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5 Things For The Exchange

Hey Exchange,

As I mentioned yesterday, SPIRITUAL ALIGNMENT IS KEY in life and as a church because SPIRITUAL ALIGNMENT leads to SPIRITUAL HEALTH. Since the beginning of 2012, we’ve been more Spiritual Healthy than ever before. 5 things I want you to know about the last couple months:

  1. We’ve been averaging 40 PEOPLE since the beginning of 2012. That’s almost double where we were in Nov-Dec. Most are just getting back to church or have been searching for a church for awhile.
  2. Our Volunteers have DOUBLED! Thinking back to the beginning of 2012. Every area of our church has grown. In fact, we routinely have more volunteers in our preservice momentum meetings now then we had in our entire church service a year and a half ago! We’re also adding a load in/out team that a couple of you have already signed up for. A Healthy Church is An Active Church.
  3. STORIES, STORIES, STORIES! There have been such awesome stories as so many of us have been working on Spiritual Alignment in our personal life. Unexpected ways God acts. Unexpected ways He has blessed us. And of course unexpected spiritual warfare. It’s a good sign when hell is deathly afraid of you.
  4. Relationships are TAKING OFF! Especially since starting the FB Small Group so people can connect throughout the week. There’s a stronger sense of community, getting to know about others, and knowing others care for you. It’s so cool to see people praying with each other throughout different areas of the building. A Healthy Church Is A Praying Church.
  5. We have 2 HUGE series coming up. What If? Starts this coming Sunday. And Crazy Pill starts on Easter. Both of these are great series to invite people to. What If is going to seriously challenge us. Crazy Pill will talk about addictions, mental illnesses, and God’s Plan for His people. So as we Extend. Serve. Grow. Think about who needs to either hear about Christ, or get back on track with following Him, and extend an invitation to them.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I love doing and being the church with you all. Remember, we are Plan A!

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Church

 

Rest

I’ll be taking a break this week from posting on Leviticus as I’m heading south with some of our EC staff and leaders for a conference. We’ll be resuming it next week!

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Live Right – Continued

First Read Leviticus 19:1-37

The first part of Leviticus 19 dealt largely with how people were to treat one another. The command in verse 18 to love one’s neighbor as yourself encapsulates what we see in in this chapter, and on a larger extent the law in general. The second part of chapter 19 will deal more with the individuals.

19:19 … You shall not breed together 2 kinds of your cattle … What follows are commands not to mix two kinds together. This is symbolic of God’s people being set apart, and not allowing other people’s religions to seep their way into Israelite culture and worship.

19:20 Now if a man lies carnally with a woman who is a slave acquired for another man, but has in no way been redeemed nor given her freedom, there shall be punishment. The situation involves a woman who is betrothed to man. Here the one she sleeps with must apparently pay damages to the family or the fiancee, and offerings must be offered.

19:23 When you enter the land and plant all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as forbidden… This is an interesting point in light of how we think about Christianity. When Israelites entered the land they sowed seed. They couldn’t eat it for 3 years, then on the 4th year they had to give their crop as an offering to God. It wasn’t until the 5th year when they could start enjoying the food. In other words they: 1. Worked hard cultivating the seed/plants for 3 years. 2. Then offered what they had to God. 3. Then finally enjoyed it. Sometimes that’s how the blessings of God works. We labor and cultivate for years and years, before we are truly able to enjoy the blessings (after thanking God perhaps even offering in some way a sacrifice back in thanks).

19:26 You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying… From 26-31 we find a list of current Canaanite practices in the land that dealt with religious actions and/or mourning. The point here is not that Israelite shouldn’t mourn, but that they should not physically disfigure themselves in light of it or for religious reasons in the style of the Canaanites. Verse 29 refers to the temple prostitutes that Canaanites would put their daughters into. Note also that the first king of Israel, Saul, turned to the medium of Endor in 1 Sam 28:7ff.

19:32 You shall rise up before the gray headed and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD. Honoring our elders isn’t just suggested, it is commanded.

19:33 When a stranger resides with you in your land and shall not do him wrong… Israel is to treat those who are with them, but not of them, rightly. They are not to treat people poorly, for Israel was once slaves in Egypt where God came to them and freed them. Likewise those who are foreigners in Israel’s land are to act the same way so the foreigners can also meet Israel’s great God.

19:35 You shall do no wrong in judgement, in measurement of weight, or capacity. When it comes to financial transactions, they are to be conducted honestly and rightly.

