All the Change we Need

It has been nearly twenty years since 9/11 and I bet you can tell me where you were and what you were doing on that faithful day. I hope you will take a few moments to pray for those lives and families that were forever changed. Ask for Jesus to allow His precious blood to cleanse those lives and yours. O the blood, crimson love, Price of life’s demand, Shameful sin, placed on Him, The hope of every man, O the blood of Jesus washes me, O the blood of Jesus shed for me, What a sacrifice that saved my life, Yes, the blood, it is my victory. (Millers) 

Jesus Christ is our victory. What can wash us white as snow? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. He is our healer, Savior, and Lord overall. The only way into the Tabernacle, the dwelling of God is by the blood of Jesus. The only way into the Tabernacle proper is the screen, or hanging, which, like the gate to the court, is on the east side. The colors, materials, and design of the screen are the same as the gate. 

However, unlike the gate, which has four pillars (27:16), the screen is held up by five pillars, all covered with gold (26:37). Also, the entrance to the Tabernacle proper is ten cubits, or fifteen feet, high, exactly twice as high as the gate. The screen is fastened to the five gold-covered pillars by gold hooks. (26:37) Only priests are allowed to pass through the screen or to see the inside of the Tabernacle proper. An ordinary Israelite could enter the gate to the court to have the priests offer the sacrifices at the brazen altar, but that was as far as they could ever go. God was always at arm’s length. They could only wonder what it must be like to have direct access to God or to be allowed into His holy presence. For anyone except priests to set foot in the Holy Place meant instant death. However, Jesus changed all that. Understand what Christ did.

Hebrews 10:19~Therefore, brothers, and sisters, since we have the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, (NIV) Years ago, a preacher shared a story about his country upbringing. While waiting for the big yellow school bus one faithful morning a skunk wandered up on him. Brazenly he takes to take the animal’s removal. First with a poor aim and the wrong rocks he moves ever closer to his targeted nemesis. That is until the skunk returned fire. Mmm, the wafts of the lad’s sublime palate of odoriferous emanations were said to have knocked a vulture off of his gut wagon from a 1000 paces. While returning His mom took notice of his early arrival and went out to meet him on the porch. 

Whooo…his mother said upon his untimely return. I hear you knocking but you can’t come in. She said we gots to wash you, on the porch. Did you ever get a porch washing as a child? In the same way, God who is our heavenly Father looks at us and says, You cannot come into My holy house until you have washed all over in the blood of Jesus.

Are you Washed in the Precious Blood of the Lamb? Again I ask as E.A. asked when writing: Are you washed in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb (EA Hoffman) It is a question we must ask ourselves daily. What area of my life has been soiled by coming in contact with our sinful world? For, what can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. (Robert Lowry, 1826-1899) 1 John 1:7~But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (NIV) 

As you move out to go about life today, saint of God, let Jesus Christ cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Ask Him, today, for His help.

Colors Fly

Colors? You mean the Tabernacle had colors? Yes, God loves vibrancy. When we think of how God paints the evening skies washed in vibrant colors or of His extravagant hobby, wildflowers. We are reminded of how God has colored our world with the varying hues of brilliant color. Even when we encounter the gate, we are met with four colors Exodus 26:1~Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them. (ESV) Imagine the awesome experience of entering the Tabernacle proper and seeing walls of gold and a ceiling beautifully embroidered with cherubim! What are cherubim? Fat little angels with bows, right? Remember the rule of first mention reminds us that when we first encounter something in scripture that is the place we begin to look for understanding. 

The first time we find the word cherubim in the Bible is when God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden. Genesis 3:24~After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (NIV) They don’t sound welcoming like a greeting card nor are they cartoonish characters. It was the cherubim who stood at the gate forever guarding and reminding them of their fallen state. Cherubim are not mentioned again in the Bible until God commands Ole Mo to put two gold cherubim atop of the Ark of the Covenant. (Exodus 25:18) The cherubim (cherub singular) are God’s mighty angels who guard His holiness. Listen to Hezekiah prayer in 2 Kings 19:15~And Hezekiah prayed…LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. (ESV)

The cherubim remind us to reflect before approaching God because His awesome, powerful angels protect His holiness. God’s holiness is the very first thing we need to think about before entering His presence in prayer or worship. That’s why Christ Jesus tells us when we pray, remember where God is: Matthew 6:9~…Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed (ἁγιάζω hagiazō) be thy name. (KJV) (ἁγιάζω hagiazō) hallowed means holy. Holy is your name, Lord. It’s #2 on God’s top 10 list from Exodus 20:7~You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. (NIV) God never wants us to think of Him or His name in any context apart from holiness. That’s why the devil loves to hear people use God’s name inappropriately in the midst of a vile, filthy, cursing language. Can you imagine how horribly offended our holy God must be to hear His name mixed with such words? 

