Let Hope Rise with Pastor Tony

What You Wear

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Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.”

Exodus 25:8-9

Although I wouldn’t call the later parts of Exodus my favorite excerpts of scripture, these chapters tell us a lot about the nature of God dwelling among humankind. In the course of salvation history, for instance, God created the heavens and the earth, had the Israelites build a physical tent to house his presence, dwelled in human form, and presently dwells in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

What we learn from this early dealing of God and his newly redeemed people was that people could only approach God by means of a sacrifice. Though the Holy dwelled among the Israelites, sin hadn’t been decisively defeated yet and so the people lived near but outside the gates of Paradise; it was only inside they could be made into a new creation. The priests embodied the tabernacle outwardly, wearing clothes of the same material, but they and the tent itself could only symbolize what Jesus fully represented in his being.

I once read that “we are worthy of the Spirit’s indwelling because we have been recreated by God’s power into beings made righteous by Christ’s sacrifice,” which means “our daily lives are all tangled up with the things that God is doing in this world…translating the good news into holy action.”

We are created to reflect divine order in how we live day to day in a fallen world. As temples of the Holy Spirit, we should have a different perspective about sin, affecting our attitudes and behavior, making us inclined to follow God’s general and specific will for our lives. And it should have an impact on the people around us.

What you wear matters. Are you covered with the righteousness of Christ and a love that sets men and women free? If so, you'll be taking God everywhere you go. When you pull up your tent pegs and follow God's will for your life, just imagine the possibilities.

Prayer: “Lord, all throughout scripture you have revealed how you dwell among us. The tabernacle was a sign of something greater that was to come. In Jesus, you revealed yourself in a way we could understand, challenging our sinful ways with your holy truth. Now you have cleared a path for your very presence, the Holy Spirit, to dwell in those who believe; you acted decisively to save us in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Transform our hearts and minds that we might reflect your light in a world that believes you set it to spinning and left it all alone. May more people have a personal encounter with you and experience your saving grace as the church lives out our mission to make disciples who make disciples for the transformation of the world. Amen!”

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Pursuing the Gift

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“As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.”

2 Kings 2:2b, 2:4b, 2:6b

At the end of Elijah's time on earth, he invited Elisha, his disciple, to stay where he was, but Elisha wanted to go all the way with Elijah, repeating three separate times the words of love from today's verses.

Like Jesus, Elijah asks Elisha, “What can I do for you?” Elisha replied by asking for a double portion of Elijah's spirit. Elijah revealed that it was difficult, but if Elisha were to witness his translation, it would be his. That means if Elisha would not have been persistent in following Elijah, he would have had no part in the spirit he asked to inherit from his master.

What an amazing similarity this story has to Jesus and the disciples! At the end of John's Gospel, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Jesus three times. Those three affirmations covered the three denials Peter spoke on the night of the trials. Like Elisha, the disciples came to inherit the Spirit of the Lord after Jesus ascended to the Father in glory.

The double portion belongs to the firstborn heir of an estate, so it is only natural that Elisha and the disciples received the fullness of the inheritance. Just as Elisha was able to perform the miracles of Elijah, so the disciples were able to perform the miracles of the Messiah after the Spirit came upon them.

Therefore, we are called to go all the way in our faith. The Lord may give us an out like Elijah, who told Elisha to stay where he was three separate times, but we cannot become truly useful to the Lord and truly like the Lord unless we refuse to leave him. If we refuse to leave him and receive the Holy Spirit, there is no limit to what Christ can do in us.

Prayer: “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, Jesus, I will not leave you. You ask me what you can do for me, so do this: grow in my heart until there is nothing left but your presence. I want to take part in the inheritance you have stored up for your children. May your Holy Spirit come upon me in power so that I may be your hands and feet and voice in this world. Like Elisha and Paul, I want to run the race and to go all the way. I love you, Jesus. Help me to live out my life in the reality of your atonement, for you have freed me to have a relationship with you. Nothing is too difficult for you, for your love overcomes the world. Amen!”

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