Walking and Praying Through the Tabernacle

 

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.  “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. – Matthew 26:40

 

I want you to honestly answer a question for me:  Have you ever prayed for one solid hour?  I have been a Christian for 28 years and never did it until the year 2019.  I wanted to.  Every once in a while, I’d start a timer and go for it.  After emptying my brain of just about everything I could, it was always less than 30 minutes.  I would have sworn it was longer.

 

I think you also need to answer this question honestly:  Does spending an hour in prayer even sound appealing to you?  If the answer is yes, then the next three weeks of WMD’s are going to be for you.  If you take these seriously, you will experience God like never before on the day before Thanksgiving.  If you adopt this method of prayer, you will have to set a timer, but not to see how long you have prayed.  You will set the timer to make sure you leave in time to get to work or wherever else you need to be on time.

 

I do want to warn you, though.  If you treat God casually and are just pretty much interested in hanging out at church for an hour a week, you probably should skip this little series.  The last time I tried to teach it, some people took it and ran with it.  Others thought it totally useless.  We only made it 2/3 of the way through the tabernacle.  That final 1/3 was the Holy of Holies.  It is the place that, once you get there, you just don’t ever want to leave.  It is also the place that will kill you if you don’t enter the right way.  Nadab and Abihu messed up the very last step right before going into the Holy of Holies.  They offered strange fire on the altar of incense.  Because they didn’t do it God’s way, the very same fire that blessed Moses and Aaron in Leviticus chapter 9 actually killed Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10.  I’m just saying be very careful with this and don’t treat it as worthless or casually.

 

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.  – Psalm 100:4

 

This one little verse gives us a blueprint into the very presence of God.  We will be thankful through the outer court which consists of a gate, an altar, and a basin for washing called a laver.  We will praise God through the inner court which consists of a table of showbread, seven lighted candles known as a menorah, and an altar of incense.  All are very significant.  When all of those are treated properly and with respect, we will give thanks directly to God Himself and we will bless His Name.

 

The Outer Court

 

Just Google “The outer court of the tabernacle” and get some mental picture of these things in your mind as you pass them by:  The gate, the altar, and the laver.  This is where we will begin the journey into God’s Presence.

 

The Gate

 

In John 14:6, Jesus straight up says that He is absolutely the only way to heaven.  In John 10:9, He says “I am the gate.”  This means that as we journey through the tabernacle, we have to start at the gate.  You can’t jump over the walls.  You can’t crawl under the fence. There literally is no other entrance.  You must go through the gate.  Jesus is the gate.  Are you thankful for Him?  Tell Him.  Spend time here marveling at the gate.  Be amazed that He saved you.  Be amazed that the God of the universe actually made a way for us to be saved.  Remember the day that it all got started and He came into your life.  Enter into this gate with thanksgiving in your heart.

 

The Brazen Altar

 

In Old Testament times, you would have come to this altar with the best lamb or bull that you had to offer.  The priest would transfer your sins to it, and then kill it.  You would look at that dead animal and realize that you were clean, but that poor animal had to die to make it so.  In your mind, make that altar the cross of Christ.  Jesus is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.  Kneel at the foot of the cross of Our King who gave His life that we might live.  See it all in your mind as vividly as possible.  Thank Him.  Kneel before Him and be as grateful for what He did as you’ve ever been.  Hang out with our crucified Savior and marvel at all that it took to bring salvation to you and to me.

 

The Bronze Laver

 

Walk to this Old Testament version of a sink and begin to scrub.  It is here that you will confess your sins to God.  Leave nothing out and be brutally honest.  Have you cared about things more than Him?  Then you have committed idolatry . . . tell Him.  Have you neglected Him?  Then you’ve had other gods before Him . . . tell Him.  Have you honored your father and mother like you should?  If not, tell Him.  Have you lied, stolen, cheated, or coveted?  You get the drift.  Suck it up and bring up all the filth that is all over you and in you.  But, as you do, wash with the water in the laver.  Wash those sins away.  This is the right way to be clean.  This is the way that God has ordained that we be clean.  Be amazed that the God of all glory has made a way for us to be truly and purely clean.

