Friday, April 24, 2015

Childlike Sacrificial Faith

I have a confession.  I have always found the book of Leviticus rather, no other word for it, BORING and something to drudge through as I read through the Bible.  Let me say that as of today, my views have changed.  The more I study the Law and sacrifices, etc. the more I come to appreciate God's wisdom in everything.  It just proves that in spirit we really are just children, because, not only do we want to question everything, we want to show how irrelevant it is to us today.  We may not say it aloud, but we certainly exhibit it in our attitude and actions. 
Today I began Leviticus once again.  I have lost count as to how many times I have read the Bible through.  That is not to say I have read it through so many times I cannot count them.  I'm sure I could quite easily.  I have simply truly lost count.  For reference sake I will say this is possibly the seventh time I have done so.  I know I have five, but am not certain how many times after that, so seven seems reasonable.  Anyway, I came across this passage in the very first chapter: 1:6-7 says, "He shall then skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces.  And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire."
In the past, without actually thinking the words I just knew this verse had no relevance to me.  After all, Jesus paid the full sacrifice for my sins.  There is nothing else that needs doing correct?  Shows how very little I know!! 
There were the regularly scheduled times for the burnt offering. Burnt offerings were to be made every day, in the morning and the evening (Exod 29:38-42; Num. 28:3, 6, cf. 2 Chron. 2:4, etc.). An additional burnt offering was to be offered up each Sabbath day (Num. 28:9-10). Also, at the beginning of each month (Num. 28:11), at the celebration of Passover on the 14th day of the 1st month (Num. 28:16), along with new grain offering at Feast of Weeks (Num. 28:27), at the feast of trumpets, on sacred day in the 7th month (Num. 29:1ff.), and for the celebration of the new moon (Num. 29:6)  (

There is a very vital reason this passage should speak directly to each and every Christian daily...we are to offer our flesh as a daily sacrifice, a soothing aroma (vs. 9) to God.  Just as the priests would kill the bull, sheep, ram, whatever and then skin it before offering it on the fire as an offering, so we must remove our flesh (its power over us was already killed when we accepted Jesus death as our personal sacrifice).  However, our flesh clings to us, begging us to allow it to do its thing.  After all, it only has a short time on this earth.  We only live once.  Enjoy life while you can!!  All these things are lies that we accept as truth willingly.  While we do only have a short time on this earth, we have an eternity with our Father.  It will be better to be disciplined now and get it done and over with than to wait until then!!  Secondly, we do not ONLY live once.  We live once with this mortal, fleshly body, but then we shed it and receive an immortal and perfected body to dwell in for eternity!!  Therefore, it is not ONLY once, but it is once, so make the VERY best of it now, but learning how to live for Christ now so that it is much easier in the real life to come!!  As for the third comment, "Enjoy life while you can," I have discovered that I enjoy life much more living for Christ than when I am living for self.  My flesh will tell me anything it thinks I want to hear to get me to do its bidding.  If I listen to it enough, I will begin to agree (and it does happen, much to my chagrin) and if I give in, I am miserable.  Self pity, pride, greed, anger, bitterness, and so much more, invade my being and make me absolutely miserable, as I can never have enough of ANYTHING to satiate them.  However, when I am living for Christ, He does the work within me, it never seems an unbearable burden and I have no need to be satiated for I am no longer hungering for anything other than more of Him.  This He willingly and graciously gives, even though I do not deserve it!!  Of this I do not wish to be satiated.  I pray I will always hunger for more of Him.
After removing the skin (flesh) we must offer the sacrifice to the fire of the Holy Spirit.  He will burn it up in His power and give us the strength we need in each and every situation, even the ones that seem impossible!!
Yesterday I had both of my two youngest grandsons with me in the back yard.  Our back yard is flat for about 20-30 feet and then goes abruptly down hill into woods.  The older of the two (5 years old) was playing on the Big Wheel trike and I was holding the 4 month old.  Suddenly, the Big Wheel rolled out from under him and down the hill, into the woods.  He looked at me with huge eyes and said, "One of us will have to go get it!"  I told him I couldn't because I had the baby.  He asked if I couldn't put him down and go. After all, he was quite willing to go with me.  (He thought that since he was scared, I must be too.)  I told him that, no, I would not leave my baby grandson alone in order to get a bike.  He resolutely said that he guessed he had to go then.  Now you need to know that the bike was no more than 8-10 feet down max.  However, there are a lot of leaves, which makes it slippery.  I showed him the hanging vines and how to grasp them in order to make his way to the bike.  Long story short, he succeeded with a bit of difficulty.  When finished, he looked at me and said, "I just risked my life and I am proud of myself for doing it!"  A little later he looked at me questioningly and asked, "Gramma, I really did just risk my life, didn't I?"  While not wanting to lie, but wanting to assure him he did a very good and manly thing, I said, "You really did take a risk buddy!"  About an hour later, his uncle came to get the baby.  He recanted his story of risking his life and added, "And I got some thorns too, and I almost bled!"  His uncle very solemnly looked at him and told him he had been very brave.  I was proud of them both.
Once again I learned a lesson from a five year old!!  They are such good teachers!!  Be willing to lay down your life for the life of others, especially those weaker (baby) than yourself.  This is real living!!  If you could have seen the joy in his eyes, you would know exactly what I am talking about.  I pray he remembers the joy he experienced in this as he grows and even when he comes to the place of realizing his life was not in any immediate danger (though there could have been a snake, he could have slipped and bruised or broken something or any number of other possibilities) that the joy of being willing to sacrifice will carry him on to living for Christ by living to serve others all throughout his life!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Listen Attention

