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Archive for July, 2009

“that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:17-19

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and Friend
Who would have thought that a Lamb
Could rescue the souls of men
Oh you rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we’ve hopelessly lost the way

You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we’re falling before Your throne

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Pay attention

“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”  Hebrews 2:1

We live in an age of communication gone crazy.  Television, telephones, video games, Ipods and a multitude of other devices compete for our attention.  We can hardly focus our attention on one before we are distracted by another.  We seem to be a society of distraction.  But there are some things we cannot afford to be distracted from.  The writer of Hebrews warns us of this.

The words of Jesus are more than just words.  They are life.  And unless we heed those words, by listening to and obeying those words, slowly we will begin to drift, like a ship that isn’t anchored.  We will become leaky vessels, unable to contain what has been entrusted to us.

In America we are so very fortunate to have the freedom to own as many Bibles as we want.  I can take my Bible to work, I can read it in public places.  Yet this liberty is worthless if we do not pay attention to these words of life and let them penetrate deep into our souls.  This is no mere religious book.  It is the revealed truth about who God is, what He has done for us and what He requires of us.  Nothing in this world deserves more careful attention than this.

Let us be like Samuel – “Speak Lord, for Your servant hears.”

 

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Cautiously she ventured in
Although an uninvited guest
But there is one that she must see
And a task she must complete
She has brought to Him her best

She approached and unashamed
Poured out her precious, fragrant oil
Disparaged and misunderstood
By those that she thought surely would
Know that He deserved it all

The smell of worship filled the room
As her perfume ran down His head
And with a heart set free from sin
She lavishes her praise on Him
Thanksgiving in each tear she shed

Betrayers and the Pharisees
Look on in scorn and with disdain
For darkened hearts can never see
The glory of a soul set free
And view such lavishness as vain

As Mary, so it is for me
Though once lost, I have tasted grace
And seeing clearly Jesus’ worth
Let my own oil be poured forth
Until that day I see His face

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Romans 1:18-1:32 is a sad commentary on a people who reject the grace of God.  It chronicles the descent into the depths of wickedness. One thing I noticed is that man always takes the first step:

We suppress the truth in unrighteousness, and God reveals His wrath (v. 18)

We did not glorify Him as God or thank Him, and our thoughts became vain and our hearts darkened (v. 21)

We exchange the glory of God, then He gives us up to uncleanness (v. 23-24)

We do not retain God in our knowledge, and He gives us over to a debased mind (v. 28)

As I thought on this, the pattern seemed clear – we give God up and then He gives us up.  His action is a response to ours.  I wondered…..is this true in the reverse?  And then I remembered these verses:

“I love those who love me and those who seek me diligently will find me.”  Proverbs 8:17

“Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you.”  James 4:8

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7

“Call to me and I will answer you….”  Jeremiah 33:3

What an encouragement this is to me.  My prayers are not just haphazardly hurled into the heavens.  My worship is not merely the expression of my love and dependence on Him.  But these things are a reaching up for a divine response. 

And He reaches down.

 

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“Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.” Luke 17:12

 My heart was filled with pity for these men as I read this passage.  These words…”who stood afar off”…what sad words these are.  These men, outcasts, allowed only the companionship of their fellow sufferers, cannot even come near enough to Jesus to have Him touch them.  The law forbids it.  Imagine the loneliness and hopelessness of such men.

But our merciful Savior, with a word, heals them and sends them to the priest to complete the requirements of the law for one healed of leprosy.  The ceremony seems a bit odd and certainly messy, but it is full of beautiful symbolism.

Leviticus 14 gives us a detailed description of this ritual to be completed when one has been healed of leprosy.  Two birds are taken by the priest.  One bird is killed and the other bird is dipped in its blood and set free.  These birds are not brought by the leper, but they are provided for him.  In this we see a picture of Christ as our substitute; His blood spilled, covers us, and we are set free.  And just as the leper brought nothing for the completion of this ceremony, so we bring nothing to God, but trust completely in the atonement provided by Christ.

After 7 days, the leper comes to the priest with his offerings.  In a curious ceremony, the priest takes the blood of the sacrifice and puts it on the right ear, right thumb and right big toe of the leper.  Then he takes a measure of oil (about 8 ounces) and puts oil on the leper’s right ear, right thumb and right big toe.  The rest of the oil is poured on the head of the leper.

All this detail seems tedious, but God is showing us something so incredibly beautiful in Leviticus 14.

You see, we are the leper; our lives undone by the leprosy of sin.  Hopelessly far from God. 

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13.

The application of the blood to the ear, thumb and toe is done no other place than the consecration of the priests.   I Peter 2 says that we are a holy priesthood (v5) But in addition to the application of the blood, there is an application of oil, which is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, and if that isn’t glorious enough, the oil is then poured over the head – just as in the anointing of a king. 

The one most unworthy, most despised and disregarded – the leper – is anointed as a priest and a king.  What a beautiful picture of what Christ has done for us.

“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” Rev 1:6

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