God’s Glory & Forgiveness: Then & Now

1 Kings 8 & 2 Chronicles 5

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Once the temple was finished, they brought in the ark of the covenant.  It was brought into the inner sanctuary of the house, to the Holy of Holies.  When the priests (who had sanctified themselves) had come out, and the group praised the LORD, His glory filled the temple and the priests couldn’t perform their service because of His great glory.

That concept of how great the glory of the LORD is hard to comprehend for me.  On one of our Zoom calls for the youth group recently, we watched a video on holiness.  There were some interesting points in it, and a good analogy on how to better understand God’s holiness and why we can’t be too close (watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9vn5UvsHvM).  We cannot get too close to God because we are impure, and He is perfect.  People had to purify themselves to come into the temple.  And for the Holy of Holies, or Most Holy Place, separated by a veil, the purified high priest could only enter once per year on the Day of Atonement when the whole nation asked God for forgiveness of their sins.

The good news for us is that we live in a time after Jesus interceded.  When he died, that veil was torn, and we can now come to God instead of the high priest, and we can come without having to go through those same purifying rituals.  I forget sometimes what a blessing that is.  Because of Jesus being our mediator, we can go to God and receive forgiveness from our sins by request, not through sacrificial offerings.  We have never had to live in a time where it was different, but can you imagine it?  Thinking of this helps to remind me of how amazing Jesus’ sacrifice was.

If you haven’t already, you can stop reading in 1 Kings 8 at verse 12 and pick up there tomorrow to read a similar account in 2 Chronicles.

 

~Stephanie Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+8%2C+2+Chronicles+5&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Chronicles 6-7 and Psalm136 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Who Have You Been With?

Exodus 33-35

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After Moses destroys the idol he gets another opportunity to be in the presence of God. He actually was able to see the glory of God pass by.

And we see God’s description by his own account.

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

But what stuck out to me is how Moses changed after being in the presence of God. His face was so radiant it scared the others.

It’s easier than we might think for people to know where we’ve been or what we’ve been doing.

Many can tell you of my interest in chocolate. It started at a young age. My parents tell me of a story of when I was little and I snuck a piece of cake. My face was full of chocolate icing. I was approached about if I took a piece of cake and I straight faced lied – “I did not take the cake”. Despite my insistence, my parents knew where I had been and what I was up to.

Maybe it’s the icing on your face, the ticket-stub that falls out of your pocket, maybe it’s your extensive knowledge of a certain sport, or your church name printed on your shirt, but there are clues that tell others where you have been, who you were with, or what you’ve been up to.

Over time people notice deeper things as well. Because the truth is, whether we are aware of it or not, what and who we spend our time with changes us. Whatever you spend your time looking at, meditating on, and thinking about is what you will slowly, but surely, become. And people pick up on it.

So let me ask the question, “What have you been doing?”

“Who or what has left a mark on you?”

“What do you reflect in your character?”

And more specifically, if it is easier than we might think for people to tell where we’ve been, would anyone think you’ve been with God?

Do you show signs of having been in contact with him and his Word?
John Wincapaw
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=exodus+33-35&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Exodus 36-38 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan (1) (1)

The Home-stretch Begins

Revelation 15

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In our reading of Revelation we have come across so much : scrolls, and seals, and Lambs that are Lions, and Beasts and Dragons. I can understand if your head is spinning and you just want a moment to rest in a short, easy chapter. Though Revelation 15 is short, it is not easy. However, we are in the home stretch. We are closer to the end of this great revelation given by Jesus Christ to his servants.
 
In this chapter, the main action is that God is sending out seven angels with seven plagues. Those who have won victory over the beast recognize that God is holy, and in the end, all the nations will worship Him. (Rev. 15:4) Then the angels head out from the tabernacle, and smoke comes and fills the sanctuary. Smoke coming down represents God’s glory filling this “tabernacle of testimony.” (Compare Exodus 19:18, 20:18) This opens up an interesting insight for us as the people of God. When some see the plagues and the wrath of God, they see a violent deity of a violent people, demanding something to which He is not entitled. For Christians, we see the wrath of God as an act of the glory of God. The greatest joy a person can know is to experience connection to God. In Revelation 15 God, in His glory, is doing this final act of plagues and bowls of wrath to bring the whole world to worship him. While it is harsh, it is God’s love and not hatred that drives his wrath over a world that rejects him. He wants the world to turn to him, and even THIS will not work, as our study of the previous chapters have shown.
 
