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Showing posts from November, 2012

The Constant Struggle

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Romans 7 is filled with content that is extremely applicable to all and brings up a timeless topic. The struggle with sin. But before diving into that, the first portion of this chapter, verses 1-6, Paul again compares the concept of marriage with the idea of our dead life to sin as talked about previously. Marriage is something that binds two people together, a husband and a wife, and they are bound until one passes. When the husband or wife pass away, they are freed from their commitment of marriage. Similarly, we are bound to sin, but when we chose to follow God, he came into our lives, killed our old sinful self, freeing us from the binding sin that held us down. Now that we've been freed from a life of sin and wrong, we shouldnt expect a life of sinless perfection, but as many of us, in fact all of us Christians have discovered that now, in this new life, there is a constant inner struggle with sin. We know what is right, yet sometimes we still end up doing what is wrong.

Set Free

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I can really see Paul taking us through the entire Christian walk throughout Romans, leading us through the gospel, what it means to be a true believer of Christ, and its a great reminder for us. After Romans 5, where we now understand that we need Christ and through Him, we are saved, what now? And Paul addresses exactly that in the next chapter. Christ dying for us on the cross showed God's love for us, and it symbolized the ultimate sacrifice, being truly victorious over all sin. As believers, we need to change and turn away from our old life and ways of sin. Baptism is brought up once again, as Paul explains that going into water represents the death of our old life, and rising out breathes a new life of a changed person. Through this, we have been freed from sin (v.6-7). And because we are free, because we have become dedicated followers of Christ, we are called to offer our lives to Him. Nothing on this earth belongs to us, God had granted and blessed us with everythin

Passed On

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After reading through the first four chapters of Romans, where our condemnation of sin is addressed, Paul now enters chapter 5 by explaining the nature of sin, how it all started and such. Of course, we have to head back to the beginning of time, back to the days of creation when Adam and Eve were created by God. After Adam and Eve ate the apple from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, sin entered them as they willing chose to disobey the Lord's orders (Genesis 3:6). Adam, as the first man would represent the head of the descendants in sin. It is through him that sin entered the world, and was passed down from generation to generation, until now, the present day (v.12). Yet amazingly, it was the same with our Christ Jesus. He came as the ultimate sacrifice, died on the cross and shed blood for the salvation of those who believed. Similar to Adam, Jesus is the head of the descendants in grace and in new life. His love and grace overflowed and passed down to everyone else

By Faith Alone

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Romans 4 reminds us that salvation is granted by faith, not by works, which is interesting because just last week, Exodus 39 brought up the same topic. In the letter, Paul refers to Abraham as an example. He is seen as a forefather, which in a way represents the entire family line down. Paul gets right to it, reinforcing the fact that it is believing the gospel, confessing one's sins that turns and redeems you from death. Once again, the idea of circumcision is brought up in verses 9-12, Paul tells us that Abraham was saved before he was circumcised. This act didnt make any difference towards his salvation, but instead it was a sign, a symbol that "seals" his faith (v. 11), similar to how we see baptism today. It is only be grace that we are saved, as said in a previous post, we can never do work to gain this gift of salvation. If you look at it from a worldly view, if you were to do works to be saved, it would be as if you were bribing a judge to help you get out

moral perfection

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Paul continues to address the issue of sin, as presented in the previous chapter, that we are all alike in sin, no one better or worse than another. He explains that it is through the law that we can understand our sin, and we are to be justified through the grace of Jesus Christ. Long story short, we are sinners, not "good enough" for heaven, and the solution is the righteousness of God. Righteousness could be defined as "moral perfection". Thats a pretty big definition, big shoes to fill. How are we to become "morally perfect"? Whenever "perfect" comes along, i immediately know that it isnt achievable; nothing in this world can really be "perfect". If you look at the world today, nothing is perfect, electronic companies are always trying to come out with a better product, when you get 100% in school, there is always a comment about improvement, it just never ends. But if you notice, everyone is pushing and striving for this ideal

Called to Righteousness

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We've all judged others, secretly, or explicitly, im sure we've had those type of thoughts run through our minds. But Romans 2 reminds us that we dont have the right to judge; who are we to judge? We are all equal in wrong and in sin, no one is better than another. It is because of pride we have these thoughts, we want to put ourselves "higher" than another people. One day, when Christ returns to earth, judgement day will be upon us. God, the true and only judge will go through each and every one of us, and he "will give to each person according to what they have done" (v. 7). 7  To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor  and immortality,  he will give eternal life.  - Romans 2:7   8  But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil,  there will be wrath and anger. - Romans 2:8 We should not be meddling in another person's life, but instead should be focusing on our own lives, reflecting how to striv

Fallen.

