Refreshed! – Exodus 31

Refreshed! – Exodus 31

Read Exodus 31

 

Exodus 31:17- “… for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”

The biblical theme of refreshing has a variety of physical and spiritual meanings. In Scripture we read of refreshment by resting on the Sabbath (Ex. 31:17), with cool water after physical activity (Judg. 15:18-19), and by soothing music (1 Sam. 16:23).

This passage is not only talking about our need to rest our physical bodies, but also the need for a refreshment in our spirit.  Our lives get so hectic that it is easy to jump to the physical aspects of this passage because who doesn’t feel the need to rest their bodies after a busy week?

Refreshment can also be an outward concept.  One definition of refreshment is “to give new strength or energy; to reinvigorate”.  God has called us all to the ministry of refreshment.  A refresher seeks out a person in need.  Daily we have the opportunity to minister to others by our presence, our acceptance, our cheerfulness and by our persistent focus on others before ourselves.  If we will trust in God and hear His heart for others, our faithfulness to His calling will be more refreshing than any earthly rest for our bodies ever could be.

Prayer: Thank you so much for how amazing it is to be refreshed emotionally and spiritually.  Lord, I need my spirit refreshed and renewed today. Help me to hear Your heart.

 

Angie Laughrey

Today’s Altar – Exodus 30

Today’s Altar – Exodus 30

Read Exodus 30

 

To be honest, so much of the altar seen in the Old Testament is a foreign concept for me.

First, it’s hard for me to envision such a specific list of things to be offered up to the Lord.  Imagine heading to the grocery store for the ingredients needed to make anointing oil! Today, we don’t have such specific things that we need to offer up to the Lord, but we do have things we can offer: our time, our service to others, our finances, and other resources He has given us.

The other thing that I struggle with in this passage is the fact that this altar was built specifically in front of the Mercy Seat, where God would meet with Israel.  And when I say meet with Israel, I really mean meet with the High Priest on their behalf, the Seat itself separated from the people by several walls.  But because of what Jesus did on the cross, all are allowed to meet with the Lord freely.

What challenges me most about this isn’t how abstract the need for these tools to engage and serve the Lord; instead, it makes me wonder why we don’t RUN to the throne room, offering up any and everything we can out of thankfulness for a God who took away our barriers and expectations to be with us more freely!

Take time to thank the Lord for opening His meeting place to us, and respond to Him in offering today!

 

Tessa Black

A Clear Conscience – Hebrews 9

A Clear Conscience – Hebrews 9

Read Hebrews 9 

 

As I read through Hebrews 9, part of verse 14 jumped off the page. Verse 14 says, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Your conscience is that still small voice in you that acts as a guide to doing right or wrong. But notice the next words, cleanse your conscience from dead works (not evil deeds). We already know that we need to confess our sins to God, that is how we clear our conscience, but this is dead works. What are dead works? Dead works usually describes acts that defile a person and create separation from God.  This could also be sins of omission – good acts left undone. Because of God’s grace and forgiveness, we need to live and serve out of gratitude, and make sure we do those good acts that God lays on our hearts. We can have a clear conscience before God, not because of anything we have done, but fully because of what God has done for us through His Son! We need to be on fire serving God. Start doing those random acts of kindness that God lays on your heart! Let’s be outward focused together!

 

Doc Hunsley

Our Daily Offering – Exodus 29

Our Daily Offering – Exodus 29

Read Exodus 29

 

“I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.”

Exodus 29: 45-46

We often hear how important daily time with God is, but somewhere between Sunday to Monday, we forget how truly important our time with the Lord is. We learn in Exodus 29 that a lamb was to be sacrificed every morning and every evening as a sign of praise and offering to God. The burnt offering of the lamb was where God promised to meet with his children and speak to them. Now through Jesus, we have complete and unlimited access to communion with God, and we are called to the altar daily to embrace what the Lord has in store for us each day. Our brokenness is always welcome at the foot of the cross, and his mercy is new every morning when we seek His guidance daily.

