The Blessing of Your Priesthood

Leviticus 8-10

Leviticus 8 23 NIV

The next couple chapters we see the ordination of Aaron and his sons. They are anointed to become the first priests of Israel. They are cleansed, had anointing oil placed on them and then also the blood of a ram sacrifice.

Once we get past how awkward this seems, I was interested in 8:23-24.

23 Moses slaughtered the ram and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 24 Moses also brought Aaron’s sons forward and put some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet.

He took some of the blood and placed it in 3 specific areas on both Aaron and his sons; the ear, thumb and big toe. Each seems to have a pretty obvious connection.

The ear: Listen – They needed to listen to God’s commands so that they would be careful not to disobey Him.

Thumb/hand – Actions – We use our hands to carry out most of our actions. I think God was telling Aaron and his sons that they were not merely to listen, but to act on God’s commands. (Kind of like James 1:22 – be doers of the word)

The Big toe/foot – Our walk and where we go – I have read that the big toe carries the most weight and gives the foot balance when walking. Without big toes we could not run or even walk straight.

Possibly God is reminding them to walk straight and stay committed to the path God has set before them.

1 Peter 2:5 – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We are all called into a similar service.

So may your ears be blessed to hear the command of God for your life. Bless your hands to act upon that calling and command. Bless your feet so that wherever you are and wherever you may go you stay committed to the path the Lord has for you.

You are blessed so that you can be a blessing!

John Wincapaw

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+8-10&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Leviticus 11-13 on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Confess

Leviticus 5-7

Leviticus 5 5 NIV

Confession – yesterday we talked about Christ’s sacrifice replacing the Old Testament offerings. I also mentioned how we often take for granted the fact we no longer have to make the sacrifices. In those sacrifices, it was just that, a sacrifice – the people had to give something that they could have enjoyed because of their sin.

Even though there was a loss, the people had no clear way to alleviate the weight of guilt and find forgiveness in their lives. God has provided another way to help with that – Confession.

Confession is something that is hard to do. Many lie, deny and push blame on others just to avoid confessing. It is something that God asks of us not for his benefit but for ours. I remember being told often as a kid the only way to fix a problem  is to realize there is one. And that is what confession is.

Further, confession gives a proper view on sin, God and ourselves.

The punishment for sin is death – we need a proper view of sin. I have often heard of people talk about their sin as “Not that big of a deal.” Sin is just that, SIN. If it is wrong, we shouldn’t do it. Sin that is not confessed and not repented of leads to missing out on the Kingdom.

God cannot be in the presence of sin – we need a proper view of God. Our God is a holy God. He expects purity not just in our actions but also our hearts. (Matt. 5:8 says the pure heart will see God.)

We cannot do it on our own – we need a proper view of ourselves. We often try to fix our problems on our own. Sin is not something we can fix on our own or earn enough to repay the debt. We need a savior and Christ is willing to step in on our behalf.

A couple tips on confession:

Confess immediately – when you know you have done something wrong do not push it off. It is easy to push it off.

Confess specifically – I hear a lot of prayer that vaguely ask for all sins to be forgiven. Make it personal and specific.

Confess honestly – Take it serious and do not make promises you know you will not keep.

Confess to someone else – this is something I push in the church. For some reason people are afraid of letting others know about their sin. Most will acknowledge they are a sinner but would never discuss their struggles for fear of other’s judgement. Find someone you trust and create an open discussion and ask for accountability.

John Wincapaw

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+5-7&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s reading will be Leviticus 8-10 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

A Perfect Sacrifice

Leviticus 1-4

Leviticus 4 35b NIV

In the first few chapters of the book of Leviticus, we see 5 different types of offerings. God had already redeemed the Nation of Israel; the offerings were God’s way of providing the people an opportunity to regain and keep fellowship with Him.

Fortunately for believers today, we no longer need to keep up with these. For a deeper dig check out Hebrews 10.  Quick summary: Christ’s sacrifice covered it.

I assume most appreciate Christ’s sacrifice but I bet most also take it for granted. Imagine having to make a sacrifice each time we sinned. Instead, we can thank God for his offering. He gave his son so that all can retain and keep fellowship with him. A single sacrifice once for all.

A super quick summary of the 5 offerings:

Burnt offering – the worshipper would bring an animal sacrifice that atoned sin.

Grain offering – an offering that is a response to God’s grace. Part of the best of the worshipper’s produce.

Peace offering – a free will offering that was optional – but above and beyond what was expected.

Purification offering – this was asking for forgiveness for unknown sins or sins of ignorance. It was a way to keep the tabernacle from human defilement.

Guilt offering – this was an attempt to repair the damage done for the sins committed. Not just forgiveness but also restoration.

