Exodus 40: Obey!

Do you cringe a little bit at the word ‘obey’? I think it’s a natural part of our independent, willful human nature to automatically want to do things our own way, or not at all, when we hear that word. If we know it’s in our nature to disobey, then we need to realize that and be disciplined to always stop and think and pray before we (maybe, even subconsciously) choose to disobey. (To be clear, I’m talking about obeying good, caring, safe people in positions of authority in our lives and obeying God).

In chapter 40 of Exodus, the Lord gave Moses specific instructions on how to set up the Tabernacle. It made me think of how God wants us to thoughtfully prepare ourselves for Him. Like preparing for a guest (except that He’s staying forever).

As Moses meticulously completes these tasks, it is noted at least eight times that he did ‘just as the Lord had commanded him’. Not only did Moses do what he was told, he did it right and to completion.

I’ll admit it was hard to read some of these chapters with enthusiasm. Measurements, décor details, explanations that I didn’t feel really mattered. (Wow. Who am I to say that any part of God’s Word is redundant?! Please forgive me Lord!) But, as we see, God cares about the details and even if we don’t understand why they’re important, we need to care and obey, if only because God told us to and we put our trust in Him. We don’t see eternity like God does and even if we could, He’s still Creator God and we’re His creation. I am far from qualified to dictate anything to Him. So even in what we might feel is the mundane, such as the care and maintenance of our church buildings (maybe Scott, our facilities director would disagree about that being mundane) it is still an important part of our worship to God.

In verse 33, Moses’ work is complete, the Tabernacle is finished and Aaron and his sons are in place as the priests. It is through their journey from Egypt and the obedience in the details of Moses that God settles among the people and brings them into relationship with Him. By choosing to be obedient to God, Moses had a profound impact on his family and his people for generations. To think my obedience now, and God’s faithfulness in that, will impact my family and community for generations is extremely humbling.

Just like the Israelites, we were slaves to sin and are redeemed by God and finish our journey living with Him forever.

My prayer is that we will embrace patience and trust in the Lord, even when we are fearful of not seeing what’s ahead and focus on the ultimate reward. Not to gain something for ourselves but to simply be able to say that we served our God completely because He is our Creator and Saviour.

— LeeAnn

Exodus 39: The Cost of Building God’s Dwelling Place

In verse 32 of this chapter we read the words that I’d been looking forward to for a while, “And so at last the Tabernacle was finished.” The work had been completed! As I read the next verses that listed all that was built, assembled, and crafted I was reminded of something, there is a cost to following God.

The building of God’s dwelling place took a huge investment of time, skill, emotion, and personal possessions. But now, the Israelites have an opportunity to pause, exhale and admire the beauty and majesty of what God designed.

Because of Jesus we have the opportunity to see God dwell in the places we live and work. In our families, neighbourhoods, work places, and schools. The cost to build in these places is the same. God is still asking for an investment of our time, emotion, skill, and possessions.

Here I am two days from allowing myself to binge watch whatever I missed on Netflix and YouTube over the last 40 days and I wonder was 40 days enough? Did I pay attention to the specific measurements and materials required to build God’s dwelling place? I can tell you there are times when following God has cost me. It hasn’t been easy and at times it has cost me more then I planned to give. But, during the moments when everything comes together and I get to pause, exhale and admire the beauty and majesty of what God designed, I tend to find myself asking, “maybe I could have given more.”

— Jordan

Recommended listening: “The Cost” by Rend Collective

Application Questions

What investment can you make in the building of God’s dwelling place in our city?

Exodus 38: Searching For The Secrets

I love music. Not just listening to it and playing it, but analyzing it. I’m going to go a little music geek here so bear with me. It’s not often I just get to sit down at a piano and stare at the different chords being played by my hands, but I love it. I like exploring what variations I can play and how I can add tension or dissonance. I like alternate intervals that are not commonly used in today’s mainstream music. The tritone (or augmented 4th or diminished 5th) is one of those intervals not often used because of the potentially harsh sound that it can make on one’s ears … but I love it. Used correctly it can be a super intriguing part of a song. Just listen to the opening two notes of the Simpsons Theme. That’s a tritone!

But, one of my favourite moments in a song is when one instrument or voice takes what they’ve done a dozen times before and makes one small change to add something interesting, something unexpected, something different that makes me want to stop and hear it again. I like to try to anticipate the build in a song. Often there is a subtle change and you can start to sense a musical and emotional shift. The music can often pull back and then ramp up again, repeating then changing until the ultimate crescendo of the song.

