"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Surprised by Joy

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I love it when God's Word surprises me.   It doesn't matter how many times I read it, or how much "theology" I have studied or adhere to...  God's Word often catches me off guard.  It has happened to me so many times these past weeks as I have been reading through Leviticus.  But, one instance in particular, has stuck with me.

The people have been given instructions on how to draw near to God through sacrifice.  They painstakingly follow all the law, to-a-T.  Moses notes again and again, "they did everything the Lord commanded".   They are truly acting as an obedient and faithful bunch these Israelites, right?!  (I think it is really interesting that we miss this truth when we talk about how lame and unfaithful the Israelites are... aren't we all just such a mixed bag!)

Anyway...  they have been obedient and have followed the path God has set up for them.  In response to these acts of sacrifice, "fire came out of the Presence of the Lord" (Leviticus 9:24).  Stop for a minute and just imagine this in real life.  We have seen enough CGI to work our imaginations around fire coming out and consuming the offering.  Loud, Hot, Red, Fast, ...terrifying, right?

But,... the people are not scared.  They are not filled with fear.  This surprised me.

In Exodus 20:18, only moments ago in the narrative, God speaks to the people from the mountain. They hear His voice as thunder and they are terrified and afraid.  They ask that He never do that again! They remain at a distance and say, "Don't have God speak to us or we will die!" (v. 19)

But, not here.  Why?

No, the people's response to this hot-burning-up-consuming-fire of the Lord is joy.  Joy fills their hearts!  Surprised by joy...

I was surprised by joy.

They see the fire and they are filled with joy and they fall down to worship.  I can't help but think that the joy welling in their hearts--- which brought them face down ---brought a wonderfully delightful smile to God's face.

I don't think He was surprised by it---that is what He made for us.  Fullness of joy in His Presence... No, God isn't surprised.

I can just picture it... seeing Him in my mind's eye:  God smiling; pleased and blessed.  They are worshiping Him rightly (if just this once) and they are responding to His presence with joy and awe. For weeks this passage has spoken to me of the Father's heart.  What He might really want from my sacrifices, my worship, and my drawing near to His Presence:  Awe-filled wonder and joy!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him..."  (Romans 15:13)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Always a Way Out

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As I approached the book of Leviticus, I must be honest...  I was a little wary.  My journey slowly through the Old Testament, looking for the Father's heart, has (up to this point) been such a delightful blessing of revelation and awe.  I have seen God's heart time and time again in these first books and have enjoyed getting to know Him better as we journey through His words together in conversation.

But, Leviticus...  hmmm...  I  must admit it took me a week---maybe it has been even two weeks---to even attempt the first "crack" into the book.  Who really wants to read Leviticus?

Lord, show me Your heart here...  

I shouldn't be too surprised to find, though, that actually I have already had a beautiful glimpse into the heart of God in this book.  I really believe God loves this request---show me You, show me Your heart!

As I read, I am struck over and over again at God's provision.

He knows people.  He knows His people very well.

He knows what we will do and what we need.  He is obviously keenly aware that we will sin---both intentionally and unintentionally.  It is just taken for grated.  It is like He is saying, 'Of course, they will, that is why they need me!!'  So, He gives them "a way out" right from the beginning.

Our faithful and compassionate God!!  Slow to anger and always ready to love...  He sets up a system ready and waiting for us to sin.  We will.  And, He knows this.  ...so He gives us a way to make amends.

Just finishing Leviticus 6 yesterday, it struck me how often I had read this phrase in the passing six chapters:  they will be forgiven.

They will be forgiven.  Now and in the future, this is the heart of God for His people.  For me and for you.  He always offers a way forward.  He always opens the doors for repentance and forgiveness.

I am amazed by the grace in which I stand (Romans 5:2).  Feet planted firmly in a deep puddle of grace, I have been forgiven.  I have placed my hand on the head of the suffering Jesus, my sacrifice (Leviticus 4:4) and I am saved!

It is never too late to walk forward and turn again to Him.  This is His heart.  It has always been His heart.  Don't be wary any longer.  Journey in.  Take His way out, today!  He knew.  He knows you will sin.  He offers a way-out and waits with love...
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