 

Amanda Epperson

A New Garment – Exodus 28

A New Garment – Exodus 28

Read Exodus 28

 

In this passage, directions for priestly attire – specifically for that of the High Priest that would go to God on behalf of Israel – is described in detail.  While we no longer need a High Priest because Jesus fulfilled that need, I can’t help but feel impressed by the intricacies laid out for such an outfit.  (And here I was thinking that we cared a lot about what we wore today!!!)

The thing that challenges me most about this attire though was its purpose.  Verse 3 says “and you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.” While it’s easy to assume this beauty was drawn from the clothing itself, it becomes clear that it was meant for something greater, to bring glory to and reflect the beauty of our God!

While we don’t have such intricate clothing to mark our relationship with Christ today, we do have the opportunity to bring Him glory and to reflect His beauty daily.  We continually have opportunities to serve others for Him, to encourage the downtrodden, to seek justice, and to tell the world of what He’s done.  Each moment we choose to do this, He uses us to weave a new garment, one that doesn’t reflect our own goodness, but His.

How will you serve God today in weaving this new masterpiece that brings Him glory and beauty?

 

Tessa Black

When “Work Harder” Won’t Work – Hebrews 8

When “Work Harder” Won’t Work – Hebrews 8

Read Hebrews 8

One of the hardest things to change in our hearts as followers of Christ is our internal battle to prove our worth before God. Many times we don’t even realize we have this issue. From a young age we are taught, “Work hard and you’ll be successful.” There is nothing wrong with that. But that mindset in the realm of faith leads to something that’s not true — “Work hard and God will be pleased with you.”

In Hebrews 8 we see the “New Covenant” with Christ as High Priest was something Jewish-background believers were wrestling with. Today, while we may not have to wrestle with the idea of a literal High Priest going before God on our behalf, we wrestle with this idea — Jesus is represents us before God; not our works; not our own righteousness; Christ alone.

6 But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

How often do we attempt to live our faith in our own power instead of relying on the power of Christ before us? If you find yourself feeling that you have to “do better” or “make up for sins of your past”, you are not living in the power of Jesus mediating for you. Let Jesus be your High Priest in every part of your life.

— Ben Abu Saada

Our Altar – Exodus 27

Our Altar – Exodus 27

Read Exodus 27

The altar was the place where things come to die.

The Jewish priests would continuously bring offerings to the Lord on the altar. The spotless blood of the animal would cover the sin and disobedience of the people toward God.

There were specific rules the priest had to follow for a sin offering.  Like the animal had to be male and without spot or blemish. They would place their hand on the animal signifying the animal taking on the sin of the person. They did this over and over and over again because the animal sacrifice only covered their sin.

This was just a “Band-Aid” — a temporary fix — until Jesus the Lamb of God would come and lay his life down. His sacrifice took away the sins of the world for those who believe in Him.

For those of us in Christ, the perfect blood of Jesus has taken our sin from us. You are now seen as perfect and holy in the eyes of God the Father because of what Christ has done for you and world.  Jesus left heaven to die on our behalf.

Make a list of a few things you still struggle with.

How do you view this list in light of Jesus taking away the sins of the world?

What has Christ done with your sin?  

— Russell Schultz

Just to be With You – Exodus 26

Just to be With You – Exodus 26

Read Exodus 26

In Exodus 26, we have the detailed blueprint of the Tabernacle God gave to Moses. I realize this is one of those chapters we can easily find ourselves skimming through. But each detail is important to the Lord.

If you were to study this chapter, you might discover layers of truth you didn’t realize existed. You might see the practical reasons behind all the minute detail. You may be amazed when you consider the undertaking this must have been, not only in construction, but in transportation of this giant tent it through the Sinai desert. You might also find some interesting connections between its artistic aspects and the Garden of Eden…or its structural design and the “heavenly tabernacle” described in Hebrews 8-9.

Those things are wonderful and worth the effort in study, but for our purposes I would like to point out one simple thing — God wants to dwell among his people. Daily worship is important to Him. This tent is an elaborate reminder of his greatest desire in regard to you and me — to be with us.

