Friday, January 29, 2010

The Tabernacle

I've been doing some studying on the Tabernacle in the Old Testament. After all, about 50+ chapters (13-Exodus, 18-Leviticus, 13-Numbers, 2-Deuteronomy, 4-Hebrews) in the Bible describe it. Many other scriptures make reference to it. The most important thing about studying it - Everything about it points to Christ!

The Gate“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” (John 10:9)

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

Brazen Altar
“The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22)

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mark 14:24)

“For you know that … you were redeemed … with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:13-14)

“We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. …By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. …And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” (Hebrews 10:10, 14, 18)

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The Laver -
“…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled [with blood] to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)

The Lampstand
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (John 9:46)

The Table of Showbread
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. … Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.” (John 6:35, 49-50)

God so desires our fellowship that He was willing to come to earth from heaven as our “bread of life” to give eternal life to all those who would partake in it. At Jesus’ last Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus described Himself as bread again:

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” (Matthew 26:26)

The Altar of Incense
“Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

The Holy of Holies
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body …let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” (Hebrews 10:19-22)

“For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. …But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:24-26)

The Veil
"And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split..." (Matthew 27:50-51)

The Ark of the Covenant“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

He represented the contents inside the Ark: Manna - “Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.’” (John 6:32, 48-50) Aaron’s budding staff: Jesus didn’t reject God’s authority. Instead, He submitted Himself to the Father’s will and died on the cross.

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38)

He came back to life like Aaron’s budding rod, “the firstfruits from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:15-26)

Ten Commandments: Jesus didn’t reject God’s right standard of living. He lived a sinless life and obeyed God’s law perfectly, becoming our perfect sacrifice and intercessor. His sacrifice instituted a new covenant that was not based on the Law.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:20-22)

The Mercy Seat
This covered the contents in the Ark - which were probably evidences of the three greatest messups of Israel. This symbolized the covering sacrifice of blood for sins. Jesus is our atonement.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

The great news is that unlike the High Priest who was the only one that could enter the Holy of Holies only one time a year, we can go to Jesus - our High Priest - at any time!

John writes: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) This word “dwelling” is the same word for “tabernacle” in the Old Testament. In other words, God came in living flesh to dwell or to tabernacle among His people. As He walked upon the earth and lived among the Jews, Jesus Christ Himself fulfilled the picture of the Old Testament tabernacle. In that and many other ways, as we will see, the tabernacle really was a prophetic projection of the Lord’s redemptive plan for His people.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’” (Rev. 21:3)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Forgiveness In Christ

I heard a great song this weekend on the radio. It is "I'm Forgiven" by Sanctus Real. The words hit home with me with areas of my life that Christ has forgiven me from. Christ has forgiven me from sin. Why is that important to me? Because sin - my sin - keeps me from Him. Forgiveness gives me access back to God. Without it, I'm eternally separated from God. Jesus atoning work of the crucifixion gives me access to the Father. Jesus was my substitute and redemption.

2 Corinthians 5:13-21 explodes with this truth of forgiveness. "If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

I'm forgiven to help others yes. But I'm forgiven to get back to God. When and only when I do that can I partake in the ministry of reconciliation. Only then can I, once back and restored to God, help others experience Him. The appeal God is making through us is a restored relationship to Him. We become His righteousness - His bride and love - all because of Christ's work on the cross.

If I am happy about forgiveness just because I won't have something in my past, I miss the true meaning of what forgiveness is for. If I just want forgiveness to pursue my ministry goals and future, then I've missed the meaning of forgiveness. Truth is, sin will always be in my past. It will always haunt me - unless it is seen through the redemptive, sacrificial work of Christ's death and glorious resurrection. A relationship with God through Jesus is the goal.

As John Piper said, "Forgiveness is essentially God's way of removing the great obstacle to our fellowship with him." God canceled our sin by paying for it with the blood of His Son Jesus. Because of this, we can see him, know him and enjoy him. Fellowship that has been restored to the Father through the Son is the goal, hope and purpose of forgiveness. Our souls must be (and can only be )satisfied in him. True worship and intimacy with God is the reason for forgiveness. There is no other reason.

