Paul goes from a trial in court to a trial in the Seas. On his way to Rome as a prisoner, Paul is treated with favor by the commander in charge but when he gives warning that they will be shipwrecked and die if they continue, the crew disregards and continues ahead.
Many of the trials we face in life as believers are not our own doing. Some disasters cannot be avoided because the people close to us will not heed our warnings. The one thing we can trust is that no matter what we go through the Lord will be with us. We can stand on the promises God has given us that though they tarry due to the disobedience of others as long as we remain faithful God will make a way to bring them to pass.
As storms hit, and the ship was battered, the crew finally admits that Paul was right but at this point, they are in the middle of the Sea and there is no turning back. Paul tells them that the ship will go under, but none of them will lose their lives. For an angel of the Lord had appeared to Paul telling him to take courage, be not afraid, for he must appear before Caesar. After Paul gave them that word, they were encouraged and ate food so they could gain the strength needed to endure the storm, shipwreck, and survival to reach land.
God gives mercy, though disaster may come, as long as we turn to Him what we go through does not have to be devastating. We can avoid so much if we obey from the beginning but even after we get ourselves in a jam if we can just cry out to God, He will reach out His hand and give mercy. We will still suffer from the consequences of our choice to be independent but the suffering will be reduced when we do finally humble ourselves and seek Him.
It was a custom that prisoners would be killed in a situation like this because if they escaped then the guards would be killed. Yet, Paul had favor with the commander and the prisoners were spared, they all made it to land safely, as Paul had spoken it was done.
As long as we walk with the Lord even when everyone seems to be against us the Lord will grant favor to us with someone that will be used to keep us safe and help us along the way towards the fulfillment of His will. No matter the degree of the storm and the shipwreck that follows as long as we trust in the Lord we will survive it.
The first time we heard the name Saul was the last scripture in Acts 7 where his name is referred to as one of those present when Stephen is martyred. Then, the beginning of chapter 8 where it says Saul was not just present but consented of Stephen's death and then went forth and made havoc of the church, going from house to house dragging men and women to prison. He was the leader of the great persecution that caused the scattering of the church throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. Here in chapter 9, the focus is primarily on the transformation of Saul the Terrorizer to Paul the Apostle.
Saul was born in Tarsus, modern-day Turkey, but he was raised in the strict order of Hebraic Judaism, similar to Hasidic Jews in New York City. He was taught by a well known Pharisee named Gamaliel in the strictness of the law and was zealous towards God. Paul was a fanatic Pharisee and believed one must become a jew and obey the law to be accepted by God. So with his understanding, those of the WAY was teaching heresy, therefore were enemies of God and it was his duty to silence them.
As Saul journeyed to Damascus suddenly a great light brighter than the noonday Sun shone on him and he fell from his horse and he heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me."
We see here that there is no brighter light than that of Jesus Christ and that He knows us by name and wants to speak to us personally. It doesn't matter how deep of darkness someone is in even those in religious deception the Lord is able to open blind eyes. Our righteousness is as filthy rags even what we do in the name of God is wicked if we don't do it in the power of the person of God.
Today, it is being reported that Saul like encounters are being experienced by the thousands, especially in the Middle East amongst Muslims, even former terrorists, who are coming out of the darkness and into the light. Turning from persecuting Christians to preaching Jesus Christ.
Saul responds to God speaking to him by asking, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" This is the key to receiving guidance from the Lord, not just telling God what we want Him to do, but asking Him what He wants us to do? Our American independence is something we celebrate but it can also be what hinders our faith. Prayer should be much more about listening than speaking. Faith is an action word so prayer should lead to work more than just dumping our problems on God.