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Today i've decided to shift gears and venture off into the book of Romans, with Paul who wrote this letter to present the gospel to those in Rome. This book mainly focuses on the salvation of believers, and how God justifies sinners through God's righteousness. It can be split into two separate parts, Romans 1-8 which talk about salvation and evangelism, and then Romans 9-16 which touch upon sanctification as well as edification. Just reading through the first chapter, i know we're going to be in for a ride. Paul first introduces himself, encourages the city, and then explains the overall reason for writing. He encourages the people of Rome to continue to live by example and be encouraging to one another by their faith as a reflection of Christ (v.12). As we are called to live out our faith, it's a lifestyle, and we should always be working out our salvation and glorifying him. We are never to be ashamed of the gospel (v. 16-17) because it is apart of who we are; b

Exodus: A Connection Waiting To Be Made

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Chapter 40. Today we conclude the book of Exodus. I must say its been quite a journey to be reading a chapter and digging into it everyday. There have been fruitful times, there have been rougher times, but im so proud and glad that i stuck it through and made it to the end. The book of Exodus ends with the tabernacle. After chapters of building, gathering and construction, we read as Moses puts everything into place, as it is set up. When complete, God made his presence known there. It says that a cloud covered the entire tent of meeting, and his glory was there. Whenever the cloud was there, the Israelites stay put, but when it lifted up, they set out for travel. By having God's presence so strongly there, it allowed for a strong connection to be built, an intimate relationship to grow. This has been touched on in a previous post, but with the grace of God, we don't need to strictly have a tabernacle or tent of meeting to communicate to God, to have that relationship w

Exodus: Saved by Faith, Not by Works

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The plan is finally fully executed, from God's instruction on how to build the pieces, the tabernacle, the garments and all, to Moses commanding the Israelites to give and craft these things such as the breastplate or the ephod, and finally having it all put together, and checked over. The project was complete. 42  The Israelites had done all the work just as the  Lord  had commanded Moses.   43  Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the  Lord  had commanded.  So Moses blessed  them. - Exodus 39:42-43 This bit was repeated quite a bit throughout the chapter, verses 1, 5, 7, 21, 26 etc... "just as the Lord had commanded." Everything was done to a tee, looking back, they gave more than enough for the materials, they brought in the finest craftsmen to build and create these pieces, everything was done, basically to perfection, "just as the Lord had commanded". But if you notice something, there was never any talk about salvation.

Exodus: Over 13 Million Dollars Worth

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Building the tabernacle and all the pieces were pricey and extravagant. Apparently, according to all the materials gathered by the israelites, the sum of everything they offered added up to a whopping 13 million dollars plus, but where did all the wealth and money come from? If you remember from a while back, when they escaped from Egypt, the egyptians had given them everything they had, scared that another plague would fall upon them. Over thirteen million dollars? Thats insane. But it was all put towards building the tabernacle, the alter, the basin, as well as the courtyard. The tabernacle was always a place of holy worship, and the fact that so much was given towards it really proves how extravagant worship is meant to be. Just as well Jesus was anointed at Bethany in Matthew 26:6-13, the woman used her expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus' head. That is true extravagant worship, and he deserves it. Are we worshipping God so extravagantly? verse of the day: Psalm

Exodus: Marvelous Light

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Finally after the materials have been collected and gathered, the pieces are finally built by Bezalel, the ark, the table, the lampstand, and the alter were made. And to be completely honest, I didnt feel like there was much content in the chapter, it just consisted of the measurements and the materials used, but my supplementary readings helped relate this back to a well known concept. The lampstand is obviously used for light, and in the New Testament, we are called to be the light of the world. There is always a conflict between light and dark as it parallels sin and holiness. But what does "walking in the light" mean exactly? 5  This is the message we have heard  from him and declare to you: God is light;  in him there is no darkness at all.  6  If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness,  we lie and do not live out the truth.   7  But if we walk in the light,  as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Je

Exodus: Too Much?

