In the Wilderness: Exodus 40:34-38

All for His glory: Exodus 40:34-38
It’s the last reading in Exodus. Open up the Word in your Bible or online by clicking the link above.

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
Exodus 40:34 ESV
The work was finished. The tabernacle constructed, set in place, anointed. Then… God… showed… up…!
His glory present with His people. This was the whole point of the exercise. And this is the point for us too. His glory in the presence of His people.
As He calls us to visions and leads us by His Word and Spirit through the wilderness of this world, we are to do all for His glory and not for our own.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace… in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
1Peter 4:10-11 ESV
His presence is seen and recognized when His people serve Him with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Humbly obedient in all they do.
God’s physical glory present in the cloud was His message to the Israelites: Well done.

His Spirit places that message in our hearts as we obediently serve Him with a heart to glorify Him.
His glory the whole point of the exercise of life and faith. If we pursue Him faithfully, one day we too may hear:
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”
Matthew 25:23 ESV
Lord Jesus, may I glorify You in all I do!

We’ve made it through Exodus. Next week begins the songs of praise found in Psalms. The psalms show us how past Believers have cried out to God in joy and sorrow, deliverance and suffering. 
Consider over the weekend what it means to you to be walking through the wilderness of this world with God, headed toward the promised land. Prepare your heart to hear the psalmists voice their hearts to God as they wandered. Perhaps their songs are yours too.

In the Wilderness: Exodus 40:1-33

Anointed for holy works: Exodus 40:1-33
Click the link above to read online.

“Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it may become holy. … And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.”
Exodus 40:9, 15 ESV
What God calls us to build, He instructs us how to use.
The Israelites were blessed with a vision and they built it, just as Moses told them. Now God reveals how to put it together and gives instructions to anoint all its parts and priests for His holy purposes.
We too, as temporal houses of God in our current bodies, are given visions and gifts to work out. But we must only use them at His direction, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We do not get to choose what we do with our gifts and visions. We are called to surrender them all to God. Willingly follow His instructions.
Do you recognize the gifts He’s given you? Are you using them for His purpose? or for your own?
Do you understand the anointing of the Holy Spirit makes you holy to the Lord? and you are called to serve Him only?
Believers are anointed into a perpetual priesthood, an eternal service to God. Our lives no longer our own, but a living sacrifice to be given daily, moment by moment, through acts of worship.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1 ESV
Father God, remind me daily to use all You’ve given me
for Your purpose under Your direction.
Forgive me for the times I have used Your gifts
 for my own purpose. 

In the Wilderness: Exodus 39

The vision comes to pass: Exodus 39
Read the Scripture online by clicking the reference above.

So all the work on the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses.
Exodus 34:32 ESV
We’ve watched the Israelites construct the ark, the lampstand, the table, the altar, all the utensils, and the framework with its dividing veils and covering. Today, we read about the priestly garments: robes, tunics, ephod, turban. Each created according to the vision God gave Moses on the mountain.
It’s one thing to receive a vision. It’s another to make it happen.
I’ve had a bit of experience, lately, with visions coming to pass. More than ten years ago, God gave me ten words, all verbs, necessary to exercise faith. My vision for these words was a t-shirt for the youth ministry: Top 10 Ways to Exercise Your Faith!
When I took the vision to the Youth Ministry Director, Stacy, she saw something different. She said, “This is a Bible study.” Those words stirred my heart and spirit to a greater vision. I began to study and write. Stacy graciously agreed to meet with me weekly to encourage and challenge.
We got to the point where the writing and weekly meetings were put aside. Other ministry endeavors ensued. But our faith relationship continued to grow. We mentor one another now, we call each other sister. And last summer we resuscitated the study on faith and taught it at the shop we share. 
The first five words are a six week Bible study, one we taught, and even expanded by going deeper for another twenty-five weeks. We are about to begin the work on completing the second half of the study, the remaining five words. But it never would’ve happened if steps of faith weren’t taken toward each new glimpse of the vision. 
With each step of faith the vision expanded, became more detailed. Just like Moses’s vision of the priestly robes. In the working out, the detail of the gold hammered flat, cut into strands, and woven into the fabric was revealed.
When God blesses you with a vision, take the first step — whatever step looks like it will lead you toward its fulfillment. (Moses came down the mountain and called for an offering. I went to the Youth Director with the idea of a t-shirt.) Then continue to be faithful and see where He leads. What He reveals next.
It will take faith.
It will take work.
It will become something you never imagined.
In the same way, faith by itself,
if it is not accompanied by action is dead.
James 2:17 NIV
Exercise your faith, by seeking Him and His vision for His Kingdom. Then be prepared to get to work, take the first step and continue to listen for His direction.
Father God, what a blessing to be included in Your work.
Open my eyes and heart to receive the vision You have for me.
Bless me with the faith to take the first step.
I long for my faith to be living and active.

In the Wilderness: Exodus 38

Burnished bronze: Exodus 38
Click the link above to read online.

