Christian Pedigree

pedigree

Today’s Devotion: Numbers 1

We did it! Another milestone. Yesterday concluded our study through the book of Leviticus and today begins our new journey through the book of Numbers.

Right away God is teaching us how amazing He is. He’s counting Israelities to form an army. Can you image, as the census is taking place, men are asked, “Are you an Israelite?” What if they said they were not sure, maybe, think so, live like an Israelite and so by association should qualify to become an Israelite, or worse, are working really hard at becoming an Israelite?

Do you think if they are NOT born Israelites that God will give them a pass? NO! These are His people – God’s chosen – that Moses led out of Egypt. If they are not children of God, they will not be given the right to be a part of God’s army.

And so it is with us. I talk to people who give similar answers about their citizenship in heaven. If you asked them if they were going to heaven they would give similar responses…. “I’m not sure, maybe, I think so, I go to church or most common of these, I am a good person, I work hard at it.”

These are not enough and that’s not my Words, it’s God’s (Ephesians 2:8-9). The sad thing is that we can have absolute assurance that we will be in heaven and are children of God, but it takes re-birth. What is re-birth? It’s surrendering our lives to Jesus. It’s giving God headship of our lives. It’s believing, by faith, that we can’t get to heaven on our own and that we need a savior. Then we are given the Holy Spirit, our counselor, and our lives are transformed.

Like the Israelities, you can’t be an Israelite [Christian] by association, you must be born [re-born] to it (John 3:5-8). If you’re not there, you are someone who is not sure or working hard to get into heaven, please stop working on your Christian pedigree and cross the line, by faith, into the kingdom of God.  All you have to do pray. Confess that you can’t get their on your own and ask God to be LORD of your life.

If you did that welcome in and congratulations for making the greatest decision of your life! Mark this, the day after Thanksgiving, as your birthday into the kingdom of God. If you need guidance on where to go from here, please email me. If you are already there, I would love to hear your testimony in the comments below. How and when did you receive Christ and how has your life changed?

Thanksgiving Day Perspective

Thanks

Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 27

What is better?

  • When someone does something for you out of obligation or does something for you out of generosity?
  • When someone does something because you tell them to or because they want to?
  • When someone does the bare minimum or goes above and beyond?
  • When someone does something and brags about it or something that has been done and is a mystery as to how it happened?
  • When someone gives you something because you asked for it or someone who gives you something because they want you to have it?

I think you will make the same choices as I would – they seem obvious. As I was reading the 27th Chapter of Leviticus it seemed as though this chapter was out of place. Then I realized that in all of the preceding chapters of this book, God had mandated laws, while in chapter 27 the laws given are voluntary – It’s like an addendum that God is saying, “Not because you have to, but if you want to.”

It’s Thanksgiving morning and I am reflecting on all of the blessings that I have in my life. Then I take all of my blessings and correlate what God is trying to teach me in Chapter 27. Here is my conclusion…

We aren’t bound by those same laws because we live Leviticus Chapter 27 kind of lives.

  • God gave us His son to die on the cross for our sin; not because we we told him too, but Jesus is God’s gift to us.
  • We do not nor should we live our lives out of obligation, but because we love Him.
  • We live by the law, not because He commands us to, but because we want to honor Him for what He has done for us.
  • We can go through the motions of living a Christian life or we can live humbly, as if we don’t deserve what Jesus did for us on the cross.
  • We can surrender our lives as an act of worship and live each day in gratitude and thanksgiving or we can work hard at living a perfect life, only to fall short and grow defeated.

On this Thanksgiving day, as you are taking an inventory of all of your blessings, please don’t neglect to recognize that loving God and how we love God is voluntarily. He doesn’t command it – it’s optional, just like the laws in chapter 27 are optional. We do it because we want to, choose to, and desire to.

May God bless you and your family abundantly on this day of Thanksgiving.

If, Then… It’s All On You

if-then

Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 26

In this chapter there are nine “if’s” and twenty-four “I will’s.” What does that say about our part and God’s part? For example: When God says in verses 3-4, “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.”

It looks to me like we have the choice and He has the promises.

I have always been interested in understanding whether or not we [people] are given free will. I learned from one of my biblical mentors, early in my Christian walk, that there is no such thing as free will. The argument stands that if we are sinners and can’t help ourselves, so we are slaves to sin and therefore, have no free will.

The counter argument is the opposite. We have free will because we are conscious of our sin and therefore, we have the liberty to make the right choices on how to live so we do have free will.

This chapter, in my opinion, supports the latter. God is making it very clear that He will respond to the choices we make. If we sin, He will punish. If we obey, He will reward. I suppose we could get really petty over the causes and effects of decisions we make the the way God responds, but for today, I’m good with knowing that making the right choice will always work out in my favor. If I rebel, disobey, or try to live outside of God’s will, God may take me through a time of pruning, character building, personal growth, desert… whatever you want to call it.

And of course, in Romans 8:28 we know God makes all things work for the good of those who love Him AND we also know that because of Jesus our sins are covered; past, present and future. But, that certainly doesn’t mean we get a free ticket to sin. It means we have choices and I appreciate that Leviticus 26 is reminding me that making Godly choices ultimately rests on you and me.

