Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Holiness and Love

I am currently reading a book called Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. It is a pretty good read so far. He plants in our mind a challenging and thought provoking way of looking at God's holiness and how we can pursue it in our own lives. Apparently I never have really thought about God's holiness before but it really has struck me as important in my life now.
So to start my journey on learning about God's holiness was to look up the verses that Bridges had used in his book. The first one was Leviticus 11:44

  "For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Now whats cool about having a study Bible is the notes at the bottom and they led me to Leviticus chapters 17-26. They called them the holy chapters. So if I wanted to learn more about God's holiness and what He expected I had to read these chapters. I will confess I was scared. I have not been a fan of this particular book of the Bible. It is just scary. But if my God changed this heart of mine from thinking the Bible was an emotionally dead book to reading and understanding it on a whole other level, then I know I could read these chapters in Leviticus. I have been and wow He has showed me alot.
For starters, God HATES when we allow other things in our lives other than Him such as I read in Leviticus 20:1-8
"Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Again, you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘Whoever of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who gives any of his descendants to Molech, he shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I will set My face against that man, and will cut him off from his people, because he has given some of his descendants to Molech, to defile My sanctuary and profane My holy name. And if the people of the land should in any way hide their eyes from the man, when he gives some of his descendants to Molech, and they do not kill him, then I will set My face against that man and against his family; and I will cut him off from his people, and all who prostitute themselves with him to commit harlotry with Molech.
‘And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you."

 God compares us to prostitutes when we put other things more importantly before Him! Ok I dont know about you but people who give themselves away to just anyone makes me sad and I will confess, even disgusted. But I do it. I put other things before God and I am a prostitute. No wonder James calls us adulterers and adulteresses in James 4:4  when we choose the world or things of the world before God. 

"Adulterers and[a] adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  

But at the end of the chapter God gives Isreal 2 promises that we too can remember,
24 But I have said to you, “You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples... 26 And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine."

You shall inherit the land and I will give it to you to possess is the first promise. I think it is awesome how God gives this land to them even if they still have to go and fight for it. Even then God comes alongside them and fights for them. For us, I know God has not given us land to possess but we do have our new life we have inherited from God who is our Father in Heaven. We have to live life being conquerors through Him battling the sin so we can have a life with peace and joy.
The second promise is that they were separated from the peoples which made them His. They were the Jewish nation with a chosen land given to them by a God who was ultimately and supremely holy. He gave them a life set apart from others that glorified Him. We too are the same way, We are chosen by God to be people set apart from this world. We need to be different living by His standards and grace. As He said we need to be holy as He is holy.
It really got me thinking, God is very serious about our sin. He does not tolerate it at all. He cant be around it. I mean He is serious when He says that if we have sin in our lives that He cannot hear us. I mean if you read onto the next chapter, He also gives Aaron and his sons strict guidelines to even go into His presence. They were even more special then Isreal with entirely different rules. It should be the same with us. How is our heart when we approach God? Do we have sin in our lives? Did we think something mean to someone else the day before or mistreated a total stranger at work? Anything that is not of God puts up this barrier between us and God where we should not approach Him until we confess our sins. Something I recently have started was reading Psalm 139: 23-24
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

It is pretty amazing what He brings to mind when I sincerely approach Him as the holy God He is.

 Now what is even more cool on how God has been working in my life is how one of my pastors at my church have been talking about the attributes of God and mentioned God's holiness but also His love. Ever since I have been focusing on God's holiness, I have this fear that I am going to go legalistic or focus too much on the sin aspect and become graceless. I also think that I have not fully been aware of God's love for me. I think I have this human like love stuck in my head and think that God does the same thing. But He doesnt. My thoughts are how can one balance out His love and holiness and live a life conscious of both? I believe God is showing me things. So I am excited. But if there is anyone who would comment about finding that balance that would be cool. I am curious to see what He will show me.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Be Still Verses

