In His Presence

Leviticus 25-27 and Psalm 31-32

We have learned so much as we finish the book of Leviticus. Chapter 26 begins with a warning from the LORD. The Israelites are told not to make any object to became an object of worship. We can look at the Israelites throughout their history and become very critical. They succumb many times to the worship of idols. Every generation had to make the choice to follow the LORD God or to worship the false gods that the Israelites had allowed into their culture. Even future Kings would face this choice and unfortunately many choose to devote their lives to idols.  But I also have to wonder if we are not making that same choice today? Are there false gods in our lives? For example, we don’t create our own electronic devices and bow down to them, but perhaps we spend hours surfing, checking out what is on social media, texting, gaming, … When something is receiving our focus and taking our attention away from God, we should consider it a negative. We are allowing something to get in the way of our relationship with God. Anything or any person that negatively affects our connection with God is a modern-day idol.  In Colossians we are told that sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed are idolatry. (Col. 3:5) It states that we should put these actions to death. But it is not enough just to remove the idols, we need for God to change our hearts.  When our hearts are filled with love for God, our actions start to align with what God wants us to do.

As God explained to the Israelites, they needed to observe His Sabbaths, show reverence for His sanctuary, follow His decrees and obey His commands to receive amazing blessings. Then He would walk among them, He would be their God and they would be His people. How incredible is that?! We are presented with a choice to make today as well. We can enter into a loving relationship with God. We can ask Him to make our love for Him and others strong. We can invite God to be the center of our lives. We can place our focus on His Son Jesus Christ. We can live in His presence by the power of His spirit. God is still reaching out to us, His people. He offers us blessings and the greatest one is to be in His presence.

May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 1 Thessalonians 3:13

-Rebecca Dauksas

Links to today’s Bible reading – Leviticus 25-27 and Psalm 31-32

Make Today a Festival

Leviticus 23-24 and Psalm 29-30 

Just 37 days until Easter. We get to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Sunday, April 4 this year. Our church is already planning a special weekend that includes a prayer walk and a special outdoor worship service. I love religious holidays. We have time to think about the true meaning of the celebration. This Christmas we sang, read Bible stories, and celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ for several weeks. We had multiple Services including a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. We also have special services for Thanksgiving which allow us the opportunity to express how truly grateful we are.   

In Leviticus 23 the Lord’s appointed festivals are given to the people. The sabbath was observed each week with rest from regular work and a sacred assembly. The Israelites were to hold festivals, sacred assemblies and offerings at appointed times annually. Each had special meaning. These festivals were reminders of what God had done, to thank Him for what He was still doing and also provided an occasion for interaction with the LORD through worship and offerings. An opportunity to break from the everyday routine and focus on the LORD. The (1)Sabbath, (2)Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread, (3) Offering the Firstfruits, (4)Festival of Weeks, (5)Festival of Trumpets, (6)Day of Atonement and (7)Festival of Tabernacles began.

As Christians, we daily set aside time to spend with the LORD and we regularly assemble with other Christians to join in Worship and Praise through our Lord Christ Jesus. We daily walk with God and follow the example of Christ. How blessed are we to live in a time when we can openly celebrate the major holidays, and we can also celebrate every day because our God lives in us by His Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:11) We can praise Him for every good thing we experience every day.  He is available to us at all times through our mediator Christ Jesus. The book of Hebrews explains that through Jesus, we can continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.  The passage also reminds us that we should not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15-16) So let’s dedicate every day to the LORD. 

-Rebecca Dauksas

Links to today’s Bible reading – Leviticus 23-24 and Psalm 29-30

Seek His Face

Leviticus 21-22 and Psalm 27-28

You may have noticed that the SeekGrowLove blog features a key verse: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” from Jeremiah 29:13. The LORD confirms that our seeking is worth it, because ultimately, we will find Him. However, there is an important requirement; we need to seek with all our heart. What does this phrase “with all our heart” really look like? How can we seek “with all our heart”? Perhaps “with all our heart” seeking is completely and sincerely devoted. Maybe determined and enthusiastic. This type of seeking is relentless, full of passion for what is right. It can’t be stopped. Psalm 27:4 states, “The one thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Verse 8 continues, “My heart says of you, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.’” You can hear the determination in that statement. The writer wants to be in the presence of the LORD. They are completely and sincerely devoted. Enthusiastic for the presence of the LORD. They are pursuing him ‘with all their heart.’