Praise God that you stand among the company of the saved. 
Pray for the mercy of God upon those who have not yet believed, that they might come to believe. 
Pray that it will not take the plagues of the seven angels and the bowls of God’s wrath. 
Jake Ballard

The Laughter was Far More Powerful

Romans Chapter 11 –
Paul completes his three chapter address of the fact that the Jews missed the Messiah here in chapter 11.  He emphasizes again that God did not completely reject Israel, for Paul himself is a Jew, and there is always going to be a remnant, until the entire nation will one day believe.

 

Verse 11 reads, “Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?  Not at all!  Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.”  This speaks to a great truth.  Very often, God is able to use transgressions or struggles in our own lives to bring about good.

 

My wife Susan and I have learned from mistakes in our marriage, and have shared those revelations with others.  I know of people who have wrestled with drug addiction who have then participated in programs to help others who are still wrestling.  In a very public example, Abby Johnson is a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston, who came to the revelation that what was going on there was wrong, and began a ministry to combat abortion.  (There is a movie titled Unplanned opening in theaters this month about her experience.)

 

So, yes, things in our lives that we are not proud of can indeed be used for good and for God’s glory.  But Paul continues in verse 12, “But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater will their fullness bring!”  When we are fulfilling our purpose in Christ, that is when we are going to be used to our fullness!

 

greg 4This reminds me of the movie Monsters Inc.  You know the story.  The monsters snuck into kids rooms at night, in order to scare them and collect their screams. They then used the screams as a power source for the monster city.  Yes, it worked, but at a cost, and with a huge amount of effort.  But (spoiler alert) at the end of the movie, it was discovered that laughter was a far more powerful power source, that was much easier to collect.   Maybe this analogy is a stretch, but the point is that God would rather us make good choices (the laughter) and work with that instead of having to work with our mistakes (the screams.)

Speaking of analogies, Paul makes the analogy of Gentiles being a branch grafted onto the tree of Israel.  But he warns the Gentiles not to become arrogant or look down upon the Jews because they do not believe.  Paul says, “do not boast over those branches.  If you do, consider this:  You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

 

There is a lot of anti-semitism in the world today.  New York City police records indicate that Jews are the most targeted group in regards to hate crimes.  There are many reasons for this hate, but let’s make sure we are not counted among the anti-semites of the world.  God is going to save a remnant of Israel in the last days.  I for one do not want to stand against God’s chosen people then or now.

 

Greg Landry

Radiating Jesus

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Jesus > Angels.    Jesus > Moses.   Jesus > the Old Law.
Jesus > everything – except God, His Father.

Hebrews was written to convince its readers (mostly Jewish Christians) that there is none like Jesus.   Some Jewish Christians were being ridiculed and persecuted and rejected by Jews (perhaps family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates) who did not accept Jesus as the Son of God, mediator, Savior, Coming King.   In order to remain strong in their faith while surrounded by doubts and persecution and false doctrine they were in need of a refresher course on the superiority of Jesus, and why it matters.   And, God supplied to them – and to us – the Book of Hebrews.

There is none like Jesus!  No one can do the job he does.  No one else can be the sinless Son of God who died for our sins and rose again.  No one else can mediate between God and man.  No one else can come again to set up God’s Kingdom on Earth.  There is none like Jesus!

One verse in chapter one has grabbed my attention several times before.  It begins, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory.” (1:3).  Remember when Moses asked to be allowed to see God’s glory. (Exodus 33:18)   And God allowed Moses to see God’s back – but not his face because no one can look on God’s face and live.  And then, years later – Jesus enters the scene.  He is not God Almighty, but he is God’s Son.  Heeradiates God’s glory and so when people see Jesus – they know what God is like.  They see God’s glory when they look at Jesus.

Sadly, there is a large chunk of the world today (as throughout history) who has never seen or acknowledged God’s glory.  They have missed seeing God, and they have not seen His Son.  It is time to get busy.  We have a job to do.  And I was reminded of that a few years ago when the public school principal commended our daughter for “Radiating Jesus”.   What beautiful words to speak of another.  What a goal to live for.

Jesus was radiating God – because frail humanity can’t look directly at the fullness of God’s goodness and majesty and live through it.  Thank God for Jesus – who shows us God – better than Moses and the prophets and the Old Testament law and even angels ever could.    We have seen Jesus through the pages of the gospel writers and now it is our job to radiate Jesus.  For when we help them see Jesus, they will see God’s glory, too.

