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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Free In His Grace

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And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “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.

Exodus 34:6-7

There are terrible consequences when God’s people abandon him for our own ways, an idol we can control. After the shocking incident at the bottom of Mount Sinai, Moses now stands in the gap between God and the people who have turned away, and pleads for mercy, a moving picture of our place in prayer. God continues speak to His people through Moses as the mediator and calls them to repent. Moses does not give up and continues to meet with God, begging Him to go with them for the honor of His name. God promises not to withdraw His presence from the people. He reveals his name as he tenderly shows himself to Moses in all his glory.

But what about the Ark of his presence and the Tabernacle? Some of the gold that should have been for worship has been used as an idol. How would they carry God’s presence now?

And what if we have held on to the gold, held something back, have let our past and our experiences become our identity or allowed it to become first in our hearts? Is it too late? Exodus gives us a vivid picture in response. God graciously gives the law again, the sign that they are still his beloved covenant people. Then he instructs Moses to ask for a free will offering from the people

Exodus 35:21 says” All whose hearts were stirred and whose spirits were moved came and brought their sacred offerings to the LORD. They brought all the materials needed for the Tabernacle. 22 Both men and women came, all whose hearts were willing. They brought to the LORD their offerings of gold—brooches, earrings, rings from their fingers, and necklaces. They presented gold objects of every kind as a special offering to the LORD.

Our God is a God of second chances whose name is love and grace and compassion.

So much was given; Moses has to tell the whole camp

“Men and women, don’t prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary. We have enough!” Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.” )Ex. 36:6-7)

God’s presence and glory would go with them and make them his own worshipping people. This is the God of more than enough grace to give you all of his presence and love, extravagantly. It is never too late to come to the cross of his mercy and offer all of yourself to Jesus. So let’s come.

Weekly Prayer Focus

Pray: Hebrews 4:16

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy

and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Pray that you and those you are praying for will know the God of second chances and know it is never to offer all of yourself to him. Pray that you and they will be confident to approach the throne of grace and receive the mercy and grace of Jesus. Pray that the Holy Spirit will fill you so that you know his presence with you and in you.

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Free to Worship Him

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But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.

Hebrews 12:22-23

While God was communicating every detail of the ark and the tabernacle, the way of being his own worshipping people, at the top of the mountain, the people were fed up with waiting 40 long days at the bottom of the mountain. They couldn’t see a future, and began to give up on God. We gasp with horror as God’s own dearly loved people take their gold, what was meant to be offered for his worship, and mould it into a copy of the gods of other nations. They look at the idol and say in Exodus 32:4, “These are the gods who brought you out of Egypt.” After the Lord has intimately revealed himself to them, saved them, provided for them and committed to them in his covenant of perfect love, how could they?

How many times have we felt like living for Jesus is too hard, we have waited too long, he does not seem to be leading, we cannot see what he is doing, or we just want to fit in with everyone else? Like the Israelites at the mountain, we are prone to give up, look for an easier, more enjoyable way, a faster solution in our struggles, a more visible hope and a way of being in control ourselves. We quickly lose sight of who God is and who we are to him and we set our heart on other things or put our trust in ourselves. We take what was designed to be freely given to the Lord and we hold it back. Then slowly but surely we set up our past experiences, wounds, thoughts, desires, spiritual ideas, abilities and say, “This is who I am now; this is what makes me.” Our enemy whispers the echo “ Yes that is all you are and all you will ever be”. And God’s heart breaks, as he looks on the scene of us giving our hearts away, bowing down to something that is not him, and changing our identity. It can happen gradually, without us noticing, but it happens. Jesus asks us to give all of ourselves to him, holding nothing back.

When we do that he says that you are not what your past, your skills and your experiences or your wounds have made you. Your real name is written in Heaven and that is who you are for eternity. You are His own, saved, cleansed and set apart in his love.

Weekly Prayer Focus
Pray: Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV)
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Pray that you, and those you are praying for, will come to the Kingdom that cannot be shaken and see yourself as his own beloved, not putting your hope or identity in anything temporary. Pray that Jesus will give you and them patience and determination when it seems hard to wait and worship only him. Pray that you and they will know what it means to be thankful and lay all of yourself down in reverent worship, refusing to bow down to or trust in anything else.

Summer Resource Links

 Scripture Reading Guide         Journal Label             Summer Songs for Worship 
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Free to Worship

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journal lableThe Lord said to Moses, “….You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give…gold, silver and bronze… blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen… “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.

