Your Own Hands

“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘He who offers the sacrifice of his peace offerings to the Lord shall bring his offering to the Lord from the sacrifice of his peace offerings.  His own hands are to bring offerings by fire to the Lord.” (Lev 7:29-30)

There is no such thing as worship by proxy.  In Israel, the greatest king brought his own offerings to the altar just like the poorest pauper.  King David or mighty Solomon could not simply send their servants to bring their gifts to God.  It had to be their own hands that brought the offerings.  All are equal before the great altar of Jehovah.

We outsource everything nowadays.  In a society where every field is so specialized, we tend to hire things out instead of doing it ourselves.

Outsourcing is alright with things like car repair, but it is wholly unacceptable with serving God.  Your service to God is your own and no one else’s. The church can support you in your service to God, but it can’t do it for you… nor should it.

“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Php 2:12-13)

#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

Can’t or Won’t?

“Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” (Ex 13:17)

Just like God knew the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart, He knew the weakness of the Israelites.  He knew what they could handle and what they could not.

400 years and countless generations of slaves were not yet ready to face the difficulties of war and He wasn’t going to put them through something they couldn’t handle.  This is the same God who later destroyed this generation in the wilderness because they wouldn’t fight.

There is a difference between “not able to” and “don’t want to”

In the beginning, God showed patience because they were not yet able to handle the rigors of war.  Later on, He condemned them for shrinking from their duty to do what was hard.

So, take comfort as babes in Christ – He does not expect any more than what you can do.  Just do what you can and that is enough (Mk 14:8)

And take heed seasoned Christians – He expects no less than what you are capable of.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.” (Heb 5:12)

#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

God More Than Family

“You shall not marry a woman in addition to her sister as a rival while she is alive, to uncover her nakedness.” (Lev 18:18)

What is so impressive about this particular verse is its location.  This command is in Leviticus, a book named after Levi.  Levi’s mother was one of two sisters, Leah and Rachel that were married to the same man, and certainly were rivals.

This command shows that following God doesn’t mean following your forefathers.  Following God isn’t a religion of family tradition – the Bible often condemns the behavior of faithful people.  God loved Leah and Rachel and God loved Jacob, their husband, but God was not pleased with that arrangement and specifically told the next generations to run where their parents had stumbled.

Following God means following His Word and not others.  And it also means that if we train our children to follow Him, we parents have hope that our children may surpass us in faith and righteousness.  With God as their guide, the Levites could surpass their father, Levi, and their grandfather, Jacob.

Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
(Matthew 10:37)

May our children love Him more than they love us.

#Biblebites Matt 4:4

I AM WHO I AM

“This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.” (Ex 3:15)

Names matter.  They identify us and become the fingerprint for our reputation.  Our names are society’s first introduction to who we are.

When the Lord told Moses that His name was ‘Jehovah’, He did so purposely.  God could have chosen any name He wanted, but the name He chose means “The Existing One”.  God chose a name that literally means “I am here, I always have been, and I always will be.”

God’s name isn’t flashy like Zeus or Poseidon.  It also isn’t alluring like a Venus or Andromeda.  It is simply fact. I AM.

You don’t believe in Me? I AM, nonetheless.

Feel scared and unsure about the future? I AM permanent.

Afraid the world is falling apart? I AM unchanging.

Frustrated and angry and tired? I AM here.

Don’t like My rules and judgments? I AM WHO I AM.

Jehovah is entirely comforting and disconcerting at the same time.  Comfort to those who accept that He is who He is and disconcerting to those who try and avoid acknowledging Him.  His name is a memorial, a reminder, that HE EXISTS.  We can no more change that then ships can change the ocean.

#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

Leaders Do Less

“Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you.” (Ex 18:17-18)

Moses took it upon himself to hear every concern and struggle that the Israelite people had.  He thought good leadership meant handling every person and every detail.  His father-in-law thought otherwise.  Turns out, God agreed with Jethro and not Moses.

Turns out good leadership isn’t the same as doing everything for people.  Good leadership trusts people. David had his mighty men. Joshua led Israel’s army as a young man while Moses looked on with staff held high.  Jesus had His apostles and sent out the seventy.