This is what the LORD desires for us. “The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” (Psalm 14:2) He wants us to seek him wholeheartedly. Passionately. Relentlessly. In life, we can be distracted with many pursuits, desires, and distractions. However, we can choose to refocus on the one who matters. We can choose to seek “with all our heart.” The benefits of this type of “with all our heart” seeking is great. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” This desire to be close to God will be rewarded.  We are rewarded today with our close loving relationship with God and later when we see Him face to face. So, if you start to feel discouraged or distracted, remember who our seeking will lead to: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3,4)

-Rebecca Dauksas

Links to today’s Bible passages – Leviticus 21-22 and Psalm 27-28

Be Holy

Leviticus 19-20

God’s message to the entire assembly of Israel was “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy”. (Lev. 19:1) As we move through Leviticus, we are seeing that God is giving very specific instructions to show the people and priests how to be ceremonially clean. He is setting them apart from the other nations. He is forbidding horrendous behavior (like child sacrifice) and presenting them with the idea of being holy. As followers of Christ, we are asked to be holy as well. As 1 Peter 1:15 states, “just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do”. And Paul’s writings state that God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

When we think about God’s holiness, we might feel overwhelmed because He is so awesome. But let’s consider how God is Holy. God’s supreme Holiness sets Him apart from His creation. He is unique. He is the Only True God (Jn. 17:3). He is perfect in every way. He is the Creator and Giver of all that is good, He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, forgiving, just, God is Love…

So how could the Israelites become holy? The LORD tells them to consecrate themselves-turn their lives over to the LORD. He states that they should keep and follow His decrees. Most important He said that He is the LORD who makes them holy. (Lev. 20:7-8) This was true for the Israelites, and it is true for us today. He is the LORD who can make us holy.

We need to offer ourselves to Him as living sacrifices (Rom.12:1) and accept God’s ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:10b and 10:14) 

-Rebecca Dauksas

Links to today’s Bible reading – Leviticus 19-20 and Psalm 25-26

Boundaries for the Sheep

Leviticus 17-18 and Psalm 23-24

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” These words are so well known that most Christians immediately recognize this first line of Psalm 23. But there are so many truths that we can begin to understand from this simple phrase.

 The LORD is called MY shepherd.

The sheep has accepted the shepherd and as a result the sheep “lack nothing.”  The Psalm goes on to explain the ways that the LORD provides, cares for, and guides His sheep, but all of this is possible because He is Our Shepherd. There has to be a relationship.

We have to have trust in the shepherd and we need to stay in the Shepherd’s boundaries. From Leviticus 18 we are learning that God is establishing decrees and laws to govern the Israelites’ behavior including sexual relations. If we truly accept our relationship with God as the director of our lives and the overseer of our well-being, we can trust Him with all areas of our lives including our sexuality. We can trust that His commands on sexuality are right. We can personally follow them. For instance, he placed restrictions on certain sexual activity like incest. No sexual relations between relatives. This makes perfect sense.  God has designed the marriage relationship as the place where sex is one expression of love. Other family relationships need to be cultivated in nonsexual ways. We love through acceptance, encouragement, kindness, patience, …and so many other actions. This creates a safe, nurturing and sound family atmosphere.

God’s commands are given to keep us healthy physically and whole relationally while He nourishes us to produce spiritual fruit.  So as we read through Leviticus, we are learning that God’s commands are life-giving boundaries for us-His sheep. Our shepherd guides us so we are nourished, safe and loved.  

-Rebecca Dauksas

Links to today’s Bible reading – Leviticus 17-18 and Psalm 23-24

The Scriptures Are for All Generations

Leviticus 15-16 and Psalm 21-22

One huge benefit of living in our day and time is having an extensive body of God’s scriptures available to us. We can see scriptures that clearly confirm God’s plan has been actively unfolding throughout all ages and to each generation. Leviticus 16 explains the event that we refer to as the Day of Atonement.

The High Priest would follow the ordinances on one special day once a year to cleanse all the members of the community from their sins. The people would observe a Sabbath rest because on that day atonement would be made for them, to cleanse them. “Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins.” (Lev. 16:30)

Of course, as Christians we can see that these offerings were pointing to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We know that he is our great high priest (Heb. 4:14) who offers us the opportunity to be forgiven of sin.  He sacrificed his own blood for our forgiveness. He wanted us to be cleansed from all of our sins and to be reconciled to God.

