Jul 29, 2014

Psalm Tuesday - Psalm 37

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Psalm 37




37:1 Don't fret because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness.

37:2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither like the green herb.

37:3 Trust in Yahweh, and do good. Dwell in the land, and enjoy safe pasture.

37:4 Also delight yourself in Yahweh, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

37:5 Commit your way to Yahweh. Trust also in him, and he will do this:

37:6 he will make your righteousness go forth as the light, and your justice as the noon day sun.

37:7 Rest in Yahweh, and wait patiently for him. Don't fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who makes wicked plots happen.

37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Don't fret, it leads only to evildoing.

37:9 For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for Yahweh shall inherit the land.

37:10 For yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more.
Yes, though you look for his place, he isn't there.

37:11 But the humble shall inherit the land, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

37:12 The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes at him with his teeth.

37:13 The Lord will laugh at him, for he sees that his day is coming.

37:14 The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, to kill those who are upright in the way.

37:15 Their sword shall enter into their own heart. Their bows shall be broken.

37:16 Better is a little that the righteous has, than the abundance of many wicked.

37:17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but Yahweh upholds the righteous.

37:18 Yahweh knows the days of the perfect. Their inheritance shall be forever.

37:19 They shall not be disappointed in the time of evil. In the days of famine they shall be satisfied.

37:20 But the wicked shall perish. The enemies of Yahweh shall be like the beauty of the fields. They will vanish- vanish like smoke.

37:21 The wicked borrow, and don't pay back, but the righteous give generously.

37:22 For such as are blessed by him shall inherit the land. Those who are cursed by him shall be cut off.

37:23 A man's goings are established by Yahweh. He delights in his way.

37:24 Though he stumble, he shall not fall, for Yahweh holds him up with his hand.

37:25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his children begging for bread.

37:26 All day long he deals graciously, and lends. His seed is blessed.

37:27 Depart from evil, and do good. Live securely forever.

37:28 For Yahweh loves justice, and doesn't forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.

37:29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and live in it forever.

37:30 The mouth of the righteous talks of wisdom. His tongue speaks justice.

37:31 The law of his God is in his heart. None of his steps shall slide.

37:32 The wicked watches the righteous, and seeks to kill him.

37:33 Yahweh will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.

37:34 Wait for Yahweh, and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land. When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.

37:35 I have seen the wicked in great power, spreading himself like a green tree in its native soil.

37:36 But he passed away, and behold, he was not. Yes, I sought him, but he could not be found.

37:37 Mark the perfect man, and see the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.

37:38 As for transgressors, they shall be destroyed together. The future of the wicked shall be cut off.

37:39 But the salvation of the righteous is from Yahweh. He is their stronghold in the time of trouble.

37:40 Yahweh helps them, and rescues them. He rescues them from the wicked, and saves them, Because they have taken refuge in him.

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Jul 28, 2014

Think Spot 28 July 2014

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Think Spot - 28th July 2014

Revelation 22:12-13 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Do you believe this? Do you really believe this? If you do, then how are you doing at telling and showing others the gospel of grace of Jesus Christ?

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I was in London recently. A busy place! But I did notice something. The only people I saw doing any kind of outreach, were members of the Jehovah Witnesses cult. They do it out of slavish obedience to the Jehovah Witnesses Governing body. It is not out of love for others as we as Christians are to! But… Where were the Christians? For sure they were operating the foodbanks, looking after the homeless and others in need. Practical evangelism and outreach – and rightly so. But where was the verbal witness of Christians? We are commanded to go and tell – so evangelism is not just looking after the physical needs of people but also telling them verbally. Two days in London and we didn’t see one Christian evangelising. Where I live in the UK, I have lived in our current location 4 years and not once have I been presented with the Gospel. Why? I would suggest apathy. A sense of loss of urgency in the UK church today.

