Tuesday, September 30, 2008

sober times

As I sit here reading, thinking, and praying, my heart is sobered. For many years I have carried a sense of the spiritual desperation of our times in western culture. I sometimes get accused of being a "gloom and doom" type, but I can only repeat what both Billy Graham and Leonard Ravenhill have said. "If God doesn't judge America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."

Its not about divine anger, but divine, holy love.

In our society's lust for pleasure, comfort, and ease, we have turned further and further from His ways. Covetousness and greed are destroying our economy. Sexual immorality is destroying our families and our youth. A loving Father cannot just sit back and let that go on forever without stepping in to intervene. Is His divine discipline coming upon us now? I don't know. I am not a prophet, and would not dare to speak as one. But deep inside, I am struck by the fear of the Lord. A part of me cries out, "Lord, have mercy!" Another part of me prays with sober resolution, "Thy will be done." Whatever He does, we know its done with a desire for our deliverance and salvation. In His letters to the seven churches, Jesus continually called them to fresh repentance. In their failings, He called them back to Himself. He is faithful and true. He takes no delight in the death of the wicked. His desire is always for redemption, but He will not look the other way if we walk in willful disobedience to the ways of His kingdom.

"If you love Me you will keep my commandments."

'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline;"

I was struck by several of His warnings to the churches.

Chap. 2, verse 4 "I have this against you, that you have left your first love."

Chap. 3, verses 1-3 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 'Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 'Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent."

Chap. 3, verses 15-16 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. 'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

Familiar passages, for sure. I just want to know that I have not left my first love, and that I am neither spiritually asleep or lukewarm. He is calling us to faith that produces faithfulness. He is calling us to be a peculiar people, set apart unto Him. He desires us to be like David who said, "One thing I have desired, that I will seek after..." And like Paul, whose heart cried out, "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ," I want that heart to burn within me. The stuff of this world wants to quench that fire.

Whether we avert national financial ruin in this moment in time or not, we live every day before our Lord Jesus. Let us allow Him to lead us to that place where at the end of our earthly life, we can say with Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Meditation in Leviticus

Hey... I was reading in Leviticus this morning (when was the last time you started an email with that??? ha), and I got to chapter 9, and read this...

Lev 9:1 On the eighth day Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel,
Lev 9:2 and he said to Aaron, "Take for yourself a bull calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without blemish, and offer them before the LORD.
Lev 9:3 And say to the people of Israel, 'Take a male goat for a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both a year old without blemish, for a burnt offering,
Lev 9:4 and an ox and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD, and a grain offering mixed with oil, for today the LORD will appear to you.'"
Lev 9:5 And they brought what Moses commanded in front of the tent of meeting, and all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD.
Lev 9:6 And Moses said, "This is the thing that the LORD commanded you to do, that the glory of the LORD may appear to you." ….

Lev 9:22 Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings.
Lev 9:23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.
Lev 9:24 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

I left out the middle, because it was detail specific to that time and place, and covenant. We would tend to sort of cruise right by this as irrelevant to our lives today, but I was wondering, is there a principle here for us? We could see this as simply old covenant law of offerings, or we could see this as an example of faith-filled obedience. Moses told them that the Lord wanted to show them His glory. We are all up for that. They believed in this promise, evidenced by their full obedience to what He told them to do to prepare for that event. And He showed up in a pretty awesome manner. It wasn't legalistic works. They didn't "earn" His appearance by doing what He commanded. They prepared themselves in faith, believing that He would do what He said.

On the other hand, you dont see them trying to turn it into a formula, either. I haven't found the chapter where Moses says, "Hey, we're gonna have another one of those glory meetings this weekend. Everybody get your stuff ready for the big sacrifice." The Lord told Moses that He wanted to show His glory to the people, and they all responded. But they didn't come to the conclusion that if they did the same thing again, that He would show up on demand. He is faithful to keep His promises, but He is also the sovereign Lord and King.

What do you think?