The word tabernacle means ‘to dwell with’. It is what He wanted from the very beginning with Adam and Eve. It is why He makes covenants (agreements, partnerships, promises) with His people. It is why he sent His only Son (the name “Immanuel” means “God with us”) to die for our sin. It is why He ‘indwells’ us with His Spirit, and why we will one day join Him forever in heaven. God wants to be with us — simply amazing.

— Kent Liles

You are the Tabernacle – Exodus 25

You are the Tabernacle – Exodus 25

Read Exodus 25

I believe Exodus 25 is one of the most beautiful passages of scripture because it shows different facets of the gospel and the work of Jesus Christ.

In verse 8, God wants to dwell with his people. He tells them to make a sanctuary or tabernacle. In the tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was a box of wood covered with gold. Inside it were the Ten Commandments. The lid of the ark was called “the mercy seat.” The high priest would come in once a year and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat to atone (make amends) for the sins of Israel.

The “Shekinah Glory Cloud” that led the Israelites out of Egypt was a physical manifestation of the presence of God. It resided OVER the Ark of the Covenant.

DON’T MISS THIS!!

Between the Shekinah Glory Cloud and the Ten Commandments was the blood on the mercy seat. Blood from the sacrifices stood between God and the broken Law of God. This is a picture of the gospel. Through the sacrifice and blood of Jesus Christ we are now the tabernacle and God now dwells within us.

— Jared Lupo

What Is Worship – Exodus 24

What Is Worship – Exodus 24

Read Exodus 24

If you had 30 seconds to answer this question (your “elevator speech”) what would you say?

“What is worship?”

“That’s easy,” you say.

“Worship is attending a weekend service.”

“Worship is the praise before the message.”

“Worship is leading people in music.”

Exodus 24 is an illustration of what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31:

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Worship is bringing “glory” to God (i.e. honor, dignity, praise). “Worship” is a shortened version of an older word: “worth-ship”. Whenever you show God’s “worth”, that’s “worship”.

You can worship God when you eat or drink, text or tweet, sing or sleep. You worship God by showing patience with frustrating people. You worship God by having a courageous conversation. You worship God by sitting in silence and listening to God. You worship God by bringing your best effort at school or work.

I wonder if the Church has done a disservice by calling gatherings “worship services” or naming someone “worship pastor”. Worship is more than a service or music. Worship is the moment-by-moment act of living life with God.

Questions – Do you view daily life as worship? What is the most boring thing you do? Did you realize that boring activity is an act of worship if you do it for Jesus?

Prayer – Dear Jesus, my whole life is worship. Remind me when I forget. Help me live every moment with You as an act of holy worship.

— Tim Howey

His Kindness Leads To Repentance – Nehemiah 9

His Kindness Leads To Repentance – Nehemiah 9

Read Nehemiah 9 

In Nehemiah 9, the Israelites reflect on the steadfastness of God’s love and mercy towards them, despite their ancestors continually disobeying His commands. Towards the end of the chapter, they admit that they also have sinned against God, and they agree to obey by making a solemn commitment to God in a sealed document.

Romans 2:4 (NASB) says: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” How many of us view God as loving, patient, kind, and tolerant, rather than angry? Does God get angry? Yes. There are many accounts throughout the Bible of people’s sin making God angry. However, it isn’t His anger that draws us to repent (turn from our sin) and turn to Him. It’s His goodness, His kindness that accomplishes that. He is so patient with us and His love and forgiveness are unending.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for being so patient, kind, and loving with me. Help me to extend the same grace to others that you continually show me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

— Samantha Rasch

Faith in Productivity – Exodus 23

Faith in Productivity – Exodus 23

Read Exodus 23

It’s so easy to go day after day from one task to another without acknowledgement of the Lord or even the thought of resting. When was the last time you took a moment and truly gave it over to the Lord trusting that being productive isn’t always the most productive thing to do.

