Verses 34 and 25 are significant verses in Chapter 40. Moses was not able to enter into the tent where God’s presence dwelled; this is despite being God’s loyal servant and having been in the presence of God before. Moses had to be specifically invited by God to be in His presence, and at this time he was not. We too need to be invited into God’s presence, but He dwells amongst us across the entire earth and He does invite us into His presence. We don’t have to go to a particular place or wait for a specific invite from God. There is a general invite and we can enter into His presence whenever and wherever we want. This is a real privilege and it is one that we should most certainly make use of, regularly!
In verse 23 Jesus says “Everything is possible for one who believes” These are the words of Jesus. Do we believe them? Do we practice them? How often do we do things like pray for healing without a real expectation that there will be healing? Having complete faith and confidence won’t mean that everyone will be healed. However, it’s only possible if we believe. It is our unbelief that restricts our experience of Jesus’ power.
Verse 4 is an interesting one. It comes following a plea by the Psalmist to be vindicated by the Lord and seems to be giving reasons as to why he ought to be vindicated by the Lord. Yet, it goes against the very teachings of Jesus that we see in the New Testament. Jesus spent his life sitting with the deceitful and associating with hypocrites. Of course, there were some hypocrites who His association with was rather different (the Pharisees). However, on the whole Jesus wasn’t about shunning people who were deceitful and who were hypocritical – we’d all be in trouble if He did. We’re all deceitful and we’re all hypocritical. Is the Psalmist simply missing the point or is there a deeper, more subtle message to this verse?
In this passage we see the Israelites obeying God; they do as He told them to do. What we also see though is that following His directions and His commands was costly to them. The materials that were being used to construct these items were expensive. On a collective and on an individual basis the decision to do as God had instructed costed the Israelites. The same is true for us. When we take a decision to follow God and His commandments it will costs us something. It will not always costs us financially or materially, but ultimately there will be a cost to following Him. This is a lesson that we see repeatedly throughout the scriptures and it is one that we ought to keep returning to. It’s an important one and unless there is a cost to us we’re not really following God.
Verses 27-30 of chapter 8 are really relevant to us today. If you were to go onto Oxford Street in London or Buchanan Street in Glasgow and ask people who Jesus is you will get a whole range of responses. Some will miss who He is while others will have grasped it and declare who He is. Each of us should regularly declare, as Peter did, who Jesus is: that He is Lord; that He is our Saviour and that He is God.
This Proverb reminds us that we ought to work. We are not to be lazy. What work we do depends on our circumstances. It might be that we are in a fortunate position where the work we do is entirely voluntary, it might be a job, it might be raising our family or caring for individuals within our family. Our work could be in a secular environment, it could be in a Christian environment or it could cross between the two. The key lesson though is that we are not to be lazy, but to work. Our work is how we build God’s Kingdom. We don’t have to be in full time ministry to be doing Kingdom work – we can do it in our workplaces, amongst our family and so on. Whatever it is that we do each day; it is important that we do it in a way that builds God’s Kingdom. Staying in bed all our life doesn’t achieve that!
Exodus 35:1 – 36:38
The Sabbath, one of God’s fantastic ideas. We are told that God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh, we are also told that God required the Israelites to work just six days and take the seventh off. What is the Sabbath about? It’s about rest and relexation, but it’s also about focussing on and worshipping God. We see in the Gospels just how far the Pharisees took the commandment of the Sabbath; they took it so literally that it actually lost all its meaning. Instead of resting, relaxing and worshipping God people were stressed about ensuring that they did absolutely nothing that could in any way, even slightly, be considered as work. Their focus was off God and instead moved to compliance with a stringent Sabbath commandment. We too are to take one day off a week, a day to focus on God and to spend time relaxing and resting. For lost of us that will be a Sunday, but in this modern world it can’t be for all of us. Many people work in industries and vocations that require them to work on a Sunday, but it’s important that people who have to work a Sunday take another day in the week where they can rest, relax and focus on God.
The last bit of of this passage is an interesting one and it helps highlight the heart of the Pharisees. They were testing Jesus, but not in a genuine way. They were not genuinely seeking a sign from Jesus. There was nothing that Jesus could have done that would have made the Pharisees believe; He had already done many great things to show what his power and authority was and where it came from. They had chosen not to believe; they had elected to be blind. Jesus wants people to believe in Him and to those who are genuinely seeking He will reveal Himself to.