As I was reading through Exodus I had to ask myself, “Am I searching for the secrets? Am I revelling in the intricacies of God’s plan? What part of this story excites me? How am I going to approach God’s word and this narrative of building the temple and creating the place where God would dwell with his people? What meaning did this hold for the people of Israel and what is the meaning for us now?”

God sometimes has very interesting or unexpected ways of revealing things to us. I hope I continue to listen and explore.

— Ben

Exodus 37: Executing the Details

The first time I read Exodus 37, two thoughts came to my mind.

1. God really likes gold.
2. Why is the ark bigger than the table.

That’s all I got.
At first. So I dug deeper.

What first jumps out at me, is that God has put so much thought, design and creativity into these elements that the Israelites carry around with them. God didn’t chose Bezalel and give him a completely blank slate. He didn’t say make me a box, a table, a lamp and an incense altar.
God gave him direct instructions with his choice of specific textures, colour pallet and materials that God chose.
The same God that designed these elements is the same creative force that also designed the sun, moon, stars, oceans, mountains, plants, animals and us.
God is deeply interested in the details, deeply interested in us.
He knows the number of hairs on our head. (Luke 12:7)
He knit us together in our mother’s womb (Ps 139)
He knows when we sit, stand, speak and what we will say before we even say it (Ps 139:2-4)
I’m amazed that God cares as much about the small things as he does with the larger things.

The second thing that strikes me is the skillful execution by Bezalel based on God’s plans from Chapter 25. Everything is built as to what God had specified. It was executed just as God wanted.

Sometimes I wonder what God thinks of my execution to the design plans that he has laid before me.
Plans to love God.
Plans to love others.
Plans to make disciples.
Plans to forgive, show grace, seek, justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.

On the surface, those plans seem so enormous, so impossible.
But the execution of those plans is very tangible and realized in the small details of our lives.
Do I spend time regularly with God?
Do I seek out my neighbour? Take genuine interest in my coworkers?
Do I invest purposely in my circle of influence by building up and developing others.
Do I donate my time, speak up for others, sacrifice financially, give anonymously, spend time with those who are suffering?

Do I have an inventory of things that I have built throughout the years based of what God has asked of me?
Do I have have lots of plans I know I should finish or do I have projects that demonstrate I have built something.

— Scott
Application Questions
What am I building daily that demonstrates to others that I am following the instructions that God has given me?

Exodus 36: OK! That’s Enough!

It’s been quite the journey we’ve been on the last few chapters. From Moses being up the mountain for forty days receiving the original Ten Commandments, to the people growing tired of waiting for him and telling Aaron to make them new gods, the golden calf, Moses coming down in horror and anger and smashing the tablets, making them eat their golden calf, and then going up the mountain for another forty days to receive a new copy of the original tablets – wow! And then the call goes out to give for the building fund, and we’re finally starting the work.

I love how this chapter starts out. Bezalel and his assistant Oholiab, the contractors for this job, get all the craftsmen and tradespeople going on the the work. But it isn’t long before they have to call a halt. They have a problem. The people have kept on bringing more and more gifts each day, and there’s way more than enough to finish the job. There’s just too much! Isn’t that just the way it always goes? NOT!!!

I can’t think of one building project in all the years we’ve been part of a church where this has ever been a problem. Can you imagine them calling a special meeting to tell people: “Hey folks, that’s enough! We don’t need anymore resources to finish the project! Please stop giving!

Of course, there was something different going on than when I’m sometimes “moved” to give: Hmmm… I’ve got that cheque coming in next week and if I add it to that, carry the 1, then divide it by… No. These people were “generous” and “willing,” expressing hearts overflowing with joy and thanksgiving. Talk about hilarious giving – this was it! What a difference it would make if I, realizing that everything I have comes from him anyway, gave that generously to further his kingdom. And if we all operated that way, we might actually have one of those aforementioned meetings: Enough, people! Please stop giving!

— Karl

Application questions

Do you feel God can be counted on to provide if you give “above and beyond” what you would normally do?

Have you ever given “hilariously,” and what was the result for you (emotionally or practically, in your finances or relationships)?

Exodus 35: A Creative God

One of my favourite things about God is that he is creative! Not only can I see an incredible sunrise and see his ability to paint the skies, or look at a newborn child and see how he knits perfectly together the human frame, but I can also see God’s creativity in how he problem solves! And that’s essentially what creativity is, problem-solving! It’s taking the vision that is in your mind and finding a way to bring it to reality.

See we are all creative people! God, who is infinitely creative, makes us in his image. This means we reflect his character and so in each of us, he instills creativity; and that creativity is not always in the form of classic art. Someone who takes an old beaten up car and restores it is creative. Someone who has three children that are all picky eaters and finds a way to get them all to eat their vegetables is creative. Our creativity is our ability to problem solve!