 

We just entered into His gates with thanksgiving.  Next week, I will attempt to lead you through His inner court with praise.

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Planned

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  — Jeremiah 29:11

 

I watched the movie “Unplanned” Saturday morning.  I have to say, other than “The Passion of the Christ,” it is the hardest movie I’ve ever watched.  My insides were tormented watching some of the scenes.  Abby Johnson worked for Planned Parenthood and became the director of one of their clinics.  What she saw in a single moment in time turned her whole life upside down.  Here is what I want to write about today . . . God did end up changing Abby’s heart and mind, but He changed her in His time . . . His perfect time.  To Him, nothing was unplanned, it was all planned.

 

Many (and I mean many) of today’s Christians won’t give people any time to change.  For the most part, if you aren’t at least half as far along in your walk with God as they think they are in theirs, they are very judging and condemning.  Believe it or not, Abby was a believer in Christ.  She attended church services and convinced herself she was doing a good thing despite most people in her life telling her otherwise.  To me, the champions of the movie were her parents. They hated what Abby did for a living.  They knew that she knew that they disapproved of her career choice.  When her job came up in conversations, they would only say things like, “You know how we feel.”  They never once condemned her to hell or told her that she was a bad person.  They just kept on quietly believing and praying for their daughter.  As she moved up in those ranks at Planned Parenthood, you know as well as I do that things seemed to them only to be getting worse, not better.  You know it had to feel as if God was not listening to their prayers at all.

 

That is, until the single day that it all changed.  Abby was called in to actually witness one of the procedures.  She couldn’t handle it.  She ended up joining the Coalition for Life immediately, the very group she thought was against everything she believed in.  In an instant, she was changed.  And because she had such a high position in the Planned Parenthood organization, and because nobody had ever done what she did, hundreds of thousands of people know about her and her story . . . including me.  It was planned.

 

I say all that to say this:  Give people time!  Give God time!  I know He can change things in an instant . . . but for the most part He doesn’t.  He knows the plans He has for us.  He knows the exact moment that He is going to unleash His presence on a situation.  He also knows the faith, the patience, and the perseverance that is developed in the waiting.  He knows how to receive maximum glory from any given situation.  He knows how to make sure the maximum number of people are informed and affected by these stories.  He just knows . . . He’s that good!

 

As I apply this to my own life, I have prayers that I want God to answer.  I have people in my life that I want to be saved.  I pray for them very often.  I also have people in my life that are saved but are not living or acting like they are saved.  I could use some Bible verse from the Word of God and pound them if I wanted to.  I could let them immediately know how wrong they are, how dire their situation is, and exactly where they are headed if they don’t change.  Is that really the way to go?  No way!  As long as I know that they know how I feel and where I stand, I’d much rather pray and wait.  I’d much rather get in the presence of my Heavenly Father and say, “God, I trust You!  In Your time, will You move on ______’s life in a way that is just crazy awesome?  I love You, Lord.  Bring _______ to a place where they love You, too!  There is no one like You!  Only You can change the hearts of people.  If I am to say anything, Lord, give me the exact words and the exact timing.  Let Your Holy Spirit flow through me.  I can do all things through You!”

 

Think about the way you treat people . . . especially people not like you.  Those are the ones for whom you will give an account to God.  This is why the warning against passing judgment is there in Matthew 7:1, God will use the same measuring stick on you that you use on other people.  The verse is not there so you can say, “You don’t get to judge me!”  It is there so you will know that the way you treat people who are not like you is the same way God will eventually treat you if you don’t cut it out.  This is terrifying to me because there are people right now that I can’t stand.  People I know that believe in the same God that I do.  When I think of them, I think of the religious Pharisees in the Bible.  I have wanted to “call down fire from heaven on them” just like James and John wanted to in Luke 9:54. But here is the thing:  I know and am very aware that I am wrong for thinking like this.  Jesus didn’t die for me to be like that.  He came so that all would come to repentance.  I don’t want to judge them publicly because I know that God could easily show me some religious attitude in my heart and mind and judge me just as harshly on the day that I stand before Him.  I really don’t want that!  I’m terrified of that!

