God with us

RE Verse reading–Exodus 39:32, 42-43; 40:1-2, 16-17, 32-38 (day one) “So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.”–40:38.  At the end of the day, it is our only advantage, the only thing that distinguishes Christians from other people.  The Lord is with us!  Not because we are good.  The golden calf settled that.  Not because we are strong.  Years of slavery gave them (us) nothing to offer.  Rather, because He called us to Himself in covenant, because He has given us His name.  Not fail safe!  Not something that anyone should take for granted!  Years later God would remove His glorious presence from the temple and nation.  Even now, there are “Christians” who by grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, live without any evidence of His nearness.  Protection. . . Identity. . . Guidance. . . All these are ours when God is with us.

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RE Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10, 20-35; 36:2-7 (day seven)  “Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability.”–36:2.  The biblical idea of spiritual gifts is larger than we sometimes think.  Most of us are familiar with “tests” that can be taken to identify our “gifts”. But these instruments often use a very narrow list of possible giftings.  Bezalel and Oholiab were probably excluded. The SPIRIT had given them artistic skill.  See 35:30.  Metal, stone and wood.  They were craftsmen.  They were also, by the same SPIRIT, gifted to teach others.  See 35:34.  Reminds me of the FBCSA Imago Academy.  SPIRITUALLY gifted artists, training the next generation to serve God through music, voice and art.  Are you gifted?  Don’t be surprised if the Lord “summons” you to develop and use your gift in Kingdom service.  As true with money and freedom (Happy Memorial Day, everyone) as it is with talent, ”To whom much is given, much is required.”

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Real Image

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day six)

And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. Exodus 35:21

God’s all-sufficiency is not in question. At first glance it would seem that God is in need; that He needs their stuff, along with their time and energy in order to build the tabernacle and its furnishings. This simply isn’t true, after all God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. God was quite able to fashion a tabernacle of his liking in the blink of an eye. So what was God doing if he didn’t need anything from the people?

I think we find the answer all throughout Exodus 35-36. Moses reminds us over and over that the people gave because their hearts were stirred to do so, and they were able to do the work only after the filling of the Holy Spirit. I believe God was calling them back to their deepest nature, being fashioned in the image of God. God not only was invested in establishing a symbolic and tangible presence among His people, but also was doing the work of restoration. This whole business of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the new covenant with an enslaved people has everything to do with God restoring all things unto himself. This restorative work began in the earliest days after the Fall and ends with Jesus’ return, but God is clearly working towards that end in building the tabernacle.

Could it be that the giving of ourselves, whether things or time or skill, taps into our truest nature? Could it be that both the inspiration to create with artistic skill, and the work itself is the reflecting of God’s image in us? After all who gives like our God? Or who creates like Him? When we give out of the stirring of our hearts, or create with our hands by the power of the Holy Spirit we begin to realize what it truly means to be human, men and woman made in the image of God.

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The Heart of the Matter

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day five)

21 Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought…   22 Then all whose hearts moved them, both men and women, came and brought…   29 The Israelites, all the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring material for all the work, which the Lord had commanded through Moses to be done, brought a freewill offering to the Lord.

It’s a wonderful thing to brush up against someone who has had his or her “heart or spirit stirred” by the Lord’s mission or message:

They see potential and possibilities.  They know their part or piece is important, but also recognize there is a “larger” purpose and mission involved.

They have a sense of urgency.  I remember my pastor growing up used to say, “Delayed obedience is disobedience”.

They work, serve, and give with joy.  That’s a distinctly different perspective.  It looks, sounds, and feels like worship.

They intuitively understand what they must give or do.  The Holy Spirit does this work in the heart of the believer. (John 16)

The Israelites whose hearts were stirred:  they gave, they brought, they worked, and they participated.  Sounds a lot like a New Testament Church too, doesn’t it?

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An Exact Representation

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day four)

Who would have ever known that the atonement of man would look like gold, silver, bronze, fine linen, and acacia wood?   When God plundered the Egyptians as the Israelites left Egypt, gave Moses very detailed design instructions, and placed understanding, knowledge and craftsmanship in Bezalel and Oholiab…He had a specific plan for worship.  The Tabernacle was to be the place of worship for Israel, but more importantly, it was a picture of Christ and His work of atonement.  It was to be an exact picture…a shadow…of the true Tabernacle in heaven.  To give an inaccurate picture of God’s plan for redemption was not an option.  God rightly demanded an exact representation so that mankind would know the singular plan for redemption.  God’s instructions are for a purpose…when He gives us directions in Scripture it is for a purpose.  Our obedience is required to give an exact picture of the reality of heaven.  Christianity is not just a list of rules…it is a relationship.  We are to be a picture of our Creator God and His Kingdom work!

