From The Inside - Out
Exodus 25:2
Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.

I recently began reading the Bible through again. I started doing this routine (Although it is NOT routine) over 40 years ago, and still love doing it this way today. But I still recall the first few times when I reached the section that today's scripture is taken from. It is where Moses was on the mountain with God, where he received the ten commandments (Chapter 20) and then God began telling Moses how he wanted the tabernacle to be built - detail for detail. I recall thinking, "I'm not Jewish so this doesn't pertain to me." Or, "This just doesn't apply to my walk with the Lord today." Or, "I suppose I should read through here carefully so that I can eventually say I have read the entire Bible from beginning to end." And, there were other times when I would simply skim through these chapters quickly so I could just get on into the historical portions which are of more interest to my carnal mind.

And then, one year I was leading a Bible study where we covered these chapters. That time I really did enjoy studying the details and looking for meanings and "types" that we could apply to our daily lives. But, to be honest, as important as these chapters are in helping us to get a glimpse of what the tabernacle in Heaven will be like, there is a lot of detail that seems to be impossible to recall when it is all said and done.

Now, I am not the fastest learner in the world and sometimes the one who has to have a "joke" explained to me so I will know why everyone else laughed. And that is most likely why I noticed something new for the first time which is evident as you read through chapters 25 through 28. There could also be a bigger reason: God just waited to show it to me so I could appreciate it more.

In today's scripture, the words, ". . . every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering." . . . is where the building of the tabernacle begins: From the inside, out. Now understand that when the Bible speaks of the "heart" it is not referring to the physical heart that pumps our blood. But rather, it is speaking of the inner-most center of a person's soul. The Lord is simply saying, "I want my tabernacle's core to be centered on a person's desire to please Me."

But that's not where it ends: In verse ten God begins the instructions on how to build the arc of the covenant. He gives very detailed instructions on how it is to be made and what it is to be made of. After all, that is where God will meet with the priest after the sacrificial blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat which will cover the arc.

Next, in verse 23 He gives the details on how to build the table of shewbread. In Leviticus 24 God will give detailed instructions on how the shewbread should be prepaired. But that table is NOT in the Holy of Holies. It is a few cubits away, outside the vail. In verse 31 He describes how the candlestick should be made. It is about the same distance from the arc as the table is, but still in the same room as the table of shewbread. And in Exodus 30 he details how to make the altar of incense which is in the center of the room near the vail.

In chapter 26 God begins explaining how the walls and coverings of the tabernacle should be made. He goes on to explain how to make the vail that closes off the Holy of Holies from the rest of the tabernacle. And then He gives the details of the vail to the entrance of the tabernacle - where the table of shewbread and candlestick are located. In chapter 27 the instructions move further out into the court where the animal sacrifices will take place. Chapter 28 describes what the high priest is to wear before going into the tabernacle.

So, as you can see, God's instructions begin at the center of a man's heart, move to the place where He (God) will meet with that man. Then move out of that room into the next room where the table of shewbread and the candlestick are placed - then outside the tabernacle wall, into the court, and then outside the court to where the people who serve Him will live their daily lives.

All of this is a beautiful picture of how our Christian lives should be lived on a daily basis. We should begin by meeting with the Lord and then move from there to our family members, and then further out to those we associate with in our lives. It is also a picture of what a true believer should be made of. Unfortunately, many Christians seem to have it backwards. Their biggest concern is what they look like from the outside. And the last thing they want people to see is what they really look like on the inside. The things in their heart would never be pleasing to God. Or, there are just too many other things taking place down in their heart to allow room for what God requires of us if we really desire to "meet" with Him and receive His blessings.

Exodus 25 through 28 describe God's pattern for the tabernacle - and that's also His pattern for our lives - From The Inside - Out!

God bless.

The Playbook
Matthew 4:1-3
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

Many years ago when I was a high school teacher, one of the things I did to earn extra money was to film the football and basketball games for the coaches of the school. Most of the time I only filmed the home games, but occasionally, when we were playing against one of the toughest competitors, I would ride with the coaches to the "away" game.

I would find a good location in one of the highest spotters booths, set up my 16mm camera, and do my best to follow the ball as it was tossed and handed off from player to player throughout the game.

There was one occasion when I filmed an away game that I remember well. As the game ended and I was packing up my equipment I noticed a loosely rolled up notebook containing many hand-written pages with "O's" and "X's" all lined up in different configurations. . . Something a coach would use to plan out a specific offensive play for the team. I foolishly picked it up and showed it to one of the coaches as we were getting ready to leave. That is when I realized I had found something of great value. In fact they smiled at each other and very carefully packed it away where no one else - especially someone from the opposing team - would see what they had.

I had found the opposing team's playbook for that season. If you are not into sports you may not understand how valuable that was to those coaches. They now knew what to watch for during the next game they played against that team. They now knew how to set up the Defense unit of our team in order to prevent that other team from scoring as many points. And to prevent the other team from ever winning another game against our team.

I recently began reading the new testament again, and when I read the scripture for today's blog I was reminded of how the devil did the same things to Jesus that he tries on you and me. He is clever like a good football quarterback, who waits - and waits until the field is clear of any opponents before passing the ball to a receiver. It works almost every time for the quarterback - and for the devil.

