Feeling Special

Ezekiel 25:8
“Thus says the Lord God: ‘Because Moab and Seir say, “Look! The house of Judah is like all the nations…”‘

Moab and Israel had a long and sorted history, dating back to Israel’s journey to Canaan. It was the king of Moab who hired the prophet Balaam to curse the people of God. Unable to curse those whom God had blessed, Balaam resorted to counseling Moab on how to put a stumbling block in the way of the people of God. They sent many of the young, attractive Moab women into the camp of Israel, with the purpose of luring the men into ungodly relationships and activity. This plan worked and many of the people of God fell into sin, and some even died for their misconduct. This animosity between the two nations continued, and almost a thousand years later, Ezekiel explains the reason Moab despised Israel. He writes

“Because Moab and Seir say, ‘Look! The house of Judah is like all the nations . . .’”

Although God considered Israel to be different than the nation’s surrounding them, Moab and Seir thought of them just as any other group of people. It is not difficult to understand their position. The Israelites looked no different than the nation’s around them; they had many of the same problems, conflicts, and personal weaknesses of their neighbors. The reality is, Israel was not special because of their strength, might, or even godliness. They were special because God, in His sovereignty, chose to place his hand of blessing upon them. Joshua tells us, it was while Abraham and his family were living in Babylon worshipping false gods that the Lord appeared to him.  God called him, gave him the promise of many defendants, of being given a land, of becoming a nation, and of being the conduit by which the Messiah would come into the world. Later, Moses would explain that Israel was chosen, not because they were the greatest of people in the world, but because God chose to put His love upon them.
The same is true of you and me. As a child of God, we are a special people above those who have not chosen to trust in Christ. Our favor is not because we are smarter, taller, stronger, or even holier, than those who have not trusted Christ. This favor comes from the simple fact that we are in a relationship with God through Christ. Mary, the mother of Jesus was called, “highly favored and blessed among women”, her favor was based upon the sovereign choice of God, and the fact that Christ dwelt in her. If you have accepted Christ, Paul refers to you as “accepted in the beloved”, which is the same phrase used of Mary. You are highly favored because of the sovereign choice of God, and the fact that Christ dwells in you.
Don’t make the same mistake Moab did by considering yourself, or others who have come to Christ, just like all other people. We are the children of God. Also, let’s be careful not to neglect the responsibility that comes with that blessing. Israel often failed to see that their position was designed by God as a means to be the light of the world, leading others to faith in Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Best Of The Best

Leviticus 22:20
Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf.”

20140225-070519.jpgI once heard of a farmer whose cow had given birth to twin calves. In his excitement, he decided to dedicate one to the Lord. As the days passed, his wife reminded him of his promise, she inquired if he had decided which calf was the Lord’s. Sadly, one of the calves became ill and the farmer did all he could to nurse the animal back to health. Late into the evening, he returned from the barn, and slumped into a chair. His wife, asked what was the matter, to which he replied, “The Lord’s calf died.” Too often, this is typical of our offering to the Lord. Whatever we have left, do not want, need, or use any longer, is offered to the Lord.

God instructed His people, when they give, they should offer the best. Anything defective might still have a use, but it was not worthy of being presented to the Lord. A lamb with a broken leg, would still make a wonderful meal, but was not the lamb to offer to God. When it comes to giving, we should always seek to give our best. If we are giving of our time to teach a Sunday School class, we should do all we can to be well prepared; that is our offering, and God deserves our best. If we are involved in a men’s or women’s group, we should give ample time to prayer, and to completing the lessons, so we have something of value to bring to the discussion; that is our offering, and God deserves our best. If we are involved in worship, we should practice the songs, pray for the church services, and the people of God; that is our offering, and God deserves our best.

The principle is simple. When we give to God, we want to give our best. Imagine if you were having an important guest over for a meal. Would you serve up the leftovers from the past few meals; stuff the kids picked at, but didn’t finish? Would you toss it down on paper plates? Or would you go out of your way to discover their favorite foods, and do your best to serve them in a manner worthy of their office? Certainly, God deserves more from us than we would give to one another.

Pastor Jim

 

Utensils

Exodus 37:16
“He made of pure gold the utensils which were on the table: its dishes, its cups, its bowls, and its pitchers for pouring.”

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Here in the closing chapters of Exodus, the focus is upon building an elaborate tent designed as the focal point for Israel’s worship. This tent went by many names; it is called the Tent of Meeting, the Tabernacle, and the Holy Place. Each of the titles reveals something of the purpose of this structure. The term, Holy Place, helps us to understand what holiness actually means.

It seems holiness is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the Bible. If we go back to the time of Jesus, we find holiness was defined by the clothes a person wore, the food they ate, and the time of day they chose to pray. The Pharisees became the embodiment of holiness, and all others in Israel were considered to be somewhat common. Things have not changed much as the years have passed. Today, it seems holiness is still defined by what we don’t do, rather than by who we are. I think a quick glance at the utensils designed for the Tabernacle might help us better understand what it means to be holy.

Aholiab and Bezalel were instructed to take common earthly materials like silver, gold, wood, and a variety of fabrics, and construct them into what would become a holy place, filled with holy instruments. It was not the material the objects were constructed from that made them holy, but the fact that they were dedicated to the Lord. One spoon stood out above all other spoons, because it had been given to the work of God. Holiness then, is more about dedicating ourselves to the Lord, than it is about the kind of food we refrain from eating.

Years later we will read of these utensils no longer being treated as holy. Belshazzar, king of Babylon, will use the cups that were once dedicated to God, as common drinking cups to hold his liquor. His actions will invite the judgment of God upon himself and his nation.

Perhaps today it is time to take inventory of your life and the way you are living. Have you dedicated yourself to God and His glory? Are each of your members being used for His service?

When life has passed, only what we have done for God will last.

Pastor Jim