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While the Israelites were called to give offerings to help build the tabernacle, something strange happened. Well I found it strange. They had to be commanded to stop giving because they had given more than enough already, they've given too much. I found this oddly surprisingly because in the past chapters, they were falling away from God, committing adultery, and who knows what, but suddenly, it just switched to endless generosity. Im not sure if there was time in between the occurrences, but it seems like a quick change of heart. Why did they all of a sudden give? Was it out of guilt? Hoping God would see their acts and then overrule their old mistakes? But God has already forgiven them, which is an interesting thought. At the same time, the thought of giving too much is striking to our world today. We are not the biggest fans of giving, whether tangible or not. Do you ever hold back when giving? Whether if it is for offering or for charity? But the big question that pop

Exodus: A Willing Heart

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After all the instructions on how to build the tabernacle and its pieces in chapters 27 and 28, the materials are listed in Exodus 32, and even though most of the chapter involves the constant referral to the materials, something that stood out to me is that every time they called for it, it said "all who are willing" (verses 21, 22, 26, 29). Only those who are willing will be the best servants. Serving has to be wholehearted, serving means to sacrifice, whether it be your time, your work, or whatever, one has to put something else before themselves to be able to serve. It does start at the heart. If you cannot learn to give things up, you'll never be able to serve. Where is your heart? God has given each of us skills, talents, to use. It can be something common or something unique, but God specially gave that to you for a reason. Are you using it for Him? Reflect on your heart. Is it for God? Is it for you? Are you serving God and others? verse of the day: M

Exodus: Time and Time Again

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God brings Moses back to make a new set of stone tablets for the convenant and ten commandments after they were broken in chapter 32. God was willing to get the Israelites another chance. It is interesting to see that God once again highlights the commandments of idolatry, twice in this chapter, and the Sabbath once. He is strongly emphasizing these issues, probably because those are the biggest problems in the community of the Israelites.   6  And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The  Lord , the  Lord , the compassionate  and gracious God, slow to anger,  abounding in love  and faithfulness, 7  maintaining love to thousands,  and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.  Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished;  he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” - Exodus 34:6-7 What a great God. And it all stands true, He is gracious and compassionate, he's slow to anger, loves endlessly, and is a just Go

Exodus: A Patient God

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After all this time of hearing about the promised land, a land of flowing milk and honey, the Israelites are finally getting closer and closer to the end. God had promised them this land from the start, and we see God's character again; even though there were so many slip ups, mistakes made, God still honoured his promise. He truly stays true to his word, all he's promised to us, he's kept. 3  Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey.  But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked  people and I might destroy  you on the way.” - Exodus 33:3 In this verse, you can really see how frustrated God was with the Israelites, reflecting back on how they committed idolatry, grumbled and complained through everything, God, although annoyed, was extremely patient with them. He did punish them accordingly, sending plagues, but he still loved his people. He is also patient with us. I know that time of time i fail him, but he's promised that we are forgiven if w

Exodus: Our Golden Calves

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Im sure many of us have heard about the Golden Calf that comes about in Exodus, and in this chapter, it makes its debut. As the Israelites get impatient and restless, waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain, they turn to Aaron, asking for a God to worship. They pitched in their gold accessories, and out came a Golden Calf, they worshipped and sacrificed to it, but when God found out, he was angered with their disobedience. In the end, they were punished for their sins, with death, shedding of blood. I found it really interesting how the ten commandments continue to show up after they have been commanded. From the emphasis on the Sabbath, to now again for the second time, the issue of idolatry. We were made with an urge in us to worship something. Whether it be money, ourselves, a relationship or a materialistic product, but we are called to worship God, the creator, the one that granted us breath and life. And I know that I myself am similar to the Israelites many times,

Exodus: Breathe

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In Exodus 31, as we enter the final quarter of the book, the Sabbath is once again brought up. Several times, throughout studying Exodus, or the bible in general, when something is repeated (which we will see again in this chapter), it means its important and God is clearly emphasizing something for us to keep in mind. I tend to forget this many times, that the Sabbath is actually one of the ten commandments. "You shall rest on the Sabbath day and do no work." It was in this chapter where it really stood out to me, and showed me how important it really was, and how serious God takes it too. 14  “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death;  those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. 15  For six days work  is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest,  holy to the  Lord . Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death.   - Exodus 31:14-15 In simply two verses,

