February 26, 2010

Num 35-36: A Place of Refuge

Posted in Grace, Restoration tagged , , , , , , at 9:29 pm by Steve

There is a lot written in chapter 35 about cities of refuge for someone who kills another by accident. Imagine how radical this idea would have been. It is the beginning of mercy and grace. Suppose you are working in the fields or in the forest and a tree falls and kills your co-worker. Family and tribal honor would be at stake and the entire family would be out for revenge.

Consider the long family feud in Kentucky of the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. How many years and how many lives were lost over this feud? On death begets another, and then another. When does it stop?

The LORD says to establish cities where people can go for refuge, to seek sanctuary and in the end salvation. This principle will be the foundation of what God is offering through Christ.

“Come to all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest [or sanctuary]” Matthew 11:28

Have you ever felt like because of bad judgment or circumstance beyond your control, you wish you could find sanctuary?

Do you know someone who needs sanctuary from everyday life?

How would you define Sanctuary?

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February 10, 2010

Lev 26-27: New Beginning

Posted in Forgiveness, Restoration, Sacrifices, The Law tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:44 pm by Steve

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” Lev 26:12

Does this sound at all familiar? What can we learn about the purpose of God through all these Law, rules and rituals?

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day” Genesis 3:8

The passage in Leviticus reminds me of this passage in Genesis when God walked with us in the Garden. Could it be that God is trying to bring us back to that unity where we walk with God again? Is the purpose of all these regulations to set the boundaries where we can walk with God without fear, guilt, or shame?

Leviticus is filled with all kinds of regulations about guilt offerings, burnt offerings and cleanliness rituals. God is trying to remove the guilt and shame we all feel yet cannot quite be free from. Imagine working all day in the garden, hands dirty, body sweaty, and hair matted against your forehead. But there’s no way to get clean. So you pull back the covers and crawl beneath the sheets.

Does that sound comfortable and cozy, or nasty and irritable? I have to think the latter. God is providing a way for us to come clean. To feel comfortable around God and each other. To know that the inside is able to heal and come out of the shadows and know who God really is and trust His heart enough to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.

Leviticus has a lot to teach us about the heart of God.

January 9, 2010

Discover Hope

Posted in Vision tagged , , , , , , at 4:58 pm by Steve

Faith makes things possible ~ Love makes them easy!

I believe that once you have hope, everything become possible. But I also believe that real hope begins with God. There simply is no true, lasting hope in this world without God. God is the great artist who made us and the world in which we live. God is the Father who loves His children and will never give up on them. The God is the teacher who wants to give our lives meaning and purpose. Until we accept this reality, nothing else will really make sense.

If you’ve tried to make it without God, to do it all on your own, then you probably know how frustrating it can be. Living up to someone else’s standards, always comparing yourself and your life to others is an act of futility with no possible end. Without God’s power, we have no hope of overcoming our struggles. Without God’s mercy, we have no hope of overcoming our past. Without the meaning that God offers, without the sense of purpose that he provides, we have no hope of overcoming the emptiness that a godless life becomes.

While we certainly don’t know everything about God, we can learn a lot about God by looking at what he has done, what others have experienced and learned, and by what He has chosen to reveal about Himself. He created this world and everything in it, which shows us that he is creative, life-giving, and powerful beyond anything we can imagine. God revealed himself, His character and purpose through the patriarchs, prophets and saints that encountered God and developed a relationship with Him.  The Bible reminds us that He is not an aloof God, but one who desires to interact with His creation. God has told us the things that are necessary to know Him and live as we were originally created to live.  These are not arbitrary rules and regulations, but things that actually restore healthy living and meaning to us.

We also see in the Bible that God made promises, and God always kept his promises. Some of those promises concern things that are still to come, and we believe that one day they will be fulfilled. He has promised to do things for us in this life, and he has promised that when this life is over, he will provide a life for us that will have no end.

Our belief in God and our trust in his promises fill our lives with hope. God wants to be in a relationship with us. Today. He wants us to talk with him every day. He wants to provide what we need for this life and eventually provide us with a life that doesn’t end. What better hope could there be than that?