The cherubim remind us God is holy and we should not forget it. Before we come into God’s presence, we must always remember what Hannah, the mother of Samuel, prayed in 1 Samuel 2:2~There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. (NIV) Therefore, we must be certain we only come into God’s presence by way of the brazen altar (representing the forgiveness of all our sins at salvation) and then the laver (reminding us of our need for daily cleansing after we are saved). 

After giving instructions for the Tabernacle proper. God commands Ole Mo to set up the Tabernacle according to the pattern, he was shown on the mountain. (Exodus 26:30) This again reminds us of how God revealed to Ole Mo the original in heaven when he was on Mt Sinai. God has a plan and a purpose in everything He does. That is why Paul tells us that all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. 

You have been called by God to serve Him. Though you may not think of your life as being colorful or even vibrant, it is because of Jesus at work in You. Moreover, each time we are commissioned to minister or to serve those around us, it is Jesus inside of us that is drawing them to us. Before you head out into the world today ask God to help you reveal the vibrant joy and the wonderful truth that Jesus is for everyone. I bet you are going to have an opportunity to share your faith, to offer a word of encouragement, or even a chance to testify to the goodness, grace, and mercy of Christ. Pray and ask God to give you the words, and the unction to respond in the moment. Nobody does you, better.

Encouragement — Problems — 1 Thessalonians 3.1-8…Handout

Have you ever had a problem and thought, this should _________me! When was your last problem? ________ Problems are a big part of God’s plan for us. Job 14:1~ Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of ________. (NIV) If we have a biblical view of our trouble, or of our problems, we will be encouraged instead of discouraged. Problems: Accelerate, Evaluate, Cultivate.

1) Problems Accelerate our________Growth (3:1-2) The Thessalonians____________problems that were part of God’s plan for their spiritual growth. Unable to return Paul sends Timothy to Thessalonica for_____ purposes to: establish and exhort. Purpose #1—Establish: (στηρίζω stērizō) to________, or make firm. Purpose #2 Exhort: (παρακαλέω parakaleō) to______1 Thessalonians 3:2~and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish (strengthen) and exhort (comfort) you in your faith, (ESV) During a problem remember James 1:4~Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be_________and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV) 

2) Problems Help us Evaluate our_______(3:3-5) Jesus tells Peter in Luke 22:31-32~Simon…I have prayed for you… that your faith may not fail…(NIV) Notice Jesus does not pray for the removal of the sifting, which is the trial or_______ Pete is about to face. Like Pete, Satan wants to do the same thing with us, because we are believers in Jesus. He wants to use our problems to blow away our faith, while God wants to use our problems so we can evaluate our faith. Nowhere in the Bible are we promised that, because we believe that our lives will be problem-_____. There is always going to be trouble in this fallen world. As Paul writes he is concerned that the tempter,_______, will shake them or undermine their faith. (1 Thessalonians 3:5) As a spiritual father Paul’s concerned about the roots of Thessalonians’ faith. Just as Jesus taught us about the 4 types of roots in His parable (Matthew 13:1–23, Mark 4:1–20, and Luke 8:4–15).

3) Problems Cultivate our___________ with God (3:6-8) How can we know if our problems are drawing us to God rather than pushing us away? Problems that draw us to God do so in at least____ways: Thoughts,_______, and Faith. A) Good thoughts about spiritual leaders. People whose problems are causing them to grow will have _______remarks and positive attitudes. Our problems ought to draw us towards God. B) A desire to be with other believers. It’s nice to know that people are thinking about us and even praying over our problems. When Jesus first appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, who was missing? ________ John 20:24~ Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. (NIV) It is important to remember Jesus_______appeared to Thomas privately. The best place to find peace during the storms of life is among fellow believers. C) Faith that__________others.  As Christians, our lives are connected, because we are all one in Christ. (Gal. 3:28) 1 Corinthians 12:26~If one part suffers, every part suffers…(NIV) Take—A—Step:________________________________________________________________________________________________.