Saul was told to go to the city and that is what he did, being still blind he was led by his companions by hand. Instead of Saul going to Damascus as a captain of soldiers to imprison Christians, he is led to Damascus as a prisoner of the Lord. Paul was blinded for three days just as Jesus was in the grave for three days, that is why Paul is able to write, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." (Gal. 2:20)
How was Saul going to be accepted by the church considering his history? Well, first of all, the Lord revealed to his disciple Ananias by a vision that he was to meet Saul at a street called Straight, and likewise, Saul had the vision that he would meet Ananias who would help him see. Ananias knew about Saul and questioned what he saw but the Lord told him to go.
The street called Straight was significant. The only way we can walk right (straight) with God is through step by step obedience to His voice. We see that Saul was not just healed physically but was filled with the Spirit. The spiritual is more important than the physical, healing is not enough, transformation takes a spiritual awakening. We should use opportunities to pray for healing to also open ones spiritual eyes as well. Our goal should always be to lead people from the wide path of destruction to the narrow road of walking in obedience.
Here in Acts 6, we have our first cultural conflict with the early church. The Greek-speaking Jews felt their needs were being ignored by the Hebrew speaking Jews. Two different cultures often don't mix much and sometimes the issue isn't a blatant disregard of the other it is just done through ignorance. The dispersed older Jewish widows, who were mainly in Greek-speaking territories, would often return to Jerusalem so they would die in the holy city and not in a foreign land. So here it was all the early believers were taking care of each other but there was a food distribution issue with the Hellenist widows.
The Hebrew Jews only knew the needs of the people they were accustomed too for the Greek Jews often live in different neighborhoods. Just like in New York City you have people from the Caribbean living in Brooklyn but Jamaicans will live in one area while Dominicans will live in another.
So things got heated and the Apostles reasoned together how to deal with the matter. They knew their primary purpose was to teach the Word of God so they needed to devote themselves to that and appoint what they would call deacons which means servant to help the widows.
So deacons were the first appointed service role in the early church outside of the Apostles. The qualification of being a deacon was, they were greatly respected, full of the Holy Spirit and had wisdom. Today deacons are often chosen because they make themselves available and are willing to do the physical work around the facility where they fellowship. The qualifications of Elders and Deacons as described in Timothy and Titus are very similar. So the church overall today has gotten the role of Deacon wrong.
The Deacons chosen first of all were fellow Hellenists so they could identify with the needs of those they were serving. Secondly, while they may not be teaching as often as the Apostles, they still needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit and walk in wisdom. That means they needed to be ready to do power ministry and give counsel.
The Apostles at this time were the ones who had been with Jesus the longest so they had a special grace regarding teaching but the appointed Deacons who were younger in the faith still had Jesus through the Holy Spirit and they were not to limit what God could do through them.
These seven men that were chosen had hands laid on them, how often do we lay hands on deacons that they would be empowered spiritually to serve in their role. Too often only a select few are expected to be the ones walking in God's power. But, the bible says "these signs will follow those who believe......," it doesn't say, Apostles, Evangelists, Prophets, no, it says those who believe.
Deacons are closely involved with people they see the needs often before the Apostles they are not to drag a person to an Apostle to meet their need, no they are called to meet the needs of others through the power of the Holy Spirit themselves.
This early church dilemma was solved and it says many more jews believed as well as priests. These issues can halt the move of God, leaders need to quickly seek the Lord how to resolve it so that Kingdom growth doesn't stop.
The challenge: If you have limited how the Lord can use you because you have not been given a significant role such as an Elder or Pastor, repent! Then receive or re-receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit for it is for all who believe.
As we see at the end of this chapter and into chapter seven the Lord uses the deacon Stephen just like He was using the Apostles to do mighty wonders. Initially, it was the Apostles because of their extensive time spent with Jesus they had great faith but it wasn't long before faith increased in the early believers and they began to do the same works.
Acts 7 is a continuation of Acts 6 the focus being now entirely on the deacon Stephen. The leadership of the early church was no longer just designated to the Hebrew Apostles but now the Hellenistic Jews where seven deacons were appointed and out of those seven, Stephen stood out as it says in Acts 6:5 that he was "a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit." His measure of grace was further along than the other deacons at this point and therefore the one whom the Lord used in tremendous ways.
