Reading #1 – Exodus 30
Reading #2 – Psalms 62
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 12
Reading #4 – Amos 4
Reading #5 – 1 Corinthians 17
Exodus 30 – The Altar of Incense – The altar of incense is symbolic of prayer that goes up to the Father. The construction of the altar, like all of the fixtures in the temple, was uniquely designed using acacia wood overlaid in gold and carried by the chosen priests (1-4). The size of the altar was smaller than the Ark of the covenant. The altar was placed outside of the veil that blocked the entrance to the Holy of holies (5-6). Aaron would be responsible for burning incense “prayers of the saints” (Revelations 8:3-4). The incense was a special fragrant mixture that was not to be used for any other purpose (8-9). Once a year Aaron would take the blood from the “sin offering” and cover the horns of the altar (10). When a census was taken of the nation, each person had to give a ½ shekel as a ransom. The money was to be used for the maintenance of the Tabernacle (11-16). The bronze basin for ceremonial washing of the hands and feet before going into the Holy holies (20-21). The anointing oil, like the incense, was a specific mixture and not to be used for any other purpose (22-25). The oil was to be used to cover the articles of the Temple and the priests which consecrated them for service (26-31).
Psalms 62 – In G_d Alone a Refuge from Treachery and Oppression. When you compare the wicked to the righteous, the common denominator is that “they are human”. As humans, we are as subject to our passions as any other man, woman, and/or child. The difference is the attitude and the G_d or G_d the human serves. As children of the Kingdom of G_d, we should know that all of the resources of the Kingdom are available to us if we would just ask for it (1-2, Matthew 26:52-54). For now, the world tries to eradicate Christianity thinking “now we can have peace” (3-4). Our refuge in the storm is the arms of our Lord who holds us through whatever hell, whatever trial, and whatever temptation may come our way (5-7). No matter what may come our way, “Church, trust in the Lord and make no provision for the flesh” (8, Romans 13:13-14). Oppression cannot save us no matter if it is in the form of “Democracy” or “Totalitarianism”. Even if we steal things to fill our needs it will all be taken away just as quickly as we got it. The power of our life only comes when we are in the right relationship with the Lord of Heaven and Earth. What our heart desires but looks to things of this earth to fill the void is the love and compassion of our Lord (9-12).
Ecclesiastes 12 – Remembering G_d in Your Youth. When I read this chapter, I think of the life of a town. In its infancy, it is alive and growing people are thronging to the town. In its middle age, the town is still alive but older occupants pass away and things like laws and cultural demands change causing problems for the town. In the following years, the town starts to go downhill, things are breaking, the unity in the town dwindles, and fights ensue. In its later years, the town becomes abandoned as people flock to a better place what is left behind are relics and disquiet. For this reason, Solomon the “Teacher” encouraged his students to remember the creator in their youth. While talking about G_d gathers an audience, action will spread the seeds of faith into another generation (Ecclesiastes 12: 1-8). Solomon taught wisdom to his students and though he sinned, the student was responsible for what he/she did with what they learned (13-14).
Amos 4 – “Yet You Have Not Returned to Me”. The nation was on the precipice of destruction because of sin. When you read the account of the nation’s demise, your thoughts may be on the demise of this great nation or the demise of your family. At the inception of the nation, laws were given through Moses to the elders and down through the years. In the same way, the USA had the “Declaration of Independence” and the “bill of rights”. Choosing to serve the Lord in whatever capacity is a personal decision just like “choosing to act on temptation”. The 900lb gorilla in the room is “Pride” which stands between the two polar opposites. Pride will make you blind to what is going on and think your job, your hobby, and/or a relationship will save you (1-3). The southern kingdom had a golden calf which was made in the time of Jeroboam son of Nebat and the people thought this inanimate object was responsible for the good years they had so they didn’t want to offend by stopping their oblations (4-5). The destruction that fell on Samaria was slow and painful beginning with famine and drought, then the women would eat their dead children to stay alive, and in the end, the town was destroyed and the tribes in the kingdom disappeared into history (10). Unlike Sodom and Gomorrah which were held up as a curse because they were destroyed immediately, Samaria was like a log pulled out of the fire which still had smoke and heat that is, “it was alive”. The thing is, the town was dismantled piece by piece until nothing was left. The 10 commandments which were given to Moses, began with “I am the Lord who brought you out of Egypt. You shall have no other G_d’s before Me” was forgotten by Samaria and Judah and that is where the two kingdoms started to implode from within (11-13, Exodus 20:2-3).
2 Corinthians 1 – Introduction. This 2nd letter was written around 55 CE during a time of upheaval in Asia minor. Despite the troubles he was facing, Paul set the tone of the letter to encourage the church (1-2). When Jesus was alive, he pointed out that he didn’t come to usher in a time of “great peace and prosperity but a time of fights to the death” (Matthew 10:34-36) and this is what Paul was enduring. When he rose to the position of “apostolic authority, Paul resolved to tell the truth of G_d’s word despite what the world at that time thought about it. Developing “inner peace” is a personal choice that says to the heart “no matter what goes on on the outside, I will trust my Lord through it all” (). Paul’s troubles without a doubt caused Paul pain but, how he dealt with it would minister life to those who watched him (6-7). Paul was a man with deep personal integrity that blocked the path from having wicked people stop him from conducting the ministry. By his integrity, Paul developed the church and by his integrity, he faced every storm with his eyes on the Lord (12-14). What Paul said in his letters, just like the promises he made, always came through so the church could trust him and would know he would return (15-19). Paul was offering excuses for not being in Corinth and relying instead on letters but some things were beyond his control. Despite this, Paul still encouraged the church to remain strong in their faith in the Lord Jesus (23-24).