Prepare to Meet Your Maker

The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place…” (Leviticus 16:2-3, NIV)

The Most Holy Place was the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept and where God made His invisible presence visible. This was sacred space, and it could not be entered into willy-nilly. For a human being to be in the physical presence of the LORD God Almighty was no small thing! Aaron, the high priest, had to go through a strict ritual cleansing to enter the Most Holy Place. He had to bathe, wear certain clothes (even special underclothes), and sacrifice a bull for his own sin before he could enter into the Most Holy Place to offer the sacrifice for the people of Israel. Once Aaron was done making the sacrifices for the people, he was to change out of the clothes, bathe again, and offer another burnt offering for himself.

Thank God that Jesus is a better sacrifice, that His blood is superior to that of goats and bulls, and that through His death on the cross He won access for us to come directly into the presence of God–to “approach the throne of grace with boldness” (Hebrews 4:16)! Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we’re not going to die when we come before the LORD, we can approach Him with boldness like a small child who runs up to their Daddy, grabs onto his legs, and says, “Pick me up, Daddy!”

And yet, as beautiful as this is, the challenge from Leviticus this morning was to remember that for a human being to stand in the presence of the Most High God is no insignificant matter! If there is one mistake we Evangelicals make (and there are many), it is that we often don’t take the worship of God seriously. We think of Jesus as our homeboy and are so familiar with God we risk losing the reverence we should have toward Him. When we come to church on Sunday morning, we are coming to literally meet our Maker.

If you were going to meet the President of the United States, the Queen of England, a Prime Minister, Emporer, or another world leader, what would you do to prepare yourself? Most of us would look in our closets for appropriate clothes to wear. We’d shower, shave, get a fresh haircut, clip our fingernails, and brush our teeth. Before being ushered into the presence of the very important person, we’d be searched. We may have a background check done on us. The point is, you don’t just walk into the President’s office or the Queen’s palace willy-nilly.

God is not just a VIP, He is the VIP, the Most High. Are you ready to meet your Maker this Sunday? My prayer is that this week we will get a glimpse of the power and majesty of God, and remember that while God has called us friends, He is still the King of the Universe. Humility, confession, and repentance are appropriate as we prepare to worship Him together next Sunday.


Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Be Holy​

“I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean” (Leviticus 11:44, NIV).

Ever read something in the Bible, scratch your head, reread it, and ask God, “Why did You include that in Your story?” That’s precisely what I think every time I read Leviticus 11, the chapter with all the dietary laws for ancient Israel–clean and unclean animals; eat this, but not that; etc. Why would God give these laws to His people? (I think it’s worth noting that the concept of clean and unclean animals goes way back before Leviticus. Remember, God gave Noah instructions about clean and unclean animals on the ark. Additionally, other ancient near eastern peoples also had regulations about clean and unclean animals. So this wasn’t just dropped out of the sky in Leviticus 11).

Many ideas about clean and unclean animals have been offered over the years, but not a single one has much evidence in Scripture to support it–not even the favorite view of conservative evangelicals: that some animals were unhealthy for eating, and since the Israelites didn’t understand modern science and medicine, God made the unsafe, unhealthy animals “unclean.” The fact is, modern science and medicine don’t show that the unclean animals in Leviticus 11 are less healthy or safe for eating. And, if this really were the rationale, we’d have to assume that God no longer cares about our health, since in the New Testament all these dietary laws were lifted and we can now enjoy bacon and shrimp without becoming unclean.1

As I was having coffee with the Lord this morning and discussing this passage with Him, He said to me:

Do I need to give a practical reason in order for My children to obey Me? Is it not enough to say that since I am holy, I desire My children to also be holy?

God told us the why behind the commands in Leviticus 11–so that the Israelites could consecrate themselves and be holy because their Father in Heaven is holy. How the various clean and unclean animals and dietary laws factored into that, and why God changed it in the New Testament, we may never know. But the principle my Father impressed upon my heart this morning was this: God is holy. As His children, we are to be holy. And when He speaks, we listen and obey even if we don’t always fully understand the practical, pragmatic reason behind it. God doesn’t give commands needlessly, but neither did He tell us to obey Him only when it makes sense to us. Obedience is part of our holiness.