 

So, what do I do?

 

Lord, for thousands of years you have been in the business of performing the greatest miracle that still happens on this planet:  Changing the hearts and minds of people who hate you, your ways, and want nothing to do with you.  I’m learning that it is an even greater miracle to change the heart and mind of the Pharisee who thinks he is doing it right.  Keep me childlike.  Keep me innocently believing in you and do not let some religious system creep into my heart.  If it is too late and I am deceived, show me, and show me how to kill it, Lord!  You’ve changed me so much.  Continue to change me in your way and in your time.  Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.  Help me not think the way I think towards some Christians.  I pray that you would bring your people together.  You said that the world would be changed based on the fact that we love each other.  The world doesn’t see that.  Just start with me.  Help me to love my enemies.  Help me to pray for those who have no patience for me or my family.  Help us all to be longsuffering and really give people time to change and time for you to work on them.  I do love you, Father.  I pray that you will always help me to obey the greatest commandment . . . to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Through that, will you help me to love my neighbor, all of my neighbors, as myself?  Help me to believe that absolutely everything is planned and works out for good if I truly love you and am called according to your purpose. 

 

You know the plans you have for me.

 

Amen

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Embracing the Past

 

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. – Psalm 51:13

 

Could you imagine writing a song about your greatest failure in life?  Not only write about it but know that people were going to sing about and talk about it for years to come.  That is precisely what our beloved King David did.  He could have written about his greatest victory.  He could have gone into just how he brought down the 9-foot giant with only a sling and a stone.  He didn’t do that.  He wrote about his greatest moral failure.  Why?

 

Read the main verse one more time.

 

Brutal honesty is rarely seen in Christians today.  Most people just gloss over their sins.  American Christians have mastered justification, and I don’t mean the theological kind.  I mean the kind where we make excuses for absolutely everything we do that we know is wrong.  I believe David did this for about nine or ten months.  But when he murdered Uriah, married Bathsheba, and Nathan the prophet came and confronted him, there was no more justifying this.  David had to embrace his past. This led him to a place of true repentance. Had he not gotten to this place, he would have just gone on thinking he didn’t really need to be forgiven.

 

I like the fact that while he was writing this all down, David was aware that others will need these words.  He knew there would be people who would sin greatly.  He knew they would also need to turn back to God and find mercy, grace, and forgiveness.  Therefore, he just laid it all out there for the world to read.  I am glad he did.  I have prayed many times, “Lord, create in me a clean heart.  I just want to be right before You.”  I’m following the lead of King David who lived 3,000 years ago.  That’s pretty incredible!

 

Brutal honesty will get you in trouble.  I bet there were people out there who used this against David.  They could easily take his public confession and turn it on him.  In 2 Samuel 15:4, even David’s own son, Absalom, began to worm his way into the hearts of the people.  A public confession like this would have been the perfect opportunity to bring dad down and take his place as king.  Temporarily, it worked.  But in the long run, David remains victorious.

 

As I type this out, I can’t help but think of the times putting my life on public display has been used against me.  I admit that I had a foul mouth, so kids will say, “Well you cussed.”  I admit that I slept around and looked at porn, so others will say, “Well you did, too.”  People have come to me after I’ve preached and told me that I made them uncomfortable; or told me they’ve heard me talk of sexual immorality enough already.  But here is the best part:  100% of the time, someone else has contacted me, wanted to meet with me, and confessed to me that they struggle right now with the same things I did.  They want to know one thing . . . “How can I be set free?”  Doesn’t that make it all worth it?  Isn’t that what David was shooting for in Psalm 51:13?

