Reading: Exodus 29-30
Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.
Then use it to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony, the table and all its articles, the lamp stand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand.
You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy. Exodus 30:25-29 (NIV)
Everything in the Tent of Meeting had an aroma, a unique aroma that was not allowed to be used anywhere else. The recipe was given directly by God, and it was to be considered holy.
I wonder what it would have been like to be the perfumer, the man who carefully followed the recipe from God to prepare this sacred anointing oil, the “aroma of God”. How careful he must have been, how diligent to ensure that all was done according to God's prescription. Though he wasn't a priest, he enjoyed an immense privilege, and was one of the team of people God chose to help represent his presence in a physical tangible way, in what people could see, hear, smell, touch and even taste.
God still chooses people – men, women and children, to represent himself to mankind. God gives us the privilege of ushering others into his presence in many different ways, often according to the gifts he has given us, our personality, or the situation in which he has placed us. More than that, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the aroma of Christ is in us.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 .
Sharing God with others, and ushering them into his presence in whatever ways I can is worthy of my time, my careful thought, and my best efforts. These are my offering and my privilege.
Jesus, please cleanse me of anything that would distract from the purity of your aroma in me. As one who is made holy, may I be a workman who is approved by you and available for any task that you would have me do.
Reading: Luke 1
When [Zechariah's] time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.” Luke 1:23-25 (NIV)
Luke chapter 1 must be one of the most “feel good” chapters in the Bible. I love the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth.“Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.” Through no fault of her own, Elizabeth lived in disgrace among the people because of her barrenness.
Disgrace: Loss of reputation or respect as a result of a dishonourable action; a person or thing regarded as shameful and unacceptable; loss of honour or esteem; ignominy; shame; public contempt.
How much pain must Elizabeth have carried in her heart, along with her husband Zechariah. Yet the two of them continued to serve God and do their best to please him.
And then, inexplicably and against all the odds, Elizabeth learns she has been chosen to bear a son! He will be called John. “He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” Elizabeth must have nearly burst with happiness as her “dis-grace” vanished like the morning dew. The “dis-” was gone forever, leaving her to enjoy what God had for her all along – “grace“.
No matter how much “dis-” there has been in my life, whether inflicted by others or the result of my own actions, Jesus has taken it to the Cross. He carried it in his body to the grave and it is gone forever, leaving me to enjoy what God had for me all along – grace.
Grace and disgrace cannot coexist. They are opposites. A person cannot truly experience God's grace – that is, his undeserved favour – and still be weighed down by shame and condemnation. Grace is the antidote to disgrace. The coming of grace is like the rising of the sun, causing disgrace to vanish like the morning dew.
This is my mission as a follower of Jesus – to bring grace. What an exciting and rewarding prospect, to have the Holy Spirit working not just in me but through me to bring the wonderful love and favour of God to all who would receive it.
Father, let me be a channel for your grace! May it flow through me like an ever-increasing river. Help me to use my gifts and to take every opportunity you give me to share your grace, and to bring joy where now there is only despair. I am your servant.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Reading: Ephesians 6:5-9
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Ephesians 6:5-9a (NIV)
My attitude toward serving is important. I can't claim to be serving God wholeheartedly unless I am serving others with that very same attitude of heart. Whether we're talking about employer or employee, family or friends, people in the community or people in the church, my attitude is to be one of devotion.
Devotion: Love, loyalty or enthusiasm for a person, activity or cause.
Serving wholeheartedly as if I were serving the Lord leaves no room for showing favouritism. It would be like saying, “Lord, I love you when I'm serving this person but not when I'm serving that person.” That's just not an option. Instead, every opportunity to serve is for me an opportunity to serve God. In fact, serving wholeheartedly those who I'd rather not serve is an opportunity to express my devotion to God all the more – my love, loyalty and enthusiasm for him and his purpose.
Lord God, let your grace flow! As I serve others, let your grace flow to me and through me. In my own strength, I don't have what it takes, but your love is “wide and long and high and deep.” Please fill me with that love and help me to serve with love and devotion.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)
Reading: Exodus 35:1 – 36:7
…and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. Exodus 35:21 (NIV)
The Tent of Meeting was constructed and kitted out by skilled people prepared to offer their services, using offerings made by “everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him.” It seems there was no shortage of craftsmen and craftswomen to help, and the people made so many freewill offerings, the craftsmen had to say, “Stop giving, we have enough!”
In addition, God had gifted and prepared people for specific tasks by filling them “…with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers.” Exodus 35:35
What has God gifted me for? And more than that, what is he moving my heart to do? These two questions could really help me as I weigh up decisions about where to invest my time and energy. Potentially, there are lots of things I could turn my hand to, and I need to be willing to do whatever God would call me to. I belong to him, and to serve him is my life's calling.
But what is God moving my heart to do? What's really grabbing my attention and compelling me to act? God has promised me in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I can't do everything, but if I really have submitted myself to God, and am looking to him to satisfy the desires of my heart, I'll know when to say “yes” and when to say “no”. And perhaps also when God is giving me the option to choose!
Thank you Father for making me just as I am. My heart is yours, along with the gifts and talents you have given to me. Holy Spirit, move me as you will – I am in your hands. Please renew my mind and my heart Lord, so that all of my desires lead to the same end, that you would be glorified. As I delight in you, I thank you that you also delight in me.