When Miriam goes to Cancun, I can’t wait to hear what it is like. I think she will find some things very different (food? dress? language? buildings?) and some things very much the same as here.
You have all heard that we as believers should also be “different”. What exactly should that difference look like? I doubt any of you think that is an “exciting” thing to do or think about-how you can be different. It is much easier to be “like” everyone else, and most times, seems more enjoyable and easy.
The Israelites were told they were to be different. Look at Leviticus above. They were not to “do” as the people did in Egypt or Canaan. Did that mean they were not to dress like them? Were they not to eat their bread with oil like they did? I believe you all know God is referring here to the idol worship and practices of these people. Why? Because God didn’t want them to have fun or freedom, right? Isn’t that what the verse says? No. It says that if they kept His ordinances-they would live.
So, both the old and new testament teach us to be different. How? What is a specific area you think that God calls us to be different? Is it eating cheeseburgers or fries like everyone else? What about dressing? Can we watch the new Superman movie? What do you see the “world” doing that is probably ok and what are things we should not be doing so we are different and “live” as God says?
I know when dad and I point out that “Bad company corrupts good morals” (I Cor 15:33) it is just another thing you feel you are “not allowed” to do. I know that our view on what we should and should not watch on TV is not the same as many of your friends. Let me give you a blunt example though. One very clear ordinance of God’s is to remain sexually pure until marriage, to abstain from physical intimacy. Statistically today, one in two sexually active persons will get an STD (sexually transmitted disease) or AIDS. There is no cure-don’t kid yourself. If you think your friends don’t have them, trust me-they just aren’t telling you-it is too embarrassing. If God’s statute is followed… you will live, and not contract the disease. If it is not, chances are, you will contract a disease.
In order to live, we will have to at some point decide if we are interested in “living” God’s way or not. Inherent in the term Lord-is a servant serving the “Lord”. It is your choice. What area do you see that you are to be specifically “different” than the world? It does require we make some sacrifices and hard choices. I know. I have to make the same choices! Some are not fun-but neither is working out so you can be the best athlete you can be. You still do that because it is worth it in the end, right? You are looking at the long term goal, not the short term pain. It is hard work-but you have a “trainer” who loves you and the Holy Spirit indwelling in you to help. God wants you to “win” the race. He is only guiding you along the best path to win. Follow the path, and reach for life-not death.
So, where will you commit to being different today?
When we have parties at our house, people are often surprised at the rollerblade rack. If they have never been here, they don’t know street hockey is such a big part of this circle and our family. They haven’t see it, so they don’t know.
God is not like that and Leviticus points this out to us today. It makes it clear that God sees ALL areas of our life. The Scripture above is in the middle of the chapter and God is telling Moses to speak to the people. He tells him to let them know that if someone slaughters an animal outside of the camp and does not bring it to Him as an offering, that they are guilty of bloodshed and are to be cut off from the people. (Lev. 17:2-4) Why did He make such a big deal? Because he knew they were also worshiping idols. He saw. He saw EXACTLY what they were doing. The people were still doing the sacrifices that He had required…BUT, they were also starting to sacrifice to the goat-demons noted above. They were making up their own rules…adding to what God said…and it was leading to idolatry. They were attempting to worship two Gods.
Our God is a jealous God. We are to worship Him alone. He told this to them in Leviticus and He has not changed.
Just like people may not know we are street hockey players, our “christian”friends may not see all the sides to our lives. They may not see my heart. But God does. He sees what I am doing in my little “Christian” world and in those other areas no one else sees. He is not satisfied with partial worship plus worship of “other things”. He tells us to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. (Mark 12:30) He is not going to share us.
Is there any area where we have divided loyalties? Last night we talked about our daily devotions for the summer, but are we even more committed to making our friends laugh or smile, at the cost of using coarse jesting or mild profanity? Is it more important for me to get caught up Facebook, or you on the latest sports news, Twitter feed or Minecraft than to catch up on our devotions or commit to reading through the Bible. I realize these are pointed examples… but I include myself. God desires ALL of us. We can’t just do the “Christian” thing AND the “worldly” thing. Life with Christ is having him as our Savior and Lord-the only Lord. If He is our Lord, we will serve Him with our actions in ALL areas-and we will not be serving “someone” or “something” else at the same time!
I am not sure how many times I have studied with you all (or when I was studying myself!) and I have heard; “Why do I have to learn this? I will never use it.” Most recently, I think it was said regarding geometry. I understand why kids say it… but just so you know, you will use it one day.
In the meantime, I think sometimes we can read the Old Testament with a similar thought; “Why in the world is this in here” or “Why did God make this law…which we no longer use or need.” Today’s Scripture could be an example. It is the law about what a person cleansed from leprosy is supposed to do. Actually, the entire chapter 14 is about what is to be done. Seems pointless now, doesn’t it?
Today, I need you to think back to an old movie-the original Star Wars. Do you remember when Luke Skywalker had to find Yoda? Yoda was all alone-deep in the woods by himself. The movie made it look kind of cool-and when we watch that part, we are all glad that Luke finds him so he can be trained.