Starting in Exodus 14, the Parting of the Red Sea.
In v. 4 God tells Moses that He will harden Pharaoh's heart and let him come after the Isrealites. BUT that they will know that He is the Lord and will kick butt. I thing I thought of was "That's it! God does not tell Moses how He will do it but that He will. Moses had faith in knowing God would protect them with no questioning.".
In v.11 The Isrealites start complaining despite all the other faithfulness of God
In v. 13-14 Moses replies in a nice way, "Do not be afraid, stand still and the salvation of the Lord you will see...the Lord will fight for you."
In v.15, God tells Moses what he needs to do
In v.19-20, 24-25, 27-28 God did fight for them
 1) the pillar of cloud confused them and did not allow them to proceed on. It put out darkness towards the Egyptians and light towards the Isrealites
 2) While Pharaoh came after Isreal on dry ground, He took off their chariot wheels and put fear in the Egyptians
 3) God covered and overthrew the Egyptians in the Red Sea

Nehemiah 8
 The walls of the temple are rebuilt. They are restoring Jerusalem but now Ezra and Nehemiah and the Levites are going to restore the hearts of Isreal by reading the law of Moses.
In v. 2-3 Ezra reads to all people the law of Moses for 6 hours! They read and read until the children of Isreal understood it.
In v.6 Ezra starts out by praying to God for them to be blessed and the people said amen in agreeableness. They then lift their hands and put their faces to the ground.
In v. 8 the Levites were there to help them to understand
In v. 9-10 Ezra encourages them to make this day holy. They are of course by this time weeping because they were convicted. But Ezra kept on encouraging them saying this is a holy day, celebrate because God's word brings joy.
In v. 11-12 the Levites tell them to be still and go out and eat and drink and celebrate.
In v. 14 they come together again to read some more
In v. 15-17 this time they implemented what they read from Lev 23 which said to go out and build booths made out of assorted branches. This was to remind them how God provided for the children of Isreal while they were living in tents in the wilderness. They brought remembrance and glory to what God did for their people.

Psalm 37 ( one of my favorite psalm)
In v.3 Trust in Him by dwelling in the land and feeding on His faithfulness.
In v.5 Commit and trust in the Lord and He will bring it to pass
In v.7 rest and wait patiently in the Lord. Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way. REST and WAIT!
In v.8 cease from anger and forsake wrath, it only causes harm
In. v. 9 do evil= be cut off; wait on God= inherit the earth
In v.13 the Lord is laughing at the wicked because they think they are so hot but He knows when they will be put away
In v. 17 arms of the wicked will be broken but God with His strong right hand will uphold up the righteous.
In v. 30-31 the righteous speaks wisdom and justice because the word of God us is in his heart and God allows his steps to be steady
In v. 34 wait on the Lord, keep His ways= He will exalt the land and you will see the wicked cut off.
In v.39-40 salvation and strength in time of trouble is from the Lord. He helps, delivers, and saves them from the wicked BECAUSE THEY TRUST IN HIM

1 Thess 4
This chapter comes in 3 sections
Section 1 v1-8
In v. 1-2 Paul encourages and urges them to apply what was taught but also from God's word. So they could walk and please God
In v. 3 In one way is abstaining from sexual immorality
In v.4-6  1) on a personal level watch out for yourself not passion of lust and 2) not taking advantage of others sexually too.
(this means also what is in our minds with the movies or tv shows we watch or books that we read. EVERYTHING THAT GOES INTO YOUR MIND)
In v 7-8 God called us to holiness not uncleanness
Section 2  v9-12
In v.9 Paul encourages them by saying that they are good at loving others
In v. 10 but of course they need to increase in that more and more
In. v 11-12 they need to work on with loving others in 1) leading a quiet life or BEING STILL, 2) mind their own business, and 3) work with their hands. In result, 1) they walk properly, 2) lack nothing, and 3) that others who is not of  Christ will see you
Section 3 v13-18
In v 13-14 apparently people were telling this church that their love ones were not going to rise again when Christ comes back but Paul tells them straightforward that whoever believes on Jesus who died and rose again with rise with Jesus
In v. 15 as a matter of fact, they will rise first (darn them ; ) )
In v. 16-17 Paul describes the wonderful event of Jesus coming back, them first and then us and we will meet them in the air with Christ : ) : )
In v. 18 he concludes that we to comfort others with these words