19:37 You shall thus observe all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them; I am the LORD. The expectation is that God’s people will carry out these expectations because of who He is, and who they are. As they do, He will live with them and they will enjoy all the blessings that come with that.

There are a lot that is covered in this chapter. But the takeaway for us today is the heart behind the commands  to figure out how what was given to a specific people in a specific place for a specific time is to be translated to our time today. For example we may not use weights and measures when we sell something on Craigslist, but we should conduct transactions fairly and rightly.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR US: 

  • Sometimes we work and work and work, but won’t see the results of it for years (and Remember to thank God when we do!). Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. – Colossians 3:23-24
  • Don’t look down on people. Through us, people ought to see God. Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven. – Colossians 4:1. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. – James 2:9
  • Conduct business honestly and rightly. But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” – Luke 19:8
 
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Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Bible Study, Leviticus

 

Live Right

First Read Leviticus 19:1-37

Here we find a number of commands about how the Israelites are to live in general. These are founded on the basis that God is holy and we are to imitate Him. The crux of this chapter is found in verse 18. you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. That sums up the chapter.  Due to the sheer various number of commands and topics in this chapter, we’ll look today at verses 1-18, and tomorrow at 19-37.

19:2 …”You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” This is essentially the theme of Leviticus. A declaration of who God is, and how His people should live in light of His character.

19:3 Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father, and you shall keep My sabbaths; I am the LORD your God. The first command God gives in this section is to honor one’s parents. Holiness begins in the house. The command to keep the Sabbath (day of rest) seems weird, but it’s really an imitation of God who rested. The ability to rest rather than do work one day a week is humbling and it also reorients us on the God who provides it all.

19:4 Do not turn to ideals or make for yourselves molten gods; I am the LORD your God. In the lives of God’s people there is to be no idol, nothing else that gets our worship. It all goes to God alone.

19:7 So if it is eaten at all on the 3rd day, it is an offense; it will not be accepted.  What we once gave in worship can become an offense if it is offered up not in accordance with God’s desires, which really is a reflection on our attitude.

19:10 you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger… Those who have been blessed more in the society are to help those who are not as blessed. Notice there is no stipulation given. It is simply, those who have more are to assist those who have less by leaving some areas of their crops unpicked.

19:15 You shall do no injustice in judgement. In a society consisting of many small villages it is possible a judge or elder would have sided with those who he was closer with. Leviticus commands against that for one must always side with justice, not favoritism.

19:16 You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act agains the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. Don’t kill people physically, but also don’t kill them verbally to others.

19:18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. God wants His people to live unity and love, not have dissuasion and disunity. Love is to be our chief characteristic towards others.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR US: 

  • Honor and Honesty are to be 2 of our chief characteristics. Much of how people are told to relate to each other has to deal with doing right to each other. Not having favoritism or doing things from selfishness. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices – Colossians 3:9
  • Love Your Neighbor. It is a wide and encompassing statement, but it is absolutely true in each and every sense. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31
 
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Posted by on February 11, 2012 in Bible Study, Leviticus

 

Live Different

First Read Leviticus 18:1-30.

Part of Leviticus is about God’s people doing things differently. 7 times in this chapter the Israelites are told not to live like those who lived in the land before them. 6 times, “I am the LORD your God” is mentioned. The point is clear. Following God means not living like everyone else. In this chapter God begins to show what that means by starting mostly with sexual impurity.

18:3 You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. Their past and future must not define them. Being in the position of slavery, nor the position of blessing ought to change them. They simply are to live for God.

 18:6 None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the LORD. The point is essentially that in verses 6-18 a man shall not marry any of his close relatives, or a woman who has become a close relative.

18:20 You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her. Adultery is forbidden.

18:21 You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. What is in view here is child sacrifice. Molech was often represented by a bronze statute with outstretched hands. The hands could be heated and children would either be set upon his burning hands, or “passed through the fire.” God clearly doesn’t want his people to practice child sacrifice.

18:22 You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. Homsexuality is forbidden.

18:23 Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, not shall any woman stand before and animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. Beastiality is forbidden. Although foreign to us in the west today, this was another practice that some ancient near easter religions practiced.

18:24-25 Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. God just gave them how the other nations brought defilement upon themselves: Intermarrying, adultery, homosexuality, beastility, because of these it says, “The land has spewed out its inhabitants. For what is to be a land of blessing, God wants His people to live there and enjoy it. Not be kicked out because they polluted it. He doesn’t want history to repeat itself (verse 28).

18:29 For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. This gives the consequence of those who do partake in it. Better that one person be cut off, then the entire nation become polluted.

