesis 8

In Genesis 8 we find the great contrast between the raven and the dove. Which are you, am I...some of each for most of us. The raven is the picture of a person who goes to a place prematurely and languishes there rather than remaining where one is and continue flourishing. The dove is the picture of a person who wisely waits and flourishes, recognizing that the time to depart has not yet come. The risk here is that the person might wait too long. Imagine if the dove had never left the ark. The ark that once was a refuge eventually became desolate and the flooded earth emerges as a paradise. Even when we see something in our future that proves to be a new source of flourishing, often replacing our present, the timing of God is always vital!

Pastor Fred