 

What about you?  Are you someone who just wants to appear that you are “fine” all the time?  Do you belong to a church where everything is just neat, and in perfect order?  Or, do you belong to a church where things can just get brutally honest and messy?  What about your Christian friends?  Which type are they?  My life was changed at one of the messy churches where they talked about real problems and didn’t mind brutal honesty.  Conversations with men who were unashamed to tell me where they’ve been and what they’ve done have slowly shaped, chiseled, and transformed me.  Be that type of man or woman of God.  For then and only then, “transgressors will learn the ways of God, and sinners will turn back to Him.”

 

Lord, my mind goes to Luke 7 when the sinful woman broke the expensive alabaster box, poured the perfume on your feet, and used her tears and hair to wipe your feet.  At that moment, nobody was more in love with you.  At thot moment, nobody understood mercy, grace, and forgiveness more.  Yet, how many times have I been the Pharisee watching and thinking that I was ok and could sit at eye level with you?  When I think I’m ok, I don’t love you very much and I certainly don’t see you rightly.  When I realize how great my sin is, I think about what a great Savior you are.  I bow my heart to you this morning.  I give my life to you one more time.  For where would I be today had you not entered my life?  If embracing my past could possibly save another . . . If being brutally honest could possibly set another free who currently is where I’ve been . . . Use me, Lord.  Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.

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Embracing the Hurt

 

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  – 2 Corinthians 12:8

 

For a month now, I have been playing frisbee with God.  I have been down on myself.  I’ve been kind of just moping around in my spirit while trying to outwardly cover it up.  Every time I have prayed, I’ve just envisioned in my mind handing this hurt to Him.  Every time it has come back to me.  This has been kind of unusual for me.  This is not how it normally works.  Finally, I just had to say, “What the heck, God?  I’m trying here!”

 

Well, I have just received my answer.  First of all, God has shown me that there is a big difference between hurt and sin.  Sin must be handed to Him, for that is why He gave His life as a ransom for many on the cross.  Hurt, now that is a different ball game.  Hurt, especially at the hands of men, must be embraced.  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  I recently finished reading the book of Mark.  Jesus embraced the hurt in those last few chapters.  Peter denied Him, Judas betrayed Him, the other disciples scattered when He was taken, Pilate ordered Him scourged, and ultimately it was the religious people, the very people who should have embraced Him that wanted Him crucified.  That’s a lot of hurt to have piled on you in just a few hours.

 

Sin is to be given to God.  In fact, the sooner the better.  Where else can one go to have sin removed and forgiven?  No other religion on this planet offers such a marvelous reset button.  On the other hand, hurt is to be embraced.  My favorite line in a movie comes from the Passion of the Christ.  Jesus is about to be scourged.  He simply looks up to heaven and says, “Father, my heart is ready.”  Then, he embraces the hurt.  He takes the beating of a lifetime.  He doesn’t try to get out of it.  He just takes it.  Not only does He take it . . . He takes it with ultimate peace in His heart.

 

Can you and I not take anything?  Are we so comfortable as Americans that we just expect to live pain free lives?  The Bible says He will never leave us nor forsake us.  I don’t know about you, but when I am really comfortable in this life, that is precisely when I think about Him the least.  I have been really uncomfortable lately.  I’ve been trying to hand Him this discomfort and He has been handing it back.  I now know why.

 

Yesterday morning I was handing Him this hurt once more.  When it came right back, I got a bit frustrated.  Then, I had a very deep conversation with a very good friend who has been praying for me relentlessly.  When I prayed again, there was that old hurt coming right back to me.  Instead of throwing the frisbee back to God one more time, I caught it, looked at it, and embraced it.  The very next reading in my Bible was Mark chapters 15-16.  I saw how Jesus embraced the cross.  I saw that it killed Him.  I also saw how three days later, He rose again.

 

Immediately, when I recognized this and saw this hurt as a good thing, there it was . . . the Presence of God.  I was like, “Lord, why in the world didn’t you let me just do this right off the bat?”  He said, “Would you have remembered it?”  I said, “No.”  He said, “Exactly.”