He made the altar of burnt offering of acacia wood. … He made horns for it on its four corners. … he overlaid it with bronze. And he made all the utensils for the altar, the pots, the shovels, the basins, the forks, and the fire pans. He made all its utensils of bronze.
He made the basin of bronze and its stand of bronze, from the mirrors of the ministering women who ministered in the entrance of the tent of meeting.
And he made the court. …their twenty pillars and their twenty bases were of bronze…
Exodus 38:1-3, 8-10 ESV
Bronze was used to create the altar, construct the basin, and the bases for the framework for the court of the tabernacle. 
Daniel saw the pre-incarnate Lord in a vision.
His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude.
Daniel 10:6 ESV (emphasis added)
John saw the returning glorified Lord in his revelation.
The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice like the roar of many waters.
Revelation 1:14-15 ESV (emphasis added)
In the bronze-work of the temple we see the Lord.
In the altar, He is the One who purifies our offerings.
In the basin, He cleanses all our sins by His blood.
In the bases, He is the foundation by which we can enter the courts of God.
Burnished bronze. Shined like a mirror. In Him we see our true selves. Sinners saved by grace.
All the works of the tabernacle formed for purification, cleansing, and the foundation for the framework of their relationship with God, all based on the future promise of Jesus’s work on the cross.
Believers are His tabernacle now, and live in the spiritual reality of His finished work.
Consecrated. Cleansed. And as close to Him as we care to be.
He is building us into a spiritual house, called to draw near to be a part of His work, separated from the world, for His use and purpose.
…you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1Peter 2:5 ESV
Are you doing your part? allowing Him to consecrate, cleanse, and enter into His presence so you can more fully reflect His image to the world?
It’s what you were re-created for. Just like the bronze plundered from the Egyptians and remade as holy to the Lord.
Lord, forgive me for not allowing You to reform me as You long to.
Today I invite You to shine me to a truer reflection of You.

In the Wilderness: Exodus 37

The most precious mercy seat: Exodus 37
Be sure to read the Word before reading what’s below. Click the link above to read online.

And he made a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half was its length,
and a cubit and a half its breadth. And he made two cherubim of gold.
He made them of hammered work on the two ends of the mercy seat…
Exodus 37:6-7 ESV
Dang, God! That’s a lot of gold!

My son’s remark to God as he read the details of the tabernacle. And yes, there was a lot of gold involved. The utensils for the lampstand alone took a talent of gold which equals about 75 pounds. The cost today: $1,378,671.10. Dang, that’s a lot of gold.

And I wonder if we realize just how precious a gift it is to have access to God’s mercy seat. How precious it is to be able to enter the Holy Place, much less the Holy of Holies.

All of God’s infinite power made the way for us to draw near to Him. The precious blood of His Son poured out on our behalf. 
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile to himself all things,
whether on earth or in heaven, making peace
by the blood of his cross.
Colossians 1:19-20 ESV
Do you appreciate the cost of what’s been done for you? Do you daily draw near to spend time with Him, one on one?
If not, considering what it cost and how precious it is, maybe it’s time to evaluate your response to the gospel. 
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. …”
Matthew 13:44 ESV

Lord, forgive me for not appreciating the precious nature of Your gift of grace. Bless me with desire to draw near and take full advantage of Your unlimited access. Fill me with joy in Your presence.

In the Wilderness: Exodus 36

Let it be so among us: Exodus 36
Be sure to read His Word before the words below. Click the link above to read online.

So the people were restrained from bringing, for the material
they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more.
Exodus 36:6-7 ESV
Can you imagine such a thing? Pastor Doug standing before the congregation on Sunday morning saying: Really stop! You’ve given well beyond what we need for the work He’s called us to. We are not taking an offering today.

What is revealed about the hearts of these newly freed wilderness wanderers?
What is revealed about our hearts wandering in the wilderness of the world?
Lord, free us up for joyful obedience when it comes to giving.
Amen.

In the Wilderness: Exodus 35:30-35

Unexpected gifts useful to His Kingdom: Exodus 35:30-35
Open up the Word today. Click online or find it in the Bible.

God gifts us all. Each in different ways. Maybe you think the only gifts useful to His Kingdom are those we see among the clergy: preaching, prophecy, teaching the Word, ministering, shepherding, etc.

But look at the gifts we see today: skill, intelligence, and knowledge in craftsmanship; artistry in both metals and textiles, carving of wood. Craftsmanship is a gift from God, one He gives for His purpose.

If you have artistic gifts, gifts of craftsmanship, do not discount your usefulness to His Kingdom. It is His gift to you. Begin asking Him today how you can freely give it back to Him for His work.

Father God, reveal the gifts You’ve given me to serve You.
Maybe gifts I haven’t recognized as useful to You.
Show me how and where to use all You’ve given me,
for Your glory.

In the Wilderness: Exodus 35:1-29

Giving freely: Exodus 35:1-29
Read God’s Word online by clicking the link above or in your Bible.