Jesus had been fasting for forty days and nights. He was physically tired and hungry. And I am sure His heart was heavily burdened for those He was sent here to save. I don't think He had spent those forty days enjoying the scenery. But, rather, He was most likely in a state of prayer the entire time. So, when He finished I'm sure He was tired. Verse eleven says, "Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."

The world, the flesh, and the devil are the three enemies we have as Christians. The devil waited, and waited - just like a good quarterback. His timing was perfect, as always. He knew Jesus was born of flesh so he executed his play against Jesus by suggesting He turn stones into loaves of bread. But that play didn't work, so next he executed the worldly temptation of power. And again, Jesus had an answer for that also. Jesus knew the devil well enough that His defense against him was flawless. Why? Because Jesus had the devil's playbook memorized.

Fortunately, if we are wise Christians, we can overcome the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil by closely studying and learning what is contained in the Word of God. (Jesus' playbook) We don't need a playbook for offence. Jesus executes those plays for us if we stay close and follow Him daily. But our best defense against the devil's attacks is to read and learn what God's word has waiting for us daily.

We already know which team will win the game. But between now and then we can find much more joy by scoring touchdown after touchdown against the devil. And when we neglect to study and memorize God's playbook we often find ourselves losing when we could be winning.

God bless.

Self Condemnation
Genesis 3:4, 5
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

As I said recently in a previous blog, I have begun reading through the Bible again, and I truly love the Book of Genesis. There are so many things to be learned from its pages.

Today's reference is a key verse to so many things that we struggle with during our time here on earth - Knowing the difference between good and evil. A few days ago at a family get-together for a birthday I watched as two little toddlers were playing with some toys on the floor. They were both pulling and yanking on a toy truck, trying to take possession of it. To resolve the matter one of the adults went into another room and brought out a different truck so that each could have their own to play with. You probably know what took place next: Neither boy wanted the first truck any more and instantly began fighting over possession of the second truck. It will probably be a few years before they figure out what we call, the concept of sharing. It isn't always fun to share but it is a sure sign that we know the difference between good and evil. Those to little guys, at this point in life, have no clue about what that means.

As they grow older, the knowledge of that concept will become a very important part of their lives, and how they will be able to handle what we call self condemnation. Before Adam and Eve took of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they were sinless - unlike the two little toddlers who were fighting over a toy truck. In their sinless state they had no selfish desires. God had made them in His image - and sharing was a blessing to their own souls. But once Satan and sin entered into their lives two things took place. Their sinful, selfish carnal nature took over. And their knowledge of good and evil prompted them to hide themselves from God the next time He came walking through the garden to visit with them.

That sinful nature was then transferred to their two sons, Cain and Abel. And as you may know, instead of fighting over a toy truck, they got into an argument in verse eight of chapter four, which ended with Cain killing his brother Abel.

Now, one of the reasons I love reading this book so much is what takes place later in verses 23 and 24: "And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold." In the verses previous to this God describes the punishment that was to befall Cain for the sin of killing his brother. Lamech knows about that and is sure he too, is in deep trouble with God.

And, finally, two verses later we read the words in verse 26, ". . . then began men to call upon the name of the Lord." Now, I wasn't there at the time, but it is beginning to look like someone, somewhere along the line began to figure out that SIN always has its consequences. And one of the most grievous consequence is that of self-condemnation. Adam and Eve were instantly overcome by it. Lamech must have been a good, conscientious man, because he was bothered so much about killing another person than he was condemning himself more than ten times of that which was laid upon Cain. You might call that over-kill. I guess that may be appropriate in this case.

I don't know about you but sometimes I get to thinking about some the stupid things I have done in the past. And in my heart I am thinking, "I HATE myself for doing those things." And how I so badly regret even the thought of what I have done. I guess good ol' Lamech and I do have a few things in common. And one of them is what we call self-condemnation.

Unfortunately, some people allow those thoughts go on and on in their hearts and minds until it begins to eat away at their personality so much that their self-esteem drops to zero. Some even take their own lives as a result. And I think those thoughts probably had a lot to do with what we have read in verse 26: . . . then began men to call upon the name of the Lord." That is the ONLY place to turn when we have the slightest feelings of self-condemnation. God didn't condemn Adam and Eve for what they had done. He made them leather jackets to wear instead of fig leaves. He took away some of the blessings they had been given. But He did not condemn them. He loved them. They will be in Heaven when I get there and I can ask Adam if he had a belly-button and if he had a scar left over from the rib-removal.

Self-condemnation is a satanic attack on all of our souls. It can ruin our day. It can ruin our relationship with God and those around us. It can ruin our lives. But we have a wonderful, loving God who loves us too much to condemn us. That is why we find His promise in Romans 10:13 where He says, " For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." That does mean, "saved from condemnation to hell." But it also means, "Saved from our own self-condemnation." Once we put our trust in Jesus, His blood covers all of those things I hate in my past, all the things Lemech hated in his past, and ALL those things you hate in your past.

God bless.