 

Don’t you just love Him?  Is there anyone or anything on this planet like Him?

 

I hate how we waste the words “amazing” and “awesome.”  We say the dumbest things like “These French fries are awesome!”  Those words should be exclusively reserved for Him and Him alone.

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Alone Time with God

 

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. – Luke 5:16

 

What does alone time with God look like for you?  If there is one thing that life, evil, busyness, or whatever one wants to call it keeps me from, it is removing all distractions and being alone with Him one-on-one . . . nobody else but me and Him.  Jesus did it often.  If He, being sinless needed to do it, how much more do you and I need to do it?

 

I think today’s Christians confuse doing things for God as spending time with God.  I’ve done this before.  You might think because you are preaching, studying for a sermon, reading a devotional, playing songs on the worship team, listening to praise and worship on His Radio or 106.9 the Light, or any other number of religious activities that you are spending time with Him.  You are not.  Jesus obviously didn’t count His ministry work as time with God.  We shouldn’t either.  He still took the time to be all alone with His Father.

 

I like to observe people, especially those who claim to be Godly people.  When I visit a church, I love to watch the worship leaders, I closely watch the preacher, and if I know who the leaders of the church are, I like to observe them.  I ask only one question:  Have they been with Jesus?  When the obvious answer is “yes,” it makes me want so badly to be with Him, too.  It is like the disciples when they asked Jesus, “Will you teach us how to pray?”  They asked because what He had was worth having.  They wanted in on the pure presence of Almighty God.

 

Today’s Christians I’m afraid are more like the Pharisees.  I think too many Christians want some sort of credit for their righteousness.  So, we post on Facebook that we are about to spend time with God.  Would Jesus have done that if He had social media back then?  I don’t see Him taking a picture of some mountain and posting, “Going to spend some time with My Father,” and then counting up the “likes” later.  He just did it, and it was obvious to everyone He encountered that He did it.  He had power beyond measure.

 

Power is something that our churches lack.  Preachers have perfected the act of preaching, worship leaders have perfected the act of leading worship, Christians have perfected the act of attending church and posting religious activity and religious materials on social media.  But, when it comes down to it, do you spend unencumbered time with your Heavenly Father? I mean nobody but you and Him.  If our church leaders are hardly doing it, then I would imagine that the overwhelming majority of church people don’t do it at all.

 

I recently read Matthew 6:1 where it said for us to “be careful to not do our righteous acts before men.”  I got convicted about even sending out these WMDs.  I don’t get to count writing these as time with God . . . they must come from my alone time with God.    If I write simply from learned knowledge and not out of my love for God, I am nothing but a clanging cymbal.  If I post these without having actually been alone with God, then I’m nothing more than a religious Pharisee doing his acts of righteousness before men.  That is terrifying to me!

 

I say all that to say this:  If we want the real deal power to return to our churches and even our everyday lives, spending alone time with God is the key to that power.  Even Jesus was not exempt.  If you are in a position of leadership in the church, and you do not get alone with God, it does not matter how talented or charismatic you are . . . you are powerless and useless for the kingdom.

 

Lord, I’m guilty, guilty, guilty!  I’ve done it before.  I’ve looked the part outwardly, but inwardly I knew the Holy Spirit tank was on empty because I haven’t been with You.  There is nothing on this Earth that compares to getting to a quiet place and being with You.  You are the greatest thing this life offers.  Help me to hunger and thirst for righteousness so that I may be filled.  Help all who read this to do likewise.  Make Christians powerful again.  Make it so that we are attractive to a lost and dying world again.  May unbelievers and lukewarm Christians want what we have because what we have is really worth having.  Fill us up with You, Lord!