Jesus said we are to "Forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you." How can I do that? Why did God forgive? To restore relationship with His people. We should forgive to restore our relationship with God and our relationship with others.

Think about these words of the song by Sanctus Real:

Well the past is playing with my head
And failure knocks me down again
I'm reminded of the wrong
That I have said and done
And that devil just wont let me forget

Ever been there? The devil just won't let you forget! People too, sometimes. Where do you turn in times like this - to a relationship with God. We can't love the gift of forgiveness, we must love the giver of it - God. What a move on His part to bring us back - to reconcile us to Him. Check mate to the devil.

It goes on to say:

In this life
I know what I've been
But here in your arms
I know what I am

I'm forgiven
I'm forgiven
And I don't have to carry
The weight of who I've been
Cause I'm forgiven

Romans 8:1 says "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."

Where do I find freedom and forgiveness - in the law of the Spirit of LIFE IN Christ Jesus. A relationship with Him. If we are IN Christ, there is no shame, guilt or condemnation.

The song goes on to say:

My mistakes are running through my mind
And I'll relive my days, in the middle of the night
And I struggle with my pain, wrestle with my pride
Sometimes I feel alone, and I cry
When I don’t fit in and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere
When I don’t measure up to much in this life
Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of Christ

We are His treasure - His prize. His longing - His desire. His creation - His bride. His body - His children. We are treasured by Him. He couldn't stand that there was sin between us and Him. He took the initiative to fix it. Jesus didn't convince God to send Him. God sent His Son willingly. The Son willingly came. What a great act of love! The ultimate cost to God is that He gave up His Son to buy back His Sons and Daughters. He did this to give you and I what we desperately needed above all things: we need a relationship of enjoying a life of Christ. God's forgiveness is important. Why? We get God.

Yes, we get more opportunities for serving. Yes, we get a second chance - maybe third or fourth. Yes, we get blessings and a guiltless conscience. Yes, we can minister to others who have been through similar sins. But don't miss the reason for forgiveness - God brought us back to Himself. Marriage to God is the goal of forgiveness. Anything else that comes before that is selfishness on our part. Sure God wants to bless us, restore us. God did it for us. That was selfless. If we want forgiveness because of our reasons, then that is selfish. We must want forgiveness because it brings us back to intimacy with God. I get to be one with Him. Unity. Intimacy. This is the primary purpose of forgiveness. I'm forgiven because of Him calling, reaching, pulling, and moving toward us. He displayed forgiveness all because we pulled, reached and moved away from Him. He did it! Thank you God for desiring us when we didn't desire you. While we were yet sinners, you sent your Son to die for us! In this light of your forgiving nature, I better understand your great love and desire for us. We get you through forgiveness. You are all I want.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Salvation for my 5 Year Old

Kylee has been really sensitive to the Holy Spirit lately about giving her life to Jesus. Every time I ask about kids getting saved in Kids Church, she raises her hand. She has asked me probably 5 or 6 times to get baptized.

The other day, Haley and her were going to the store and Kylee said, "Momma, when can I get baptized? I've already given my life to Jesus 3 times!". Haley told me about it on our way home from church the next day and I asked, "Kylee, did you give your life to Jesus?" Before she could speak up from the back seat, my 2 year old shouted with excitement, "I want to go to Chuck E. Cheeses'!" We all laughed!

So, the question is, how do you know if your child is ready to be saved? How do you know if they are sincere or if they are just doing what they see their friends do? How do you know if it is real or not? After doing children's ministry for almost 15 years, I've seen kids repeatedly come forward for salvation. We try to head this off by asking general questions at the altar. "Why are you coming forward? Is there something you wanted to do today?" If you ask a kid, "Do you want to give your life to Jesus" they all will 100% of the time say "YES".