My prayer for this week is that we will experience the holiness of God and that it will inspire us to strive to be holy, as our Father is holy.


1. Mark F. Rooker, Leviticus, vol. 3A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 172.

2. Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

Better is One Day

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10, NIV)

You may be wondering why I’m writing from Psalm 84 when I said a few weeks ago I was going to work through Leviticus. No, I haven’t given up on Leviticus (again)! In my study of the third book in the Bible, I came across this great quote from L. Michael Morales:

“Entering the house of God to dwell with God, beholding, glorifying and enjoying him eternally, I suggest, is the story of the Bible, the plot that makes sense of the various acts, persons and places of its pages, the deepest context for its doctrines. For this ultimate end the Son of God shed his blood and poured out the Spirit from on high, even to bring us into his Father’s house, in him, as sons and daughters of God… The primary theme and theology of Leviticus (and of the Pentateuch as a whole) is YHWH’s opening a way for humanity to dwell in the divine Presence.”1

What a great (and I think accurate) perspective of Leviticus! The primary theme isn’t the Law or all the regulations concerning sacrifices and offerings. The main point of the book is how we can dwell with God. All the other things drive toward that end. This brought to mind Psalm 84 and one of my favorite songs to sing in worship. I’ve linked it below.

My prayer for this week is that you will enjoy some time in the personal presence of God, even if it’s just for a few moments while you listen and maybe sing along with the song below.


1 L. Michael Morales, Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord?: A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus, ed. D. A. Carson, vol. 37, New Studies in Biblical Theology (England; Downers Grove, IL: Apollos; InterVarsity Press, 2015), 21–23.

When He Speaks

This weeks post is from a guest contributor, LakeView Church’s Worship Director, Stephanie.

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…He goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:3,4, NIV)

Recently, my grandfather was admitted to the hospital twice in a one a week period of time…(don’t worry, he is doing just fine now-but thanks for asking!) During these hospital trips I found myself headed to St. Mary’s in downtown Madison. I parked in a certain spot in the ramp, on a certain level so that I could easily take the walkway into the hospital and then take the correct elevators to the wing that my grandfather was admitted to. I had a routine. I liked my routine.

You see, I am not so very good at directions. When someone tells me to “go North on 51 and then head Northwest on 113”,  I go into an internal panic and ask a questions like, “Does that mean I take a right when I come to the red building with the statue of the painted cow in the front yard?” It is honestly that tragic with me and directions. Thank God for Google Maps…(can I get an amen?) This is why I have a specific hospital parking protocol. To avoid panic.

But on this hospital trip with my grandpa, we were waiting, and waiting and WAITING for test results. During this time the hospital hours went from day to evening, and with that a new safety protocol was enforced. In other words, my routine was completely sabotaged! After 7pm, the door that led me directly to the hallway that would take me straight to my car was locked and a man with a badge stood to guard that exit. The panic started.

We had just found at that we could go home. It was time to grab our stuff and go pull up the car for Grandpa.  I was carrying all of his belongings while clumsily pushing my work bag and his oxygen tank on top of his wheeling-walker. It didn’t take long for me to realize that my exit was locked. Uh oh. I was disoriented and had no idea which hallways led to the correct exits. I was all turned around because of my directional impairment and I found myself on the outside of the hospital, carrying all of this baggage, on the exact opposite side of the parking ramp….in the pouring rain. Fantastic.

As I began the long and wet re-route back to my car, my grandpa’s wheeling-walker hit an unfortunate bump in the side walk. All of my work belongings spilled out onto the ground. My heart raged. I bent low to collect my rain soaked items and the complaints began spilling out. “God, I’m just trying to help my grandpa. All I want to do is find my car and take him home. I can’t believe this happening! I am just trying to do the right thing and everything is going wrong for me…” The junk in my heart tumbled out before Him just like my work bag on the wet sidewalk. In that moment I felt the Holy Spirit tenderly speak. He spoke with kindness and love straight into the middle of my self pity and junk attitude. I heard clearly and peacefully these words:

“I am so glad you got re-routed, it’s the first time you’ve thought to talk to me today and I like talking with you.”

