Open Hands

I’m reading Exodus and came to Exodus 29 this morning. I love how digging into God’s word ALWAYS produces knowledge of something new but also a heart conviction. I was coming to a place in the Old Testament where I felt the reading was getting monotonous. I was reading with my hands closed, giving nothing to God, and expecting nothing from Him in this seemingly list-centered, descriptive text. I remembered last year when God revealed so much to me from a similar section in Leviticus so I knew He could do it again, I was just getting in the way. God gently reminded me His Word is rich and it is all used for teaching and correcting and training. 2 Timothy 3:16-17- All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. If I believe the “ALL Scripture”, in this verse then I need to act like it. So I started to STUDY, not just read. I began to look at the notes and the margin and used reference books so I could open my hands and offer God my time and energy and open heart and in turn He delivered a beautiful message.

Exodus 29 describes the ordination and consecration of the Levites to priesthood, starting with Aaron and his sons. It is a beautiful and impressive ceremony that they went through to prepare for meeting with God. We no longer have to do those rituals on the outside to go to Him and spend time with Him but it symbolizes the inward preparedness we must do that God desires of His people when we come to Him in prayer, meditation, worship, or reading His Word. EXCLAMATION POINT,  EXCLAMATION POINT!! The very reason I wasn’t getting anything out of the text earlier is because I wasn’t properly preparing, and the first thing God shows me when I saw I needed to get my heart right was HOW to get my heart right. Matthew 7:8 – For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 1 John 5:14-15 – This is the confidence that we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

This is what I learned, and the steps I must take to prepare myself.

1. They were cleansed. Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. Exodus 29:4. They were a part of the Old Covenant and had to be washed clean before entering the presence of God. We also must draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22. This shows us the first step also in drawing near to Him, cleanse our hearts! I need to be sincere when I go to His Word, not just reading to get through Exodus. I need to have full assurance that His Word is good, all of it, and He WILL show me something each time if I go to Him prepared and clean.

2. They were clothed. And put on Aaron the tunic and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod; Exodus 29:4. What should I put on before I start my day with the Lord? But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Romans 13:14. Am I more worried about having my coffee and a comfortable chair and the perfect amount of sleep before I get up? Sometimes I am. Having a special place for that time is important, being awake and ready is important, but more than that is the time I NEED to spend with him. So if those things aren’t in place, I still must go. For me, I can use excuses, usually that involve my comfort being taken away, and I will put those before Him. I want to go to God fully dressed in what He says is important for my ultimate good and comfort, eternity with Him. This is a daily battle against the world and distractions and “stuff” in my home but if I can wake up each morning and put on the breastplate of righteousness as the Levite priests put on their breastpiece, then I know my time with God will be rich

3. They were anointed. Then you shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him. Exodus 29:7. They were anointed for God’s purposes; this symbolized the spiritual enduement needed for serving God. They were provided and endowed with the spirit. We are anointed with the Holy Spirit at salvation. But we are continually receiving the filling of the Spirit as a result of obedience and being open to God and His teaching given to us in the Bible. When I go to God each morning I need to be relying on the Holy Spirit to direct and show me and illuminate His Word by believing in Christ and the Word of God as truth. If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” John 7:37-39.

4. They brought a sacrifice. Then you shall bring the bull before the tent of meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the bull. Exodus 29:10. Later in verse 14 we are told this is the sin offering. To me this is the most beautiful part of the ceremony. Laying their hands on the head of the bull symbolized the animal becoming their substitute, transferring their sins to the sin bearer. What a beautiful picture of what Christ did and continues to do for us. When I go to God in the morning, I need to confess and lay my sin down. I need to let Christ do His work, put on the righteousness given to me by Christ, take the forgiveness given to me and with a clean heart go to His Word. I need to repent with God-centered sorrow, not worldly sorrow and guilt. I need to prepare myself by first letting go of anything in my heart that can get in the way of being led by the Spirit while I am reading God’s Word. He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13.

5. They put blood on their right ear. You shall slaughter the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aarons’ right ear and on the lobes’ of his sons’ right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toe of their right feet…” Exodus 29:20. Putting the blood on their ear was a symbol of their sensitivity to God and His Word. They were set apart to be used by God and know His Word. Just as we Christians are today. God’s Word doesn’t make sense to non believers. We have been given a sensitivity and understanding to it. What a gift! I want to use that, not waste it. My morning time with God in His Word should be full of thanksgiving and praise that I have been given this gift, by His grace, to study His Word. The Levite priest also then put blood on their hands and feet. This symbolized a life of service to others on God’s behalf. Whatever God shows me in scripture, whatever gift He has given me in the body of Christ, I then need to go out and use it. Use it to give an encouraging word to someone from scripture, use it to point someone to what the Bible says in regards to a trial, or use it like now, to share the wonderful and faithful way God will provide for us when we seek His knowledge and wisdom.