This has a lot to say to the church today. Even Jesus get’s more to the heart/attitude behind the action when He says not just the act of adultery is wrong, but even the stricter, “looking at a woman lustfully” already commits adultery in one’s heart. In a time God tells His people to have higher standards and to live for Him, He also says, “don’t be like those around you.” While looking at these laws then, one might wonder if these are still applicable since the sacrifices that took up the beginning of Leviticus are no longer enforced. To which Wenham notes:

For most Christians it is self-evident that the moral rules enunciated in this chapter still apply today. The NT writers assume that the laws on incest (vv.6-18; cf.1 Cor 5:1ff), adultery (v.20, e.g., Rom. 13:9), idolatry (v.21; cf 1 Cor. 10:7ff.; Rev. 2:14), and homosexuality (v.22; Rom. 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:9) still bind the Christian conscience.

God always takes sexual impurity among His people seriously to the point where it impacts all He has for them. For those who follow Him then, we should take it seriously within the church as well.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR US:

  • God takes sexual impurity very seriously. Most of this chapter dealt with sexual sins of some sort. Again we must note it is not sex in itself that is the issue, but sexual impurity. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:28.  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. – Romans 1:24-25
  • God wants us to enjoy the blessings He has in store for us. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17.
  • Our lives should not change whether times are tough, or we are in times of blessing. We must always live the same, which is for God. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. – Philippians 1:21
 
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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Bible Study, Leviticus

 

Not Like The Others

First Read Leviticus 17:1-16

Although this section deals with sacrifices, it isn’t concerned about the role of the priests, but the people (and foreigners among them) of Israel. That they worship God how He commands, and do not mix in other forms of ancient near eastern worship. They are to be a people set apart and that means in their forms of worship as well.

17:1 and has not brought it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD, blood guiltiness is to be reckoned to that man. He has shed blood and that man shall be cut off from among his people. Essentially this makes it so everyone associated with God’s people clearly offer their sacrifices to Him. There was to be no other sacrifices made to other gods. No doing it in the wilderness.

17:7 They shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the goat demons with which they play the harlot… A strict prohibition against sacrifices to demons. Egyptians and other peoples of the time worshipped goat gods for their fertility. Note also how the goat head is even used today as a satanic symbol.

17:11-12 “For the life of the bless is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, “No person among you may eat the blood…” Here we find God giving the reason for the prohibition against eating flesh of animals with blood still in it. Life is identified with it’s blood (17:14). Life belongs strictly to God and it is the way His people are atoned for.

In this chapter God gives specific ways the Israelites are to live differently in regards to sacrifice than the neighboring nations. Because Israel had spend so much time in Egypt, it was also likely that they would naturally shift to mixing in the religion of Egypt and it’s accompanying forms of worship. God also tells about the importance of blood in His eyes and what it means for His people. Note the strictness for those who do not take the commands in this chapter seriously. That person is to be “cut off” from his people, (4, 9, 10, 14). A serious consequence.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR US:

  • God wants all of our worship to go to Him. In other words we don’t worship Him just on Sundays or pray every now and then, while we really spend all our time, mind, and heart on advancing what we in essence worship (career, desire, income amount, relationship), rather we give Him all our worship. For when we do worship Him, He gives us the desires of our heart, because it is aligned with Him. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 34:7. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. – Mark 12:30
 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Bible Study, Leviticus

 

The Significance

First Read Leviticus 16:1-34

Today we’ll finish up the rest of Leviticus 16 and the Day of Atonement. Verses 23-28 talk about the priest changing back into his regular priestly garments and then offering up the sacrifice. Likewise the person who released the scapegoat also has to wash his clothes. As well as the people that burn the unused parts of the sacrifice outside the camp. Essentially anyone directly involved in the process had to wash before coming back to camp. From there God of the important of the day.

16:29 This shall be a permanent statute for you… 3 times God will state this day is to be a permanent statue.

16:30 for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to clean you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD.  This is the reason for atonement, they are cleansed from their sins. This day is for the people’s benefit.

16:31 It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you… A day of rest is a humbling experience.

16:34 And just as the LORD had commanded Moses, so he did. Moses was faithful to do what God commanded him. That’s why he was perfect for the job back in Exodus. He had faith and obeyed. Everything else he had to learn he could grow into.

 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR US:

  • God does things for our benefit. Even when it seems weird, tough, or painful.“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the LORD.
    “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9
  • Look for the right people. God looked for someone who would listen and obey Him in faith. Everything else Moses learned he grew into.  Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them – Acts 6:3
 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Bible Study, Leviticus

 
 
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