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As the church, God’s representative body, here on earth, we have a mission. The church is all those who call Jesus Lord and let Him be master over there life. We have a mission. Our mission is to tell other people about a God of love and that this God of love wants people to come into a relationship of love with Him. God is a missionary God! The Father sent the Son on a mission! The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit on a mission! We are to emulate the God we claim to love, by being on a mission to tell others about this amazing God of love who wants all people to be in relationship with Himself. If you don’t tell that person, who will? They may not get another opportunity to hear! The church as a whole, particularly in the West, seems to have lost its sense of urgency to tell and show others this missionary God of love.

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Why urgency? Because Jesus, who is the Lord of the Christian and Lord of the Church, is coming back again. Coming back to gather to Himself all those who are engaged in a loving and dynamic relationship with Himself. Coming back soon. Could be today! Could be tomorrow, this week, this month, this year, this decade, this century! Nobody knows! But Jesus is coming back. Be ready for when He does and I hope there is at least one other person there because you took a risk and told somebody about Jesus.

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As the church, as Christians, we have this message of life, and yet so often we neglect to take the opportunities to tell and show others. When was the last time you said to somebody “God loves you. Will you love Him back?” We are, by all means possible, to get this message out. Go. Tell. Show. The Gospel. GodLuvsYou.com Go into this week and tell at least one person somewhere & somehow about God’s love. Thank you.

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O Father God, I pray that this week, each of us will do all we can to tell and show the Good news of your Son. Enable us through your Holy Ghost who lives within us, to see the opportunities to tell others that you love them and want them to be in relationship with you, O Loving God! Help us through the power and wisdom of the Holy Ghost to tell about the love mission done by your Son two thousand years ago. I ask this O God my Father, through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside all those who have a relationship with you. Amen

~

Thanks for listening! Come back every day to Partakers where you will find resources to help you live the Christian life where you are.

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Jul 27, 2014

A God of Joy and His people



A God of Joy and His people



Some of the words and phrases we commonly use come straight from the book of Leviticus. Words such as jubilee and scapegoat are commonly used today. And what husband hasn’t offered a form of guilt offering to his wife!

Leviticus does have important things to tell us about sin, obedience and holiness. Perhaps most importantly it tells of God dwelling with His people.



Leviticus 16:1-10

The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD. 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: he must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash round him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.

‘Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats – one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.




1. Day of Atonement

  • The Tabernacle / Tent of Meetings
  • The Offerings!
  • The Blood!
  • The High Priest - Aaron!
  • The Scapegoat
  • The people! 

Atonement done!



2. Life worship


  • Leviticus 18:1-5 - Be Holy!
  • Leviticus 19:9-18 – Be Good Neighbours!


3. Reading Leviticus today!


So what is the best way for us in the 21st century to read these ancient laws of Leviticus? Is it just to simply ignore them or are we to slavishly follow them? Perhaps the best way is to simply let Scripture interpret Scripture and see what the New Testament says about the Leviticus laws. Take for instance the food laws. We know in the New Testament that all food is now permissible, whereas under the Old Testament, certain foods were not permitted to be eaten. In the New Testament, the Apostle Peter had a dream in which all food was declared clean!

It is also wise, not to see them as merely a list of “not do” statements, but also as “do statements”. Rather, we should see them as a love letter from a God who wants to save His people from distress and anxiety in order to give them a life of peace, unity, health and a joyful life in all its fullness.



All these laws were to lead ancient Israel to be a holy nation. Holiness was about being set apart for a purpose and making wise, conscious decisions about what was right or wrong. It involved being obedient to God and keeping His decrees and regulations. Being holy, involved having a lifestyle, which was contrary to the cultures surrounding them. To be holy was a lifestyle choice of worship, to reflect their holy God. They were called to be loyal! Called to be distinct! Called to worship! What has all this got to do with us? Where does the Day of Atonement and these laws fit into the life of a Christian in the 21st century?



4. Today

Hebrews 2:14-18

  • Holy Barrier
  • Holy People!
  • Declared Holy!


Lets now, quickly compare the Levitical Sacrifices and Jesus’ Sacrifices!

Levitical Sacrifices:

Performed repeatedly by earthly priests who stood.
Their work was unending as they laboured on earth and their sacrifices could never take away sin.

