Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Tag: Psalms 36

Get Your Thinking Straight

August 6 – Today’s Readings – Jeremiah 28-30 and Psalms 36

Jeremiah 29 is one of the most quoted portions in the Word of God – “Build houses and settle down – marry and have sons and daughters – increase in number there; do not decrease. Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

These are amazing, inspirational verses and I’ll bet you highlighted them as you were reading. The context of these verses is just as exciting to me as the verses themselves. Here were a people who had just experienced unspeakable horrors. They had been ripped from their lands and houses – they had seen loved ones slaughtered before their eyes – they had been herded off like cattle for hundreds of kilometers to be placed in the equivalent of concentration camps in a strange country where brutal people could use and abuse them as slaves – and where they were at the mercy of a horribly ungodly dictatorship. Their own prophet, Jeremiah, had told them that they would be there for 70 long years. This was about the most depressing, earth-shattering thing that these people could possibly experience!

Yet, there in the midst of their distress, the uplifting Word of the Lord sounded out. Re-read the words quoted above. Some of these words must have sounded like the most foolish things ever spoken to them – but they were indeed the Words of God. In the hardest place possible, God had a plan of blessing for them. They were paying a high price as a consequence for “national” sin, yet God had good things in store. When prosperity was out of the question, God had prosperity waiting for them. When building and settling down was the last thing on their minds, God wanted them to build. When romance was definitely not the thing to get involved in, God had marriage in mind. When they had no hope, God whispered His hope and His future into their aching hearts. This is the true message of Jeremiah Chapter 29.

It is also the message that needs to be part of our everyday thinking. Some have called it “positive thinking” or some other such label, but in a true Biblical sense, we should always have a positive outlook when we are in Christ. In the middle of heartache – when things “go sideways” – when you don’t see God – He is there. Let’s pray for the peace and prosperity of our city as well. It is then that we are able and free to do all that God has called us to.

Questions:

1. Name another time in Scripture where God’s people prospered even though they were in bondage to others.
2. Tell of a situation where God blessed you in the middle of very difficult circumstances.

Worship Patterns

February 6 – Today’s Readings – Exodus 28-30 and Psalms 36

Today I want to spend a minute in Chapter 30 where five sanctuary items are described: – the altar of incense and the incense to be burned on it – the atonement money – the washbasin and the anointing oil.

The Old Testament “altar” always speaks of a place that is set aside for worship – either for The Lord God or some man-made god. The incense used at God’s altar was a one-of-a-kind concoction that the priests were instructed to burn during worship. In our own lives and “Altar Experience” may involve shutting ourselves away in a place for prayer and meditation but this is not always the case. Some think of “the altar” as a place near the front of a Church where people go when they really need God’s attention. What is more likely, however is that “the altar” has to do with a regular prayer or worship time set aside for the Lord. If you’re like me, you find yourself reading and praying at all different times of the day or night but then setting aside special times just to be intimate with God and also spend time listening. This is my altar – it’s the act of blocking out the business of life so that I can focus on what matters – staying constantly In tune with God and keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. The “incense” that we use in prayer is a very carefully prepared concoction as well. There is no other incense like it – it requires the ingredients of humility, thankfulness, praise, worship, supplications, and stillness all marinaded in generous portions of the Word of God.

The atonement money in the old covenant was very symbolic of being “counted” or “numbered” for God and being consecrated to Him. No one can be more “atoned for” than the other because in God’s economy, we all consecrate ourselves in the same way and it costs us all the same – everything we have – but usually He only asks for 10% or so. This too must be done on a regular basis.

The basin for washing has to do with repenting and being clean before we can really worship. This happens initially in repentance and baptism but it must also happen on a moment-by-moment basis – each time the Holy Spirit reveals deficiency in our lives. Did you ever wonder about all the traditional creeds by which churches entered into ”worship” – these approaches all included repentance! They formalized this concept and made sure that when the church got together, repentance was included in their approach to God. Pretty good idea.

The anointing oil too was made in a very special way. It was to be used on the head (not the body) of the priest each time he entered into worship. The head of the body houses the soul (mind, will and emotions) of a person. There is only one way for the soul to be ready to worship God. Jesus said those who worship God must worship in Spirit and in Truth. Think about it – we desperately need the anointing of the Holy Spirit if we are to learn how to truly worship God. Don’t ever be shy about praying in the Spirit when you worship – it stirs the anointing of God and allows you freedom in your worship – (just don’t be so loud as to distract others from their worship). This is the act of having anointing oil poured on our heads.

Questions:

1. Can you think of other “modern day” applications that can be taken from Moses’ Tabernacle?

2. Comment further on how these Temple objects relate to your life.

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