All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them
to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done
brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.
Exodus 35:29 ESV
Moses went among the people sharing the plans for the tabernacle. Then he called them to give everything needed to make it happen.
By faith Moses saw the unseen on the mountain. By faith he called the people to give materials unattainable in the wilderness. There was no need to take a vote among the people on whether to do it or not. God said. That was that.
There was no concern over where the materials would come from or what the budget would be. God said. He would provide. Provide He did, through the people He rescued from slavery. And they brought it all as a freewill offering.
freewill… voluntary, spontaneous — Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
Those whose hearts were moved, gave freely to the One who had freed them. They gave without fear of scarcity. They knew all they had was a gift from Him. So they freely gave it back to Him for His use.
The same is true for us. He is the One who freed us from sin and death. And everything we have is a gift from Him. We too should give what He’s given back to Him, freely, voluntarily, spontaneously, for His use and His glory.
What freewill offering have you given lately? Your prayers? Your gifts? Your presence? Your service? Your witness?
God has gifted us each in so many different ways, but all for one purpose: Building His Kingdom.
Consider today what you have to give, how you feel about giving, and what you’re currently using your gifts for.
“…Freely you have received; freely give. …”–Jesus
Matthew 10:8 NIV
Father God, open my heart to the blessing of giving back to You for Your glory.

In the Wilderness: Exodus 34

A do-over: Exodus 34
Open up your Bible or open up the link above to read His Word.

“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”
Exodus 34:6-7 ESV
God called Moses back up the mountain for a do-over. The tablets Moses carried down the first time, he broke on the ground as he watched God’s people break every commandment written on them (Exodus 32:19). In His grace, God told Moses to cut new tablets like the first and come alone to meet with Him on the mountain.
As rebellious as the people had been. As impetuous as Moses had been. God chose to be gracious and try again. After all, that’s who He is… merciful and gracious…

On his second visit up the mountain, God passed by Moses as He said He would. As He passed by He declared His name so Moses would know and be able to tell His people exactly who He is… slow to anger… 

God’s character trait slow to anger can be dangerous. The people stirred up God’s anger once. They almost lost His presence. They had a small taste of His anger, but they needed to remember He is serious about His commandments.
Sometimes we mistake God’s patience and loving kindness for approval… forgiveness… indifference… and keep right on doing what we know is contradictory to His law. But He clearly says He is a God who will by no means clear the guilty… A price must be paid for every sin. He is every bit as much a God of justice and holiness as He is grace and mercy.
God’s law was fulfilled by Jesus. Even punishment for every sin committed. Jesus satisfied God’s wrath on the cross. Through His resurrection He was justified. Through trusting belief we can be justified too. Forgiven. Every sin atoned for through Jesus’s sacrifice. No more passing guilt from generation to generation.
But make no mistake. Even though Believers are free from the law, every sin comes with consequences. Painful ones built right in. And one sure sign of salvation is the desire for holiness in our lives here and now. Loving Him through obedience with every moment of time we have left. Not because of fear, but because we love Him.
Jesus made the way for everyone to have a do-over, by faith. One we need to continually walk in, as long as we are in these bodies of flesh. One we should never take for granted. And be thankful for each and every day.
Father God, what a gracious gift to make the Way for a Do-over!
May I use mine to bless You and Your people every moment
of every day.

In the Wilderness: Exodus 33

His presence: Exodus 33
Click the link above or read it in your Bible today.

The Lord said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… but I will not go with you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
Exodus 33:1, 3 ESV

God said… Go without Me… or I might destroy you… The golden calf stirred God’s anger to the point where He was just about done with this stiff-necked people. He told Moses to go on without Him, an angel would go before them, but not Him.

This was disastrous news to Moses and the people. God’s presence is the one thing which makes His people unique among all people in the world. And He would no longer be with them.

“…Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
Exodus 33:16 ESV
His presence was seen as a pillar of cloud. When the pillar was seen at the tent of meeting, the people stopped what they were doing. Rose up. And worshiped.
God’s presence isn’t physically visible to most of us these days. But His presence can definitely be sensed. We who believe in, trust in, His Son as Savior, the One who died for our sins and rose from the dead, have His Spirit, His presence, within us.
Do you sense Him each day? do you allow Him to lead you? are you at a loss, when He seems lost to you?
Not only do we have His Spirit internally, but He still shows up in places. Fills places. Descending into the midst of His people. Wherever they are seeking Him.
When was the last time you sensed His presence and couldn’t help but rise up in worship? raise a hand in praise? have you ever?
The presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Believers makes us unique among all the people of the world. The evidence is seen in our lives. What comes from the working of the Spirit in our hearts. It’s a very different picture than that of unbelievers, those living by the desires of the flesh.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. … But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
The question today is: Does your life reflect the presence of the Holy Spirit? Do you think it disastrous if you do not sense Him in your day? in your worship?
The Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, spiritual babies trying to learn how to follow God, how to deal with their fears and reconcile their pasts with their present and future. We are pretty much the same. But they did know the importance of His presence in their lives and mourned when He said: Go without Me… and they repented.
What about you?
Oh Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve taken Your presence
in my life for granted. Forgive me for every time I have grieved Your Spirit or
quenched Your Spirit’s work in my life. Open the eyes of my heart afresh
to Your presence. May I stop. Rise up. And worship.