Jesus’ Sacrifice:

He offered one sacrifice.
Jesus now sits at God’s right hand in power and glory with His earthly work complete.
His sacrifice achieved its goal of fulfilment and made his followers holy! 
At the cross of Jesus Christ on Calvary, the Old Covenant was fulfilled and the New Covenant ushered in!
This New Covenant assures those who follow Jesus Christ have:

  •  Forgiveness!
  • Peace!
  • Reconciled to God
  • Declared right and just before God!
  • Cleansed from sin!  
  • Free from the slavery to sin!
  • Intercedes for us!
  • Given the Spirit to dwell inside!
  • Granted direct access to God the Father, through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit 

5. Live Holy!


As a Christian, the Holy Spirit is living inside you, changing and transforming you into the very image of the holy one, Jesus Christ. Your transformation into that image of Jesus Christ, is the greatest evidence, not only of the work of the Holy Spirit but also of you being a Christian living an obedient life to God.

As a Christian, you are no longer an enemy of God but a friend of God and belong to God! As Christians, we are to live a life of obedience to God – casting off all that hinders and seeks to stop us. And if we fall into disobedience, we can confess our sin to the Father, through the name of the Son and in the power of the Spirit and get right back up again, knowing we are forgiven – totally amazing!



As Christians, we are called to be joyfully obedient to the Lord, serving Him in every aspect of life! In doing so, our whole lives will be acceptable worship to God and not just at a Sunday meeting. Our worship is to be a lifestyle of conscious decisions, reflecting our devotion to a God with whom we are to be in a dynamic and intimate relationship with. This lifestyle will affect the way we work, rest and play!



As instruments in God’s orchestra of joy, we are to be loyal to Him – the joy giver! We are to obey with joyful, effervescent vigour and reflect a living God to a society out there, which is in darkness. They will know we are Christians by the way we act – actions of obedience to God, signified by the love we have for each other and them. Love in action by supplying people’s needs, both on an individual and church basis.

We are called to follow God and not to succumb to the temptations, which seek to mar our relationship with the God who lives inside us. Let's go willingly to obey and serve the Lord with faithful obedience!



But if you are not a Christian here tonight, then please do make yourself known to us afterwards and we would love to talk to you about becoming a Christian. While you have breath, it’s not too late to start this life of joyful obedience to a loving God and enter into a living and dynamic relationship of true Joy with Him. Don’t leave it so late that you incur God’s judgement for your sins and have everlasting separation from Him and others! God does indeed love you and He is calling you to come into a dynamic relationship of true joy with Him today. Take the opportunity today – come and follow Jesus Christ. He is calling you to respond!


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Jul 26, 2014

WOW Word 25

Alfie brings you a WOW Word

WOW Word 25

Joy

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Today Alphy shares about the WOW Word - Joy!


The Battle for Joy!



Hebrews 12:2 “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.




As Christians, we are all instruments in the orchestra of God's joy. Does that describe your experience of joy?

Let us ask ourselves at the very beginning what is joy? Is joy merely a form of bloated happiness as many people believe, including those in the church? Can joy be seen as going around everywhere with a silly grin etched into your face? That kind of joy is dependent upon circumstances and feelings!

C.S. Lewis once wrote: "Joy is never in our power, and pleasure is. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted true joy would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasure in the world."




True joy is not to be confused with mere pleasure or feeling good!

True joy is to be a way of life and it is to permeate every facet of the person and not just the emotions! True joy is to be a deeper, inner joy whereby the source, object and target is to be God and God alone!

What is joy and how can you experience such joy? Play the video to see Alphy talking about joy and its place within the life of the Christian Disciple!!

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Jul 25, 2014

Friday Prayers 25 July 2014

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

25th July 2014


We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!

Order of Prayer Service

Opening Prayer

1 John 1:8-10

Confession

Lord's Prayer

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Prayers for those facing challenging situation

Prayers for those grieving & in despair

Prayers for those imprisoned

Prayers for Churches Worldwide

Prayers for the world

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Time for your own prayers

The Creed

Benediction

Closing Prayer

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Jul 24, 2014

Creation Book Corner 24 July 2014

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Claire's Creation Book Corner

24 July 2014

Our Christian faith is about much more than turning up on Sunday mornings or growing our churches. Each and every one of us is called to make the world a better place. The only trouble is, if only we all knew how!

