29 January 2015

27 January 2015

BSF 2014-2015: Leviticus 25-27

The last three chapters of Leviticus focus on rest, freedom and restoration. God is preparing His people to be consecrated to Him before they enter the Promised Land.

When the Israelites enter the Promised Land, God commands them to work the land for six years then rest the land for one year. They could eat what the land produces naturally during the sabbath year of rest, but they could not systematically work and harvest the land themselves during that year. God was going to provide and feed all of the Israelites, their Gentile slaves and their livestock.

During this sabbath year of rest not only does the land rest but debts are cancelled, Israelite slaves are freed and priests teach the people about God. God is teaching the Israelites to be dependent on Him.

God calls the fiftieth year Jubilee, another sabbath year of rest. Debts are cancelled, people return to their hometowns and families and land returns to the families. The focus of Jubilee is rest and restoration for the people and their land. God is teaching the Israelites that He owns their land and possessions.

God also commands the Israelites to help the poor by not taking advantage of them and by loaning funds to them (not providing a handout).

In chapter 26, God promises rewards if the Israelites do not make idols, observe the Sabbath and revere His sanctuary. But He also promises punishment if the Israelites do not obey His commands. The choice is theirs (and ours today!) – do we want rewards or punishment?

And chapter 27 tells the Israelites that the things they dedicated to God could be redeemed for a price. People, possessions and property were redeemable gifts. But the firstborn among the animals and the tithe could not be redeemed because they already belonged to God.

To redeem is to rescue with a ransom. Jesus purchased me from the marketplace of sin. He paid the price for me to be redeemed from my sinful lifestyle. He is my owner, and I am His treasured possession. Can you say this about Jesus?

Things to Think About

  • The people had to trust God to provide during the sabbath year, during the Jubilee year and during the following year as the people begin working the land again.
  • God wants to increase my faith in Him just like He increased the Israelites’ faith through the sabbath year and the Jubilee.
  • How can I help others in need with the things God has entrusted to me?
  • The purpose of God’s punishment is to cause us to repent and return to Him.
  • God expects us to keep our commitments to Him. Which commitments have I made to God? Am I keeping them?

22 January 2015

21 January 2015

Peek-a-boo!

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Just during the past week, Damon has started playing peek-a-boo. When we say, "Where's Damon?" he covers his face with a blanket. Then when he pulls down the blanket, we say, "Peek-a-boo!" and he gives a big smile. It's so fun to watch him react to us!


20 January 2015

BSF 2014-2015: Leviticus 16, 23; Hebrews 9-10

This week’s lesson focuses on the Jewish celebration of the Day of Atonement. But it also points us to see Christ as our atoning sacrifice.

God gave the Israelites many annual festivals that the Israelites celebrated after they entered the Promised Land. These celebrations are described in Leviticus 23:

  • Passover – Celebrates the Israelites’ delivery from slavery in Egypt. Points to Jesus as our Passover Lamb.
  • Festival of Firstfruits – The Israelites dedicate their entire crop to God. Jesus is the firstfruit of all believers because He was the first to be raised in a resurrection body.
  • Festival of Harvest (also called Pentecost) – The Israelites present an offering of new grain to God. After Jesus rose from the dead, during this festival the Holy Spirit indwelt believers, and a harvest of new believers began.
  • Festival of Trumpets – This is a day of rest, and trumpets are blown to draw the people’s attention to God’s judgment of sin.
  • Day of Atonement (now called Yom Kippur) – The high priest makes sacrifices for his sins and the sins of the entire nation.
  • Festival of Tabernacles – The Israelites rejoice because their sins are cleansed. They live in tents for a short time to remember how God brought them through their journey in the wilderness.

Now, let’s focus on the Day of Atonement.

The Day of Atonement is a very solemn day for the Israelites. It is a day of rest and fasting. God instructs the people to participate in prayerful, self-examination all day.

This is the only day the high priest is permitted to enter the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle. First, the high priest makes a sacrifice for his own sins and for his family’s sins.

Then the high priest gathers two goats. One goat is sacrificed for the people’s sins, and its blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat on the Ark of the Testimony. The other goat is a scapegoat that represents the removal of the people’s sins. The scapegoat takes on the sins of the people and is sent out of the Israelites’ camp and dies in the desert.

