Leviticus 5-6

The sentence “when you realize what you have done, you must admit your guilt…” occurs repeatedly in chapter 5. I like the concept of this; that God doesn’t want us on our best behavior only when people are watching. Instead, he’s shaping Israel’s understanding of integrity. The God of Israel isn’t (just) a rule maker. As Bethany mentioned before, these rules almost always have a really good explanation behind them.

Leviticus reminds me of the stage of parenting I’m in with my son. It feels like a lot of rules. But they are (almost always) for a really good reason that is coming out of me protecting him. Don’t touch the stove. Don’t eat that random pill you found WHO knows where. Wash your hands after the bathroom. Etc, etc etc. I want him to admit when he’s broken a rule because I’m trying to condition him to trust me and obey as a result of it. 

Israel is learning how to be in relationship with God. Everything is spelled out and there are a lot of rules. But God is still relational, loving and tender-hearted towards them. He is teaching them how to be reconciled, in their sin, to his holy presence. 

When you sin against God unintentionally, do you still repent towards him? To be in right relationship with God, we are called to repent and receive his forgiveness, which is always extended to us.

Take time today to meet with God. Ask him to expose the sin in your life you may not be aware of. When you realize what you have done, you must admit your guilt…

 

-Carly

Leviticus 3-4

I’m kinda impulsive and love to improvise, so I need to know my boundaries and also get a heads up when it’s altogether inappropriate to improvise. These instructions don’t leave a ton of wiggle room. They make flippant, impulsive sacrifices not count. Was it an unblemished animal? Did it happen in front of the tent of meeting? Was it performed by the Sons of Aaron? No? Well then no ones asking you to do that. No rage-killing animals to cover your sins.

While some details are head-scratchers, “why would that matter?” Others are fairly obvious and that’s enough to convince me about the rest. I don’t get why sometimes you wash the entrails and sometimes you don’t, but I do agree with the not eating blood or fat so, okay.

The compassion of God comes alive in these instructions for unintentional sin. Sure, sometimes we can be malicious, but other times, we get carried away and make mistakes. The grace of God is sufficient for all our shortcomings. He isn’t up there, furiously plotting, He’s helping us anticipate the consequences of our actions. No ones going to skate along perfectly. We will spend our lives contriving all sorts of ways to be unholy. It comes naturally! And He is ready to redeem us from it all.

God has always been ready to go through a lot of trouble to be near us. How lovely. He’s the best. Are you receiving His love and His forgiveness? Are you hiding away, shaming yourself for your own foolishness? God is calling us out. He can cleanse us from anything. He wants to. Bring your brokenness to Him, today. He’s ready for you.

-Bethany

Leviticus 1-2

Here’s the overview on this book by The Bible Project. I’m so thankful for the work they do! They make this overly-detailed book in the Bible come alive and tie in seamlessly with the gospel.

It’s interesting starting this book on the heels of reading Luke. We read a detailed story about the atonement for our sins by the son of God and now we’re stepping back and reading about what atonement looked like before Jesus. And it looked bloody and complicated.

Chapter 2 gives the specifications of how to give a grain offering to the Lord. The Bible Project overview defined this as a way for God’s people to say thank you. Bake something really complicated with or without honey. And apparently this offering will be considered a most holy part of the special gifts presented to the Lord (2:10). My initial reaction is think, wow, I’m glad I’m not bogged down by a bunch of specific hoops to jump through to repent or show thanks to God. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t required to sacrifice to God. He tells us our lives are to be poured out as a living sacrifice to him, not just our baked goods. We don’t get to compartmentalize areas of our life to him, every moment belongs to him. 

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1

How are you showing thankfulness to God? What are you offering up to him?

It’s easy to glaze over the book of Leviticus; it’s not exactly a roaring narrative. But I’m thankful to see what Israel endured to be in God’s presence. It gives me perspective on what I take for granted in my relationship with the Lord and reminds me of how perfectly holy he is, deserving of all revere.

 

-Carly

Luke 24

The sorrow, fear and disappointment of the disciples leaps off the page. They were there when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt. He was supposed to rise up, like David, and take back Jerusalem with some old fashioned God-powered military might. Instead, Jesus quietly accepted death. Now His body is missing.

It didn’t make sense He would die, and it made even less sense He’d be alive again, after just three days.

There are numerous witnesses. Everyone in town knows what’s happened. Who is this guy on the road with no clue? Word spreads fast. Are these merely the delusional reports of emotional women? Where could His body be?

Quite thankfully, Jesus explains everything to them. I want to hear this 7 mile sermon:

“Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (27)

Then later with the others:

“Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (46-49)

Forgiveness of sins for all the nations.