With 7 billion people on this planet, human life is complicated and very very large. What can one person do to make a difference?

Some individuals, like Martin Luther King, can make a big difference to an entire country. But most of us are not called by God to act on such a large scale - because small scale makes a difference too. When large numbers of people choose to do the good they're capable of, the world becomes a much kinder place.

Lots of people nowadays are talking about how Twitter and Facebook have changed our outlook. With these social media we can watch and communicate with those in power in an unprecedented way. It's an amazing thing, but also far too seductive.

As a Christian have you ever wasted hours of your time being indignant online because you think it's going to help a cause of social or environmental justice? I have.

I've no doubt that making a noise for justice online is a good thing and that for some people it is a special calling from God ... but for the rest of us it's a lot of effort in an arena where we may not be at our most effective.

This week I've decided to try something different. I've realised that my main power to make a difference rests not in how much noise I make online, but in which corporations I vote for with my money.

When I buy food from a farm that genuinely loves animals, that is a powerful vote of support for animal rights. In my opinion it's worth more than a hundred tweets or Facebook posts.

So, I've decided to try an experiment. For two months I'm going to stop making a noise for social and environmental justice online. I'm going to put all that campaigning energy into making shopping choices that support justice for all Creation.

I've got quite a big task ahead of me. Among other things I've got to cut down on the amount of packaged food I buy and check carefully whether animal products are ethically sourced. Whew! I feel exhausted just thinking about it!

But the question is. What are you going to do?

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Jul 23, 2014

Ask Dave - Question 8

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Question 8

 

What Happened In 2013 on the WOW USA trip?

(as interviewed by Mrs Heidi Trotman)

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Jul 22, 2014

POD - Psalm 91

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Psalm 91


91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

91:2 I will say of Yahweh, "He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust."

91:3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence.

91:4 He will cover you with his feathers. Under his wings you will take refuge. His faithfulness is your shield and rampart.

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91:5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day;

91:6 nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that wastes at noonday.

91:7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you.

91:8 You will only look with your eyes, and see the recompense of the wicked.

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91:9 Because you have made Yahweh your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,

91:10 no evil shall happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.

91:11 For he will put his angels in charge of you, to guard you in all your ways.

91:12 They will bear you up in their hands, so that you won't dash your foot against a stone.

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91:13 You will tread on the lion and cobra. You will trample the young lion and the serpent underfoot.

91:14 "Because he has set his love on me, therefore I will deliver him. I will set him on high, because he has known my name.

91:15 He will call on me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him, and honor him.

91:16 I will satisfy him with long life, and show him my salvation."

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Jul 21, 2014

Think Spot 21 July 2014

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Think Spot - 21st July 2014

G'day! Welcome to Partakers Think Spot at the start of new week on Monday the 21st July 2014!

God's love in the Bible is seen as unfailing, everlasting, intimate, sacrificial, unbreakable, all-conquering, personal, great, immeasurable and all-knowing. This is seen supremely in the Cross of Jesus Christ, when He died for the sins of the world. Supreme love overcoming all that is not love. Even when great acts of evil are committed in the world, love is all around. Love continues despite such acts.

How are Christians to respond to this love of God?

The apostle John writes in 1 John 4v15-16 - If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Our motivation as Christians is to love and to be love. This is a love, which is sacrificial and self-less. It is tough love which is of service to other people.

Loving and serving others, are the primary ways of showing you love God! It is easiest to love your friends. But Jesus commanded that his followers also love their enemies (Matthew 5:43-45)! Now that is very radical and can be difficult! We see constantly in the media and elsewhere, that regards our enemies, we are to be confrontational or at best to just ignore them!