Marcia Railton

Reflecting His Glory

rebecca 7

I was teaching a junior youth class last week. We were learning about the Lord’s Prayer. At the end of our lesson, we were going over the phrase “for Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever.”  I asked the children what does glory mean? None of the students knew and it was time for our class to end so I suggested that they ask someone what God’s glory means. I told them that they could bring the answer back for next time. A four year old said, “I’ll ask Siri.” He took his tablet out of his backpack and asked, “Siri, what is God’s glory?” She verbally gave us a definition. That was a first. I wonder how Siri would be as a Sunday School teacher?

Here is a partial definition of glory:

Great praise, splendor, or honor. High renown or honor won by notable achievements.

fame, prestige, distinction, kudos, eminence, acclaim, celebrity, recognition, reputation

 

While glory is a vast subject, it might help us understand it more by reading Psalm 96:2-10a. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”

Of course, God possesses glory, but the scriptures describe man as having the ability to possess glory, too. Psalm 21:5 describes David in this way, “Through the victories you gave, his glory is great; you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty. God also presents Christ with this glory.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him. (Dan. 7:13,14 &27) We will be rewarded in so many ways including living in our kingdom home of New Jerusalem that will shine with the glory of God. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it for the glory of God gives it light.

So what should our response be to gaining understanding of the glory of God. Jesus tells us that we should seek the glory of the one who sent us.  And Paul reminds us to turn to the Lord. “And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18)  Lets remember to keep our focus on God through Christ so we can reflect the Lord’s glory!

-Rebecca Dauksas

 

Responding to the Glory of God

 

Ezekiel 43-44

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Sunday, April 2

How should we respond to God’s glory?

To be able to answer this question, we should know what God’s glory is. A simple definition is His character, holiness, and excellence revealed. It is the essence of God on display.

In today’s passage, we read about Ezekiel experiencing God’s glory in a vision. He hears the voice of the LORD (Yahweh), which sounds like “the roar of rushing waters,” sees the land “radiant with his glory,” and witnesses the glory of Yahweh filling the temple (Ezek. 43:1-6).

You and I will likely never get the opportunity to receive a vision from the Almighty in which we can see His glory in such an amazing fashion. But God has revealed aspects of His character, holiness, and excellence to us in several ways. In these we can experience the glory of God and respond to it.

God has revealed Himself through His creation. This idea is called Natural Revelation. Romans 1:20 says “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” When one looks at nature it is difficult, at least for me, to believe that everything seen came about by chance and was not designed by an intelligent being. While Natural Revelation doesn’t tell us much about who God is, it does show a great deal about what He is capable of and how great He is.

God has also revealed Himself through the scriptures. What Natural Revelation leaves out about who God is, the Bible fills in much more. The writers of each book in the Bible were inspired by God through His holy spirit. They rely stories of the wonderful things He has done and inform readers of what He can do, and some even reveal what He will do in the future. The Bible offers a large portrait of the greatness and goodness of God, but doesn’t give a complete picture. Not until we dwell with Him in His kingdom will we experience the full weight of His glory.

God has revealed Himself through His son. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree is an expression often used to illustrate how a son is very much like his father, this could be said of Jesus. But more accurately it would be said that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree at all, it is essentially still part of the tree. Jesus is the exact representation of His father. If we want to get a better picture or understanding of God, the best thing we can do is to simply read the Gospels that tell of Jesus. The character of Christ is the character of God. The attributes Jesus exhibits are the same of his father. The glory of God is seen in His son.

The question still remains, how are we to respond to God’s glory?

I think our response should be twofold.

(1) We should be reverent. God is not like us. He is perfect. He is holy. He has great power. He created the world in which we live and, when we messed it us, had a way to make it right again. So, he deserves to be praised. He is entitled (it is his right) to be worshiped. This reverence we have for God should lead to not just passive adoration, but active glorification. We can stand in church and say God is great, but if we think this to be a great truth, it should move us to give our lives to him and serve him everyday of our lives.

(2) We should be repentant. When I say God is holy this means two things: he is set apart and he is pure. We, as human being who engage in sin, are not pure and we tend to act the same as everyone else, making us not set apart. That being said, we are called to be holy as God is holy. The first step towards holiness is repentance. We must forsake our sin and choose Jesus instead. He is the only one who can make us holy.