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Convictions

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols:  We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” – 1 Corinthians 8:4

 

In the Corinthian church back in the day, there was a serious debate among Christians.  From my understanding, one could acquire two types of meat:  meat that had been sacrificed to idols, and meat that had not been sacrificed to idols. I would guess that the meat sacrificed to idols was a lot cheaper.  I would also guess that there were some Christians who said, “I don’t serve those gods, big deal if I eat the meat.”  On the other hand, there were Christians who said, “There is no way a Christian should ever eat that meat!”

 

Which camp would you be in?

 

Paul teaches us here that we all have different convictions about different things.  He goes on to say that, in this particular case, one should never try to project his or her personal convictions onto another.  If I did eat meat sacrificed to idols, I should never try to convince you that it isn’t a big deal if you honestly feel that it is.  Likewise, just because this is a big deal to you, you should not necessarily try to make your conviction my conviction.  In the grand scheme of things, whether or not one eats food sacrificed to idols is not a heaven or hell issue, but there were obviously people in Paul’s day that made it one.

 

The church world now is all over the place as far as personal convictions are concerned.  What must be done, through the reading of God’s Word, is to separate personal preferences and convictions from flat out sin. As you read the Bible over and over during the course of your life and ask God to give you more and more of His Holy Spirit, your convictions will actually change . . . or maybe a better word is evolve.

 

I remember the very first thing that God asked me to do after becoming a Christian:  Tell the truth!  Using Revelation 21:8 on a t-shirt, God showed me that I was a liar. He also let me know what was going to happen to me if I stayed that way.   This scared me into action.  I certainly did not want my part in the “lake, which burneth with fire and sulfur.” Therefore, I began to beg God to help me change.  Lying is not a personal conviction; it is a sin.  It is a sin that will send you to hell if you do not change.  This is not Adam projecting his personal conviction onto you.  You are free to read Revelation 21:8 for yourself.  God says it, not me.

 

I don’t regularly drink alcohol.  I believe God has put this in my heart and mind.  It is a personal conviction.  My first thought is to get really judgmental when I see Christians post pictures on Facebook with their drinks in hand.  I quickly shake that off and simply say, “My conviction is not their conviction.” Excess drinking is obviously a sin, but you cannot show me in the Bible where it says every Christian should not drink at all.  With my family history, I totally understand why God would ask me not to drink.  However, because of this, I don’t get to project this personal conviction onto you.

 

Here is a weird one: I had about 8 years where I was not to play golf.  Playing golf for me was a sin.  God let me know that this game had become an idol in my life.  It consumed me and I thought about it a lot more than I thought about Him or anything else.  So, God asked me to stop.  I basically said, “No” and kept playing anyway.  He allowed me to get so bad at it that I stopped anyway.  After God regained first place in my heart and life, He let me play again.  Why? The game has been dethroned and is now in its proper place.  How stupid would it have been for me to tell another person, “Golf is a sinful game and you will have your part in the lake of fire if you play?”  Um . . . very.

 

There are three situations where I know I am to fast.  I fast for 21 days every year because I made this hasty vow to God 14 years ago and now I’m bound to it.  I fast when I am in great distress.  I also often fast while preparing to preach and just before I preach.  Now, do I get to tell you that you must do the same?  I don’t get to do that at all.  This is my personal conviction and I might suggest it to you because I believe it is highly beneficial, but I would never belittle you simply because my conviction is not your conviction.

 

I remember how difficult it was for pornography to be dethroned in my life.  This was a hidden sin that went on for years and years. When I was 31 years old, in a single moment, God did one of the most amazing things He’s ever done for me and dissolved years of images in my head sitting in a church service.  Do I get to tell you not to look at porn?  If you call yourself a Christian, then yes I do. Jesus Himself said if you look at a woman and lust after her, you are committing adultery.  I didn’t say it . . . He did.