Love and serve everyone

How is it possible to love our enemies? It is only with the help of God and His abundant grace towards us! We depend on the Holy Spirit who lives inside all Christians to empower and guide! To only love those who love you is what is expected by people everywhere as normal behaviour. But as a Christian, you are to do more! You are to be seen to love more than other people. You don't have to like others as friends, but you do have to love them as fellow human beings!

Go!

Go into this week, being prepared to show your love of Jesus Christ, remaining close to Him and serving other people generously with abundant grace-filled love!  By loving and serving others, you become God's arms and legs in a physical world.  One of the greatest limitations you face in loving and serving other people is a severe lack of imagination! So as you go into this week, ask God to expand your imagination to love and serve; as well as asking for the opportunities to do them. Loving and serving are hallmarks of an authentic Christian life.  Love continues even amidst chaos and turmoil all around. Go and be part of the continuing of love.  Thank you.

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Jul 20, 2014

Serving in God’s Orchestra of Joy

Instruments in

God's Orchestra of Joy!


Introduction

We look today at an aspect of being instruments in God’s orchestra of joy - obedient service!

So, please turn in your bibles to Leviticus 9:22 and let us witness together a scene of great and exuberant joy!

The first seven chapters of Leviticus talk about the different offerings or sacrifices that the nation of Israel was to make to God. Then in chapter 8 we see the beginning of the priesthood and the joyful work of Aaron and the priests. Their main role of service was to act as mediators between a holy God and the people of Israel, particularly in the role of making those offerings and sacrifices. In fact, they were the ultimate multi-taskers, as they seemed equally adept as butchers, doctors, teachers, quality assurors and public health inspectors! The passage we have in front of us tonight shows the culmination of this priestly ordination.

1. Great joy!

Read Leviticus 9:22-24



Israel was a nation, chosen by God, to be His people and to be a shining light of God’s glory to the world around them. This nation, God’s treasured and precious people, however, way back in Exodus 19, refused to be a nation of royal priests. Instead they preferred being represented by Moses and Aaron. So Moses and Aaron have gone into the Tent of Meeting or Tabernacle to meet with God. This was where Moses and Aaron would meet with the Lord during the travels to the Promised Land. The whole nation is waiting for them! So Moses and Aaron, as we just read, come out, give a blessing to the people and God’s glory appeared to the nation!

WOW! That must have been some blessing Aaron gave! Whatever his words were in v24, they were words that invocated Almighty God’s power, presence and peace to be with and upon His people. No wonder the people fell on the ground with their noses in the dirt as an act of joyful worship and praise to God!!

The burnt offering and fat portions on the altar were consumed in a great fire emanating from the manifestation of the glory of God! So amazing was this sight that a tremendous wave of exuberant joy overcame the people and they all fell with their face in the ground! There was probably a mixture of amazement, surprise and reverent fear! That must have been a tremendous sight to behold! Falling face forward was a characteristic method of showing total surrender and submission to a king or master. Here it is adopted by the Israelites as symbolic surrender to their God! The infinite, almighty, majestic and glorious God, was living and being worshipped by His people. This God was a holy God and these people were to be His people.

So there is tremendous joy in the nation of Israel and this is evident in their spontaneous act of submissive, voluntary worship and expressions of thanks to their Almighty God. Moses and Aaron had followed God’s guidelines obediently and the nations true joy was in evidence. Not just joy as an emotion, but true joy as evidenced through sacrifice, praise and testimony!

Now it would be very nice to just stop there, but the story continues! The Bible is an honest book! Just as the celebrations were concluding and the priests were taking up their sacred roles, something happens!

2. Great tragedy!

Read Leviticus 10:1-11

These two men, Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron the High Priest, start their duties. They take their pans, fill them with hot coals from a fire, place aromatic incense on the coals and offer this to God as an act of worship. The fire from the glory of the Lord comes out, engulfs them and they die. What happened? They hadn’t followed the strict guidelines as given by the Lord and had therefore violated all the instructions given to them. Strict regulations were required by sinful humans to be in and work in God’s holy presence!

How different can these two scenes be? In the first passage we looked at, fire represented God’s presence and spoke of His love, warmth, purity and blessing upon His people. Here though, the fire represents a different aspect of His presence through his active holiness and therefore danger and judgement.