As you read our passage for today, as you go outdoors and see the beauty that is nature, and when you read about Jesus in the gospels, think about how you should respond. After all, you’re experiencing God’s glory.

-Joel Fletcher

Joel Fletcher is a former student of ABC. He currently lives in Minnesota with his wonderful wife Stephanie. He likes to read boring non-fiction books, watch boring baseball, and hang out with his NON-BORING wife in his free time. He is planning on teaching a class at FUEL this year (its topic will not be boring).

God’s Watchman to A Generation

Ezekiel 1-4

ezekiel 1

Sunday, March 19

Ezekiel was a priest in Israel during a tumultuous time in their history.  The Northern kingdom had been decimated by the Assyrian empire and its people scattered and assimilated resulting in a complete loss in their identity as a distinctive people of God.  The Southern Kingdom of Judah was now being systematically taken apart by the Babylonians.  Ezekiel was among the early members of Judah’s elite leaders who were taken captive to Babylon.  Ezekiel was now a priest living in a foreign land where he had no access to the temple of Jerusalem and the religious symbols that helped shape his life and give him meaning and purpose.

In today’s readings God comes to Ezekiel in a series of visions.  These visions  are recorded as a type of scripture known as apocalyptic- where something is revealed or unveiled.  In addition to portions of  Ezekiel there are apocalyptic passages in the books of Daniel, Isaiah and Joel.  God reveals what is going to happen as He brings an end to the present age preparing the way for the age to come or coming Kingdom of God.  You will notice some similarities between Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 1 and 4.

Ezekiel’s description sounds like something in a science fiction movie- 1:27-28 says: “ I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him.  Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.  This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

Imagine if, for a brief instant, God permitted you to have a vision of himself in all of His glory.  You would probably struggle to find the right words to communicate what you saw.  So it is with Ezekiel.  He is overcome by the glory of God and he falls on his face.

The whole of Ezekiel is surrounded by the image of a holy God.  But God’s people, Israel, have been disobedient to God.  Ezekiel is appointed by God to serve as his “watchman” (3:17) for the people Israel in captivity.  His mission is to warn God’s people of their sins and to call them to repentance.  Ezekiel 2:7-8: “You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.   But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you.”

The job of a watchman is to stay awake, keep one’s eyes open, and warn if anything dangerous or illegal is taking place.  It might also include a warning to those who are tempted to trespass.  Ezekiel’s job was to warn God’s people about the consequences of their sins and the coming judgment of God.  God tells Ezekiel essentially: “you need to warn the people about my coming judgment.  If they don’t listen to your warning, then they will suffer the consequences, but if you fail to warn them, then I’ll hold you responsible for their sins.”  God was letting Ezekiel know that he had a mission, to share God’s word with people.  If the people didn’t listen or heed the warning, it was on them, but if he refused to give the warning it was on him.

As followers of Jesus Christ today, we are called to be priests in this world.  Like Ezekiel,  we are living in an age where much of Christianity has been decimated by a massive turning away from God and people are scattered and assimilated into the world resulting in a complete loss in their identity as a distinctive people of God.  And like Ezekiel, we are to keep watch and issue warnings to the people of the world.  As with Ezekiel, sometimes we will warn people and they won’t listen.  If that’s the case, it’s on them.  But if we fail to do our job and give the warning, then it’s on us.  People won’t always like what we have to say- prophets and priests are sometimes labelled as intolerant and not very popular, but that should not prevent us from doing the work God has given us to be His watchmen to our generation.  (Note: our job is not to be the judge, it’s not our place to condemn the world, but to tell them what God tells us to tell them, which is the Gospel.)

-Pastor Jeff Fletcher

My name is Pastor Jeff Fletcher.  I’m one of the old guys.  I first attended what is now FUEL (then it was called National Camp) back in 1977 and I’ve been a camper or on the staff for most of the past 40 years.  I’m a graduate of Oregon Bible College, (Now ABC) and I’m completing a Master’s Degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary.  I’ve pastored Churches in Illinois, England, Louisiana, South Carolina and now Virginia.  My wife Karen and I have eleven children and 4 grandchildren and my daughter, Karee Anne is getting married this Saturday, March 25.  In addition to pastoring a Church I also work as a hospital chaplain.  I am passionate about bringing the message of God’s loving presence to people who are hurting and in need of hope and purpose in life.