 

I say all that to say this: When it comes to the things you believe, ask God, “Is this a personal conviction?  Or, is this flat out sin?”  There is a big, big difference.  Many, many, many unbelievers right now are still unbelievers because “Christians” preach their personal convictions as flat out sin.  These unbelievers tell me all the time, “If that’s the way Christians are, then I don’t want to be one.”  I do my best to undo the damage and let them know that if they choose to follow Christ; they will be starting completely over and will develop their own custom set of personal convictions over time.  God will teach them how they should live their lives in order to honor Him.

 

I think Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 8 that we should never let our personal convictions get in the way of other people’s spiritual growth.  What we project and the way we project it matters.  Christians with no convictions in a certain area should not attempt to diminish the convictions of those who have them.  By the same token, Christians with certain convictions should not project their personal convictions onto those who do not share the same ones.  I’m telling you, the unsaved world is watching, and there are a lot of people who want nothing to do with Jesus or His church because we teach and preach our personal convictions as gospel.

 

Lord, simply help the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to Thee.  I look so forward to being with you on that day when my faith becomes sight.

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Jesus Stooped Down

 

And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.  – John 8:8

 

In the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus stoops down a couple of times.  Most people speculate on what He wrote in the ground.  I like to think about why He did it.  There was a humiliated, possibly completely naked woman basically awaiting execution. All these religious people were talking down on her because she was literally and figuratively beneath them. I think Jesus stooped down to meet her gaze.  He met her right where she was.  Our Lord and Savior stooped down to her level to comfort her before rising above His religious enemies to rescue her.

 

If you think about it, for around 4,000 years mankind had the written Words of God.  All the recorded miracles and the Ten Commandments produced were professional rule followers along with people who felt like they had no chance of actually knowing God.  Therefore, God Himself stooped down to our level.  He came as a man and got as filthy as a man could get.  He received the sins of the world.  I wonder if any angel in Heaven warned Him . . . “You better not go down there, they are bad people who will bring you down!”

 

I say all that to say this:  Last night, I went to a killer concert.  Lacey Sturm is the former lead singer for Flyleaf.  She was in Atlanta and I just jumped at the chance to see her live.  Here’s the thing:  She has a dark, dark past.  She wrote and played dark music.  She wrote dark poetry and drew dark pictures. She unashamedly speaks of that past.  She also unashamedly speaks of how the Great God met her right where she was and turned her entire life around.

 

Now that she is clean and forgiven, what is she supposed to do?  Is she supposed to stay away from the group that she now sees is just like she was?  Should she “separate herself” from all that evil?  Should she now just go to church, hang out only with church people, and then rejoice in the fact that she is now going to heaven?  The rest of those people can just go to hell where they deserve to go, right?

 

Wrong!

 

She needs to do exactly what she is doing . . . imitating Jesus.  She is going into bars where people are drowning sorrows in alcohol, people are self-harming, and people are looking for hope and don’t even realize it.  She goes in and tells them that Jesus was nothing like she thought He was.  She tells them that the Bible is an unbelievably awesome book that can change our lives if we will let it.  Some people walk out because they don’t want to hear it. Others listen and receive great hope.

 

All this comes at a great price to her.  Religious people who do nothing to reach lost people judge her. They don’t like the loudness of the music, and certainly don’t like the way she screams into the microphone.  She simply looks too much like the world and she’s supposed to be separate from the world, right?

 

Wrong!

 

She is to be like Jesus until she draws her last breath.  She is to stoop down and reach those who need God the most.  Remember, it is the sick that need a doctor, not the healthy.

 

For the love of God, point someone who needs Him desperately to Him today. Some religious folks might judge you, but I’d rather be judged in this way than on the day I stand before Him have Him ask me, “Why did you keep so great a salvation to yourself?

 

Take a moment to read Luke chapter 16 starting with verse 19.  All that rich man did to go to hell was not help Lazarus.  The rich man did not help Lazarus simply because he thought Lazarus was beneath him. The rich man was too good to stoop down to the level of Lazarus.

 

Do you think any other human, and I mean any other human is worth less than you?

 

If your honest answer is “yes,” you really need to fix that before it is too late . . . for you and the ones you know who are far from Him.

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