1 Peter 3:1-6, 8-12
In v 1-2 wives ( or people who want to get married one day needs to prepare themselves now ) need to be submissive to their husbands even if they do not obey God because they might "win over" their husbands by their good conduct.
In v. 3-4 It is the heart of the woman that matter not the outside. It has to be a hidden person (that is why all the godly girls keep guys guessing), w/ incorruptible beauty (something that does not fade away) and wl a gentile and quiet spirit which is precious in the sight of God
In v.5-6 holy women from the OT who adorned themselves with God and allowing themselves to be submissive, respected their husbands. Sarah was an example of that.
In v 8 after talking to citizens of a country who also could be slaves, wives and husbands, Peter tells us TO BE ONE MIND, having compassion for one another, love as brothers, be tenderhearted and be courteous.
In v.9 dont return evil for evil or rude remarks to another rude remark (dont put others down) BUT bless other because we may inherit one too
In v 10 Peter quotes from Ps 34:12-16 which gives us the "secret" formula for one who loves life and who wants to see longer days 1) refrain from speaking evil or deceit, 2) turn from evil and do good, and 3) seek peace and pursue it. Then the Psalm gives us a nice reminder THAT GOD LOOKS OUT FOR THE RIGHTEOUS AND LISTENS TO THEIR PRAYERS, BUT TURNS HIS FACE FROM THE EVIL OR THE ONES WHO DONT FOLLOW WHAT WAS SAID ABOVE.

Exodus 14- Have faith in who and what God says He will do...He will fight for us!
Nehemiah 8- Read the Word! Apply it! It brings us joy and restores our soul!
Psalm 37- Trust, Rest, Wait on the Lord! He knows the outcome!
1 Thessalonians 4- To live a quiet or being still life, we need a pure mind, loving others, and encourage others that Christ is coming back
1 Peter 3:1-6, 8-12- In order to be the woman of a gentle and quiet spirit, we need God to be #1 and being one mind with others.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

God is Working!

It has been awesome to see how God is working in my life right now! I just got back from visiting my family. It was nice to relax and get away but really focus on those relationships with those I love and don't see often. My first weekend there I went to a ladies retreat with this amazing speaker. She is the founder of a 2 year old ministry called Zebras. The whole concept is that God made zebras to travel in herds. God made their stripes to combine together to make them like a huge animal and to scare their prey. It is the same with us as women who are Christians. We need to stick together, lifting each other up by focusing on who God is and His attributes. Her website is http://www.zebraminstires.com. You should check it out! But any who... God really used her to move in my life on a whole other level. She gave us some verses on being still and when I got back from the retreat still visiting my family, God began to beckon me to read those verses. At first I was not sure because I was working on something else for a devo I have to write but He kept saying read these verses. So I did and wow did He prepare me for so much. He is so faithful! A few days before I had to go back to PA, I began to be restless. I was not ready to go back. I realized how I busy I was at home. I work at a daycare at various random times. I help out my husband at his business. I clean my house and pay the bills. I know that seems like life but its overwhelming. I was just so tormented but I just kept hold of those verses and wow He is working. I have been praying to see what changes I need to do to prioritize my time better. But oh the strength, the peace He has given to me. There is something that God also showed me about being still from the ladies retreat. The speaker told us about refreshing ourselves after we have had an emotional time or heavily involved in ministry. She said after awana she would always go for a big bowl of cereal to just relax and regroup. But she encouraged us instead of eating something or in my case watching tv, we need to draw near to God. For me, it made me see the importance of going to Him at every moment I could during the day instead of just once in the morning when I wake up. I have spiritual breaks breaks at work I could take advantage of. I have also made the commitment to get into His word when I get off work at six. It has been amazing to see how He is working. I encourage you guys to be still and get that "big bowl of cereal". : )
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