Hellenistic Jews were raised in the Greek culture and were typically more intelligent than the Hebrews and therefore able to debate and possibly lead the high-class Jews to accept the Gospel message. Peter and John were let go but these religious elites had to do everything in their power to stop Stephen for their livelihood was being threatened as the crowds continued to grow becoming more and more diverse.
In Acts 6:8 it says "Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people." So we see here again the work of deacons is not just to do manual labor. We are all vessels of the Holy Spirit and capable of releasing miracles, all it takes is faith. It then says in the following verses that Stephen was approached by unbelieving Hellenistic Jews from the synagogue of the Freedmen. They tried to debate with him as those from the Greek culture often do but since they were outwitted they responded by spreading lies that Stephen was speaking blasphemous words against Moses and YHWH. The shakeup was now way beyond just the performance of miracles it was beginning to win over the sophisticated Hellenists. So they persuaded men to be false witnesses and to approach the high priest so that Stephen could be silenced.
Every attempt of the enemy to silence His church is an opportunity to spread the Lord's message to even a wider audience. We are not to back off but rather, seize the moment, not trying to defend ourselves but just simply speak the Words of Truth as Holy Spirit gives utterance.
Stephen shining with the face like an angel does exactly that in Acts 7. See the High Priests twisted and deceived believed that YHWH was only for the Jews and that the temple was the only place where one could hear from YHWH. The only way Gentiles could worship YHWH was by becoming Jewish proselytes, which meant they had to repudiate their native culture and practice the Jewish rituals including being circumcised.
Stephen answers the High Priest revealing through the History of the Jews the real truth to counter these lies. He reminds them that YHWH spoke to Abraham in a far off country. He revealed how YHWH was with him in the land of the Chaldeans and gave him the covenant of circumcision. Also, the Lord was with Joseph while in Egypt, and Moses from a burning bush on Mt. Sinai received a message from the Lord to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt through His help. He told him to remove his sandals for he was walking on holy ground.
He reminds them that offerings and sacrifices were given in the wilderness to the Lord. David asked that He could build a house for the Lord and his son Solomon was given the favor to do so. Stephen declared that YHWH does not dwell in man-made structures quoting Isaiah 66:1-2 "Heaven is My throne, and earth is my footstool."
He is saying to these leaders who do you think you are? How can you box YHWH into a designated place? He is the Lord of the universe! He is not just the God of the Jews limited to the temple in Jerusalem.
Stephen now takes it further and calls them "stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears!" Those responsible for persecuting and killing the prophets who had announced the coming Righteous one! Hearing this, they forgot all about Roman law and took matters in their own hands unlike what they did with Jesus. Stephen kept his eyes on heaven and said to his murderers "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of YHWH!" They responded by covering their ears and rushing towards him, throwing him out of the city and stoning him, and like Jesus, he said "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" and "do not charge them with this sin!"
We learn here how to deal with persecution; we are to keep our eyes on Jesus, hopefully revealing Him to those who are against us, while holding no evil in our heart against them.
Martyrdom often leads to a greater move of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8 it says that the Holy Spirit was given for the purpose of the church to be empowered as witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. So far it was limited to Jerusalem, Judea, but after the death of Stephen, we are going to see in Acts 8, Saul was later known as Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles comes on the scene and the first evangelist also a deacon Philip was sent out by the Holy Spirit to Samaria and then supernaturally to spread the witness of Christ to an Ethiopian Eunuch.
The charge is to not limit our Christian service to a place or a certain group of people. Let's repent for our lack of witness and fear of persecution and ask Holy Spirit to take us to whom He desires; going wherever He wants us to go, doing whatever He wants us to do.