John Wincapaw

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+1-4&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Leviticus 5-7 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Making Space for God’s Leading

Exodus 39-40

Exodus 39 43 NIV

Throughout history God has lead his people many ways. To a few he spoke audibly, others in dreams but he used the tabernacle to lead the Israelites. They set up the tabernacle to the very detail as God requested. After it was complete, 40:34 says

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 

God made his presence known and clearly began to lead the people on their travels. Whenever the cloud left the people knew it was time to get up and go. Whenever the cloud would stop the people would also stop.

Sometimes I wish that God led us today in such an obvious manner. I need fool proof directions just to get across town let alone the race we are called to run as followers of Christ.

Although it is not as obvious, God still leads his people. He still tells us when and where to go and also when and where to stay.

The tabernacle was a dedicated place for God in the lives of the Israelites. They gave of their time, energy and resources to have a spot for God in their lives. Many often claim that they want direction from God but have not made space for his leading in their lives. They have not made time or space for God.

After the ascension of Christ, the believers were blessed with God’s presence in an even better way than the tabernacle. God’s power, his presence, his spirit can dwell in YOU!

Will you make time and space in your life – for the glory of God to lead you where he would have you go? And further, are you willing to follow that lead?

John Wincapaw

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=exodus+39-40&version=NIV

Tomorrow we begin the book of Leviticus – chapters 1-4 – as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

More Than Enough

Exodus 36-38

Exodus 36 3b NIV

We see the builders start working on the sanctuary. They are getting the resources to build from gift offerings from the Israelites. They run into a problem. Although a good problem, still a problem. They have been given too much – and the workers cannot keep up. So Moses has to make an announcement.

After 15 years of preaching – this is an announcement that I have yet to make but would absolutely love making.

Moses tells the Israelites:  We have too much from the offering – we cannot outwork the generosity – stop giving so the work can catch up.

The whole nation of Israel is working together – everyone is doing their part. When the whole body works together there is more than enough.

Unfortunately, in the modern church, not everyone is pulling their weight. I know it sounds harsh and I may be preaching to the choir. But the statistics show that 20% percent of the church is carrying 80% of the workload. It roughly translates to participation, work and giving.

It follows along with the Pareto principle – which simply defined is: roughly 80% of the effects come from roughly 20% of the causes.

So if the church is functioning with only 20% of the people active and giving, think what it could do if everyone did their part? If everyone carried their weight, could the workers not keep up with generosity of the church again?

My challenge to you: get involved, help out, give generously and recruit others to do the same.

 

John Wincapaw

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=exodus+36-38&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Exodus 39-40 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Who Have You Been With?

Exodus 33-35

Exodus 34 29b NIV

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)

Turning Away from God

Exodus 30-32

Exodus 32 8 a NIV
Since I was 14 years old (24 straight years, yikes!), I have scheduled a week of my summer to go to our annual youth camp – now known as FUEL. Most of my closest moments with God have come during those weeks. It started the first year and I knew I had to experience it again.
I would come home with a great passion and zeal because of that closeness I experienced with God. Sadly, when I went back to home/school/life, I was surrounded by a group that just wasn’t as close to God as I felt. They were often church folk that knew of and had experienced God before but just had lost that once held passion. Although I was just close with God, my passion was often quickly drained.
This is where we find Moses in Exodus 32. He has just spent an extended period of time in the presence of God on Mount Sinai. Outside of the Garden – it is an unprecedented closeness between God and mankind. We see how quickly things change as Moses comes down the mountain and reunites with the others.
Realize these same people: saw the 10 plagues, crossed the Red Sea (on dry ground), received manna from Heaven and drank from a rock. They were set free by God and had a unique dependance on him. In a moment of boredom, or impatience, we see them move on from their God.
Moses finds them dancing like pagans around a man made “god” – they gave out of their valuable possessions and made an idol.
God is so mad he considers destroying the nation and Moses is so mad he destroys the first tablets with the commandments on them.
Like Genesis chapter 3 (first sin by Adam and Eve), we see a favored group of people fail to trust and obey. Both times they rationalize their behavior (read: make excuses) and both times we see a loss of privileges and harsh punishments.
We may find it silly to worship a calf – but what do we worship?
We often only think of idols as the “big” sins – we know those and we would never do that, right? But an idol is anything we place between God and us.
So, I ask again: What do you worship? What do you show love, adoration and devotion?
The list will differ based on the individual. A few examples – is it the pursuit of money and stuff? Is it social media, Netflix/Disney plus or video games? Shopping, sports, comfort, food… etc?
Just like those who came before us, we have a habit of giving our worship to something other than the only one who deserves it. We are good at making excuses.
If you have made it this far, I challenge you to look at your life – remember the closest times you have had with God and strive for that closeness. Don’t let the things of this world put out your fire and steal that passion.