Who were Nadab and Abihu? They were Aaron’s eldest sons and had received a privileged upbringing. They had seen God working from close quarters. When Moses went up Mount Sinai to speak with God and receive the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, they were there. They had just spent the previous week in training for their new jobs as priests in service to God. No doubt they had witnessed at close quarters, the fire we spoke of earlier in Leviticus 9v24. So they were not only important people, but also experienced.

Yet in spite of all this, they did what was contrary to the guidelines given them. They were disobedient. We don’t know why they did it. It could have been old hairy legs satan whispering in their ears “Go on. You have a go now. Your dad did it, didn’t he? So can you. Don’t worry about those guidelines God gave you. it will be alright tonight, my sons. You felt good and happy, didn’t you? Trust yourself.”

It could have been pride, jealousy or impatience that led them to disobey the strict guidelines, or in light of 10v8 perhaps too much wine! Perhaps they were caught up in the excitable fever of the joyful occasion and wanted joy like a drug! What may have seemed right to them, most certainly wasn’t right to God. Perhaps they thought they were doing God a big favour by zealously embracing their roles as priests and wanting to offer as many sacrifices as they could! We will never know!

But we do know, that regardless of the reason for doing so, they actively disobeyed God. They chose to do it! Not only was it a fragrant disobedience but also a flagrant disobedience. In offering a “strange” or unauthorised fire, they had disregarded God’s instructions for the timing, place or manner. They had been set apart and dedicated to a life of serving God and His people and had now paid the ultimate consequence for their disobedience. Their disobedience is referred to again in Leviticus 16 in the regulations for the annual Day of Atonement. Regulations probably given to ensure that this never again occurred! Aaron, their father, was silent – stunned I would imagine! He has seen at firsthand, that in a life of true joy, God requires obedience over sacrifice. Aaron and his remaining sons were not to mourn or appear to be sorrowful. This was to signify the seriousness of Nadab and Abihu’s disobedience. To us this may seem harsh, but Aaron and his remaining sons had to prioritize service to God over commitment to family. This was symbolic of Joy – Jehovah Over Yourself. Aaron and his other sons had to remain engaged in priestly duties and responsibilities. Other members of the family were allowed to mourn however.

3. A God of Judgement

Now today, in the 21st century, we have a problem. We are quite comfortable with a God of love, peace, joy and kindness. In the movie Crocodile Dundee, Mick Dundee announces that “Me and God – we’d be mates”. If that is the limit of our vision of God, then may I suggest that our vision and opinion of God is too small? Perhaps our God is too nice and too comfortable. Yet a problem seemingly remains. How on earth can a God of love, peace, gentleness, kindness and joy act like this against two of his dedicated servants, Nadab and Abihu? Is not that a God who is at odds with himself?

The first thing we can say here about God is that while He is most assuredly a God of love, kindness and peace, He is also a God of judgement – a God who judges. That is plainly evident from this passage. We need to acknowledge him as a great lover, but also as a terrifying Judge. Not just a friend, but also a Judge! The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us that it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God who is a consuming fire! Remember also, that God always prefers obedience to sacrifice.

We all have, I am sure, at some point liked to think of God as being all love and never judging. People say: “It will be alright in the end, because the love of God conquers all.” Well, that love involves judging! The judgement of God is unbiased. God shows no favouritism and He is always just and right. It is a reflection of His mercy, that nobody can claim God is unfair. But God is not merely a God of mercy, peace and love but also as we have seen, He is a God who judges and administers justice impartially in accordance with His mercy, peace and love!

4. A God of Wrath!

Not only is He a God who judges but He is also a God who has great wrath – it is an essential, permanent and indelible part of His character! His wrath may be slow to burn, but it is still anger and wrath! The holiness of God requires that He punish sin through His wrath! What sort of God would He have been if He had not done what He did to Nadab and Abihu? What if He had said, “That’s ok boys, you will get it right next time.” Then He most would certainly be seen as a capricious, unjust, fickle and hostile being.