Atonement is the act by which sinful man is reconciled to a holy God. On the Day of Atonement, atonement is made once a year for the sins of the Israelites. But when Jesus died, He died once for all peoples’ sins. Jesus was both the sacrificed goat and the scapegoat. He bore the full wrath of God on the cross as our substitute, acquitting us of guilt and reconciling us to God.

Your sins can be forgiven if you believe Jesus died for you and your sins. He made atonement for you. He wants you to be reconciled to Him. The work of salvation is complete. There’s nothing more you or God can do. The death of Christ was enough to reconcile us to God and to make atonement for all of our sins.

Things to Think About

  • Sin permeates everything. Sin is an outrage against God and is a source of untold harm to ourselves and to others.
  • Reading God’s Word makes us uncomfortable in our sin. But God’s Word also cleanses us and drives us to Him.
  • Which sins am I bringing into my home?
  • When we participate in sin, we force the Holy Spirit to participate alongside us.
  • Which sin is keeping you from coming to God?

16 January 2015

Six-month doctor's appointment

Since we celebrated six months of knowing and loving Damon last week, today it was time for his next doctor's appointment. Here are his current stats:

Weight – 16 pounds, 12 ounces (25th percentile)
Length – 26.5 inches (25th percentile)
Head – unknown (between 25th and 50th percentiles)

Damon received three shots and one oral vaccine. He took them all like a champ. But thank goodness there won't be any vaccines at his next appointment!

The doctor said everything looks great! Damon is eating, sleeping and gaining weight just as he should. He's also right on track with his developmental milestones. He is ::this close:: to crawling. And while we haven't heard a real belly laugh yet, he is doing a little giggling.

We tried giving him rice cereal a few times, but Damon didn't want anything to do with it. He clamped his lips together and violently shook his head to avoid eating the stuff. (And I can't say that I blame him!) So we moved on to baby food vegetables. So far so good.

By his next doctor's appointment at nine months, Damon should be enjoying table foods. He also might be pulling himself up on furniture, but I hope not! The doctor told us to continue reading to him and suggested that we start pointing and naming things for him, such as body parts, family members and simple objects. This is just the beginning of the learning process for our little man!

We already know that we have a happy, healthy baby. We really didn't need a doctor's appointment to confirm that, but it was nice to get a clean bill of health for our growing boy!

15 January 2015

13 January 2015

BSF 2014-2015: Leviticus 8-10

This week, we’re looking at chapters 8 to 10 in Leviticus, and we’re focusing on the priests.

The priest was a mediator and a teacher. He also offered sacrifices on behalf of the people. Moses performs the priestly duties in chapter 8. Then Aaron and his sons take over in chapter 9.

At the beginning of chapter 8, Moses washes, dresses and anoints Aaron and his sons as priests. Moses sprinkles oil on the tabernacle, on all of its objects and on Aaron. This means these things are consecrated for God’s use.

Then Moses sacrifices a bull as a sin offering for the priests. Moses uses the blood to purify and consecrate the altar. Moses makes a sin offering, a burnt offering and an ordination offering. Moses puts some of the sacrificial blood on Aaron’s right ear, right thumb and right big toe. This symbolizes that the priest will listen to God, will do the work of God and will go where God sends them.

Aaron and his sons remain in the tabernacle for seven days until their ordination is complete. Now the priests are set apart for God and are ready to start their work.

Moses transfers the authority from himself to Aaron. Aaron makes a sin offering and a burnt offering to make atonement for his own sins. Then he makes a sin offering and a burnt offering for the people’s sins. After this, Aaron makes a fellowship offering and a grain offering.

Following the sacrifices, Aaron lifts his hands and blesses the people. While the Bible doesn’t tell us what the blessing was, it might have been Aaron’s priestly blessing that was recorded in Numbers 6:22-27.

The glory of the Lord appears. Fire appears from the presence of the Lord and consumes the burnt offering and the fat portions. This shows that God accepts the offerings given to Him. Then the people shout for joy and fall facedown.

The next story shows that God calls His people to follow His high standards and punishes them when they disobey.

Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu offer unauthorized fire to God. Then fire comes from the presence of God, consumes Nadab and Abihu and kills them.

Offering fire was not the sin because this was what God instructed the priests to do. But Nadab and Abihu offered fire in an unacceptable way (although we don’t know exactly how the did this).