David declares in this Psalm that his hope is in God. For me that is a point to challenge myself on: who, what and where do I place my hope? Sometimes I place my hope in God, but a lot of the time I don’t. It’s an opportunity for me to remember that my hope should be in God always. It’s an opportunity for us all to remember that too.
What we see in the passage is the glory and greatness of God. His glory is so great that we cannot bear to see it face-to-face. We only see a glimpse of it, but yet the magnificence of His glory results in only one response: worship. We see that in this passage as Moses bows down to and in worship as God stands beside him. When we’re in God’s presence there is only on response: to worship.
Our actions, our words, our thoughts, our desires. These are the things that make us unclean, and that is one of the key things to be taken away from this passage in Mark’s Gospel. It doesn’t matter what out outward appearance looks like, for what is on the inside is what is true; and it is that which God looks at. Our words, our actions, our thoughts and our desires are the manifestation of what is on the inside of us. Our outward actions are not what makes us unclean, it’s what is inside of us. The things that we say or do for instance might be wrong, they might be bad and they might be sinful; however, doing them doesn’t make us unclean, we already were because those outward actions are a reflection of what is on the inside.
This is a great section of scripture that simply describes God: Good, upright, teacher, loving, faithful, guide, forgiving. It’s simply an opportunity to once again reflect on the true character of God. However, it’s not enough just to reflect on who God is, we must think about how we reflect God in our lives. Are we good? Are we upright? Are we loving and faithful? Do we guide? Are we forgiving? How could we be better at these things? What could we do differently that would help us to show God in and through our lives more?
The story of the golden calf is a well known biblical passage. We might think that we are not as daft as the Israelites to worship a golden calf. Indeed we may not be; however, we do have idols of our own. There are things in our lives that we follow, that we put in place of God. We worship them. It might be money, technology, gadgets, sex and a whole range of other things. We need to realise our idolatry and repent of it.
This is just one of many occasions where Jesus tells the disciples not to be afraid. This is something that he says to us as well. Too often we’re afraid when we shouldn’t be. A simple point from this passage is to not be afraid!
Trusting in God is difficult; it’s something that we all struggle with. Yet, throughout the Bible we see what happens when people do put their trust in God: it all comes together for them (and generally promptly falls apart when they stop). The same is true for us; if we trust in God things will work out for us. We need to trust that God knows what is best for us and to go on that journey. We think that we know what is best for us, but God knows so much more and truly knows what is in our interests. I’m sure every single one of us can think of times when we have stopped trusting in God and everything has fallen apart; that’s a lesson we need to learn! We need to seek Him and trust Him more.
The passage in chapter 30 about the atonement money spoke to me greatly when I read it. Here we see God seeking money for atonement; that money was in turn to be used for the service of the tent of meeting. However, it was about making atonement for their lives. Yet, we have no price to pay because Jesus paid it all for us on the cross. While we are still asked to give money to in order to fund the mission of the church, this is not a payment that is to make atonement for our lives. It is all about enabling the church to reach those who are not yet in a loving, grace-filled relationship with Jesus Christ. We do not have to pay for our salvation. This is something to really celebrate!
Jesus gave the 12 the authority to the disciples over impure spirits. The reality is we too, when we call upon the name of Jesus, have that authority. We can do all things in Christ’s’ name, but what it comes down to is our own faith. We have to believe that the name of Christ is as powerful as we say it is; if we do not we won’t see that power lived out. We have to use the name of Jesus with faith and with confidence.
Verse 21 is a stark warning. We all have sins that are secret in our lives, but the reality is that God sees it all. He knows all. He examines our thoughts and our actions; when we sin in private nobody else might see it, but He does!
We are told that the lamps are to be kept burning. This continual existence of light can be contrasted with the light that comes from Christ – a light that never goes out. The light that is in us and the light that we are to be displaying to the world around us will never go out; it should never go out. That light needs to keep burning, and we have the best oil to keep it burning: Jesus.
I love the story of the woman who is healed after touching Jesus’ garments. It shows a level of faith that we should all strive to have. She had complete faith that all she needed to do was to touch the clothes that Jesus was wearing in order to experience His healing power. We learn that she is healed when she touches His garments and that Jesus tells her that it is her faith that has healed her. We see more of the power of Jesus as He raises Jairus’ daughter back to life. This is the power of Christ and it is worthwhile just reflecting upon that power and just letting it sink in. What could we achieve if we had even a tiny proportion of the faith that the woman had? We see the magnitude of Jesus’ power both in her story and in the story of Jairus’ daughter. It’s certainly something to think about and reflect upon!