It’s not a popular subject these days in our churches! Most churches mumble when it comes to bible passages such as this! While most sections of our society, and indeed parts of the church, view God as a doddery benevolent being, sitting benignly in the sky in His rocking chair and mildly ‘tutting’ when people disobey His commands. But God is not a benevolent Grandfather figure and neither is His wrath or anger unwarranted, immoral, cruel, fickle, spiteful or capricious! God’s wrath is always to administer and mete out a divine loving justice, which corresponds to God’s innate and essential characteristics and attributes of light, perfection and holiness. That’s the picture given by all the Bible writers. When we speak of a perfect God in human terms, whether that is His being a wrathful judge or tremendous lover, it reflects the imperfect limitations of our humanity. We were made in the image of God and not the other way around!

Secondly, God’s honour was at stake! He is both zealous and jealous for His own honour and name! He can only act within the confines of His own characteristics and attributes! He must always work out of His immutable holiness! God was passionate about living at the centre of His people and there was no way He could allow renegade priests to disobediently defile His dwelling place!

Nadab and Abihu were punished because they worked in His immediate presence as illustrated by verse 3 “Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honoured.” If God had not punished them, then that would have made God out to be a hypocrite and a liar, acting contrary to His own essential nature and He would be seen as an impotent God with seemingly multiple personalities. This story illustrates that Nadab and Abihu had to serve as an example, which is why we have the story.

Thirdly, Nadab and Abihu broke the guidelines, given by God on how to enter into His presence. They took the wrong fire, went at the wrong time and were ill prepared for such an occasion. They entered a place of God’s holy presence in a sinful and disobedient state. People full of sin can never enter into a place where God resides, because God is uniquely holy, sinless and perfect without fault or defect.

Nadab and Abihu chose, for whatever reason, either intentionally or unintentionally, to break God’s guidelines in how, where and when to offer a sacrifice. There is no indication, however, from the Biblical text that they were eternally separated from God at their death, as in judgement of their sins. But rather it seems they were judged according to what they did with their abilities, talents and gifting as ministers in His service.

5. So what’s all this got to do with us today?

So what’s all this got to do with us today in the 21st century? Over and over again in the Old Testament, we see that the nation of Israel were to be a people of service separated out for God! Under the terms of the covenant God made with them through Moses, that was the core of God’s agreement with them. It commenced with the stipulation Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me (Exodus 19v5)”.

This covenant was with the nation of Israel in order that those who believed God’s earlier promise to Abraham could know how to live a life worthy of being God’s people: to live a life relating socially to God and to other people. It was also to show how humanity could approach God on God’s terms alone and not on their own conditions! God was and is a perfect and holy God! His people, Israel, were to be a holy and separated people of service and to reflect God’s glory and greatness to the other nations!

This covenant was only in place until the Messiah came and made the perfect sacrifice. All the Old Testament Covenants pointed towards the time when the Saviour Messiah would come – God would come Himself to save His people! The Mosaic Covenant was never meant as a means towards salvation. It was given that they could realize the helplessness of their own efforts to save themselves and their need of God's help. One day, there would be a New Covenant between God and humanity and this Mosaic covenant would be fulfilled!

6. New Covenant?

So what is this New Covenant? Four primary features are:

  • · God will write His law on the hearts of people.
  • · God will be their God, and they will be His people.
  • · God will indwell people and they will be led by Him
  • · All sins will be forgiven and removed eternally

This new covenant was and is sealed only through the perfect sacrifice of the God-Man Jesus on the cross. His blood ensures the truth of this New Covenant. His death pays the penalty for the sins of all people who choose to say yes to God and follow Him. This New Covenant finalizes what the Mosaic Covenant could only point to: the follower of God engaged in a dynamic relationship of Joy with a God who loves them.

No longer would human priests need to mediate between God and humans, because Jesus Christ, the full visible manifestation of God, would fulfil that role as mediator and all people would have access to God through Him! Amazing stuff! You and I have instant access to Almighty God. We can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence and assurance because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. God no longer dwells in a Tent of Meeting, the Tabernacle or the Temple made of stone – He now lives in each believer – immediate access guaranteed! Amazing and yet how often we don’t avail ourselves. But it is more than that, because as royal priests of this New Covenant, for that is what we are, we too are called into a joyful life of obedient service of God!