We read of how God is creative in Chapter 35. God wants to create a tabernacle so that he has a place to meet with his people, but he also seeks to involve those people in the process of creation. See God’s heart is also to collaborate with us! He wants to bring us into the process. He wants us to bring our creativity to help accomplish the vision that he has for each of us and his house.

Verse 25-26 says, “All the skilled and creative women who were able to spin made the blue, purple, and scarlet thread. All the women who were willing came forward to use their skills in spinning the goat hair.” (VOICE) These women are talented and creative, and they use their creativity to build the house of God.

Later in verses 30 – 33 we read about Bezalel, “Look, the Eternal One has called Bezalel (the son of Uri, son of Hur the Judahite) by name. He has filled him with God’s Spirit, gifted him with wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and skills with a variety of crafts. He is an expert designer and works well with gold, silver, and bronze. He is able to cut and set gems, work with wood, and skillfully perform any work needed to help construct the congregation tent and its furnishings.” (VOICE)

God calls Bezalel, a creative and artistic person, to contribute his skills and abilities to help build God’s house, his dwelling place with humanity! Bezalel is willing and ready to do anything “needed to help construct the congregation tent and its furnishings.” He wants to build into the vision that God has given to the people of Israel!

God calls you by name and wants you to be part of accomplishing his vision. So how can you take your creativity and contribute to the building of God’s house? How can you take what God has placed in your hand and use it to bring to reality the vision that God has placed in your heart and the heart of your church family?

— Zach

Exodus 34: Just You and Me!

Ok it sounds a little intimidating to me when God says to Moses “present yourself to Me. Don’t bring anyone else with you….just you and me”.  (Ex 34:2)  I wonder if Moses was wondering …. ‘Now what does the Lord want?’

For me I feel like the Lord has ambushed me maybe sort of like the way Moses may have felt so many times in his journey. There have been many situations in my life where God has said… “ Present yourself to Me, just you and Me”. One of those situations was when I went thru chemo in 2012. Although I had a great support system (ie: my husband Karl & family & friends), I really had to do some battle in mind and heart with God. “Why me?” “Will I die?” “Why do I have to lose my hair and feel nauseas a lot?” etc etc!! I felt challenged in those times to draw near to the Lord in a different (never been down this road before) way. I felt Him asking me if I could trust Him in those very fearful times. I battled with my thoughts of “what if” a lot… but it was also a very precious time “just Him & me”. Moses was going down some “never travelled” and out of control roads as well. I feel like the Psalms were His love letter to me during those days, where I could present myself to Him and it was just Him and me! He definitely showed Himself to be exactly what Exodus 34:6 speaks of: “The Lord full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, filled with unfailing love and faithfulness”. I was so out of control physically but He demonstrated His very nature to me and I loved that about Him! In Ex 34:10 it says “Watch and see what I will do”. I have definitely felt challenged in this for years as we wait to see our sons come back to the Lord. The Lord still proclaims that He will display His awesome power… and so I continue to watch.

— Rhoda

Application Questions

Have there been desperate (out of my control) situations) in my life where the Lord has challenged me to “see what He will do”?

Is it noticeable when I’ve been with the Lord? Is there a radiance in my life?

Exodus 33: Now Show Me Your Glory

As I have read through Exodus I have loved watching God and Moses’ relationship develop. Back in chapter three when Moses first encountered God he was scared and insecure, questioning what God was asking him to do. But just months later in Exodus 33 Moses had now become a man of faith and courage. After constantly being in God’s presence on Mount Sinai and in the Tabernacle, Moses and God have grown this beautiful relationship where it says; “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”

So it isn’t just a coincidence that God is about to reveal Himself to Moses in an incredible way. God and Moses spend time together in relationship, talking with one another and working together. Moses was waiting in expectation of this.

I want to say the same of my life, yet countless times I have neglected to spend time in the presence of God but have still expected to automatically have this kind of relationship with Him. I have put off praying and reading His Word yet still asked why I haven’t felt God in my life. Why hasn’t He revealed Himself to me? Why isn’t He giving me a plan for the future?

Sometimes we expect that if God wants to reveal himself to us He will. If God has something to say to us He will just say it. As a result of this too often we forget to live in an actual relationship with God and in expectation that God will work in our lives. But what we see in Exodus 33 is that as Moses and God have this personal relationship. Moses is waiting in expectation for God to reveal His glory to him, and God does.