The first verse stood out at me and just challenged me. It spoke to my head and to my heart. It reminded me that everything that we see, everything that we have is all God’s. When we remember that our attitudes change, or they should change. Something to think about; something that should change how we view the world around us and how we interact with it.
Often passages in the Bible will bring us to the subject of money and here we get an insight into money. God tells Moses to collect an offering from amongst the people and he should collect that offering from those whose heart prompts them to give. Our hearts should prompt us to give to God’s Kingdom. We should give financially to allow the church to undertake the mission that we’ve been called to, but we also need to give of our time in service. It’s all well and good for the church to have the money to do lots of amazing things for the Kingdom if there aren’t the workers there to do it! Our hearts should prompt us to give generously to the Kingdom.
Mustard seeds are small, it would be so easy to miss one held in your hand they’re that small; yet, they grow into an absolutely enormous tree. Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to the mustard seed. Its beginnings will be small and humble (and indeed were), but it will grow into something so much bigger – something so big that it would be hard to believe what it came out of. We’re not there yet though, there’s still so much growth to be seen.
This is a well known Psalm and it is really good to simply reflect upon its words. It is an excellent one to turn to when we’re in the midst of dark and turbulent time sin our lives. It reminds us that God is leading us and He is leading us to a place where our souls can become refreshed and cleansed. The imagery in the Psalm is of peace and relaxation. It’s yet to come, but it’s where we’re going.
Here we see a principal of law espoused that we try to live out even today: that all are equal before the law. Although we try to live this out today, or at least say that we do, we’re not doing a very good job of it. It’s difficult for poor people to access the law and when they do they often have less representation that the richer party (if there is one) does. The way in which foreign nationals are treated before the law is getting worse with suggestions of deport first and appeal later coming from certain quarters together with a blatant and determined removal of rights. The word of God appears to suggest that Christians should not support such moves – that fairness and equality ought to be at the centre of our human judicial systems.
Verses 21-23 of chapter 4 are a really clear instruction to us. We are not to hide what we have, the light that comes from us is to provide light to everywhere that we go. As Jesus explained, we don’t turn on a lamp simply to hide it under a box – we turn on the lamp so that we have light. We are the lamp. Everyone should see and hear what we have.
Here we have an outpouring of praise. It follows the suffering that was described earlier in the Psalm. Quite simply we are to praise God – at all times and in all circumstances!
This is a tough passage and begins to look more deeply at the substance of the 10 commandments. In amongst all the harshness of the passage we can still see the true heart of God being revealed. We see that He cares deeply about justice. He cares deeply about human life and about relationships. The punishments mandated by Him to the Israelites make that abundantly clear. He tells the Israelites not to oppress foreigners reminding them that they were foreigners in Egypt. He tells them not to take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. Justice is at the heart of who God is. That is seen throughout the Bible and it is even seen in the cross. God needs justice, but He also wants a relationship with us. The cross is a sign of grace and of mercy, but it is also a sign of Justice. Justice had to be done and it was done on the cross. As God’s people we too should have justice at our very core. We should seek out Justice. We should ensure justice for those who are oppressed and those who are in need. Social justice is just as important to God as criminal justice and we see a glimpse of that in this passage.
Chapter 3, verse 5 tells us that Jesus got angry. What was Jesus angry at? He was angry at the Pharisees and their focus on rules over the needs of the people. We know that Jesus came for the people, we know that God is interested in people. We can see that from what Jesus says about the most important commandments: after loving God comes loving people. The church today can be too focussed on rules. We see examples of it all the time where the Church shuts people out because of its adherence to rules (many of which are not from God). It was said by William Temple that the “Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members”. The Church isn’t a social club for Christians. The Church is the body of Christ and it is supposed to be doing His work here on earth and that means caring about people.
From this passage verse 4 stood out. From it we can get something far wider than a warning against adultery. What we can see here is that sin might seem good, it might be very tempting and it might be very hard to resist it. However, once it’s over it leaves behind it a nasty taste. A small amount of pleasure to be followed by a nastiness that doesn’t make the pleasure worthwhile. Something that I personally need to remember, and something that we all need to remember.