Exodus: Generosity

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Throughout the past few chapters of Exodus, giving has been an overarching topic given, God is commanding the Israelites to build alters, the tabernacle, garments, and in this chapter, incense for him. But when you think about it, all of this belongs to God in the first place. Everything we're given, everything we have and have been blessed with was given from above. If you take a simple moment to just stop and look around at everything you have, you'll realize how wealthy we are. God has given us so much already, but how generous are we? Are we willing to give back to God after he's given us everything? We're called to tithe, and give ten percent of what we earn, but do we do so? God was generous enough to give up his son for us. What are we going to give back? We can give anything and everything back to God. Our service, whether if you serve as an usher, or a play on a worship team, our talents can be given back. We can also give money, when we offer it back to

Exodus: Temporary to Permanent

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God commands Aaron and his sons to be consecrated in Exodus 29. To consecrate means to make holy, to make sacred. Basically through the processes talked about in this chapter, Aaron and his sons become priests. Before Exodus was before Christ, the Israelites had to seek a priest and continually give sacrifices, lambs to atone for their past sins. Note the word "past" because after that sacrifice, everything is made right, until they sin again. And obviously, as human flawed beings, we are always falling into the traps of Satan. The lamb here is the sacrifice that makes things right with God, temporarily. It was a constant routine of offering lambs to God to atone for their sins. Whereas when Christ came, he represented that lamb for all of mankind, and when he was offered on the cross, he atoned for all sin, past, present and future, permanently. The lamb was the temporary atonement when the Son of Man was the permanent atonement. Jesus Christ also is now the new "

Exodus: Serving

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A special ephrod, breastplate and turban are called by God to be made for Aaron in Exodus 28. Again with lots of details, from the types of fabric to the colors, as well as all the symbolism from the stones to the placement of things, all under God's command. But you dont fully understand how important this is until you reach verse 35. It says that if Aaron does not wear such things, he will die when he comes out of the presence of God. Its striking to see how serious God is about all these things even though they may seem like simple garments to us. "so they may serve me as priests" is said three times in this chapter, in verses 1, 3 and 4. You know something is important when it is repeated over and over again in the bible. I think the main word here is "serve". We're called to serve God, we should want to serve Him after all he has done for us. Although some of us may be really eager to serve and want to dive head first, we must reflect and evaluate

Exodus: Once and For All

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Although Exodus 27 is another round of instructions on how to build the alter, one can always take things from it. This alter was made for offerings to be made, to cleanse one of their sins. In that time, it had to be done regularly, always a pure flawless animal to be sacrificed for the person or family. The first covenant is found in Exodus, the promise of blessing to those who follow the laws. Whereas the second covenant is found in the new testament, where Jesus Christ came and saved us from all our sin, being that ultimate sacrifice, granting salvation for all those who followed and believed. After Christ came and died, those regular sacrifices didnt happen anymore, Christ paid it all, once and for all, and we should be thankful for that. "when we realize the depth of God's mercy, it makes us want to live our lives for Him." that quote ended the content for my devotions and it really was another shout at taking my faith seriously. I've always found it

Exodus: The Tabernacle

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The entire chapter of Exodus 26 is based on all the specific instructions from God on how to build the tabernacle, a place of holy worship and sacrifice for the Israelites to be in the presence of God. It constantly goes on to describe the types of fabric, having gold or silver everywhere, certain images, so specific to even where certain objects are placed. Fearing God has been an ongoing theme in the past few posts, and to fear God is to realize his power, and how great he is. By simply reading all the materials, one can see that it has to be high quality, the best of the best because our great God simply deserves the best. We should be giving out best to Christ as well with our lives. The Tabernacle was built for worship and offerings, it was an extremely sacred place, with many restrictions and rules so that it stays pure and holy. Whereas today, we dont need a tabernacle to worship Christ. We have the church, but its not only in the sanctuary when we can sing praises. Even

Exodus: Details Details Details!

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In Exodus 25, God commands the Israelites to create and build an ark, a lampstand, as well as a table for him. The ark became an extremely important symbol of sacred worship. Even the cherubim statues, winged creatures that support God's throne, hid their eyes from the Lord because they werent worthy. Most of the chapter consists of fine details of how to build the ark, from the length, to the type of wood, shapes, patterns, almost everything you can think of. When I was reading it, it just seemed pretty boring, but as I continued through the chapter, i realized that we were pretty much in the mind of God. This is how he thinks through things, how he plans things. You can easily tell that He thoroughly thought through each of these pieces, and it blows my mind because if he was so detailed here, can you imagine how much work he put into planning our lives? He knows every details, and our future is completely laid out before us if we choose to believe and follow God's direc