"So pay attention to how you listen! Those who understand [these mysteries] will be given [more knowledge]. However, some people don't understand [these mysteries]. Even what they think they understand will be taken away from them." (GWT Luke 8:18)

I always thought this verse was saying to be careful WHAT you listen to, but today I was amazed to discover this is not what it is saying at all. It is saying to be careful HOW you listen. I thought, “Huh?
Do You mean to pay closer attention or be more discerning or what?”
I've thought on this verse off and on for over six hours. Within the last hour or so, while reading a book by Ted Dekker called Chosen, the thought went through my mind that we all tend to hear differently. 
An example would be yesterday morning in worship. I was singing in the choir and from my vantage hearing point I could hear the soloist well during an amazing song entitled “Alive.” The words are powerful, the arrangement melodic and the emotion we felt as we sang it was absolutely wonderful!! I didn't really pay attention to balance, as I trusted the sound crew to do their job. I knew all the words and was caught up in the joy of singing them. So imagine my shock and dismay at hearing from my husband, son and daughter-in-law that the audience could not hear the soloist or choir at times because the worship team in front was miked so loudly!! Then it hit me..they were sitting in the balcony, along with a couple hundred others, but their vantage listening point may have been quite distinctly different that of those seated at floor level, as that is where the house amplifiers are located. Perhaps (I don't know this for a fact, but the sound crew is on ground level as well, so it could be assumed) the floor level people could hear everything from soloist, to worship team to choir and orchestra. Perhaps, (and again, I don't know this for a fact) the choir and those in the balcony were at a hearing disadvantage and so received a distorted signal.
We do the same thing when we overhear a conversation. We think we hear what is being said, but we'd better ask before sharing, because we may have caught only a portion, misheard, or may have been listening in to a distorted version of the story. Then there are the times we think we hear someone talking about one person, when in reality it is someone altogether different. This happened quite recently to a dear friend of mine. She overheard someone mentioning a need for prayer for a baby and since we have a friend in common whose baby has that name, thought it was he they were talking about. A quick text to this friend revealed it was not her baby at all, but we all agreed to pray because God knew which little one it was that needed us.
So we need to be careful HOW we hear and then be careful what we do with the information gained. We must make certain we understand correctly and then only proceed with what needs doing, if anything.
There is a warning in this verse. IF we make sure we understand what we are hearing, we will gain not only knowledge, but wisdom. If we do NOT make certain of our understanding, not only will we gain nothing, but we will lose the very knowledge we THOUGHT we had. I don't know about anyone else, but I absolutely HATE losing things.
Yesterday we had our annual egg hunt for the grandkids. We hid 168 plastic eggs filled with candy. They each found twenty four of their individual color-coded eggs. When all was said and done, I did one last counting of eggs to make sure we had them all. We did, except ½ of one egg was MISSING!!
It has been driving me crazy ever since. I have checked the entire yard twice, poured over the house, went through the kids' candy bags and recounted the eggs twice, just in case one was stuck together. The ½ egg still eludes me!!
 I need to be this extreme with my hearing. Listen, if possible say it back to the person speaking, if not, ask about it later. If the message was heard correctly and was regarding someone else, go speak with that person to make certain I have the right person AND that the message was accurate. Perhaps then I would quit assuming I knew things and maybe stop placing my foot so succinctly into my mouth where it gets stuck and I get choked. Perhaps I would gain new insight into people that would allow me to love them more fully and openly. Perhaps I would grow more in wisdom and understanding of my God Who made me and loves me even when I screw up so wildly.
Listen – give one's attention to a sound. (Webster's)

Strong's Exhaustive concordance tells us that the word listen in this verse means to hear with comprehension.

In other words – pay attention and truly understand!!