Indeed, Jesus did not bring a momentary relief, dressed in a golden age of Jewish political independence and prominence. He brought healing, life, freedom and salvation to the souls of humanity. His death and resurrection, although a confusing disappointment at the time, has been revealed as the single most important event in history.

The implications of a God-powered resurrected Christ is the difference between being a disciple of Christ and all religion.

Don’t go anywhere without this power! Otherwise, it’s merely a strange story fueling a strange new religion.

The purpose of many New Testament books, including this one, was to show Rome that following the resurrected Jesus was not a new religion (starting new religions was a violation of Pax Romana, Roman Peace). No, Jesus says, can’t you see this is the fulfillment of Moses and all Jewish history and prophets?

Are you waiting for Jesus to be something else? Are you waiting for Him to grant you relief from your momentary afflictions? Are you moving forward in your “Christian walk” without His power? Bring all these things to Him. He is excellent at gently explaining Himself and opening minds to understand.

Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus! You gave us the most incredible gift and display of power, in history, and You didn’t wait for us to want it. We love you.

-Bethany

Luke 23

The most prominent trait of Jesus I notice when I read this chapter is his meekness. He doesn’t defend himself as he’s being dragged around trying to be convicted like a criminal. They frame the God who came to bring Life and Peace for murder and violent revolting (23:5). Yet he remains silent, answering only when necessary.

He has completely submitted himself to God’s plan and authority. He doesn’t plead his own case, flex his authority or go into a (very deserved) fit of rage. He waits for God to defend him, and in the meanwhile, forgives these people and offers them kindness. He intercedes on their behalf, asking God to forgive them in the midst of their wrong-doing (23:34)

What is your response when you’re wrongly accused, taunted or mocked? 

I’m always really quick to defend myself, yet it never brings me the peace that God’s defense brings. Let’s look to Jesus’ perfect example of meekness and lean into God’s timing and protection. He always gets the last word and fiercely brings Truth to every situation.

 

-Carly

 

 

Luke 22

Here’s part 2 of the Bible Project’s Luke.

“There arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be the greatest. And He said to them, ‘the kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called “benefactors”. But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.'” (24-26)

Jesus has been reconstructing His disciples values and worldviews over the course of their time together. The upside-down Kingdom, as we call it, is nothing they were conditioned to expect. And down to the last hour, their priorities are still barking up the wrong tree.

In the West, we love our titles. Largely, because we find identity in our work and job titles. Our first questions when meeting a new person is, “what’s your name?” and “what do you do?” We often introduce ourselves with, “my name is _______ I AM A _______.” We want a higher position to make a bigger impression, to do something unique to sound interesting, or something technical to sound smart.

This, unfortunately, makes its way in to ministry settings too. As proclaimers of the upside down Kingdom, we too, like the disciples, want to know who is the greatest. We make celebrities out of pastors and “love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets.” (20:46) …I mean…

It’s easy to get off track, slide into cultural norms, or let our pride take the wheel, but Jesus is ready to correct this with His own example.

“For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” (27)

It’s not about being impressive, interesting, or smart, it’s about being like Jesus.

-Bethany

Luke 21

My Bible commentary notes that the widow in the story dropped her money into the box for freewill offering, different than the mandatory Temple tax boxes. (Women were only allowed to be in a certain area in the Temple, and I love that Jesus was with them!) Basically this woman was under no social pressure to give the last bit of her money, but willingly gave to God what she could.

Jesus is not quiet about his expectation and love for generous and sacrificial giving; he talks about it a lot. There are usually two reactions to the topic of tithing. People either feel like they should be giving more or that they don’t have anything to give.

I’ve noticed the areas that I don’t feel like I can give from are absolutely the areas I should. I don’t have any time to sacrifice to read my Bible or pray. I don’t have anything to offer to my church and have been hurt by communities in the past. I don’t have any extra money to give away, I’m barely covering my bills. Sound familiar? The things we hold tightly, for fear of losing, need to be the things we surrender to the Lord. 

We are called to live sacrificial lives, which means we need to be willing to “tithe”, or offer back, more than just our money to Jesus. But he sure mentions finances a lot.

He doesn’t want us to idolize it and he doesn’t want us to worry about it. Both of those things take away from him being God. He wants to be the most important thing in our lives. He wants the credit as the provider. He wants to meet our needs and allow us to trust him with tangible things like bills from dental work and rent being raised. He cares about those things! Money means nothing to him, and everything to the world we live in. I’d much rather be at his mercy than the bank’s; he is worth obeying and trusting in this area.

The text today encourages me to give more radically, of all my resources.

What area does he want more of from you?

 

-Carly