Truthful Tuesday: Exposed in His Presence

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Leviticus 10: 1-3

Then Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his fire pan and put fire in it, set incense in it, and presented strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them to do. 2 So fire went out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them so that they died before the LORD. 3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke: ‘Among the ones close to me I will show myself holy, and in the presence of all the people I will be honored.”  So Aaron kept silent. 

Leviticus 11:44a-45

“For I am the LORD your God and you are to sanctify yourselves and be holy because I am holy… 45 For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God, and you are to be holy because I am holy.”

Nothing is hidden from the LORD.  It is folly to try to conceal anything in the first place, but we easily go astray and are deceived into thinking we can rationalize our unfaithfulness and make it acceptable in the sight of the One Holy One.

He is the same God today – still Holy in a new covenant.  He still wants our first fruits, our best – and is worthy of such an offering.  Somehow we buy into the philosophy that this amazing God of grace will wink His eye at our futile attempts because we “tried”.  It is this lukewarm washed down mentality that condones sin as being what is common and yet there is a cry in our souls that we are to seek to be Holy as He is Holy.  He who gave His very best, His only Son, expects such a sacrifice from those Who would receive such a mighty gift.

Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu were serving the LORD.  Not sure what the strange fire was, but it was straying from what God commanded.  What a privilege it is to serve in God’s house.  Not because of position, but because of His incredible redemption – taking rebels steeped in self and sin and changing them to humble servants, seeking to do His will.  So what happened?  How did Nadab and Abihu stray?  Were they placed there in a position that they were not qualified for because of relationship?  Did they have accountability?  There is not much that I detest more than seeing one of God’s children failing spiritually.  The ensuing disillusionment for many affected is devastating – all over choices made to gratify self instead of pleasing a Holy God.

The example of Aaron’s sons terrifies me because I want to be found faithful but see the same capability in myself. Corruption is the natural course for us all, apart from accountability, the grace of God and the fear of God firm in our hearts. Could this sin have been avoided?  We can try to blame Dad, but his sons were all grown up by this point.  Maybe something was lacking in their training and they could have filled a two-part series on Oprah about the struggles of being PK’s.  I don’t know, but I do know that we have no one to blame for our own faithlessness other than ourselves.

In the struggle of humanity, His grace is still available to all who would reach for it.  The problem is we often do not see our need of it.  The lavish grace and blood spilled out on our behalf was not so we could just be saved and live apart from Him, but His pure, Holy sacrifice serves as a vivid reminder of the depravity of our soul when left to our own devices.  It cost HIm His life.  Back to Aaron’s sons.  They were there, offering sacrifices – right in front of them the reality of sin’s consequences – blood spilled out to cover sins – and it became merely ritual to them, something they could do their way.

This same attitude is in the church today.  Elements of the church service are fought over as different perspectives over how each aspect of our worship service should be done.  Wow, has the body of Christ missed it big time.  It is all about Him. How can we reveal His love and glory to those coming, hungering for more of Him?

In our desire to serve God and share His salvation with a lost world, we can easily get lost and forget in the midst of our programs and plans that we still serve a Holy God.  Familiarity with the church service can become religious dogma, but God is watching to see who acknowledges Him and His holiness in the midst of our routine.  Maybe routine is a distraction that can cover our nakedness before the LORD.  It is easier to go through the motions than to lay our hearts transparent before Him to do surgery.  Don’t get me wrong – order in our services is a framework that can really glorify God, but God help us to never allow that framework to become mere duty.  Nothing is routine with Him and He wants to fill our churches with His presence.

This weary world is spiraling out of control.  Judgment is coming and it starts with us – with God’s church.  The time to quarrel about techniques and perspectives is over.  The days are evil.  We must be all about cooperation and God’s glory. If we rend our hearts and set aside trying to sanitize our waywardness and instead expose our desperate need for a Holy God, in that beautiful place is liberty and true worship of our King.  He reveals our sin that we might confess our sins and find incredible mercy in His presence.

Finding Joy Again

Exodus 35:21, 26, 31, 34

“Everyone whose heart stirred him to action and everyone whose spirit was willing came and brought the offering for the LORD for the work of the tent of meeting, for its service and for the holy garments.  26  And all the women whose heart stirred them to action and who were skilled spun goat’s hair.  31 He has filled with the Spirit of God – with skill, with understanding, with knowledge, and in all kinds of work.  34 And he put in his heart to teach.”

Exodus 36:2

“Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person in whom the LORD had put skill – everyone whose heart stirred him to volunteer to do the work.”

Romans 12:11
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

So often, Christian workers get burned out and lose their passion.  I’ve been there – have you?  I love this snapshot of God’s people, filled with passion, calling and skills by God, joyfully bringing their capabilities and serving God. They recognized that their talents were from God and wholeheartedly offered their skills to Him.  It reminds me of when I was first saved.  The people joyfully served, the worship was vibrant and everyone was excited to be alive in Christ.  I have often wished that my life would be characterized by those beginning days and years in Christ.  I daresay that the same feeling I recall at that time has waned . . . tempered with harsh realities encountered in this life and the reality of the church not being perfect as was once naively believed.  But my faith has also deepened, along with my understanding and love for the LORD.

I deeply love the LORD and weep each day when I write these blogs and consider how great and good God is, but admittedly something is different.  The deliverance we experienced was supposed to mean everything would always work out as we expected, right?  How do we get that passion reignited? Human nature has a tendency to be excited about anything new.  But when time passes and we are numbed by the presence of sin and its affect on people around us as well as ourselves – broken lives and a diminished utopia, we can become disillusioned and lose our joy.    Once disillusionment sets in, the once rose-tinted glasses can easily become a pessimistic view – or not.  Depending on what our focus is – abundant life in Christ or a comfortable life without troubles in America – will determine whether we truly experience and comprehend the definition of happiness in Christ.

Examining God’s people in Exodus, it is apparent that gratitude, expectations and motivation each played a big role in their passion.  It does not mention that they had an expectation or motivation to ascribe toward higher positions within the church, just thankfulness and contentment exuded by their manner in which they served.  Notice that these people had a calling on their heart – they were not necessarily there every time the church door opened, or serving in every capacity, but knew instinctively what God has called them to and did it with joy.  Sometimes we forget the simplicity of the Gospel and our salvation and lose sight of what really matters.

But perhaps the view that was darkened by life’s reality can actually see clearly, after all.  Maybe joy looks different and feels different than an initial shallow joy untested by life’s challenges.  Thinking that life should be perfect after coming to Christ sets us up for disaster, but joy looks different to a mature believer who has drawn nigh to the living God.  Continuing in that joy is the key.  Knowing God’s enablement and strength when life tries your very soul is the greatest peace and joy on earth.  Remembering our initial joy in Christ is a great catalyst to reignite our fervor, but focusing on the hope we have in Christ can help us rise above present circumstances into our reality in Christ.

The One Who finished the work will complete it in us, but sometimes when hard times crash in and distract you, it can be hard to see past the valleys.  This earth is temporary – may we not waste our life away regretting or thinking things should feel or look differently.  Looking to the example of those early Christians and asking God to restore the joy of our salvation back to us reminds us that our initial joy was never dependent on earthly happiness.

Lord, forgive when we take for granted Your salvation and grow lukewarm or forget how amazing You are.  Ignite us with a passion for You and Your people all for Your glory.  Help us to know our calling and to obediently serve You in a manner worthy of You.