Upon the crucifixion of Jesus, the rulers, elders, and scribes of Jerusalem were so relieved expecting that the movement He began would now die out. Yet, it wasn't long after His death that they were forced to meet together to discuss what to do about the disciples of Jesus who were continuing to perform miracles in His name.
Peter and John were confronted and thrown in jail by the commander of the temple police and the Sadducees because they were proclaiming the resurrection of the dead. Pharisees and Sadducees were greatly divided regarding the resurrection of the dead, so many of the Pharisees were actually now believing in Jesus after the report of His resurrection.
Right after the scripture reporting that Peter and John were thrown in jail, the next scripture says 5000 men had come to believe in Jesus. The Lord turns the devil's works back on his head. The result of persecution is always many souls coming into the kingdom. In only a three month time believers in Jesus grew from 3000 to 5000 men. In those times it included only men because the decision the head of the household made would include women and children. So this number was more like 15,000 just in Jerusalem, as it is too complex to know the numbers in other lands from those who converted at Pentecost. This was approximately 10-20% of Jews living in Jerusalem.
This was a huge threat to the religious elite who wanted to hold onto their social status. When we keep our religion to ourselves where it doesn't have much effect on the condition of our land we will experience very little opposition. The moment it does is when all hell breaks out. Satan is fine with us as long as we stay quiet but when we bring the good news out and walk in Holy Spirit power that is when he will try to take us down.
Peter confronted with the who's who of the high priests responds, filled with the Holy Spirit and instead of him being on trial puts them on trial as those who were responsible for Christ crucifixion.
Wasn't Peter already filled with the Holy Spirit? In certain situations, our humanity can feel overwhelmed where fear cripples us, so we need to be renewed with the baptism of the Holy Spirit day to day, issue after issue. It is like drinking water, we have one drink, but it isn't long before we are thirsty again, and the hotter it is the more often we need to drink.
When they observed Peter and John they were amazed because these were unlearned and untrained men so they knew they had been with Jesus. They had not gone through the same training as them but they walked with even greater authority and knew the scriptures. Bible School is a good environment to grow but with or without it we have Holy Spirit who is our teacher, counselor, and comforter. He empowers us it is not a work of our own intellect and experience. As long as we empty out of ourselves to God, we will be filled up and that is the greatest witness. It proves more than anything else that Jesus is alive!
These leaders were threatened they did not know now what to do, they thought they could stop the movement by crucifying its leader but His power was now distributed through the Holy Spirit upon all who believed in Him and that had now gone to 15,000 and was growing daily. They told Peter and John to stop preaching but they responded we are unable to stop for we must listen to God, not you. This got them so angry but there was nothing they could do for if they imprisoned them the effect would be a riot.
Where we run too after being released from threatening situations is the key to how well we recover. Peter and John ran to there "own people," meaning their close friends in the faith. They reported to them what they went through and together instead of complaining and becoming fearful, they "raised their voices to God," reminding themselves what Holy Spirit spoke through David regarding what they went through and then asking the Lord to grant them boldness to continue despite the threats to speak His message with boldness, with healings, signs, and wonders being performed through the name of Jesus.
When going through challenges we got to remember that Christ said that all those that follow Him will suffer. Therefore we should not run from our problems but face them boldly and continue to do the work of the Lord no matter the opposition. As the disciples prayed together they had another Pentecost like experience. The combined energy of like-minded believers through prayer is an explosion.
The enemy is doing all he can to hinder us and so we desperately need group support if we are going to continue to remain on fire. The enemy hinders us by trying to keep us isolated and divided from the dynamics of group participation. An engine cannot run without all its parts placed together and neither can we unless we are are in continual fellowship with other believers. We can be part of groups but are they the right groups? Acts 4:32 says that this large group was of one heart and mind. That is the correct group, and naturally, they are hard to find, but if we are led by the Spirit, we will be connected to such ones.
