Lesson 6 -- second quarter 2008
April 6, 2008
by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2008
So God dwelled among the Israelites. They built a tabernacle according to His command and specifications, and the day finally came when He took residence therein. They knew He was there because they could see the physical signs. In the daytime, a cloud hovered over the structure; at night, a column of fire.
I am sure that at first, these physical manifestations were impressive and awe inspiring. I imagine that for quite a while it was impossible not to glance in the direction of the tabernacle every so often. If I had been there, I would have wanted to be there to see how the cloud-to-fire transformation took place in the evenings. I wonder, though, how soon all this became of no great consequence to the people. I have no doubt that it did or Moses would never have had any sort of problem governing and leading the Israelites.
Why did the presence of God become a common thing to the Israelites? Why did it no longer matter to them that Jehovah was in their midst? Furthermore, how or by what process did this come to be? Your answers to these questions may well show you how to keep a similar attitude from overtaking you!
Surely we are just as human and just as inclined to lose consciousness of God's presence in us. Unlike the Israelites, we have no physical manifestation of God. Perhaps that may make us even more likely to lose our awareness of Him. If such truly is the case, then we ought to give some calculated effort to fight against such a catastrophe.
In my estimation, a daily (and even repeated) exposure to God's Word will help us plenty in this ongoing fight. If we add to that the discipline of taking a Bible verse or concept for our through-the-day meditation, I believe we will decrease the odds of becoming oblivious to God in us. Other strategies include learning to live in the spirit of prayer, developing the "habit" of reminding ourselves constantly of God in us, and increasing our contact with God's people.
As sin becomes more blatant and gross, our tendency will be to become more comfortable with the "milder" sins. Without a question, holy living in our day is a tough proposition, but no more difficult than it has ever been. God has clearly stated that sin will never "out populate" His grace: "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). When we live by His grace, we enjoy life in a new dimension: the Spirit. We can look at all the opportunities we have to sin, and then look beyond them at our much more abounding resources for success. The reality of the grace and power of the Spirit in our hearts will fill us with optimism. Holy living is possible because it is God who does the work in us, moving us "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
The first step, of course, is to surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior, confessing your sin to Him in full repentance and acceptance of His death for you. In doing so, you also believe that "they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves" (2 Corinthians 5:15). Hence the question -- How do I not live for myself any longer?
The short answer really is quite short: Live for Jesus!
"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit...to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Romans 8:5,6).
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19,20).
"I am crucified with Christ...Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1).
"Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:13).
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." (Colossians 3:17).
"But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation" (1 Peter 1:15).
"Now the God of peace...Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ" (Hebrews 13:20,21).
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).
Just do it! Address yourself to God, literally giving Him your body to use in His program and kingdom. Then renew that presentation as often as necessary, which will probably be daily.
Having presented your body as a sacrifice to God, go about using it to glorify Him by pursuing His interests and accomplishing His purposes on earth. When you discover that you have become fleshly and self-centered in the use of your body, present it again to God.
In one of His most memorable visits to the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus declared very forcefully, "My house shall be . . . but ye have made it" (Mark 11:17). They violated God's purposes for that temple. What are you doing with the temple which is your body?
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