Is it OK for kids to come down repeatedly? Of course. I think, they need time to process. Should they have every doctrine figured out or the Roman's Road To Salvation memorized? No. Remember this point - never turn a child away from the Lord! What if you do and they grow up and reject Jesus as a teenager? The statistics say that most people give their lives to Christ at an early age (88% before age of 18). Sometimes kids come down for salvation because they feel guilty over a sin. If this is the case, instruction about repentance is necessary. They need to know about the doctrine of the security of the believer in their terms of understanding.

Jesus Christ welcomed and blessed children during His ministry. Mark 10:13-16 speaks about this. "And they began bringing children to Him, so that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, 'Permit the children to come to Me; and do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter in at all.' And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands upon them."

Now, some of the kids that came to Jesus that day were probably too young to understand Jesus as their Savior - but Jesus didn't reject them from coming to Him. The point is to teach and train your children from infancy about Christ and salvation. Kids need to feel Jesus' love from an early age. This will help them as they grow older. A little Greek lesson here - the Greek word used for “children” implies that they were small, young kids. It's the same word used in II Timothy 3:15 that Paul said about Timothy in knowing the scriptures from an early age. The same scriptures that lead to salvation to Jesus through faith!

What about the "age of accountability"? I've heard this all my life. Some think a child has to reach this before he can make any spiritual decisions. The age we see of 12 in Jewish culture, but this was not often a salvation or beginning of trusting the Lord age, but the age of Jewish ceremony. An age is not really the true mark of salvation. It varies for everyone. Probably a better statement is "condition of accountability". Whenever a child is capable of learning simple Biblical principles, then that is the age they are accountable to God for acting on those truths. God is not going to send kids to hell. HeThey are his kids. He'll keep them safe in his arms and grace until they begin to reach the condition of understanding a need for a savior. And just a side note, infant baptism doesn't help. You're just washing babies. It is not mentioned at all in scripture and baptism doesn't save - only Jesus does. Baptism always follows salvation in scripture.

A major prerequisite for baptism is repentance: "Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 KJV). Baptism is necessary for every believer though as an outward sign and testimony. It is also commanded by Jesus.

Try not to intimidate or pressure your kids to “walk the aisle” just for your peace of mind. They can do this and never genuinely repent over sin or have a personal faith in Christ. It is simply going through the motions. The way a child is saved is the same way an adult is saved - by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). You can't work it up just because other kids their age are doing it and they haven't yet. Trust in the Lord that He is at work. Don't just depend on the church to teach your child about salvation. Talk about it at home - Read the first few verses in Deuteronomy 6.

Trust the work of the Holy Spirit. Once your child realizes his sinfulness and responds to that sinfulness in repentance and faith in Christ, he can and will be saved, regardless of his age. Jesus got mad at the disciples trying to turn away children because the disciples probably thought none of the kids could understand. (Now who asked the most questions about not understanding in scripture - the disciples)

When Peter preached his first sermon, he said, "For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself" (Acts 2:39). Peter spoke of salvation to all who recognized Christ as the Son of God and accepted Him with repentance and faith (Acts 2:22-42). This included children

Jesus said this, "Unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. And whoever humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3-4). In many cases, it is easier for a child to perceive and receive spiritual truth than for an adult to do so because they try to rationalize truth with their limited thinking. True, genuine, child-like faith is what Christ wants from us all.

What about a child who dies before reaching the condition of choosing Christ as savior? David faced this. After his baby died, He said, "While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:22-23). David knew God and knew he would be with Him. But he also knew that he would see his son there. This is an encouragement to every parent who has lost a child.

Remember this point. Most of the time, kids who grow up in a Christian home and attend church regularly accept Christ earlier in life. Why? Kids are taught the principles and truths of Christ and the Bible from an early age. They are more sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit. The word says "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). It is only natural that kids who hear and learn the Word will be saved at an earlier age. Christian parents have to realize it is their responsibility for their children's spiritual education.