Exodus 25, verses 1, 2 & 8

In the ultimate working out of the covenant (Exodus 24), the people are set apart as the Lord’s own in worship. There is a sacrifice, shed blood, and a meal in the presence of the Holy One. These images cast a very Jesus-shaped shadow. Then, on the mountain covered by his glory, God gives Moses the detailed design for the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle; a way of carrying his own glorious presence for them to worship and for the nations to see.

In the New Covenant, Jesus has brought through his blood, God’s promises to bring us right into his presence and give us the Holy Spirit to live in us. Like the beautiful, costly, detailed, royal ark of his presence; we are remade, recreated and carefully crafted by his own hands to become a place where he dwells.

So what did God ask his people to freely offer as materials for the ark and the tabernacle? The gold, silver, bronze and valuables God plundered from their enemies the night they left Egypt, the treasures of their past from their terrible years of oppression. He wants us to lay down all our past, all that we are for Jesus. He does not throw it away, he takes it, melts it down in the fire of the Spirit, and uses it as part of the glorious design to give his presence to us and through us to others. Whatever we carry from the past, whatever the enemy thought was his, Jesus can make us beautiful in him if we are willing to offer our all: our experiences, training, mistakes, personality, weaknesses, sufferings, disappointments, emotions, and unfulfilled desires. So often we think these things cannot be part of who God wants us to be now, but he asks us to bring it, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to him at the cross. There, Jesus does not just free us from the past – he redeems the past.

Real transformation comes when we choose to place it all in Jesus’ nail-scarred hands, so he can come in, heal, restore, and remake us as his home. He will redeem and use our past to give his beautiful presence to us and to those we meet. It takes time, but you can trust Jesus as the skillful healer and craftsman. So come to him, willing to give him your past.

Weekly Prayer Focus
Pray Exodus 25: 1, 2 & 8 and John 14:17
v. 1-2: The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering….
v. 8:   “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them
John 14:17 But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

Pray that you, and those you are praying for, will offer all of themselves to the Lord, your past and all that belonged to the enemy, and allow Jesus to craft you by the fire of the Holy Spirit into a beautiful place of his of his presence, for you and for others to see him. Pray that you and they would welcome the Holy Spirit and not be too afraid or too proud for him to have your whole heart as his home.

Free to See His Holiness

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But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him
who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God;
once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:9-10

However unfamiliar we find the images of thunder and smoke at the mountain in Exodus 19, this is the truth of God’s greatness, holiness, and glory – that in our own weakness we are utterly unworthy and unable to come near. It is only by receiving his mercy we can come close to Him. Look at the precious words God speaks to his people at Mt. Sinai: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession” (Exodus 19:4-5). The passage in 2 Peter says that if you have given yourself to Jesus, God speaks the same words of love-binding covenant and calling over you.  He does not just tolerate you; he treasures you, delights in you and calls you chosen, his possession. He does not ask you to be dull, lonely, religious, judgmental or silent, as some misunderstandings of holiness would make you think. Instead, he has given you the Holy Spirit to put his own character in you, a new, clean heart to love him extravagantly and imitate him. To be set apart as holy does not mean we should hide away together in a religious ghetto. Instead, we are to love the world and the people around us selflessly, with God’s passionate love.  As a royal priesthood, you are called to stand between Jesus and those who don’t know him; to carry his presence to others, and to carry them to him in prayer.

So then, as God’s beloved people, chosen to receive life from the holy God, rather than being controlled by our own desires and the patterns of living of everyone else around us, what does his holiness look like? We have been saved from the condemnation of being unable to live the Ten Commandments in our own strength. By the forgiveness of the cross and the Holy Spirit in us, we are freed to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. The Ten Commandments are not the way to earn his love, but rather, because he has first loved us, we get to love him by walking in his life-giving ways and reflecting his holy heart to the world.

Weekly Prayer Focus
Pray 1 Peter 9-10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession,
that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God;
once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Pray that you, and those you are praying for, would know hear God’s loving words over you and that these words would define you and lead you. Pray that this will be your new identity and you and they will give praises to Jesus who has called you out of darkness and intolight. Pray that you and they will live out a life in the Holy Spirit as God’s chosen, holy possession reflecting his character and that you will stand as a priesthood before God, pleading for those who don’t know Jesus and representing him to them.

Summer Resource Links

You still have the opportunity to hear Linda Boyette speak to the women of Hartsville, Ohio at their summer retreat. Follow the link to hear Linda’s messages. This link is still available for a limited time. Click here for Linda’s messages

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