Why did God give out such a harsh judgment? Through His judgment, God demonstrated that He has a high standard for His people and His priests. God demands that we obey His commands.

Following Nadab and Abihu’s deaths, Moses instructs Aaron and his other sons to present and eat a sin offering. Aaron and his sons refuse to eat the offering because their hearts are grieved. God knows the men’s hearts and shows mercy by permitting them not to eat the offering. He is aware of the attitude of our hearts.

Today, all of God’s people are priests. We are set apart to be used by Him. We are cleansed by Christ’s blood (just as the priests offered blood sacrifices for sins), we are clothed in His righteousness (just as the priests were clothed in their priestly garments) and we are anointed to serve Him (just as the priests were anointed in their service).

Things to Think About

  • Every part of a believer’s life is to be consecrated to God. Which part of my life has not been consecrated to God?
  • Are my ears ready to hear what God wants to say to me? Are my hands ready to do the work God calls me to do? Are my feet ready to go wherever God leads me?
  • As God’s priests today, believers first must confess our own sins to God before we can help anyone else God has called us to help.
  • God reveals His glory when we worship Him in His prescribed way. God does not reveal His glory when we do things outside of His will.
  • Which area of my life do I need to submit to God by obeying Him instead of my own ideas?

08 January 2015

06 January 2015

BSF 2014-2-15: Leviticus 1-7, 11-15, 17-24

Welcome back! When we left the Israelites in December, they had built the Tabernacle according to God’s instructions, and God came down from Heaven to dwell with them. Now we’re moving on to the book of Leviticus, which is a continuation of the book of Exodus. In Leviticus, God gives His people specific instructions for how to worship Him and how to live a holy life. While many of these regulations do not apply to us today, the main truth of this book still is true – God is holy and calls His people to be holy.

To start, here is a brief outline of the book of Leviticus:

  • In chapters 1 to 7, God shows the Israelites how to deal with the barrier of sin.
  • In chapters 8 to 10, God reveals the need for and the role of the mediator between God and man.
  • In chapters 11 to 15, God explains purification rights for health concerns.
  • In chapter 16, God gives instructions about the Day of Atonement.
  • In chapters 17 to 27, God lists the laws that distinguish Israel from all other nations.

Let’s start off with examining the five offerings described in the first seven chapters:

  • Burnt offering – This was a voluntary offering that made a payment for sins in general. The burnt offering points to Jesus and shows that His death was the perfect sacrifice.
  • Grain offering – This was a voluntary offering that showed honor and respect to God in worship and acknowledges that everything the people had belonged to God. The grain offering points to Jesus as the perfect Man who gave all of Himself to God and to us.
  • Fellowship offering – This was a voluntary offering that expressed gratitude to God and symbolized peace and fellowship with Him. The fellowship offering points to Jesus as the only way to fellowship with God.
  • Sin offering – This was a required offering that made a payment for unintentional sins. The sin offering points to Jesus’ death as the payment for sins and the way we are restored to fellowship with God.
  • Guilt offering – This was a required offering that made a payment for sins against God and others. A sacrifice was made to God, and the injured person also was compensated. The guilt offering points to the fact that Jesus’ death takes away the deadly consequences of sin.

These offerings were a step of faith. The Israelites believed that their sins were represented in the offerings and that God forgave their sins because He took his wrath out on the offerings instead of the people. All of the offerings point to Christ as the ultimate sacrifice.

We don’t make these types of sacrifices today. Instead, God calls us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2).

In chapters 11 to 15 and 17 to 24, God gives instructions for living. He instructs the Israelites about clean and unclean food, about caring for people with skin diseases, about dealing with health concerns and about avoiding sexual immorality.

God told His people not to follow other people's practices but to obey His commands. All of these instructions demonstrate how the Israelites were to be different than all other nations. God called them to be holy because He is holy (Leviticus 11:45).

If you serve this same holy God, He also calls you to be holy.

Things to Think About

  • To give myself as a living sacrifice is to set aside my desires to follow God, to leave my energy and resources at His disposal and to trust Him to lead me.
  • God calls believers to live lives of purity.
  • A life of purity is a life free from evil. I can purify my life through confession, worship and prayer.
  • Will I choose to walk away from sin and seek to meet God’s high standards of purity?

01 January 2015