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April 2004 Archives

April 1, 2004

Do you marvel or do you grumble?

All the tent pegs of the tabernacle and of the surrounding courtyard were bronze. Exodus 38:20

Can you imagine the man-hours it took to make the Tent of Meeting? Every curtain was fine embroidery. Every piece of wood was covered with bronze or gold. Every utensil was fashioned by hand. Over seven tons of metal - gold, silver, and bronze - were used in its making.

I wonder how long it took to make it... I wonder how long it took to put it up then take it down.

The Israelites were living in the desert. Eventually, they would wander for forty years carrying the tabernacle wherever they went. How many tent pegs did it take to hold it up? I'm sure it was enough to make a boy scout shudder! How wearisome it must have been when the word came: "Time to move again!" Did the Levites marvel or did they grumble at those words?

Lord, I am weary from the tasks of every day, yet I am thankful for them. Help me to marvel at the opportunities of life. Thank You for the health to accomplish them.

April 2, 2004

The Sadness of Joy

So all the work on the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses. Exodus 39:32

The tabernacle was complete! Moses inspected every article to ensure it fit God's design. The craftsmen were blessed for all their effort. What an accomplishment!

I wonder, though... What did Bezalel and Oholiab do when it was finished? Could they simply go back to life as normal, building fine furnishings or creating beautiful tapestries? I wonder how depressed they got when reality hit: it was over.

Lord, it seems most of my life has been going from one project to another. I know the grief that oftentimes comes with success. How odd that sadness can so quickly follow joy. Life is an interesting mixture of emotion.

Which reminds me...

I got a call from a friend last night. She called be about something that makes me both happy and sad. My friend works with a woman whose daughter is getting married this Sunday. Although it is the last minute, the music isn't working out. She asked if I could help.

You see, the bride's sister was to be her only attendant. A few weeks ago, this beautiful, Spirit-filled young lady who recently returned from mission work in Africa was tragically killed by the reckless act of a drunk driver. All the wedding plans took a different turn. Things that would normally bring joy are now too painful to bear.

Father, help this young bride and her family - help everyone who grieves the loss of her sister. Help them to find joy in the pain. Help me to be the hands of Christ reaching into the pit to shine a little light in the darkness.

Forgive my own ambivalence. You have given me so much. Thank You, Lord, for Your undeserved blessing.

April 5, 2004

Everywhere We Turn

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. Exodus 40:38

Could you imagine what it would be like to see a cloud with God in it every time you stepped out your front door? And at night the cloud was filled with fire? There is nowhere you could go without seeing Him. I would like to say that if I could see God like that, I would find it easier to live a life of righteousness rather than doubt.

But would I?

All around us, everyday, God is present. In the sunrises, in the new life of spring, everywhere we turn, He can be seen. Yet we so easily turn our eyes from Him.

Father, forgive my forgetfulness - my short-sighted vision that can only see the problems I encounter rather than the work of Your hands. Help me to be a blessing to someone today, so You might be glorified.

April 6, 2004

To Please Him

It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. Leviticus 1:13b

The rules of sacrifice seem almost unreal. To spill the blood of an animal and to burn the meat on an altar is such a foreign concept. I don't fully understand why it was necessary. But God established the sacrificial system for a purpose. It brought atonement, and more importantly, it pleased Him.

Sometimes, we simply need to look beyond our own selfish desires in order to please another. It takes work. It is a labor intensive process. The system of sacrifice reminds me of this.

Lord, help me to do whatever it takes to please You. Help me to step out of my comfort zone - to humble myself - to give and not worry about receiving anything in return.

April 7, 2004

Could I have a taste?

Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings. Leviticus 2:13

How does the Christian life so easily lose its flavor? It should be exciting and filled with joy, but too many days it seems like we have chosen to eat bread without salt. We all know it - that pasty taste of flour without salt. It makes our tongues stick to the tops of our mouths. Something that we expected to be wonderful was dreary and bland.

Somehow, we have forgotten that God intended for us to live our lives to the full. We spend our time grieving the things we have left behind, rather than enjoying the One with whom we walk.