 

John Wincapaw

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=exodus+30-32&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Exodus 33-35 on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Hope and the Faith of Abraham 

Hebrews 6

Hebrews 6 15

In Genesis God appeared to Abraham and made him a promise: “Through your seed shall all peoples of the earth be blessed,” (Genesis 22:17-18).

The immediate seed was Isaac, born of Abraham’s old age; but the ultimate Seed is Jesus. It is through faith in Jesus Christ that this promise is fulfilled, and all the peoples of the earth are blessed through Abraham.

This promise was later confirmed by an oath, God swearing by himself (because there was nothing greater to swear by) that he would fulfill what he had said. The writer is simply pointing out that Abraham had faith and believed God’s promise.

Why did he believe it? It was not because he immediately saw it fulfilled! There were twenty-five long, weary years before Isaac was born, and in the meantime, Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were growing older and had passed the time of life when it was possible to have children. Through multiple opportunities to doubt, Abraham believed that God would do what he said he would do.

We have become too eager for immediate results. I’ve heard people say, “I’ve tried prayer/church but it doesn’t seem to work.” It seems to me that is putting it the wrong way. People who are looking for immediate results tend to drift when it doesn’t happen the way they want. But the one who sees no longer needs to believe. Faith is not found in sight. It is believing in what we cannot see.

Vs. 19 – This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

We are offered something to put our faith in, too. We have hope in the same blessings that were promised to Abraham. Jesus has gone before us and promised those who put their faith in him will be rewarded with salvation.

Let that hope anchor you through whatever life throws your way. Keep the faith even when things are difficult.

John Wincapaw

Stunted Spiritual Growth

Hebrews 5

Hebrews 5 12

Hebrews 5:12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 

As parents, my wife and I have the exciting opportunity to watch our daughter grow. We made a growth chart where we can visibly see how much she has grown over the years. It is exciting for her and us to watch the marks get higher and higher. 

But can you imagine how shocked and concerned we would be if, instead of growing up our daughter had shrunk! We would schedule an immediate doctor’s appointment to find out what was wrong. Growth is normal and causes joy – shrinkage would be crazy and cause for alarm.

Many of the Hebrews that this letter is written to have been backsliding in their faith. They are shrinking – the author notices this and raises the alarms. He states that they are back needing the milk instead of solid food. Imagine if a teenager or adult gave up solid food for formula and pureed fruits and veggies. For some reason this seems silly but for some reason long time Christians acting like new believers does not get the same reaction.

Instead of helping others with their faith – these believers still need someone to teach them the basics again. The author wants to go deeper but fears it will go over their heads. So before he dives in to that subject, he issues a strong warning – saying, “GROW UP! You have probably been in a situation where an adult was acting like a child. You want to shout, “act your age” or “grow up.” And essentially that is what the author of Hebrews does with these Hebrew Christians. 

In vs. 11 he calls them spiritually dull and they don’t seem to listen. But they didn’t used to be this way. The language used here indicates that there was a drop off – as if they were sick and lacking energy or possibly it is a spiritual laziness. We notice an opportunity to get into God’s word but instead flip on the tv or have a free Sunday morning to go to church but instead decide to sleep in. 

If there is spiritual life, there needs to be spiritual growth.
You have to be moving forward.
Sitting still or going back is not part of a healthy spiritual life.
Make a plan and go forward.
Don’t get lazy or give up.
It is time to grow up!

John Wincapaw

Entering God’s Rest

Hebrews 4

Hebrews 4 10

Most of us have been brainwashed since birth with a false concept that we must be in constant activity. When overloaded, we get clever and create ways to save us time. Think of how much time we have saved with inventions like the automobile, microwave and internet. Our travel, cooking, communications and ability to attain knowledge are so much faster than they had been previously. Unfortunately, with each time saving invention, we have used that extra time to add something else into our schedule to become even more overwhelmed and time crunched than before.

 

Any guesses what is the most common response to “how have you been?”  I usually hear and say: Busy! I sometimes look at my calendar and when there is a date that has nothing on it, I stress and wonder what I forgot to put on it. The constant schedule of something to do, places to go and people to see is causing enormous amounts of stress and anxiety in our world. From the beginning, God knew that his creation needed rest and he set the example by resting on the seventh day.

 

9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

 

I love the language here: “make every effort to enter that rest.” With our health in mind, God urges us to slow down. Actually, he commands it. Before you excitedly brush off responsibilities for a God prescribed day of relaxation alone on the couch with Netflix and social media, it is more than that.

 

Notice vs. 10, “For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works.” – it is a specific time set aside for God and with God. He is telling us he wants us to make him a priority. He wants us to step away from our busy life focused on us to spend some regular scheduled time with Him.

 

How is your rest time with God? Are you making every effort? Slow down! Take a break and make some time for God in your busy schedule.

 

John Wincapaw