A group becomes dynamic when it puts the needs of one another above themselves like a strong family. It gets to the point that what each one owns is now shared as each one has a need. When people are no longer distracted by their needs they can focus on the work of the Kingdom. When we are possessed by the Holy Spirit our possessions are no longer our own, they are just resources to be used for Kingdom purposes. This spiritual harmony created a great manifestation of the resurrection power of Yeshua and great grace was on all of them.
Group fellowship and prayer is absolutely necessary for growth and Kingdom activity. If you are struggling in your Christian walk it is because you are not getting enough support. Being part of a group is a sacrifice, it takes your time, money, and talent, yet without it, those items will not be properly utilized in the Kingdom of God. It will be like the parable of talents where punishment came to the servant who hid his talent and therefore became unprofitable.
THE CHALLENGE FROM THIS DEVOTION:
1.) Repent for allowing the enemy to keep you isolated and divided.
2.) Ask Holy Spirit what fellowship group are you supposed to be actively involved in.
3.) Make up your mind that you will remain faithful to whom Holy Spirit has placed before you until He sends you elsewhere.
HOLY SPIRIT INSTRUCTION
In order to advance God's Kingdom, it must be an act of the Holy Spirit. We must know the teachings of Christ in order to know what He is doing. As we grow in our knowledge of God's will we will now be responsible to walk it out. As we seek Him daily, instructions will now be given us, we must choose to obey them in order to work with Him to see His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
We now become instruments to prove to the world that Jesus is resurrected through the demonstration of His power in our lives. Daily we must humbly present ourselves to God to be empowered by Him. We bear no witness of Christ without the Holy Spirit! We can do things in the name of God but without the power of God we will end up building nothing but our own man-made Kingdom. Any fellowship of Christians that do not accept and operate in the baptism of the Holy Spirit will never fully be able to represent Him. They have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.
Apart from union with the Holy Spirit, we can bear no fruit, we are as John 15 describes dead branches, good for nothing but to be cut off and used for burning. It is not enough to be baptized in water for the repentance of sins we must be baptized in the Holy Spirit for the empowerment to be a witness, it is not an option, it is a command! Jesus commanded the disciples to go and wait until they are empowered and they did. We daily must wait until we are empowered before we go and do anything in His name! You can tell when someone has been with Jesus because they walk in authority and demonstrate it with power. People should know we are with Jesus if they don't we should not even tell them we are Christians. We can no longer settle for the human-created Christian religion, if Holy Spirit is not in it, we need to be out!
Too many people are looking to the sky, waiting for Jesus return, too few are looking for Jesus to empower them in the here and now! I look forward to Him returning and completing His work, ushering in the new millennium, but my main concern is to be an instrument He can use to prepare the way, to reform the earth, to be a witness so nobody can say they didn't have an opportunity to believe in Him.
Do you want to live an adventurous, world-changing life then ask Holy Spirit for His instructions daily, and be about it?
LET HOLY SPIRIT LEAD
Acts 1:12 through chapter 2.
You can expect it to be special when people come together with the same purpose; being devoted to God in prayer, with no selfish agenda just hearts desiring to hear from the Lord. As the body of Christ, we need each other, there is only so much we can receive alone. We must balance our personal time with God with our corporate time! Sunday morning will not cut it, growth requires more! We need to find a fellowship of like-minded believers that we can meet together regularly.
Each believer is like a puzzle that only together can the bigger picture be seen. When we neglect Christian fellowship we become narrow-minded, simpletons. It is praying, worshipping, and studying the Bible in small groups that expand our knowledge as we receive deeper insight into the ways of God. It is in these environments that certain decisions can be made because a wider perspective is developed through the grace on each person's life. When decisions are made by one individual failure will often be the result because of a lack of foresight. It is in the counsel of advisers that decisions succeed.
It is when we unite together in prayer that the culmination of the Holy Spirit in each individual creates an outpouring Pentecost experience. It will not always be like the day of Pentecost but we can expect to be refreshed each time we meet. The key is the condition of our heart, are we just going through the motions or are we expectant? We should not be looking to man but rather our focus should be on God and how He wants to move and through who depends on His lead. If we let Him lead, we will never leave disappointed.