Lord, I think I have forgotten to add the salt of the covenant to my offerings. Lately, it seems my Christian walk has become routine and mundane - lacking the flavor of joy. Although I spend time in Your Word, I haven't made the time to spend with You. It's interesting how there is so much we can glean from Scripture; the principles found in its pages bring life. Yet, You long for us to know You, the Author, and not just the words You have written. Somehow, I stopped seeking You. Somehow, I started to look for ways to please You without spending any time with You.

Hmm... this sounds like marriage. Anyone who has been married knows what it is like to live in the same house without really seeing each other. Days can pass without really conversing. The greatest human relationship in your life can somehow become bland, boring - lacking flavor. Maybe my walk with You isn't my only problem.

Jesus, help me to put the salt back into my life - into my relationship with You - into my relationships here at home and at work. I want to live a life that makes others ask, "Could I have a taste?"

April 8, 2004

Enjoying Sacrifice

If someone's offering is a fellowship offering, and he offers an animal from the herd, whether male or female, he is to present before the Lord and animal without defect. Leviticus 3:1

Some offerings are meant to be shared and enjoyed together. The fellowship offering was this type of offering. Although the fatty portions of an animal were to be burned on the altar, the meat was shared and enjoyed with the priests.

Lord, sometimes I struggle with believing that You want us to enjoy giving and sacrifice. The enemy would have me believe that to give of myself is a miserable thing; this makes sin more attractive. Giving of ourselves doesn't mean we will receive nothing. Quite the contrary! We gain so much.

Help me to give and receive today. Be real to me. I'm lonely for Your presence.

April 9, 2004

Providing for God's Anointed

If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, he must bring to the Lord a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed. Leviticus 4:3

God made special provision for the anointed priest. A sin offering was to be presented as atonement for his sin before the offerings were made for the community, the leaders, and the individual.

Do we make provision for God's anointed today? Have we put pastors on such pedestals that they are not free to be human - in need of God's grace as much as anyone?

Lord, we live in a time when pastors are put in unique positions that leave them exceptionally vulnerable to sin. Yet, we are unforgiving when they fall. Too many pastors are isolated from real friendships. I once read that it takes at least four years for anyone to establish a true friendship. In most main-line churches, pastors are moved every three to four years. We have generations of friendless, lonely pastors.

And the fear of exposure that pastors experience! How can a pastor be transparent? One breech of confidentiality can destroy a church. Most pastors live their lives secluded from their congregation - from other pastors. To even see a counselor requires traveling to another city in order to keep the secret.

Father, Your Church is in crisis. Despite the efforts of some to reach out to the lonely pastor, too many have been abandoned - left to lead - alone - afraid. Lord, make special provision for those whom You have called into Your service. The atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross was for ALL sin - even the sin of a pastor.

Spirit, make Yourself known to the pastors in my life. Let them experience Your forgiveness in ways the Church has not found possible. Help me to reach out - to love them as I should.

April 12, 2004

Being Good Enough

If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord's commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible. Leviticus 5:17

There is no way we can be good enough on our own. Even the sins we commit unknowingly are our responsibility. When we stand before God's throne, the excuse, "I didn't mean to do it," won't mean a thing. No amount of trying to be good will ever be enough.

Lord, there are so many in this world who believe they can somehow be good enough. They are in need of a Savior! Thank You for sending Jesus. Without Him, we would certainly be lost.

I would certainly be lost.

Jesus, although I know the truth - although I have been saved by Your blood, there are times I chase the idea of being good enough. Your Spirit is my only hope of righteousness. Help me to seek holiness through my relationship with You rather than through ritual. Be my only Hope today!

April 13, 2004

It Must Not Go Out

The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out. Leviticus 6:13

When everyone in the camp slept, the priests were keeping vigil. The lamps in the Tent of Meeting were to burn all night. The fire on the altar could not go out. The work of the priests was never done.

I wonder what it was like to be the one keeping watch over the altar? To be in a holy place, called to holy work, while the world slept around you? Did the Spirit meet you there? Did you sense the importance of their work? Did you pray throughout the night?

What was it like?

Lord, like the priests in the middle of the night, You seem to have called me tonight. What is it that I am to keep burning? Fill me with Your presence so I might know. Take care of my family. Restore the health of my household for we have all been under the weather. Bring us back to You. Keep the fire of Your Spirit burning continuously; do not let it go out.