What an awesome God we serve, that He would once again open my eyes to understanding and open up a part of His Word to me that I wasn’t gleaning anything from, due to my heart not being right. Oh that I would remember this, and make sure every morning I go to him, cleansed, dressed in Christ’s righteousness, filled with the Holy Spirit, laying my sins down, ready to hear from Him, being sensitive to His teaching so that I can be used for one more day to serve my family, to serve my friends, to serve the body of Christ and to serve my King! Take my instruction and not silver, And knowledge rather than the choicest gold. Proverbs 8:10.

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Our Banner

The word “banner” has been placed in front of me twice in one day. I have started over reading the bible chronologically and am reading Exodus. Last night I came to the story of the battle against Amalek.

So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner; Exodus‬ ‭17‬:‭9-15‬.

My study bible points out that Moses holding his hands up was a symbol of appeal to God for help and enablement. And the “banner”, recalling Moses’s petition with upraised hands.

Friends, some of you have hands that are getting heavy, growing weary, as you are holding your arms up, displaying God’s banner as you cry out to him for deliverance. Deliverances with trials of health, marriage issues, parenting concerns, depression, addiction, day to day weight of the world. Some of us have been doing so for years, some not as long. There will be seasons we grow tired, BUT God! Just as he delivered Aaron and Hur to Moses we can support each other as we walk side by side in this battle. He has given us a community, He has given us mentors, and most importantly He has given us His Word to guide us in truth! We can encourage and testify to the power of God in defense of His people, just as the Israelites did, led by Moses. We can help hold the hands up of those growing weary at the trial or phase of life they are in. For me, I can be tempted to grow weary in my spiritually unequal marriage. By God’s grace He is enabling my faith to grow stronger and my weariness to grow less.

I write often, so that I can remember ALL that God is doing DAILY! Just as Moses was commanded to “write this in a memorial and recite it to Joseph”, I want to write and memorialize God’s faithfulness. My flesh, my sin nature, can so easily forget. I can complain and grumble just as the Israelites did so often, right after God delivered in a big way. That is why I MUST write it all down.

If I keep my focus on God and not my circumstances I can see blessings upon blessings, I can see daily answered prayers and deliverances, I can see refining in myself and forgiveness by God on my road to sanctification. Those are all the things I want to memorialize.

A friend, a godly mentor, has a prison ministry. He sent me a message recounting his latest visit and that he was moved to the “red unit”, the worst of the worst where they send all the gang members from the other prisons in the state. He was anxious on his first visit in that unit and said “as I walked in the main area there, it was loud, demonic, people crying out in cursing, loud banging and echoing all around. I sat on a plastic chair and opened my bible to Romans and began seeking our God in His word.When my anxious thoughts multiply within me Your consolations delight my soul. I ask our Lord for His sword in remembrance through His Spirit.” After that he had encounters with different men where God’s Word pierced their soul. God provides our protection in EVERY situation by the sword of His Spirit. The second “banner” message I got was at the end of his email to me..

“The Lord has cause my heart to established a banner in His name, and of this I will declare, There is no power of man, nor is their any who can alter nor refute the power and might of His gospel, through the blood and the word of His only Son.” He didn’t know I was reading Exodus and the very same night I read that story of the Amalek battle I got his email.

I am excited to see all that this message of “The Lord is my Banner” will produce in my life. I want to encourage you that when your hands get tired and weary, waiting for the battle to end, waiting for our spouse’s eyes to be open, waiting for “it”to get easier waiting for whatever we feel will make it better, the only TRUE thing we KNOW that needs to lead our life is Christ. We don’t have to wait for that, we already have it!! Sometimes I feel like the waiting defines us. The unequally yoked marriage defines us. The balancing act we have to be ever so aware of defines us. But only if we let it!!

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew‬ ‭11‬:‭29-30‬. I want my identity to be in Christ ALONE.  Our circumstances do not define us. The saving work Christ did on the cross to bring us into God’s graces defines us. We are children of the King!!

Respectable Sin

Oh friends, I just have to share what happened yesterday. So much so that SG is on the couch watching a movie so I can have this time to write! So let’s see if I can get this done before the movie is over…

I decided to try out the Killing Sin Worksheet from the Well conference that my LG leader shared with me since I wasn’t able to attend. I wasn’t sure what sin I was going to write down until I sat down and prayed about it and God began to open my eyes to an area I wasn’t even focusing on. I wrote “I need to put to death the sin of belittling my husband and second guessing his work and parenting decision.” Then, it happened. The floodgates opened from His Word and God laid out a step by step plan of how He was going to conquer this sin in me. It is so good, HE is so good. The passages He used to convict me and even the order of how I read them was a perfect plan of how to accomplish this. Amazing!