We spend so much of our lives trying to maximize our time and impact, that often times we overshadow what the Lord wanted from our Sabbath. When the idea of a Sabbath comes up many of us will think that if we are not tired we do not need to take it. The Sabbath was for our rest, yes, but it was also for our faith. How hard is it to trust that something will get done if you sacrifice your ability to do it? This is what a Sabbath also does. It removes the control from our hands and puts it into the hands of the Lord, and whatever needs to get done will get done if He allows it! We must learn to trust him with the productivity and the impact in our lives.

This does not mean we get to be lazy and just trust that whatever needs to get done will always get done! Proverbs 6:6 Says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard. Consider its ways and be wise!”

Work hard, but trust God with your Sabbath. What needs to get done will get done.

— Mitchell Ressel

Do the Right Thing – Exodus 22

Do the Right Thing – Exodus 22

Read Exodus 22

Western culture in the 21st century has a very skewed understanding of right and wrong. Often, “right” is considered to be whatever is best for the individual – instead of what is actually just. In Exodus 22 we see laws that represent the heart of God…a heart of restitution. His desire is to restore that which is lost, damaged, or stolen and make things “right”.

Sometimes, the laws of God can be seen as harsh until we consider the context in which they were given. God’s people had been living under a monarchy – like most cultures of their day – that cared little for human rights or justice. The good of the people was not the chief concern of the pharaohs, but rather the advancement of their kingdoms. The laws of God were revolutionary – instead of suppressing the people, they actually protected them. They were counter to the culture and revealed a heart of justice and love from the One who issued them. God gave the law to shape his people into his image – for His glory and their blessing. When obeyed, they became a testimony to the nations of the world.

As followers of Jesus, when we obey his teachings, we reveal his heart of love and justice. When we are more concerned with doing the right thing than with personal gain or “getting away” with something, we display the nature of God. It is counter to the culture we live in. When those outside the church can look in and see a people concerned with restitution; with doing what’s right, or restoring what is damaged and lost…they will see the heart of Jesus and be drawn to him.

— Kent Liles

The Heart of the Matter – Exodus 21

The Heart of the Matter – Exodus 21

Read Exodus 21

Rules can be very polarizing. It’s very easy for us to look at things in a literal sense and see things as black and white, but forget to look for the gray area or see the heart of the matter. Jesus looks at the heart. We need laws and rules to keep from total chaos in our society. God’s laws go further than just keeping the peace, they are a reflection of his heart. As Christ followers, we have to be careful not to get so wrapped up in the “rules” that we forget to look at the heart. Too often we keep the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law is missed. Jesus said it this way to the scribes of his day – “you keep my commandments, but your heart is far from me”.

A prayer for your heart:

Dear God, thank you for loving us so much that you sent your Son, Jesus to this imperfect world. In this troubling time in our country, I pray that you would help us to see you all around us. Encourage us to look at the heart of the matter, to pray for one another and to lift each other up. We love you. Amen.

— Jamie Twaddell

Healthy Relationships – Exodus 20

Healthy Relationships – Exodus 20

Read Exodus 20

Have you ever had a moment in a relationship with someone when something just felt off? You knew that something was disconnected between you but you couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Have you ever felt this way about your relationship with God?

Often times we read the ten commandments as a list of rules to be a “good person” or a “good christian”. I think we often run past the idea that they are clearly broken into two sections. Section one is found in the first four commandments which address how we relate to God. Section two is found in the final six commandments which address how we relate to other humans. Often times when we find ourselves in a relationship that feels off, it is because one of these commandments is off.

The commandments are a great resource for identifying conflict in relationships. Are you not seeing eye to eye with God because you have allowed yourself to begin worshipping something else? Have you robbed a friend of their joy or confidence because of something you said or did? Have you created contempt for them because of a hidden jealousy? This might not be the case in every struggle of every relationship, but often times we can discover the root of a damaged relationship by looking back at the commandments that God gave us in Exodus 20.

— Jake Ikerd

Kingdom of Priests – Read Exodus 19

Kingdom of Priests – Read Exodus 19

Read Exodus 19 

Exodus 3-6, And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

God delivered Israel from slavery to the Egyptians and as part of His covenant. He intended for them to become a “kingdom of priests” leading others to worship the true God.  Through Jesus, we are freed from the bondage of our sins and we are called to share the Good News with those who do not know Him.

