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Sunday

September 6th - Unintentional Iniquities


Unintentional Iniquities
(Ezekiel 44:4-31; 45:1-25; 46:1-24; 47:1-23; 48:1-35)


I’m Sorry
Artist Unknown

Have you ever had to apologize for a wrong you never meant to commit? Has anyone ever been offended by something you said or did, when you actually intended no harm at all?

Perhaps you have been on the other side of the equation.

Has anyone ever wronged you by mistake? Inadvertent insults, unintended injuries and unmeant mishaps can wreak havoc on relationships – particularly if we do not know that we have offended someone. These big “Oops” moments can create opposition before we even are aware that a conflict may exist.

Is it possible to sin unintentionally against the Lord?

In today’s daily Bible readings, the Old Testament prophet spoke of the Lord’s instructions for cleansing the temple of God (and His people) from unintentional and unwitting evils):

"This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
‘In the first month on the first day you are to take a young bull without defect and purify the sanctuary. The priest is to take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, on the four corners of the upper ledge of the altar and on the gateposts of the inner court. You are to do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance; so you are to make atonement for the temple.’”
(Ezekiel 45:18-20, NIV, emphasis added)

Clearly, it is possible for us to fail to follow God’s guidelines and to offend His holiness by mistake. Perhaps not all sin is intentional. Anything that falls short of the Lord’s perfection may be a failing.

Thanks be to God that He covers our sins with His own cleansing blood! For who could stand in His Presence without the righteousness that He Himself has purchased for us?

Will you pray with me?
Great and gracious God,
We are humbled to be called Your own.
Search our hearts
And our thoughts
And our words
And our deeds.
Reveal to us
Where we have sinned,
Even where we have sinned
Without meaning to do so.
Call us to confess
And repent
And be reconciled to You
Through Your own Son’s sacrifice
For us.
Thank you for Your great grace.
Make us holy,
Even as You are holy.
Amen.

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September 5th -Common or Consecrated?


Common or Consecrated?
(Ezekiel 40:1-49; 41:1-26; 42:1-20; 43:1-27; 44:1-3)


Ministering Priests

Around 570 years before the birth of Christ, the Lord gave His Old Testament prophet Ezekiel an amazing vision of His Great Temple. Included in the extremely detailed description is a set of specific instructions for priestly conduct and clothing.

Then he said to me,
"The north and south rooms facing the temple courtyard are the priests' rooms, where the priests who approach the LORD will eat the most holy offerings. There they will put the most holy offerings—the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings—for the place is holy.
Once the priests enter the holy precincts, they are not to go into the outer court until they leave behind the garments in which they minister, for these are holy. They are to put on other clothes before they go near the places that are for the people."
(Ezekiel 42:13-14, NIV, emphasis added)


Are you as intrigued by these instructions as I am? Why would the Lord care so deeply about the attire of the priests?

Perhaps it is not the apparel itself that is of concern. The main issue seems to be consecration (or set-apartness) of the priestly garb. God wanted the priests to wear clean, pure and holy clothing for ministering in His Presence, rather than their everyday outfits. The garments in which the priests mingled with the masses were apparently not acceptable for serving in the Lord’s own company.

How often might we mingle the righteous and the rough, the sacred and the sinful, the consecrated and the common?

In our church, even the pastors often wear blue jeans to church, although for centuries clergy wore fancy robes to minister. Some ordained leaders don neckties or even clerical collars for serving in the Lord’s house. Others choose to participate and lead in sportswear or even athletic attire. Is this wrong?

And what about the apparel worn by those in the choir – or the congregation at large?


What apparel is appropriate for holy service? Do fashions figure into fully acceptable worship of the Lord?

Is clothing really the issue here? In what other ways might we inadvertently mix unholy and holy matters? How might we best prepare ourselves to praise and honor the Lord aright?

Of course, the Lord promises to clothe His people with His own “garments of salvation” and “robes of righteousness” (see Isaiah 61:10) to live forever in His Presence. May it be ever so.

Will you pray with me?


Holy One,
We long to honor You.
Reveal to us
Any areas of our lives
Where we have allowed
Unholy things
To contaminate
Our holy worship of You –
Both individually
And corporately.
Make us pure,
Even as You are pure.
Make our motives mindful of the Master,
And clothe us in Your own righteousness.
Amen.

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Wednesday

September 4th - Untethered Trust

Untethered Trust

(Daniel 3:1-30)


Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace

By Simeon Solomon

1863


Around 584 B.C., famous King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the creation of a giant idol, dedicated to his own honor and to his pagan gods. King Nebuchadnezzar ordered everyone to bow and worship the image.

Three faithful fellows refused.


The story is one of the most familiar of all Bible accounts. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego respectfully answered the king, claiming that God could rescue them from King Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. Their testimony is telling.


“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

replied to the king,

‘O Nebuchadnezzar,

we do not need to defend ourselves

before you in this matter.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace,

the God we serve is able to save us from it,

and He will rescue us from your hand,

O king.

But even if He does not,

we want you to know, O king,

that we will not serve your gods

or worship the image of gold

you have set up.’”

(Daniel 3:16-18, NIV, emphasis added)


What faith!


Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego daringly declared their trust in the one Almighty God. They announced their dedication to Jehovah, no matter how the Lord chose to act. The Lord did intervene in a miraculous way, protecting the three men and delivering them unscorched from the fiery furnace.


But what if God had chosen martyrdom for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? They still trusted Him.


For what is God calling you to trust Him today?


Do you face illness, danger, financial worries or other concerns? Where is your own faith being tested?


Personally, I am living with a condition that the medical community calls chronic and probably progressive. I know that our great God, Jehovah Rapha, is able to heal me. If the Lord chooses to intervene miraculously, I will praise Him. If the Great Physician grants human doctors and medical researchers insight that leads to a cure for me and so many others, I will praise Him.


What if I am not healed – at least, not in this lifetime?


My life belongs to the Lord, the Giver of all Life. He promises healing, although it may come when I receive my brand-new resurrection body. At that time, will I question His timing? Certainly not.


I have an inkling about this. Once I see the Lord’s face, I think all other concerns will quickly fall away.

Will we trust Him now?


Will you pray with me?


Jehovah,

You are God.

Your timing is perfect,

Even as You are perfect.

You know our needs.

You know our hurts.

You know what causes us the greatest concern

And what disturbs our rest.

We lay our worries

At your holy feet.

Teach us to trust You

For Your loving answer

In Your time.

May we glorify You

As You answer our pleas.

Amen.


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