Jesus said Heaven was full of kids! "Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." (Mark 10:14)

Don't set an age limit on the Holy Spirit. If kids have a genuine faith and desire to give their lives to Christ, then let them. Who are we to turn a child away from the Lord? Trust the Lord that He is at work in your child's life. Jesus can save children. God called Samuel (1 Samuel 3) at an early age. Eli, while godly, didn't perceive God could this at first but quickly realized he should instruct Samuel to listen and respond to the voice of God.

My final point in this is that God's salvation plan is simple. It is not complicated. It so simple that children can understand and accept it.

Here are some things to ask about your child in their salvation process:

1. Does the child show a growing love for God?
2. Does the child demonstrate love and concern for others?
3. Does the child have a growing appreciation for God’s grace?
4. Is the child learning to pray and spend time alone with God?
5. Does the child have a sense of their own sinfulness?
6. Does the child demonstrate new spiritual desires?
7. Does the child continue in their faith over time?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Heaven to my 5 year old

Tonight, my little 5 year old Kylee asked me a ton of questions about heaven. She said she missed her Nanny who died last year. We read a children's book about heaven to help her with the questions. Here were some of her question:

1. Will we have to take naps there? I told her it was up to her because she'd never get tired - that was music to her ears. There is no nighttime there - Jesus is our light! (Revelation 21:23 and 22:5)

2. Will you have to shave Daddy? I said probably not. She was excited again because my beard scratches her when we hug.

3. Will Tiger, our cat who died, be there? I said probably. God made the animals and there's a chance they could be there. (Genesis 1:25) The bible is pretty silent on the eternity of animals, but it is certain on the eternity of those who trust in Him. "Anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He will not be found guilty. He has crossed over from death to life." John 5:24

4. Can we eat there? I said of course. The bible says there are 12 crops growing on each side of the river of life (Revelation 22:2). She was excited there might be candy and no dentists (well, there will be dentists there, just no dentistry). That means no more cavities - no pain, no tears, no sorrow (Revelation 21:4).

5. Will I be a kid? I said, I'm not sure, but probably not. Since heaven is eternal, there is no age there. We'll all get new bodies (Philippians 3:21). She hoped she would get new teeth because she has a gap (maybe there is dentistry there).

6. Will we know each other and live in the same house? Of course we'll know each other. God is making us a great house to live in there. It actually says that there are many rooms in our Father's house (John 14:2). So, we'll all live together.

7. Will we still go to church? I said no. We are the church. Every day will be church. She was excited cause she loves kids church but wanted Jesus to pick her for the game because I never do.

8. When will we get there? In God's timing. But until we do, we have to love and serve Him and others on this earth. Our hope is that for those who die in Christ will live with Him in heaven. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) Only those who give their lives to Christ will go there (Revelation 21:17).

9. Can we fly? I said the bible says we will be caught up and meet him in the air. So, probably so. That blew her little mind. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

10. Can we play? Of course! What joy! I want to swing off the tree of life into the crystal sea. We will jump for joy! Luke 6:23 says, "Be glad and jump for joy. You will receive many blessings in heaven." Heaven will be a fun place!

11. Do we have to pray? She stopped me and said "no". She said, "Jesus is there and we can talk to Him face to face." That is the best news of all for heaven. It is where Jesus is! I told her that spending eternity with Him is the whole point of Heaven. John 14:3 - "I will take you to be with me. Then you will also be where I am."

Lots of questions from a 5 year old. She has told me she has given her life to Jesus already 2 times. I laughed. I see a true child-like faith in her and she trusts everything I say about Jesus and Heaven. I pray that I continue to read and study Your word Lord so I can show her Jesus. I can't wait for Heaven! "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9

On a different note, I love my Life Group! I love the fact that we get to spend time with and grow in the Lord with people. I'm very thankful for everyone in our LG and I pray God continues to use us and grow us closer together.