The reality is though, that living all alone is not so cool. Being separated from friends, family, your home, your job or school and all activities would be horrible. Many countries, religions and customs have provisions that in one way or another allow for the “casting out” of someone. It is a punishment. A bad thing. One example is how the Amish can “shun” someone-they treat them as if they don’t exist.
The oral surgeon told us today Jordan’s mouth is good to go. His stitches have dissolved and he has healed up nicely. He can eat whatever he wants and do what he wants. Of course, it hasn’t been that way this past week though.
Instead, after the surgery the doctor told him to take it easy. His instructions were to eat soft foods for 1 week. He was not to use a straw. He was to rinse his mouth frequently with salt water to keep it clean and promote healing. When we came home initially, Jordan and I did not sit down and discuss the Dr.’s instructions. We didn’t read them and choose which ones he would follow and which he wouldn’t. The doctor gave instructions because he is a doctor-an expert in oral surgery- and he knew what would heal him safest and quickest, causing the least amount of pain and damage. So we followed the instructions to the letter.
“Germaphobes” Do you know any? Our family definition of a germaphobe is someone who won’t eat or drink from anything someone else has drank from. It really is not a right or wrong-it is just personality. Jordan would never drink from a straw someone else used while Aaron and I share our drinks throughout the day 90% of the time. Miriam is probably somewhere in between. The point is-a typical “germaphobe” who has seen a speck of dirt in a cup or has seen someone drink out of it-won’t touch it. One location “spoils” the whole drink.
I kind of get the same idea when I read the verse above. When God says, “flesh that touched any unclean thing”-it means no matter how lightly it touched, where it touched the offering, whatever-the slightest flaw or uncleanliness completely ruined the whole thing. It was a picture of sin…and sin has not changed. It is still the same way.
We recently had Aaron’s coveted “bonfire” and made smores. No one loves a bonfire like Aaron! He and dad collected wood so it was an easy fire to start and to keep going as long as needed. Now, what if we were supposed to keep that fire burning forever and never let it go out? That would be much more difficult!
That is the instruction given today to the priests in Leviticus related to the burnt offering as you can see in the Scripture above. Aaron and I were discussing what the burnt offering was. He noted there are lots of offerings mentioned in Leviticus; sin offering, burnt offering, guilt offering and more. So, what was the burnt offering? Do you know? I did a little research in commentaries. It seems the purpose of the burnt offering was for consecration. God lit the original fire for it and wanted it to burn continually and never go out.
Dad mentioned the other day that he would like to take the van and get it washed. It can get filthy! It is always nice to get it back all clean again. We will try to keep it that way, but notoriously-it will need a wash again…and again… and again.
Our lives are like that as well. As believers, we are washed by the blood of Christ. This cleanses us from our sin eternally in the sense of legally and the ramifications of no longer receiving the punishment, but does it mean that here on earth we stop sinning? Of course not. We continue to sin-both intentionally (sadly) and unintentionally. Did you know we need cleansing from that sin?
Today Jordan gets his wisdom teeth out. We are thankful they have not given him any problems up to this point, but it is best to get them out. As a matter of fact, I am thankful none of you are sick, no one has broken bones, for the most part-our family is well. Have you prayed about this? Have I?
Today, I started the book of Leviticus. It starts out about sacrifices-all the different sacrifices, what is to be sacrificed, when it is to be done and who is to do it. If I asked you to name one or two of the sacrifices required at that time, could you name one? My first thought would be a sacrifice for sin. I know there were “guilt” sacrifices. I know the priests had to do sacrifices for themselves before he did them for the people. Have you ever heard of the sacrifice mentioned above? The “well-being” sacrifice?
“Finish strong”. I am pretty sure you heard dad say that yesterday. Miriam and Aaron have their exams this week, and he has encouraged them to finish strong. As Jordan made it through his last few weeks and AP exams, we encouraged him to finish strong. It has been a good year, but at the end everyone gets tired. It is harder sometimes to still strive to do your best, but that is what we need to do. I saw both Aaron and Miriam studying hard yesterday in between or after the grad parties. You are trying to finish your year, your classes, and your work “strong”.
This is what Moses did as well. When you strive to “finish the work”-you are following in his footsteps. God set before him many tasks, one of which was building the tabernacle. There were very specific instructions even down to what to put on the garments people wore. They didn’t have a Walmart around to go to get the things either. I can’t imagine how difficult the work was. But they did it. Moses passed on the instruction down to every last word, and no doubt he got tired. He got frustrated. The people didn’t always cooperate, and it had to be discouraging at times-but he finished the work.
You are finishing your work as well and Jordan just did. It was school work, but don’t ever think that is “separate” from things God is calling you to do. It is not. This is where he has placed you now. This is what He wants you doing-He is there to help and while you are doing it for your teachers, for us and for yourself, don’t forget-all things we do, we want to do for Him and with all our might. I have prayed for you today. I prayed God would help you remember all you have studied-and I pray you will finish “strong” and “finish the work” that God has set before you. Do it to His glory!