I began to cry, right there, in the rain. His kindness led me straight into repentance (Rom 2:4). As cliche as it sounds, I literally began singing in the rain. My raging heart did an immediate turn round because I was overcome with joy that I belong to a God who loves me AND likes to be with me even when I am disoriented, soaking wet and grumpy. Hallelujah! He loves me—the pressure is off. He likes me—it’s going to be okay. I turned my face up to the sky and enjoyed the rain fall, I welcomed the inconvenience, I embraced the longer route because He was there with me. Suddenly there was no place I would rather be.

His word tells us that He speaks to us, and that we know His voice (John 10: 3,4). I encourage you to find connection with Him now, in this moment, before routine kicks in or before the challenges of the day overwhelm…He is speaking to you with His kindness, love and acceptance.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you today? I bet what you hear will be really great.

Bless You.

Stephanie


Photo by Robb Leahy on Unsplash

The Spirit on Mission

We live in the era of the Holy Spirit, when the Spirit of God advances the mission of God through the church of God. What does the mission of the Holy Spirit look like, and how does He work in and through us to accomplish that mission? I briefly examine five stories from the Book of Acts that reveal the Spirit on mission.


Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 6/10/2018.

Sin Against a Neighbor

The Lord said to Moses: “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving a neighbor…” (Leviticus 6:1-2a, NIV)

In a court, lying to the judge will get you into big trouble because you’re not just lying to the judge, you’re lying to the State. Similarly, being disrespectful, disobedient, and disruptive during court proceedings can lead to being held in contempt of court. Again, this is because the judge, the jury, and the people involved are representatives of something greater–the rule of law, the State, and society at large.

Leviticus 6 makes it clear that deceiving or sinning against a neighbor is being unfaithful to God. As one pastor put it, “Sin against a neighbor is a sin against God.” Because we are made in the image of God, when we sin against someone else, we are sinning against God’s representative on earth, which is (at least indirectly) an act of rebellion against God’s authority and rule. When I sin against a fellow human being, I deface God’s image in that person. It’s like tagging God’s home with profane graffiti.

God is concerned with how we treat one another. We are called throughout Scripture to love–in fact, Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). And Paul said that love is “the most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). Every human being bears the image of God within them. The next time I’m tempted to lose my temper or raise my voice at my wife or kids, I need to pause and imagine that I’m getting ready to yell at Jesus Christ. That’s not to say I won’t discipline my kids or have that uncomfortable conversation with a friend. But how would my tone, my body language, and my attitude differ if I were having that conversation with Christ?

My prayer for the week is that we will find an opportunity to show love for another and if we have disrespected someone else, that we will seek their forgiveness and reconciliation.


Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash

Unintentional Sin

“If any member of the community sins unintentionally… when they realize their guilt and the sin they have committed becomes known…” (Leviticus 4:27-28, NIV).

Sometimes we sin without even realizing it. Maybe as a new believer, we didn’t understand that a certain decision or lifestyle is sinful. Or maybe as a mature Christian, we sin without even thinking about it. Or sometimes, our sin isn’t unintentional. Sometimes even those of us who follow Jesus choose to disobey.

In the sacrificial system laid out in the Book of Leviticus, there is a distinction made between intentional and unintentional sin. What many of us don’t realize, however, is that Leviticus has no sacrifice available for willful, intentional sin. All of the “sin offerings” in Leviticus are for unintentional sin. Thankfully, Christ’s sacrifice is superior to that of bulls and goats, and His blood can even cleanse us from our rebellious hearts!

This phrasing in Leviticus 4, however, is interesting. If someone sins unintentionally, when they realize their guilt, they should come to offer the sin offering. How much unintentional, unrealized sin is in my life? Sin can hinder our relationship with God and our effectiveness in ministry–even sin we’re not aware of!

My prayer for the week is that of David in Psalm 19:

Who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep Your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.


Photo by Hunter Newton on Unsplash