7. Called to service!

Just as it was for Aaron and the Old Testament priesthood, when we serve and minister, God’s honour is released. This is done because service is to show the beauty and glory of God to others. Serving, service and ministry are never to be about what we as mere humans can get out of it. When that is the motive, God is neither honoured nor glorified. God’s glory and supremacy is to be the ultimate reason for service! God is both zealous and jealous for His glory and honour to be upheld! Nadab and Abihu could testify to that I am sure!

As Christians, as part of our life of true Joy, we are called to serve and minister. We are called to exhibit and show our true Joy - just as Aaron and his family were called into a lifetime of obedient service to Jehovah God. Their JOY motto was to be “Jehovah Over Yourself”. For us, true joy is to be “Jesus Over Yourself”. Each of us here tonight is called to perform a unique serving and ministerial function.

Showing love, serving each other and giving to others are a practical outworking of our joyful obedience to God. The ministries of Nadab and Abihu were cut short and hallmarked with disobedience. Our ministry, and all Christians have one, is to be hallmarked by obedience borne out of love for God and Him alone. Devoted obedience to God borne out of a desire to see God glorified, regardless of what other people may say or think.

And we are not left alone to serve in our own power! We would most certainly fail if that was the case! God Himself has lovingly equipped all those who follow Him, to serve! God the Holy Spirit, who lives inside each believer, has endowed each Christian with gifts, talents and abilities for that purpose - service! This is so that the whole church is built up and “that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” God wants you and I to be active in service – life long service hallmarked by loving obedience to Him, which reflects our joyful dedication to Him, to His praise, honour and glory!

8. Judged for our service!

Finally, just as God’s judgement was upon Nadab and Abihu, the Bible also tells us that all those who follow Jesus Christ will be judged according to what they have done, with what God gave them. That includes any spiritual gifts, talents and abilities we have! This judgement will not be for salvation, because if we have decided to follow Jesus Christ, judgement for our sins has already fallen on Him, when He died on the cross.

Of our sinfulness we have been set free and declared innocent! If we here tonight, have accepted God’s free offer of salvation by grace alone, through Jesus Christ alone, then we are declared right with God and in a joyous relationship with Him. Again, it is amazing! However, our belief and faith are to be visibly manifested through joyful obedient service of, and to, God!

This judgement is not for your salvation but for your rewards! As followers of Jesus Christ, God will ask you and I, to give an account of ourselves, and we will be judged according to what we have done. The quality of our work will be tested and our motives exposed – either we did things for God’s glory or we did them for our own glory. We will give an account of the opportunities and abilities entrusted to us as instruments of God’s orchestra of joy.

Conclusion!

For those of us who would call ourselves Christians, the Bible is very clear – you are called to lovingly and obediently serve in some capacity. A life of true Joy is seen in obedient service to the glory of God the Father, through God the Son Jesus Christ, in the power of God the Holy Spirit who lives in you. Tonight, if you are engaging in either intentional or unintentional acts of disobedience, then you need to turn your life around to one of utter obedience to the God you profess to follow.

As a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit within you, as a seal of your salvation. Your body is the temple where God now resides! You can’t hide from Him, so you may as well choose to be obedient to Him in a life of joyful service, exhibiting that true Joy and the hope you have in Him! Just as joy followed Moses and Aaron’s obedience in Leviticus 9, so too can it be for those of us willing to lovingly serve obediently!

But if you are not a Christian here tonight, then please do make yourself known to us afterwards and we would love to talk to you about becoming a Christian. While you have breath, it’s not too late to start this life of joyful obedience to a loving God and enter into a living and dynamic relationship of true Joy with Him. Don’t leave it so late that you incur God’s judgement for your sins and have everlasting separation from Him and others! God does indeed love you and He is calling you to come into a dynamic relationship of true joy with Him today. Take the opportunity today – come and follow Jesus Christ. He is calling you to respond!

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