Whom God uses will depend on who is ready to minister out of the overflow of His presence. In this place, you walk in discernment to know the thoughts and intents of man, to be able to minister to the heart, where those who listen can be convicted and be given an opportunity to repent and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
As long as Holy Spirit is directing there will be people drawn to the Father. Man can help people make a temporary decision but God transforms lives to where a deep devotion follows. Christian leaders get frustrated because it is so hard to keep believers devoted to God, the problem is we are relying too much on ourselves and not on the power of the Holy Spirit.
We see in Acts 2:41-47 that the people who accepted the message of Peter were baptized, 3000 of them, and they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to the fellowship, and prayer. Signs and wonders followed the Apostles, the believers were together daily, joyful and humble, and they had favor with all people and the Lord added to them daily those who were being saved.
We make ministry way too complicated, it is simple, be baptized in the Holy Spirit and let Him lead in all we do, and He will do what only He can do, save souls, and make devoted followers.
I am a big football and basketball fan and I love cheering for the underdog. Stories about teams that overcame uncountable odds to win, move me to tears. For example how the Eagles won the super bowl at the hands of Nick Foles, a backup quarterback who had almost quit football because of his lack of success.
The bible is full of such amazing death-defying stories. Here in Joshua 11, we see the children of Israel facing combined armies where their number was like sand on an ocean beach. This initially startled them with fear. Yet, as it says in verse 6, God said to Joshua: “Don’t worry about them. This time tomorrow I’ll hand them over to Israel, all dead.”
When God is with us and directing our steps there is nothing too big, or too strong, to overcome, “Nothing is impossible with Him.”
Those who seek first the kingdom will experience massive opposition. Satan will do everything he can to maintain his place in our territory. We must not be moved by whatsoever he throws at us, but only be moved by God. We can trust that God will increase our faith as the mountains around us become bigger.
Key to establishing Christ victory and manifesting the Kingdom of God is here in verse 15. Joshua like Moses did whatever God told him, leaving nothing incomplete.
Diligent leaders are those who complete everything that God commands them no matter the degree of difficulty. Many are those who obey God to an extent but when weary, they lose their drive and don’t finish what they started. We need leaders who will not stop until all the enemies of God are driven out of their land, and then and only then can they rest from war.
As it says in Ecclesiastes "there are times and seasons for everything," but even in times of peace where the battles cease, there is work to be done. Here in Joshua 13, though the "ites" of the land were defeated the children of Israel now needed to inhabit these territories and take claim to their inheritance or these "ites" would return. If we don't establish in the areas of victory, a right foundation, the evil spirits will return seven times worse (Luke 11:46).
Believers who are not discipled in the Word of God and who do not get baptized with the Holy Spirit eventually return to their old ways or become filled with religious demons.
Joshua had become of an old age but his time was not yet complete, the Lord told him that there was still land to take. The older we get and the less time we have on earth the more the urgency to pass on our inheritance to those who are called to receive our mantle and continue our legacy. As long as we have breath we should believe that our borders will broaden meaning our influence will increase, that we will maximize our full potential in Christ Jesus and be able to have God tell us when we leave this age, "well done, good and faithful servant."
God promised Joshua that He will drive out all the forces that would work against the children of Israel as long as he obeyed his commands. We don't want to die and leave any unnecessary burdens to those who will follow us. So we must be diligent to never rest until we have fully accomplished what God has commanded us. If we do want God asked we can rest assure that God will do what He promised.
In Joshua chapter 14 we see the land was distributed in strict accord and with the Lord’s commands.
“The Earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.” To see heaven on earth the land must be given back to God. We drive out the enemies of God by becoming owners of the land. Each child of God using their portion of property according to the Lord’s particular purpose.