“If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace.” (Ex 18:23)

Leadership that delegates doesn’t face burn out, and is exponentially more effective.  Delegation empowers people to serve and work instead of just being spoon-fed truth by the already mature.  To exercise their talents and gifts instead of simply waiting for others to make it happen.

“and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:2)

#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

Marry Wisely

“When Esau was forty years old he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite; and they brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah.” (Gen 26:34-35)
 
Esau had a reputation for making bold moves without always thinking them through. Selling his birthright seemed like a good idea at the time, but later there wasn’t any room for him to change his mind once he’d thought it through (Heb 12:16-17). “Forgive me for the things I said when I was hungry.” – I think Esau got invented that saying.
 
Marriage is a beautiful thing, but marriage to the wrong person (or in Esau’s case, more than one person – yikes!) is a choice that comes with lasting consequences. Rebekah would later beg Isaac to send their other son, Jacob, away so he wouldn’t hurt her heart the way Esau had (Gen 27:46).
 
Marry wisely and you have a lifetime of joy ahead.
 
“House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.” (Prov 19:14)
 
#Biblebites Matt 4:4

Thank God for the Mountains

“Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way.” (Gen 24:1)
 
It seems to me that Abraham had an awfully unstable life. A lot of uncertainties and heartache. He had lost a brother, moved away from the other brother, lost a father, and watched a cherished nephew head out to live in Sodom & Gomorrah – I would imagine that would bring some hand-wringing and trepidation with it.
 
His son, Ishmael, left home under some tense circumstances, and his son, Isaac, the child he spent years of his life aching for, he almost lost on a mountaintop.
 
But that mountaintop is exactly why Abraham was a blessed man in every way. When it looked like Isaac would be lost, God provided a ram instead. Abraham called that mount, “The Lord Will Provide” (Gen 22:14)
 
Turns out that is exactly how you could sum up all of Abraham’s problems.
 
Need an heir? The Lord will provide.
Worried about your nephew? The Lord will provide.
What about an inheritance and a future? The Lord will provide.
 
Thank God for the mountaintops.
 
#Biblebites Matt 4:4

A Broken Spirit

“My spirit is broken” said Job. (Job 17:1)
 
He said that after losing seven beloved sons and three cherished daughters. He said that after he lost everything he owned, was gutted of all position and respect from his peers, and was left alone and misunderstood by even his bride of decades.
 
He said it while his body ached, his mind reeled for answers, and his heart felt both empty and worn.
 
He said it while his eyes cried tears of pain intermingled with tears of grief.
 
God says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Ps 51:17)
 
At the time when Job felt furthest from everything and everyone; he was closer than had ever been to being who God wanted him to be. The answers to the deepest questions sometimes are found in the darkest valleys.
 
Job thought his best days were past (Job 17:11), but God knew better.
 
#biblebites Matthew 4:4

A Time to Keep Silent

“The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent” (Ex 14:14)

Moses told the Israelites God was going to lead them out of slavery.

Jehovah would handle Pharaoh.

Jehovah would handle the Red Sea.

Jehovah would handle the needs for food and water.

Jehovah would handle the road to the Promised Land.

Jehovah would handle the snakes and the scorpions and the sandals that could wear out.

All they had to do was not complain about how He did it.

#biblebites

The Voice of the Heart

“Before I had finished speaking in my heart…” (Gen 24:45)

These are the words of Abraham’s most trusted servant. This servant is never named, but he is described as an older man that was in charge of all of Abraham’s possessions.

This unnamed servant is sent on a strange mission with little hope of succeeding. He is commissioned with finding a bride for Isaac from amongst Abraham’s extended family. He must travel to that unseen country and ask a woman to come with him to a foreign land and marry a man she had never met.

So he prayed.

He prayed that God would work out the details. He prayed for guidance and for clarity in his mission. And he called that prayer, “speaking in my heart”. An effective prayer is a heartfelt prayer. Jesus tells us we won’t be heard just because we say many words (Matt 6:7). The wise sage, Solomon says that you can recognize a fool’s voice because of his “many words” (Eccl 5:3).

It isn’t how much you say, but where the words come from.

To whom does your heart speak?

#biblebites