God wants to reveal Himself to His children, but I believe that He also wants us to seek a relationship with Him. It has become my personal challenge as I spend time with God and grow closer to Him that I look back on each week to see how God has revealed himself to me. But even more importantly I have challenged myself to look forward at the beginning of each week to wait in expectation of God’s work and ask God just as Moses did, “Now show me your glory.”

For Moses, when he did this, he couldn’t even fathom the power that God was about to reveal to Him.

— Brittany

Application Questions

When I ask God to show me His glory, what am I expecting?

What is my relationship with God life right now? Am I making room in my life for God to reveal Himself to me?

Exodus 32: Habits

How is Lent going for you? I grew up in a church that never mentioned Lent. I didn’t hear learn of its existence until my university years but even then I didn’t consider taking part in it. It didn’t seem meaningful I guess. This year we heard Todd teach that fasting and Lent is a way to empty ourselves and make room for God. So I thought long and hard and decided to give up personal shopping, not the essentials like groceries or necessities that come up, but all those extras. As pathetic as it sounds to say outloud I have a problem with shopping. I think I’d been using it as a way to fill myself, a good deal on a shirt, a cute new coffee mug, that perfect basket that would fix all my storage problems. But it does not satisfy. So I gave it all up, and it’s been great. Not only have I been throwing away less money, I find myself being more content. Lent is coming to an end and how will I go from here? Will I be able to keep these lessons and change my spending habits as I move forward? It’s so incredibly easy to go back to our old ways. This, I think is what the Israelites were faced with in Exodus 32. Moses their leader and guy with all the answers is gone. How long was he up on the mountain with God? I couldn’t get an idea for timeline but it seems like he’s been up there since chapter 20. The Israelites were at a crossroads. Do we keep waiting here in the middle of nowhere for this Moses guy and the God he keeps talking about or do we make our own way, leaving aside all we’ve seen of God thus far? It’s easy to judge the Israelites for their lack of faith, but when I look at my own life I see myself making the same mistakes more often that I’d like to admit.

— Kim

Application Questions

As our journey of Lent comes to an end think about what you’ve given up and why?

Has emptying yourself of this made room for God?

How will you apply what you’ve learned post-Lent?

 

 

Exodus 31: Set Apart

What struck me right away as I read through the start of Exodus Chapter 31 was that God chose and called Bezalel and Ohiliab by name. They were known by Him and specifically chosen to accomplish the work that needed to be done. I thought to myself, wow, that’s how God knows me. He pursued me, chose me, and called me into a deep intimate relationship with Him through Jesus to accomplish what He has created me to do. That immediately brought Ephesians 2:10 to my mind where we are told that “ we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared in advance for us to do”. That made me realize that my good works come out of my relationship with Jesus, which allows me to trust God, and not myself, for the good works that will flow out of my life… 

And in order to accomplish the intricate workmanship that needed to be done, God equipped everyone that would be involved in the work. God filled Bezalel with His Holy Spirit to empower him and give him all the wisdom and ability that he would need. The amazing part was that Holy Spirit came upon him for that specific task and then left him. What I thought right away was…wait a minute, I have the Holy Spirit living in me right now. He came to live in me when I became a Christian. What an absolutely amazing truth that is…!! For Bezalel the Holy Spirit came and left, but for me, and for every Christ follower, the Holy Spirit never leaves…He is with us forever. I can continually draw upon the strength, power and love of the Holy Spirit to equip me in every situation that I will go through in my life. That so reinforced for me how relational our God is and the incredible depth of His love for me and for each one of us. Ephesians 3:20 came to mind where we are told “ now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or imagine, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory”…

In the latter half of the chapter God spoke to Moses about keeping the Sabbath. One thing that struck me in this section was where God told Moses that the Sabbath was a sign for all generations that “God is the Lord who sanctifies you”. This was an ongoing reminder to Israel that they were God’s chosen ones who were “set apart” for Him from all other people, in the same way that the Sabbath was “set apart” from the other days of the week.  That so reminded me of how I am “set apart” for God and His purposes in my life today…and how God is continually working in my life to sanctify me, to make me more like Jesus, my Savior, every day, as I journey down the road of life. And I am so humbled and blessed when I reflect on my life and see the characteristics of God growing in me as outlined in Galatians 5:22…”but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”…which leaves me in the place where all I want to do praise and thank Him for how He is using my life to make an impact on this earth for Him…

— Max

Application Questions

Do you ask the Holy Spirit to equip and empower you each day or do you tend to “handle things” in your own strength…??

Do you ever take the time to reflect on your life to see how God is growing His characteristics in you…??

Is the desire of your heart to become more and more like Jesus each day…??

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