That was carried out through his sacrificial death on the cross and amazingly Psalm 22 reveals what this experience was like for Jesus Christ.  David may be writing about personal experiences and yet he miraculously described the crucifixion. He wrote this event about 1,000 years before it occurred. This Psalm begins with the words spoken by Jesus on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Yet the Psalm ends in praise to God. It states that all future generations will serve Him and be told about the Lord. “They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it! (Psalm 22:31)

We have the benefit of seeing the results and rewards that Christ accomplished for himself and for all his followers. Praise God that we have the scriptures that explain this to us. Scriptures that were written through many centuries and passed on to the next generations. We have a bird’s eye view of how beautifully God works through His faithful followers. Be faithful to share the scriptures with others because all that God has spoken through them will be accomplished.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Links to today’s Bible reading – Leviticus 15-16 and Psalm 21-22

Confessing & Confronting

Leviticus 3-4

Yesterday, we looked at the seriousness of sin and the reason why the Israelites were expected to offer sacrifices for those sins. Before we continue on, I want to offer some helpful advice for reading the first few chapters of this book, so that you don’t become overwhelmed. There are only five sacrifices listed here: the burnt offering (ch. 1), the grain/cereal offering (ch. 2), the peace/fellowship offering (ch. 3), the sin offering (ch. 4-5), and the guilt offering (ch. 5-6). Each of these sacrifices are included for different purposes, not always for sin, and all of them have their own process of being offered. Usually a good study Bible will point this out, but just in case you don’t have one, I wanted to offer this to help you along the way.

Have you ever considered how your sins have affected someone else, whether in your family or in your church? When you act out in a sinful way, you are not only affecting yourself, but are infecting the entire community that you are involved in. Leviticus is very strong in chapter 4 on this point, and calls out the leaders and the congregation in the same breath. For those leading churches, homes, or any other area of life, you are responsible for those whom God has put under your care, and when you sin, you are affecting everyone. In Leviticus 4:3, it states that when the anointed priest (i.e. the leader) sins, he brings guilt on the entire congregation. What a responsibility! Maybe that is why the New Testament is so strong on the moral qualifications of those who want to be leaders in the church (see 1 Timothy 3).

It is not just the leader who affects the whole congregation, but the people that are being led also. Leviticus 4:13-21 discusses how the whole congregation is responsible for the sin that takes place within their midst. This truth still carries on today; whatever you do in sin affects those within your community. From “minor” sins like lying and gossipping, to “major” sins like being sexually immoral; these all have results and those results are deadly. The whole congregation of people has an obligation to confront the sin in their midst (in a loving way) and remove that practice from their group (see 1 Corinthians 5).

Church, we need to do better about both confessing sin and confronting it within our midst. When we allow sin to continue unchecked in our churches and homes, we are allowing a deadly cancer to affect everyone within. Leaders, you are responsible for making sure that the people you are leading are taken care of and being as holy as possible for God’s presence. Those of you who are being led, you have a responsibility for keeping your leaders accountable and for doing everything you can to personally confess and deal with your sin. We can all improve in this area, as difficult and awkward as it can be to admit to our faults. However, there is much peace and healing that comes from confessing and confronting the sins in our lives (James 5:16).

-Talon Paul

Links to today’s Bible reading – Leviticus 3-4 and Psalm 7-9

A Way was Made

Leviticus 1-2

At the end of Exodus, after the Tabernacle has been finally built, God’s glory comes to rest in it, but Moses is unable to enter (Exodus 40:35). However, at the beginning of the next book, Numbers, Moses is speaking with God in the Tabernacle (Numbers 1:1). This middle book, Leviticus, is the explanation about what is necessary to come into God’s presence and enjoy His fellowship. Since God is so holy and separate from us, there are things that we are expected to do in order to come into His presence. Thankfully, out of His love, mercy, and desire to be with us, God provided a way for us to come before Him, both for the Israelites back then and for Christians today.

Immediately in Leviticus 1 and 2, we find descriptions of different animal sacrifices and what is necessary to perform certain rituals in God’s presence. Since we don’t have a Tabernacle or Temple to worship in, and we don’t perform animal sacrifices anymore, how is this really relevant for us?

In Leviticus 1:4, we are told that these animals are dying in the place of the person who is offering it to God. The truth of these sacrifices is simple: sin is serious and deserves death. Whenever you do something that is contrary to God’s laws, both minor and major, it is offensive to the One who gave you life in the first place, and we deserve death for it. The mantra of our age that “everyone is naturally good in their own way” is simply not true; we are all broken, sinful, and corrupt human beings in need of God’s saving grace. For the Israelites back then, the answer to the problem was an animal sacrifice to cover their offense against God; for us today, it is the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ that is sufficient.