First I read Proverbs 21:23, one of the first scriptures I memorized, He who guards His mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from trouble. After my confession my soul WAS troubled. It was deeply torn apart about what I was doing to my husband under the guise of “helping” him. I wasn’t helping, I was tearing him down each time I gave “advice” or my opinion that came from a prideful spirit and not a humble spirit. I wasn’t speaking harshly or out of anger so I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. But God!!! He opened my eyes to this sin that I commit with my mouth and reminded me to guard it closely and for me it boils down to… listen more, talk less.

The second verse was Ephesians 4:29 – Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment so that it will give grace to those who hear. I know this verse well too, but this time when I read it I was reminded of how God had cleansed unwholesome words from my mouth before. I used to have a filthy mouth. A vulgar, dirty, mouth. Once God brought me to salvation that was a big change He did in me. Those words are no longer a part of my vocabulary, they don’t even come to my mind and when I hear them at work they make me cringe. Most people at work try to be respectful of me and not say things around me but I still hear it every day. The fact that they are offensive to me now just shows the POWERFUL cleansing God can do and will do in ALL areas we give to him. So the way I was speaking to my husband when we talked about his work or issues with our daughter was not edifying and were not necessarily needed for the moment. But God!!! He can and will cleanse me from that. So step two in the plan is ask myself, are these words needed in this moment and to ask God to remove all the words from my mouth that are not good for my husband just as He removed all of the filthy words from my mouth I used to say.

Verse three is 1 Peter 3:1 – In the same way you wives be submissive to your own husband so that even if any of them are disobedient to the Word, they may be won without a word, by the behavior of their wives. The Holy Spirit is so powerful, because I again, knew this verse well but yesterday was shown a whole new part of the word “submissive”. I need to be submissive minute by minute, not just in the big decisions. I need to be submissive about all aspects of our marriage by my attitude of humility. I wanted to be submissive except in the areas I felt I was better. Pride. Oh the damage pride can do in a heart. I was being rebellious, the opposite of submissive. I thought I was being submissive because I wasn’t badgering him about our spiritual differences. I wasn’t trying to change him, so I thought. But around every corner I was there to second guess his decision and let him know all I thought about what he SHOULD be doing instead. How he made a sandwich, how he fed the dog, how he dressed SG, his relationship with his boss, his relationship with his students, when he should be on his computer, when the TV should be on, what he left in the car, what he forgot to do, so many things I point out to him about what I think he needs to do differently. The biggest area I can show my submission to my husband is how I speak to him and support his decisions and when it is time for me to help in a decision or give some insight it HAS to be done prayerfully and with God guiding my words, not letting my flesh guide me and spitting out all that I want to say.

The last verse Proverbs 31:10-12 – An excellent wife who can find: For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. THIS is the sweet promise I received yesterday. If I follow God’s plan He has promised that my husband will have “no lack of gain”. And that I will do him “good and not evil all the days of my life”. I thought this was my desire before, I thought I was living that out, but I was so off the mark. I thank God for giving me this new desire. I WANT to do my husband good and not evil. I WANT him to have no lack of gain and God has opened my eyes on how to do that, truly. I have often described my husband as the best unbeliever there is. He supports me in many ways that a lot of husbands don’t in spiritually unequal marriages. That is a gift from God. But even though I say our marriage is good I think I am really thinking, “it is good enough”. For the situation I am in it is good enough. In spite of our spiritual differences it is good enough. Compared to others in my situation who have it a lot worse, it is good enough. But God!!! Yesterday after confessing sin, asking him for nothing except forgiveness what He gave me was a promise of MORE! He has so much more for my marriage than just “good”. If I follow His plan He has shown me that He has something far greater waiting for me and my husband. What a loving God we have. When I thought that we were in a good place and I had settled in to this place in our marriage God said, oh no dear child, you just wait and see what I have in store for you. My submission to my husband is submission to God. That is what I desire more than anything, even if I receive nothing. But God still continues to give and give and give blessings to me. Why me God?? Why are you so good to me?? You are so good to me and shower me with blessing and goodness and always bring my perspective back in focus when I have wandered. The answer to why He is so good to me is because He is God. A perfect Father. A perfect example of love.

After this encounter I could only do one thing. Get down on the ground on my knees with my head down worshipping God. I sang the chorus to one of my new favorite songs, “Holy Spirit you are welcome here, come flood this place and fill the atomosphere, Your glory God is what our hearts long for to be overcome by your presence Lord.” I was overcome by His presence. It was a glorious afternoon of worship and tears as on offering to God and other than the words of the song all I could say was thank you God, thank you Father.

If we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9