April 14, 2004

Sacrifice with Purpose

These, then, are the regulations for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the ordination offering and the fellowship offering... Leviticus 7:37

For someone in the modern day church, understanding animal sacrifice is sometimes tough. Now I see a clearer picture. The sacrificial system was more than a mechanism for controlling the animal population. It was used to bring the people together, first to honor God, then to build relationships among the people themselves.

Hmm... sounds like a good old fashioned church picnic and barbecue to me!

God knew what He was doing. There are few things that can unify people more than food. The offerings presented by the people served more than one purpose. Some were meant to atone for sin and were completely burned. Others were meant to be shared and enjoyed in the spirit of fellowship.

So why is it so tough to understand?

Lord, You laid a foundation through the laws given to Moses for what was to come. One day a pure Lamb would be given. We share in His body and blood every time we take communion. Bring Your people together, Father. Continue to build Your Church, so we might honor You.

April 15, 2004

No Turning Back

"You must stay at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days and do what the Lord requires, so you will not die; for that is what I have been commanded." Leviticus 8:35

It was happening. The ordination process had begun, and there was no turning back. The priests were to be consecrated, or the worst could happen; they would die. For Aaron and his sons, they had two choices: give it all, or lose it all.

There are few things in life that require such commitment. Two come to mind - having a baby and going to war. Although I have never gone to war, I can remember my military days of preparing for it. Even as a personnel officer, death can be a reality. Enemy lines can quickly shift, and friendly fire can bring disaster.

I also remember the commitment it took to have children - not so much mine, but that of my wife. Despite the amount of warning, there is a point when the reality of childbirth starts to overtake a first-time parent. The baby that has been ever-present yet unseen can no longer stay hidden. There is no turning back... excitement and terror are strange bedfellows.

My guess is that Aaron and his sons experienced similar excitement and terror. The God of the universe had chosen them for His service. There was no turning back.

Lord, help me sieze the commitment that is required to follow You. To be holy requires two choices: give it all, or lose it all. I confess that I haven't been as committed as I should be. The boundaries have been taken lightly; the invisible enemy line has shifted, and without Your intervention, the friendly fire will no longer be friendly. Give me the courage today to move forward.

There is no turning back.

April 16, 2004

To Please Him

Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown. Leviticus 9:24

God was pleased. Aaron did everything he was commanded. The burnt offering was laid upon the altar, and God literally reached out and took it. Everything was consumed, and the people shouted for joy.

Lord, there is nothing more exciting than pleasing You. For You to reach out and receive the offerings I present to You brings a satisfaction that no earthly pleasure can match. But how often do I cling to the offerings I should give You, rather than freely laying them down?

Aaron put the offering upon the altar, then he stepped away. It was then that You took it. If he had remained, he would have been in Your way. He would have been consumed by the fire.

Help me, Jesus, to lay down my sacrifice - then to step down out of Your way. Forgive me for holding fast to the things that belong to You. I want to please You and You alone.

Be my all-consuming fire today!

April 18, 2004

A High Price to Pay

Aaron replied to Moses, "Today they sacrificed their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord, but such things as this happened to me. Would the Lord have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today? Leviticus 10:19

What an awful day it must have been for Aaron. The joy of serving at the Tent of Meeting was decimated by the loss of his sons Nadab and Abihu, but he couldn't show it. Moses commanded that Aaron and his remaining sons carry on as if nothing had happened. To show outward signs of mourning would have brought further wrath from the presence of God.

From the outside, it seems that Aaron was cold - barely shaken by the deaths of Nadab and Abihu. But I believe it shook him to the core. This was serious stuff! Aaron knew it like no one else did. Aaron knew it like never before.

I'm surprised by Moses. He seemed to disregard his brother's predicament. He scolded Aaron for allowing the goat from the sin offering to burn up on the altar. But Aaron couldn't bring himself to eat it. The goat represented the sins of the leaders. He experienced firsthand what it was to sacrifice a sin offering; his sons were that sacrifice. How could he celebrate? Aaron paid a high price that day. The sacrifice was greater than he had expected.

Lord, keep my children from sinning against You and protect them from the sins of others. I don't think I could pay the price Aaron did. I long to see my children's children someday. Please, never let me experience a day like Aaron's. Keep my family safe from harm.