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Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day three)

“[The Lord] has filled [Bezalel] with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills.”

Though God could have willed it so, it is unlikely that Bezalel suddenly found himself able to do metalworking and gemcutting—as if he had never worked with such materials before, then woke up one day as an expert in those crafts.  The method of God with people that we see repeatedly in scripture is his use of time to help form the bodies, minds, and spirits of those who seek his direction.  We’re prone to curse time as being too long (or too short).  But one who seeks to grow in the way God has made him will find time to be a beautiful pathway along which the Holy Spirit leads him into the fullness of God.

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Majestic Creativity

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day two)

Take from among you a contribution to the Lord; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze, 6 and blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen…35:5-6

Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it. 36:2

This passage not only declares how generous believers can/should be, but it also proclaims boldly that our God is the creative, imaginative, and beautiful designer of the Universe. He didn’t stop “creating” when the world was finished. His majesty and creativity are seen in every sunset, canyon or mountain vista, and especially in the miracle of a newborn’s face. We are to love him beautifully and creatively as well. We must all find our gifts and give them generously to the Lord and his work, and marvel at the creative majesty of our God.

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A generous gospel

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day one)

“The people are bringing MORE THAN ENOUGH for doing the work the Lord has commanded. . .and so they were restrained from bringing more.”–36:5-6.  Followers of Christ are often marked by extravagance,  a reckless generosity that answers need with enthusiasm and call with over-the-top willingness.  Real faith is not stingy.  Our gospel is generous.  Many examples of it in Scripture.  Mary in John 12.  She POURS perfume on Christ and is criticized for being extravagant.  By everyone but Christ.  He knew.  True love doesn’t pinch pennies.  Another example is the people of Israel in the collection for the tabernacle.  They overgive!  (is that a word?  If it isn’t, it should be).  They respond with such generosity that they have to be restrained.  Hmmmm. . . too many teachers for Bible study, too many dollars for the projects we feel led to accomplish,  too many ideas/ volunteers for reaching people.  True mark of faith, ours is a generous gospel.

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Effectual and fervent prayer

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 32:1-19, 30-33; 33:12-17; 34:1-7 (day seven)

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”–James 5:16 (KJV).  It is a burden.  No way round this truth.  Real prayer is eventually a relief and a blessing, but before that it is hard and holy work!  It is also an expression of love.  When we love people, we pray for them.  Not in an easy, casual, convenient sort of way.  With passion and perseverance.  Like Moses in Exodus 32.  Having received just a hint of hope from God, “let me alone so that my anger may burn against them”–32:10,  Moses discerns an opportunity to intercede.  Not for himself.  Not even for them, I think, but in pursuit of the higher purpose of God.  Reminds me of Jesus in Gethsemane.  Reminds me also of God’s unchanging invitation.  “Call unto Me and I will show you great and mighty things that you do not know.”–Jeremiah 33:3.  The highest purposes of God come only when we pray.

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The Prayer of Moses

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 32:1-19, 30-33; 33:12-17; 34:1-7 (day six)

After reading Moses’ conversations with God this week, it made me consider my own. Moses was clearly bold, passionate, and persuasive; it was as if he were arguing with his best friend. I believe there is much to learn from these conversations between Moses and God. As I reflect on my own prayer life, it begs a few questions:

Is my prayer life bold? Are my prayers filled with meaningless repetitive phrases, or am I having real and regular conversations with God? Do I pray believing that He has the power to act on my behalf and on the behalf of others? Do I remind God of His promises? Do I pray knowing that only God can save? Do I pray as if it really matters that I pray at all?

The Bible describes Moses’ conversations with God as “face to face.” This paints a beautiful yet fearful picture of their relationship. Moses boldly spoke with the Creator, believing that He alone had the power and the will to shape his destiny and that of His people. Perhaps, even more awesome is that God invites us to do the same. He calls us to “boldly approach His throne of grace.” (Hebrews 4:16) He invites us to have real and meaningful conversations that have consequence, that matter!

Father, teacher us to pray like Moses!


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