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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 28:3, And you shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me.

Service for the Lord starts with the Spirit of the Lord. Endowed skills. Endowed wisdom.

Aaron required consecrated garments to serve God and to serve his people. Accomplished craftsmen responded in ministry. They prepared their high priest, who, in turn, would act for them. A concert of abilities, gifts of the spirit of wisdom, selflessly given.

Spirit guided that their work would meet God’s standards. Spirit filled that God would be honored. “Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.”

Anchor my work in Your Spirit that it does not become self-seeking. May I faithfully serve whatever work You assign me, and do it unto You. Make my life, Lord, an offering of service to You.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 116:12

What shall I render to the Lord

For all His benefits toward me?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 25:31, “Then you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand and its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered works; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it.”

This lampstand for the tabernacle is all of one piece, made up of different parts and functions. Whole. One purpose. Paul describes believers as belonging to one Lord, Christ the Head, to which all the parts are to grow, fitted and joined together, supplying joints, “according to the proper working of each individual part.” One body.

The lampstand is pure. The lampstand is hammered work. Jesus, who knew no sin, emptied, Himself, became a bondservant of mankind, to identify with us; knows our temptations, knows our limitations, know our frame.

The lampstand lightens the holy place, the place of prayer, projecting light in different angles. Cast out shadows. Uncovers corners. Makes clear the center, “because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.”

The lampstand burns continually as a perpetual statute throughout the generations. A beacon. To guide. To direct. “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Jesus stands waiting for His people to come home.

Lord, please dispel all the darkness in me. May my center be so filled with You that I reflect Your light from the inside out.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 18:28

For Thou dost light my lamp;

The Lord my God illumines my darkness.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 25:3, And this is the contribution which you are to raise from them:

Matched ministry. The tabernacle required specific contributions for construction. Moses had to follow a detailed plan, God’s blueprint. But all the people were included, invited to participate. They invested a personal stake, their own offerings in accord to request.

Not what each person felt like giving. Not out of duty or duress. Not as a bribe to be a worker. An act of worship. An act of obedience. An act of promise. God led-Israel followed. What an excitement to watch the tabernacle built!

Mission in reply to God’s leading. An invitation to participate in God’s work; God’s way. How often do I ask what God would like me to give? Whether time or talent or money.

Nourish in me Lord, a giving spirit, available always to contribute to Your work, at Your invitation.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 73:28

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;

I have made the Lord my refuge,

That I may tell of all Thy works.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 24:7, Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!”

Covenant from God. Words of life streaming through generations. Choice to accept, obey, reject, rebel. Israel chose all His words, promised to comply in full.

Generations later people of Israel gathered before Ezra the scribe, returned exiles again, ready to hear God’s covenant. Ezra brought the law to “the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding,…from early morning until midday; they answered ‘Amen, Amen!’” and worshipped. Then the law was explained to them so that they could understand the reading.

Eager for fellowship, eager to obey I too say amen before I even understand. As expectations and realities of my commitment become clear I backpedal fast, reneging on my pledge, claiming mis-information. Like Israel I keep falling away, and graciously God speaks His words once more, explaining, encouraging, exhorting.

Speak Your words deep in my heart Lord that I perceive and obey with Your power to perform. Otherwise I am like the soil that accepts Your seed, springs immediately with no depth and withers away. Give me deeper roots I pray.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 105:8

He has remembered His covenant forever,

The word which He commanded to a thousand generations,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 23:20, Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.

Angel of the Lord

sent before us

serving us,

companied by invisible

glory

we walk not alone.

Emissaries sent to guard

us. As a circle

in our midst.

Repel all dangers,

we can rest.

Along the route

prepared beforehand

we follow all the way.

Keeping watch, placing footsteps

on marked ground.

we travel.

Expectant destination.

Place to witness,

place to expand.

Like a dream beckons goals

we stretch.

Anchor promises,

generosity anticipated

by love.

Fashioned by His wisdom

seeking best

we come.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 34:7

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,

And rescues them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 23:12, Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor…

Cease from labor for the purpose of rest. Rest for the animals, the servants, the strangers. Rest for the fields, the vineyards, the olive groves on the seventh year. Cycle for replenishment, cycle for rejuvenation.

Lie fallow. Our restless natures rebel. Idleness nurtures sluggards and boredom; we reply, “Times a wasting.”

Labor taxes our strength, depletes our resources. Without restoration eventually we run dry. The rest God calls for allows for continued supply. A dormant state where seed can stretch deep roots. A solitude where energy re-charges.

Cadence of silence. Can we hear it beneath the busyness of our lives, the noise of our leisure, the fear of quiet?

Even when I rest physically my mind retains a cacophony, unable to dis-engage. Lord I ask for Your quiet to settle into all parts of me; to cease labor, to be still before You. Remove my fear of silence. Replace the uneasy stillness with soundless communion with You, deepening my roots in Your word and Your Spirit.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 116:7

Return to your rest, O my soul,

For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 22:21, And you shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

World news, national news, local news shout war, disease, violence. We close our ears, cushion our activities, cocoon our families. Where is a safe place? Who can we trust?

Tighter and tighter we draw our circle of acquaintances, acceptable arenas, attitudes. No admission signs go up in our hearts and homes.

We feel safer in our comfort zones.

We close out others in need.

To whom do the lonely turn? To whom do the strangers turn? To whom do the seeking turn?

Who were we Lord until You opened Your arms to us? Outcasts lost in sin and darkness. Obstacles of unbelief to Your children. Oppressors of the poor and weak. Until Your love and grace showed us a new land.

Lord, I need Your help to become less judgmental, less critical and more loving. I’ve let the fear of the world freeze concern for others. Remind me when I too was a stranger and You took me in.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 146:9

The Lord protects the strangers;
He supports the fatherless and the widow;

Monday, September 6, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 20:25, And if you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it.

An altar of uncut stones, taken from the earth, God’s own creation, is the place of sacrifice God requested. An altar untarnished by man. An altar unsupplemented.

Abel brought before God a sacrifice that pleased Him. Cain brought first fruits that God rejected. Cain reacted in anger. Why, God asked. Beware. Sin crouches at your door.

Abraham withheld not his only son, Isaac. In faith he prepared the altar and God stayed his hand, substituting a ram. “The Lord will provide” Abraham declared. And God blessed him.

And now Moses is given detailed instructions for sacrifice, that he not in error profane worship or produce a man-made version of acceptable offerings.

Am I bringing to Your altar, Lord, my own definition of worship? Only You know what I need to lay before You. Only You can see what I need to place there to free my heart to serve wholly.

Keep me from rejecting Your true altar. Keep me from profaning worship, devotion and service by insisting on my choice instead of Yours. May I come to Your altar in obedience.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 43:4

Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy;

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 20:20, And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.”

When the people of Israel saw the mountain smoke and perceived the thunder and lightening, they trembled.

Trembled in fear, in awe, in anxiety.

They remembered Egypt’s end. What if they could not keep these commandments? They drew back, begging Moses to speak for them.

He comes that you may not sin, Moses explains. He comes to set a spirit of watchfulness. He comes to designate His path.

How many loving parents prepare stern voices and serious faces when explaining fire to young children? How to explain harsh consequences to a child who knows only care and nurture? How to protect against hurt?

Therefore we strike a match a fear, protective fear.

Witness this message, witness these commandments, witness this memory; that you may not sin, not forget, not know.

Thank you Lord for words of warning. Thank you for love that instills prevention. Thank you for Your paths through hot lava.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 111:10

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;

A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;

His praise endures forever.

 
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