Living Differently

Esther 3:8
Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain.”

Haman’s problem with Mordecai and the Jewish people as a whole was not that they were lawless, insubordinate, unruly or even rebellious. His problem was that they lived by a higher law and as a result were not easily swayed by the changing tides of cultural. As a result he determined to rid the landscape of all those who named the name of YHWH. As a follower of Christ we should seek not to be lawless but to live by a higher law. When the apostles were being threatened they responded “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

A careful examination of the commands of Christ teach us that believers are to love God with all their heart, love others with a self sacrificing love, take the low place and serve one another, turn the other cheek when mistreated, give without any expectation of return, pray for those who mistreat us, seek to win people over with words of grace and truth, behave with patience, speak words that are edifying, forgive when wronged, and the list goes on and on. What is it about those behaviors that is so unpalatable to the world we live in? I think the answer to that question is that the person living under the law of Christ is not swayed by the changing tides of culture.

If we live for Jesus we cannot avoid opposition from a world that is floating in another direction, but we can be sure that the opposition is not because we are failing to rightly represent Christ.

Jim

 

Changes 

Ezekiel 46:9
“But when the people of the land come before the Lord on the appointed feast days, whoever enters by way of the north gate to worship shall go out by way of the south gate; and whoever enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate. He shall not return by way of the gate through which he came, but shall go out through the opposite gate.”

Ezekiel is establishing some rules that will guide the people as they worship at the Temple. Some of these guidelines were clearly spelled out by Moses hundreds of years earlier, while others seem to be brand new. One such regulation required the people to leave the city from the opposite gate from which they had entered. If they came in from the south, they had to leave from the north, and vice-versa. No clear explanation is given, but it is not too difficult to draw some application for the believer today. Simply put, we should leave worship different than how we arrived.

True worship is drawing near to God, and getting our eyes on the Lord. When this happens, we will begin to see ourself in light of who God is. The brightness of His glory will illuminate our lives and expose those things He desires to change. If I come into worship angry, bitter, or filled with unforgiveness, the glory of who God is will shine upon my heart.  His glory will expose those things, and lead me to the cross, where I can lay them down and leave free of their burden. If we leave worship the same as we came into worship, it is likely we were involved in more of a concert or a sing along, than a time spent in the presence of the God of Glory.

It is valuable to prepare your heart to seek the Lord. To take a few moments before you begin singing to simply ask God to search your heart, and give Him license to make any changes He determines necessary. One of the great benefits of worship is that we are in the presence of the only one with the actual power to change us.

Pastor Jim

 

The Right Way

Numbers 7:9
“But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because theirs was the service of the holy things, which they carried on their shoulders.”

About 600 years after these events somebody got it into his head that it would be a great idea to take the Ark of the Covenant into battle. He had lost sight of who God was and thought the Ark of the Covenant was the presence of God. So, seizing the Ark, the army marched into battle, assuming it would ensure victory. They were defeated. The Philistines captured the Ark and took it into their camp. As a result, God began to plague the Philistines, so they put the Ark on a cart hitched to oxen, and sent the cart back to the nation of Israel where it remained in the house of Abinadab until the time of David.

Later in I Chronicles 13, David is on the throne, looking at the spiritual condition of the nation, and realized something was lacking. God was not the central focus of the people, or the nation. So he decided to bring the Ark to Jerusalem and place it in the Tabernacle; symbolizing the centrality of God to Israel. He sent a letter to all the leaders in Israel, asking, “I’ve got this idea, what do you think?” They replied, “Great idea, let’s return the Ark to its rightful place in the Tabernacle.” Then they talked to the people, and the people agreed, “Wonderful idea! Let’s do it!” So they placed the Ark on a brand new cart, and appointed Uzza as driver. The people joined in with a big celebration of singing and rejoicing in the Lord; until they hit a pothole and the cart tipped. Uzza reached back to keep the Ark from falling out and being damaged. When he grabbed the Ark, God struck him and he died. As you can imagine, at that point, the celebration stopped, the people were in shock and David became angry with Lord. Perhaps he thought, “I’m bringing this Ark to the Tabernacle, I’m trying to glorify You, I’m trying to raise the spiritual level in the nation of Israel, and this is what You do?” And so, he stores the Ark in Obed Edom’s house and goes home.

After 3 months, David realized how he had erred. He asked the people if they thought it was a good idea, he asked the leaders if they thought it was a good idea, but he didn’t ask the Lord. He did not go to the Scriptures and see what God said about moving the holy things. So David opened his Bible and began to read. He, no doubt, went to Numbers Chapter 7. He saw that God never intended for the Ark to be carried on a cart. Gathering together the priests and the sons of Kohath, he instructed them. “You can’t look at the Ark, so we need to have the priests cover it first. After it is covered you need to put the Ark on your shoulders.” So the priests covered the Ark, and the sons of Kohath carried it on their shoulders. As they brought the Ark into Jerusalem, they began to worship the Lord again, and set it up in a tent that David had erected for it.

But why? I understand that David broke the rules; but what was the point of the rule? Why did God not allow the Ark and the utensils to be placed on a cart?

Numbers 7:9
“But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because theirs was the service of the holy things”

I think this is one of those biblical principles that is so foundational in our service to the Lord. The things of the Lord, (the holy things, our service unto the Lord), move differently than the things of the world. It’s OK to throw curtains on a cart, and it’s OK to throw silver blocks on the cart. However, when it comes to the holy things, the things that represent the nature and character of God, they move in a different way. God does things differently.

So many events that happen in the church, happen out of people’s great desire to raise the level of spirituality in the church, or even in the nation . “We’ve got to impact our community. We want to see people come to the Lord, so here’s what we’ll do: we’ll imitate the world’s methods, take the Ark, throw it on a cart, get a bunch of musicians, and start marching to Jerusalem.” Failing to recognize, God is not only interested in the end, He’s also interested in the means. God has a way of doing things, and that way often flies in the face of the way we think. Some things that work wonderfully in the business world, don’t have any place in the church. And so He says, “Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to carry it. It’s going to take you longer. It’s going to be more difficult. You’re going to be more fatigued. But, ultimately, I’m going to be glorified. So don’t get carts or oxen.”

There are many models in todays approach to ministry. It seems, every time I open my mail, I am introduced to another tactic on taking the Gospel to the world, or building up the body of Christ. I know, in many cases, they are devised by people who sincerely want to minister to others. The question is, what is the right model? I am so thankful to have God’s way of ministry modeled for us in the book of Acts. I want to encourage you, if you desire to serve the Lord, look to the book of Acts, and follow the only approach to ministry that is actually divine in nature. We need to be careful, when we seek to serve the Lord, that we are not looking to the world for a model, but instead we are looking to the Word.

Pastor Jim