The New Testament continues the teaching that sin is serious, offensive to God, and deserves death: “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a) We cannot forget the seriousness of our situation, because when we do, we lose the power of the gospel. The good news for us is that we don’t have to die for the things that we did; Jesus died in our place, like the animal sacrifices in Leviticus. “… but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23b) The sacrifice of Jesus was sufficient to cover over every sin that we have ever committed or will commit (Hebrews 10:10). We need to thank God for providing a way out for our sinfulness, both in Leviticus and today through Jesus Christ. Through this sacrifice, we can enter the presence of God and enjoy fellowship with our heavenly Father (Hebrews 4:16).

-Talon Paul

Links to today’s Bible reading – Leviticus 1-2 and Psalm 4-6

The Veil Torn

Mark 15

            God never does anything by accident, and what we read in Mark 15 is no exception. To me, one of the most incredible events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus is the temple veil being torn. This is what Mark 15:37-39 says about the event, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’”

            There is a great significance in the veil being torn. To understand how important this is, we first need to understand the temple layout. Moving from outside the temple in, the first thing upon entering is the outer court. This is where the altar was kept for offering sacrifices. After walking into the temple, is the holy place. This is where the showbread, incense altar and lamp stands would be. Only priests were allowed in this part of the temple. The next and most precious part of the temple is called the holy of holies. This was the innermost part of the temple and it was cut off from the rest of the temple by a giant veil. The veil would have been thirty feet long and thirty feet high. Talk about a big piece of cloth. The holy of holies was cut off from the rest of the temple because it was the place God dwelled. Only the high priest, once a year, was allowed to go into the holy of holies. This veil was the literal barrier keeping God separate from the tainted and sinful world. So when Jesus dies, why is this veil torn?

            The simple answer is this, when Jesus died he removed the barrier between God and man. God no longer needed to be separate from His people because Jesus covered that sin and washed it away. This means that those who put their faith in Jesus could now have access to the father like never before seen in history.  Look at what 1 Timothy 2:5 has to say, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. We no longer have to bring sacrifices to the temple because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice that paid for sin once and for all. We no longer need a high priest to enter the holy of holies for us because Jesus is now our high priest serving as a mediator between us and God. Thereby, giving us full access to the father. We no longer have to gaze from outside the temple wondering what it is like to be in the presence of God because now, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are being made into a spiritual temple where God resides in us. The church, which is us, is now where God dwells. Do you see now the significance of the veil being torn? It is a representation of one the biggest shifts in history. The veil being torn is a mile marker of a new age, the church age, where God is no longer is hidden in the holy of holies, but has poured His Spirit out upon the church.

            We now have the great pleasure of living a life of freedom and access because of what Jesus did that day. When the veil was torn, everything changed. The next time you’re in trouble, hurting or wanting to rejoice, remember that you have access to the Father. There is no veil separating you from God.

-Josiah Cain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 35-36 and Mark 15

Finding Ourselves in Scripture

Mark 14

            Have you ever read scripture and thought to yourself, “That is definitely me”? I know I have, and every time I read Mark 14 I get that same feeling all over again. In Mark 14:32-42 we find the scene were Jesus takes his disciples to Gethsemane to pray before his arrest. Jesus sets a few of his disciples on watch while he goes away to pray. When Jesus returns, he finds them sleeping and says these piercing words in verse 37, “’Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?’” Ouch! How bad would you have felt if you were Peter right then? Well, I’ve felt almost exactly like this once.

            One night, while I was in high school, one of my best friends was doing a late night shift in a 24 hour prayer campaign. He had the duty of praying for an hour in the middle of the night. I can’t remember for certain, but it was something like 3am – 4 am. He asked me and one of our other best friends if we would be willing to stay up with him to help him pray and be alert during this shift. We both happily agreed! After all, how often does your best friend ask you to stay up and help him pray? This is something we could not turn down. So we are all hanging out, sitting on the couches in my living room, waiting for his shift to begin. The next thing I remember are my two friends walking inside after his prayer shift was over. In that moment, I felt a lot like Peter. I couldn’t even stay awake for one night to help my friend pray. To be honest, I was a little bit embarrassed and disappointed in myself. I can’t believe I had let my best friend down.

-Josiah Cain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 33-34 and Mark 14

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