Let Your will be done.

April 19, 2004

As He Is Holy

"I am the Lord who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy." Leviticus 11:45

Holiness - to be set apart from the rest of the world - this is what God asks of us. Can we ever get there?

There are so many things in life that make our hearts unclean. Praise God, the blood of His Son can make us clean.

Lord, this challenge of being holy because You are holy is sometimes too great to bear. How do I keep it balanced? How do I seek holiness through what I do without making my action a god in itself? The Israelites eventually turned the Law into the focus, and they forgot You. As a Christian, I struggle with turning completely away from the Law to Your grace. Even Paul said Your grace is not a license to sin.

Help me to live a balanced life - one that is balanced by Your grace and my obedience. I love You, Lord. Help me to be holy as You are holy.

April 20, 2004

The Blessing No Man Wants

"In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean." Leviticus 12:8b

God has blessed women with the awesome ability to have children. As a man, I cannot fully comprehend what it would be like to have a new life so completely dependent upon you. I cannot comprehend the challenge of living with a body that was made for such a purpose.

Lord, You made women special. As a man, my first thought is, "Thank You for not blessing men like that!" I don't say this with pride - like I am better than a woman. I know the truth. It would drive me over the edge to face what a woman does. Her body may be more fragile, but her resolve is so much stronger than mine - probably stronger than any man's.

Father, I celebrate the differences. Thank You for blessing mankind with the amazing ability to procreate. Help me to honor my wife as the blessing she is.

April 21, 2004

Living on the Outside

"As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp." Leviticus 13:46

The priests were given great authority. To protect the people from contagious disease, God instituted the rules surrounding those with skin diseases and how they would be pronounced as clean or unclean. To hear the word "unclean" was a frightening thing. This one word had the power to isolate - to make them live outside the camp. For some, it was like a death sentence.

Lord, I am unclean. I have an infectious disease. It is something that is easily passed from one man to another and has the power to destroy entire civilizations.

The name of my disease is sin. Left by itself, it can fester - literally destroying me - isolating me from all that is good.

But You have power over sin. Your Son took my disease upon Himself, so I could live among the people - so I can be clean. Proclaim it for me. "Clean!" I want to hear it - I want to feel it. Wash me; make me one with You today.

April 22, 2004

More Than Words

"The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed and make atonement for him, and he will be clean." Leviticus 14:18

To be made clean - it takes more than words. A priest didn't simply say, "Okay, you are clean," when a healed person appeared before him. Like most things required of the priests, there was ritual to be followed. Sacrifices were made, and the individual was consecrated. Like the consecration of a priest, blood was placed on the right ear lobe, the right thumb, and the right big toe of the one being cleansed. God is to be God over what we hear, what we do, and where we go. In addition to the blood, anointing oil was placed on the right ear lobe, the right thumb, and the right big toe, and the remainder of the oil was placed on top of the head. The words, "He anoints my head with oil," later prayed by King David take on a whole new meaning. Anointing the head was associated with complete and total healing.

Lord, You didn't just say the words to make us clean; You took action. The heavens and the earth, You spoke into existence. Yet when it came to saving Your children, You didn't stand idly by. You sent Your Son to be the sacrifice - to be the hyssop dipped in blood - to be the priest who anoints us with oil.

Anoint my head with oil, Holy Father. Make me clean. Make me holy. Lead me beside still waters today.

April 23, 2004

His Dwelling Place

"You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in the uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them." Leviticus 15:31

God takes His dwelling place very seriously. It was required of the people to be ceremonially clean in order to present themselves at the Tent of Meeting. Disregarding God's requirements could result in death; Nadab and Abihu, Aaron's sons, were proof of that.

Lord, how is there any hope? Jesus sent the Counselor to dwell within us. Are we not Your dwelling place now? How can we ever be clean in Your presence? You know everything that makes us unclean; we cannot hide it from You.

Yet You choose to live among us.

Help me see that Your Son has cleansed me from all unrighteousness. His action alone is my hope. Keep reminding me who I am. I am Yours.

April 24, 2004

We Can Know

"Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins." Leviticus 16:30b

Once a year the Israelites took a day to make atonement for their sins. On that day sacrifices were made and a goat was set free in the desert, symbolizing how their sin had been taken far away from them.