Caleb had wholeheartedly followed the Lord but he had to suffer the consequences of the leaders who out of fear refused to cross over, yet while they died out, Caleb lived and remained strong, and now it was his time to finally enjoy what God promised Him.
Some of God’s promises may be on hold because of the disobedience of those around us but if we remain in Christ the opportunity will come back around again. Strength isn’t about age in the Kingdom of God, it is about trust in God and faith to believe despite the obstacles.
Caleb now 80 years old felt just as strong than when he was 40 and went forth and possessed Hebron which was his promised inheritance.
Faith should increase as we advance in age, we should not be retreating, but advancing forward and taking ground. What was lost when we were young and foolish or because of having bad companions can be finally in our reach in our upper age from the lessons we have learned.
Why Give? (Exodus 25:1-9)
We have all given something to someone out of feeling obligated or received something from someone that we know they didn’t give it from their heart.
When it comes to giving to God if it isn’t from the heart He does not accept it. We can give financially, volunteer our time, share our abilities, at our local church but God will not honor us if we have impure motives.
The bible says to give cheerfully if we cannot do that we might as well not give at all. It is wrong for Preachers to try to manipulate people to give, for that money will not be blessed anyway.
Finances and service are required for advancing God’s Kingdom but yet having the right heart must be at the core. God does not need our treasure, talent or time, but He desires our heart. What we do with these elements reveal the condition of the heart.
Here in Exodus 25, The Lord told Moses to tell the people of Israel to bring their sacred offerings and to accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them. These offerings as it says in verse eight for the purpose of building the Lord a holy sanctuary.
An acceptable offering is one that has no expectation in return. It is a free will offering! I am not giving in order to get, I give because I put my trust not in money but in God and I am grateful for all He is and has done.
Patterned In The Image of God (Exodus 25:10-40)
We are the temple of God our lives are the offering. Our talent, treasure, and time make up who we are and that is what we promised to give when we made Jesus Lord of our lives. Those who truly live surrendered lives are those in whom God inhabits.
The building description of the ark of the covenant, table, and lamp stand, have one main ingredient in common, GOLD.
Gold represents Glory! The physical structure of the temple in the Old Testament has the revelation for us to understand the spiritual structure of the temple in the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 3:16 says that don’t you know you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in your midst?
As temples of God, we are called to be filled with His glory. Like gold, we have been mined out of the dirt and purified by fire and now shine brightly with the presence of the living God.
We who walk in covenant relationship with God experience the ark of His presence. He meets and talks with us daily.
2 Cor. 6:16-18, “What agreement can exist between the temple of the living God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.” Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And: I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
We see here we must live a separate life, unclean things and idolatry must be done away with if God’s glory is going to fill our lives. Just as the bread of the presence was to remain on the table at all times, God wants to be Lord of our lives at all times. Too many Christian live double lives, in and out, not consistent. It is time to renounce all darkness and live continually in the light. To do this as it says in verse 40 we must be sure that everything in our life is according to the pattern God has revealed in scripture.
Does all aspects of your life line up with the Word of God? This is the defining factor of how much of His Glory exceeds from your being.
Tabernacle of God (Exodus 26)
Here in Exodus 26, we see the blueprint for the creation of the Tabernacle. In the New Covenant, the Temple of God is made up of human flesh, patterned like the Old Testament Tabernacle after the Word of God, as living epistles. The Tabernacle had so many specific dimensions and we are to have every part of our life formed into the image of God.
The difficulty with this is that we must destroy that which is not a reflection of Him. Every traditional and cultural frame that does not line up with the Word of God removed. Every hurt and pain surrendered so that healing and deliverance can follow. Then and only then can we carry the full weight of God's Glory!
Removing Darkness (Exodus 27:20-21)
God, the Father tells Moses to command the people of Israel in Exodus 27:20-22 to bring pure oil of pressed olives to keep the lamps in the tabernacle burning continually.