God, I pray for those in our lives who have not accepted Jesus as their savior and I pray for all of your followers to have the opportunity, courage, and words to share the Good News.

John Rauscher

Put First Things First – Exodus 18

Put First Things First – Exodus 18

Read Exodus 18

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness at the mountain of God. Jethro observes that Moses is acting as the judge for all Israel’s people and warns Moses that he will wear himself out if he continues to carry this burden by himself. Jethro advises Moses to develop high standing leaders to help perform the role of judge. Moses is taught to handle the great matters and delegate the small matters to his newly appointed judges.

Being judge for all of Israel’s people had to be spiritually, emotionally, and physically draining for Moses. Before Moses delegated his responsibilities to others, one has to wonder what toll Moses paid in terms of his relationship with God and his family. While Moses was busy inquiring of God for other people, did Moses take the time to seek God on his own behalf? Being that this is the first time Moses’ family has been mentioned since the early chapters of Exodus, it appears that Moses has not seen his family since before the plagues in Egypt. Could Moses’ duties have been so overwhelming that he was too busy for his own family?

Think about your own priorities.  Do you need to make some changes to “Put First Things First?”

— John Rauscher

Rock of Our Salvation – Exodus 17

Rock of Our Salvation – Exodus 17

Read Exodus 17

The children of Israel camping in Rephidim complained to Moses that there was no water for their families and livestock. Israel, desperate for water, accuse Moses of leading them to their death and appear to be angry enough to stone Moses. Moses, crying out to the Lord, is told to strike the rock in Horeb and that water will come out of it, that the people may drink. Moses, named the rock Massah and Meribah so that it can be remembered as a place of contention and where the people of Israel tempted the Lord.

Think of how Israel acted towards Moses and how we are tempted to act in a similar way when we are faced with difficult circumstances. If you are facing difficult circumstances will you act as the children of Israel or will you turn to the “Rock of our Salvation?” How will your actions during your difficulties be remembered?

— John Rauscher

Remember – Deuteronomy 8

Remember – Deuteronomy 8

Read Deuteronomy 8

The Las Vegas tragedy was yet again another blatant reminder of the darkness that exists in the world. It is also a reminder of the resilience and fortitude of humanity even during the most trying of times.

As the storyteller in Deuteronomy bemoans, we must not lose sight of the good path that has been set before us lest we succumb to evil (vs. 19-20).

Personally, this tragedy in Vegas shook me. More so than any past incidents of this nature. Why? Here are two conclusions I came to: First and foremost the frequency with which these type of events have been occurring is alarming to say the least; downright terrifying actually. Secondly, a lack of sustained empathy that compels immediate action on behalf of the victims and their families.

My question for us personally as well as a church body is this: Do tragedies such as this break us? I mean really break us and compel us to help in anyway we can… or do we simply flip the channel and get back to our football games and safe little lives?

Have we really taken to heart the warning of Deuteronomy, letting it grip us and drive us to be a transformative force of good in the world that provides sustenance for other in time of need? If not, I think it is time for us to do some deep soul searching.

God, I pray you would give us a heart that breaks for the brokenness of humanity and awaken us to our calling as agents of change in this world, not simply passive observers.   

— Christian Trent

Works Vs Faith – Exodus 16

Works Vs Faith – Exodus 16

Read Exodus 16

Exodus 16:3, And the children of Israel said to them (Moses & Aaron), “O, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full!  For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

The children of Israel, having just witnessed the miracles that made possible their escape from slavery in Egypt, are longing for the days when they could live by their works with full stomachs rather than having the faith to trust God. How does God respond to the cries of Israel in Exodus 16? He provides.

Are you living by your own works or by your faith in God?

God, I pray that you can grow our faith each and every day. Help us to overcome our human nature to think “I need to try harder” or “I need to do better.”  God you are always with us and we can find our rest in you.

— John Rauscher