How freeing it must have been for the people! Every year on the Day of Atonement, they knew - they were clean.

As a Christian, it only took one act - one choice - the acceptance of Christ's atoning blood. We can know, without any doubt, that we are clean.

Lord, sometimes I forget to reflect on Your forgiveness. You have set me free from all guilt, yet I cling to it. It literally weighs me down. Today, I acknowledge that I am clean. Like a weight lifting from my chest, I release my shame. Send it far away from me. Be my God - every day of the year.

April 26, 2004

The Rightful Owner

"This is so the Israelites will bring to the Lord the sacrifices they are now making in the open fields. They must bring them to the priest, that is, to the Lord, at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and sacrifice them as fellowship offerings." Leviticus 17:5

God established a lasting ordinance. All sacrifices were to be made at the Tent of Meeting. God was the rightful owner of the sacrifices, and He wanted them to be presented to Himself - not given away to any other god.

Lord, You are the rightful owner of my heart, yet so often I find myself trying to give it away. Are You really there?

My heart doubts sometimes.

Too often I feel as if I stand in the open fields and reminisce about the gods I once worshiped. My hearts wants to abandon You. I long for the days when I sought my desires rather than Yours. Help me, Father, to give myself to You, my rightful owner. Save me from those who would take me from You.

April 27, 2004

The Laundry List

"Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord." Leviticus 18:5

Obedience, restoration, and life.

How much am I willing to give in order to have a full and joyous life? We all seek it. Everyone wants to be happy. But how much are we willing to sacrifice?

God's laws sometimes seem like a laundry list of "do nots." It makes me weary just thinking about them - maybe because I've missed the mark on so much of the list. But letting go of the things that can destroy us - in the end - brings life... and happiness.

Lord, I keep getting hung up on the list of what I shouldn't do. Breaking one law makes me as guilty as breaking all of them. But Jesus changed all that. He fulfilled the law. His one act of sacrifice makes me fully forgiven.

Help me to cling to Your Word - to obey Your Word - and to be restored.

April 28, 2004

Stumbling Blocks

"Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:14

My son's best friend recently wrote a research paper on something few of us really understand - what it is like to be blind. As part of his research, he spent an entire school day without his ability to see. The stories he shared about this experience are both interesting and disturbing.

The day was planned in advance. His teachers and friends were fully aware of the experiment. When it was all over, he commented how much he had learned, especially who his real friends were.

As if the challenge wasn't great enough, most of his day was spent steering around obstacles and listening to the taunts of others. One teacher had special fun calling on him to read what was on the board; others laughed as he bumped into walls and desks. Very few - only one that I know of, my daughter - reached out to say, "Let me help you."

Oh, the obstacles and jeers were all in jest. He has been a part of many pranks in his day. But what disturbs me most is: this day was spent at a Christian school.

Aren't we called to a higher standard? Shouldn't we be reaching out to a brother who is in need - if only for a one day experiment? If we cannot help on one day, how can we expect to make a difference in a life time?

God commands us to be holy because He is holy. Shouldn't we help just because it is the right thing to do?

Lord, forgive us. We are Your Body, yet we don't reach out to our brothers - much less the lost among us. Help me to be mindful of those who need to be reminded of Your love. Give me the grace to care for those in need of Your touch.

April 29, 2004

A New Future

"Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy." Leviticus 20:8

Do we really understand what Jesus did on the cross? Any who have seen the movie "The Passion of the Christ" might have a clearer image of the suffering. But do we really get it? Can we comprehend the freedom - the life - that He gave us?

The old covenant required strict adherence to the law, and the punishments were harsh. Like many, I would not be alive if God commanded the stoning of certain lawbreakers! The new covenant in Jesus Christ shines mercy and grace on those who deserve only death, which in truth is every man.

Lord, Your mercy is astounding. When I read of the punishment that I am due, my heart is sick. The enemy wants me to believe that death is my future. But Your action changed my future. Your mercy gives me life. Help me to walk in Your strength. Thank You for blessing us with Your Holy Spirit.

About April 2004

This page contains all entries posted to The Potter's Hand in April 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2004 is the previous archive.

May 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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