Let’s Celebrate, Today!

celebrate

Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 25

The year of Jubilee, doesn’t that sound like something to celebrate? Reading this chapter today made me think of the song lyrics from the Days of Elijah:

Behold He Comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call
Lift your voice, it’s the year of jubilee
And out of Zion Hill salvation comes!

I love this song and it’s melody is upbeat and puts me in a happy, cheerful mood. That is what God wants us to feel about Him. We don’t obey mosaic law today as this chapter describes, but I love that God is leading his people then and leads us now.

Have you ever taken a day off and then when you returned to work you had a lot of energy. It just seemed like you were refreshed, relaxed and ready to take on the world. I believe this is the way God intended it and used not only a sabbath week, a sabbath month, but a sabbath year? Then after the 7th year, the sabbatical year, the land and the farmers were refreshed, renewed, and fruitful.

I’m just impressed how God took care of everyone; the farmer, the fields, and the animals. God is very deliberate, intentional and premeditated. Leviticus 25 reminds me that He knows what is to come long before it happens and He prepares us for what is to come… for our good.

Celebrate this day and the LORD with me.

Shut Your Mouth!

Shut Your Mouth

Today’s Devotional: Leviticus 24

There is a pretty significant message that God is giving us in Leviticus 24 that seems to over shadow the importance of the ever burning lamp stand. That message is, “Do not curse or blaspheme God!”

God doesn’t even mince words about how He feels about it either, Leviticus 15-16, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who curses their God will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.'”

What does that say about our filthy mouths? It tells me that my mouth can get me into some serious trouble. James has a lot to say about our mouths/tongue in James 3:3-6, When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

I guess this is a great reminder to begin the week. A message from God to refrain from harsh words, that includes swearing or using God’s name in vain. We can’t worship God with the devotion and reading of His Word and then misuse His name as we communicate who He is to the World.

I’m talking to me (maybe more-so) as much as I’m talking to you today. Let’s use our words wisely and show the world, we are His people, His children, His ambassadors and His chosen.

 

God’s Kind Of Party

Party

Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 23

This is a remarkable chapter of God’s festivals. The holy holidays were times of joy. There was mourning on the great Day of Atonement, but all of the others were about times of joy and rejoicing. God never wanted a weeping people to come before Him; He wanted a rejoicing people. These festivals provide God’s calendar for all time.

Like most of our old testament teachings, they lead to Jesus and symbolize a future that is to come. To summarize all the the festivals for example:
Passover—the crucifixion and death of Christ
Unleavened Bread—the fellowship we have with Christ because of His death
First fruits—the resurrection of Christ
Pentecost—the beginning of the church
Trumpets—Israel brought back into the land (future)
Great Day of Atonement—the work of Christ upon the cross for us
Tabernacles—the time when Israel is in the land (future)

In a bigger, broader perspective, I appreciate that God is not some big, old fuddy-duddy. He’s a hip, cool cat. Think about it. God put all of these festivals together that have great significance and He is giving the Isrealities a calendar that they can recognize His handy work in all of it. In addition, there continues to be a great emphasis on the Sabbath, which started in the very beginning with Adam and Eve and reminds everyone of the importance of rest.

This is one of those chapters that make me want to be more of a bible scholar. I can only imagine what incredibly deep meanings and origins this chapter would unveil. As a simple-minded God-loving blogger, who is benefiting from the daily discipline of reading and summarizing God’s Word everyday, I am thankful for a God who beings festivals into our lives to celebrate Him.

Thanksgiving is next week. I know we shouldn’t need a day or a date to be thankful, but I see how God’s festivals and our holiday of thankfulness have parallel meanings. God truly deserves all of our thankfulness, joy and rejoicing.

Holy Welcoming Committee

Welcome

Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 22

The lesson for us is that we are not to treat the sacred and holy things of God as if they were commonplace. What do you think of when you think of the Holy things of God? I might need a little help on this one, because I might be thinking of this too simplistically. But I’m going to think of the most Holy place of God that I know… my church.

When I go to church I go because it is an act of worship. I love being somewhat removed from the hustle and bustle of “the world” and having a place that is centered fully on God. One of the many things I love about church is that everyone is welcome. We are all equal at the foot of the cross. Meaning we, the church, should not judge according to social status, martial status, appearance, net worth, etc. We should welcome everyone with open arms and show the love of Christ to all who enter. Not in a phony way either, in a sincere and heart-warming manner.

I used to be the volunteer coordinator for the greeters, users, and parking attendants at our church. I begged them to NOT use the phrase, “How are you,” as they welcomed people at the entrance. I have 2 philosophies on this. 1 – Is that the phrase itself is so frequently used that it is cliche and isn’t a sincere enough, honest enough, greeting at the doors of the church. 2 – Some people arrive at church broken and we, the greeters, may cause our brother to stumble causing them to lie and say, “I’m fine.” They may not be fine and certainly the door of the church is no place they want to vomit their problems. The best thing we can do is make them feel welcome, safe and accepted.

Sure, I may be over thinking it, but is that one of the ways we can treat the sacred common? At the fundamental point of how we welcome people to join our church services? I appreciate that God is holy and His church is a place that I never want to treat commonly.