Jesus speaks in Matthew 5:14-16 that His disciples are the light of the world, a city on the hill that cannot be hidden.....so let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
In the Old Testament, the glory of God-centered around a building called the Tabernacle. In the New Testament, those who abide in Christ are the Tabernacle, He is the oil within us that allows us to shine with the glory of God.
Light is used to remove darkness, that is our call, not to escape from the world, but to go into it, countering evil with good, so that the Kingdom of light destroys the kingdom of darkness.
If your light is going dim, humble yourself before God and let the Holy Spirit recharge you, so you can shine brightly once again.
Praise Tabernacle - A Missions Centered Church (Celebrating 40 years)
It is one thing to leave slavery behind it is another to stop thinking like a slave. We have all been slaves to sin, but God made it possible to be free of sin through Jesus Christ, yet this work is a process, called the renewing the mind. Exodus 21 deals directly with the physical issue of how to treat a slave fairly. This leads to the question is God okay with slavery?
When something in scripture does not line up with the nature of God we must study it in depth for truth from the Word will never violate the nature of God.
President Monroe sent African slaves back to Liberia after the abolishment of slavery, but the problem was these slaves had not been educated well. Upon their arrival, they began to treat the African nationalists like they had been treated by their slave masters, which led to a conflict that has cost the lives of thousands and has not been repaired to this day.
Not everything in scripture reflects the way of heaven, because of the frailty of mankind God permits certain things though it isn’t His will. One example of this is divorce God permits it but He hates it. God understands the evil of mankind and driven by greed and lust issues such as slavery exist, even at this time.
In the time of Exodus slavery was common everywhere, throughout history, people have exploited others for the lust of money. God is in the process of transforming lives and systems. We see this throughout the Old Testament the way to treat slaves transitions from Exodus through Deuteronomy into Leviticus where eventually the command is that no Israelite is allowed to be a slave.
When a society built around slavery suddenly stops then economic destruction will follow. God began the shift out of slavery in the Wilderness but it was a process. While slavery still existed the way slaves were to be treated was completely different than how the Egyptian slave masters treated their slaves. We see that slaves were to be set free after seven years of service with their spouses, yet given the choice to serve them for life if that is what they wanted.
Paul addresses this with the story of Philemon in the New Testament. First, it must be understood that the whole structure of Rome was based on slavery. Slaves in these times were often treated better than free men, they were assured of food, clothing, and shelter, slaves could even be doctors, musicians, teachers, artists, etc.
Slavery was not addressed in the New Testament directly because it would have caused chaos. Paul does not order Philemon to free Onesimus or teach that slavery was evil. But by ordering Philemon to treat Onesimus as a brother, the abuse of slavery was eliminated.
If we are going to move with God we must treat people as God would want them treated. God created all people in His image. To treat someone poorly because of their ethnicity is a direct affront to God and His most prized creation. How do you feel if someone mistreats your child? God feels the same and will not allow it to go unpunished.
We are called to establish the justice and righteousness of God throughout the Earth. Child soldiers, forced prostitution, and forced labor are forms of slavery and evil and it is our responsibility as stewards of the Earth to eradicate it.
It is one thing to draw near to God it is another to walk with Him. People often experience God's presence but living in His presence few reaches. The difficulty with abiding in Christ is not God, Himself, but people. Whether purposely or by accident, we trip up by the actions of others.
Ask someone why they stopped going to church, the fault being God will be less common. The blame game goes to church leadership or it's members. The difficulty we have as leaders is trying to get people to get along enough where a significant move of God can take place. God is sovereign but He has chosen to move through His body and if the parts are not together, His power has limits.
Here in Exodus 21:12-36, God instructs the children of Israel regarding how to respond to accidents or malicious acts. God wants His people to get to a place that nothing or nobody moves them but by God. Whether something someone does is by accident or not we need to keep our focus on the will of God. Not that we are not to seek out forgiveness, but we must maintain our surrendered attitude if we are going to continue to walk with God.