Rules to live by

Today, we draw near to God. James 4:8~Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (NIV) This is a requirement for serving God and it begins at the Laver. After entering the gate, we come to the altar. The brazen altar where sacrifice is made. Worshiping God always involves sacrifice. Then as we proceed past the altar towards the Tabernacle proper, we come to the second of the two items found in the courtyard, the laver, or basin Exodus 30:18~Make a bronze basin (כִּיּוֹר kiyowr), with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. (ESV) 

(כִּיּוֹר kiyowr) is the modem equivalent of a lavatory, meaning a place for washing. As with everything in the Tabernacle, God teaches us an important object lesson through the laver. True worship is much more than hearing a stirring sermon or an uplifting song. True worship takes place only when we make serving the Lord our #1 priority. Worshipping and serving God are two sides of the same coin. Jesus expresses this fact in Matthew 4:10 by referring to Deuteronomy 6:13~Fear the LORD your God, serve him only, and take your oaths in his name. (NIV) 

As we come to God to serve Him, we find that He requires we come to Him daily as Jesus said in Luke 9:23~Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (NIV) And the second requirement is that we are washed in the water of His word. Ephesians 5:26~to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, (NIV) Today, I want you to take a few moments and ask God to help you carry the cross out into a world filled with darkness and deep need. The altar is where you can share the hope of a future and the peace of our Lord Jesus. 



Becoming

Why not dedicate your life to god? The altar of burnt offering represented a place of dedication. Although it dealt with sin, its main purpose was to lead a person to dedicate his or her life to God. To truly worship God, we must come to Him through the one and only gate, Jesus Christ, who is our once-for-all sacrifice. In Hebrews 10, we are told the law is not enough, we need a sacrifice, and that is Jesus. That God would put His law in our minds and write them on our hearts. Thus, we must come to Jesus to have our minds refreshed and our hearts renewed. Else we will fall to the deception of our heart. Jeremiah 17:9~The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (NIV) 

Joel 2:13~Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (NIV)  That is why Jesus tells us to come daily in Luke 9:23, to take up our cross. Walking with the Lord requires a daily sacrifice. Listen to how we progress, by owning our faith. Romans 12:1~With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. (JBP) 

This is what faithful believers practice daily. It is a great description of true spiritual worship, which is our reasonable service. We cannot worship God without sacrifice. True worship always includes offering something to God. Though we no longer offer God animal sacrifices; we offer Him our bodies. This means we give Him the intellect of our minds, we open our ears to listen, we use our mouths to proclaim and extol, our hands to hold, wave and play, our feet to carry us into moments of ministry. We give God all of our time, talents, and abilities as a living sacrifice of service to our King. Sacrifice also means we offer or forfeit, something of value, something important to us. People today don’t want religion that demands sacrifice, but our cross, or our sacrifice, is whatever makes it difficult for you to follow Jesus. 

Jim Elliot was a missionary who went to Ecuador to evangelize the natives. In 1956, he and four others were brutally killed by the very people they went to win to Christ. Jim earlier wrote in his journal: He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose …God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. (Philippians 3:8) 

Today, allow the altar to alter your life. When King David messes up by numbering Israel, he turns to God and confesses his sin, by placing his life in God’s hands. 1 Chronicles 21:13~David said…I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; (NIV) If we want to learn how to fall into the hands of God, we must come daily. Have you come to place your life in the hands of God? Why not do that right now, right where you are. Ask God to take that small part you have been holding back. Or, just give Him your whole heart today.



The secret of sacrifice

Eliminate the practice of sin. Sacrifices on the brazen altar were never to be thought of as a way to continue in sin. The Old Testament prophets make this clear to us. The people of Isaiah’s day were offering their sacrifices and continuing to sin. Therefore, God asks them in Isaiah 1:11~The multitude of your sacrifices– what are they to me? says the LORD. I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. (ESV) It was not the blood of animals that God wanted; it was true repentance. 

Listen as the prophet Micah shares what the Lord desires from His people asking in Micah 6:8~He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (ESV) Sacrifice? That was never intended to be an end in themselves but rather the beginning of a new life, living for the Lord. The same is true when we come to Christ. We are not to consider His sacrifice on the cross simply as a means to have all our sins forgiven, or as a fire insurance policy to keep us out of hell. 

The purpose of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was to give us a new beginning with God 2 Corinthians 5:17~Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (NIV) Are you new in Christ? Jesus came to encourage us to eliminate sin by making us right with God. Yes, God wants us to know His forgiveness is always available, on this side of glory. Therefore, God tells Ole Mo in Leviticus 6:13~The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out. (NIV) God is teaching a very important, perpetual principle with that statement. He is always ready and yearning to forgive us of our sins. But we must allow the altar that alters our life work on our whole being, holding nothing back as we eliminate the practice of sin.

Is there a place in your life that you struggle with sin? This is an area that needs our prayer and the support of our loving God who will lead us and guide us into a growing and fruitful relationship.