Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known.”
Psalm 77: 19, K.J.V.
“In his early days of learning the ways of the sea, an old seaman tells this story on himself. When out in a boat by himself, he got lost several times. He was told to use his compass. Out into the water he went again. He soon got lost and lay overnight as usual. Upon being found he was asked why he did not use his compass. He said he did not dare to. He wished to go north, and he ‘Tried hard to make the thing go north, but it wasn’t any use; it would shake, shake, right around, and point southeast every time.’ Many people fail to go the right direction on the sea of life for the very same reason of the mishap which befell our seaman – they are afraid to take the Captain at His Word and follow the direction in which He points.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Martha, Martha, thou art troubled about many things, but one thing is needful’”
Luke 10: 41, 42, K.J.V.
“The Fragrance of His Presence” Part 8
“One Thing is Needful ”
“The more we appropriate God into our lives the more progress we make on the road of Christian godliness and holiness.”
Madame Jeanne Guyon, 1648-1717
What would it mean to me, in my own life, to be filled with the holiness of my Father in heaven?
“When God and His glory are made our end, we shall find a silent likeness pass in upon us; the beauty of God will, by degrees, enter upon our soul.”
“And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.”
Exodus 28: 36, K.J.V.
For a period of 400 years, God’s children, the Israelites, suffered under the brutal hand of oppression in Egypt. Beaten into submission by the taskmaster’s whip, much of the remembrance of their unique calling by the God of heaven and earth had been wiped from their memory.
But at God’s appointed moment in time, by the leadership of Moses, God brought His chosen people out of Egypt to the promised land of Canaan. One of the very first things that God did, once His children were safely in the desert and Pharaoh’s threat of reprisal no longer lingered like a storm cloud over their heads, was to share His written law by which God’s glory would be better understood. But this wasn’t the only revelation of God’s character which was bestowed upon the people of Israel.
Beginning in Exodus 25 clear through Exodus 30, we find God laid out to Moses the plan for a Tabernacle where God would be worshiped. However, along with the physical building, God gave instructions about the services and the individuals who would lead out. We find in Exodus 28, the Biblical record provides a very detailed description of the apparel to be worn by Aaron, Moses’ brother, who had the heavenly honor of being selected by God as the High Priest. I’d like to share just a few of the passages in Exodus 28 which relate to the attire worn by the High Priest:
“And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office…and thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty…And these are the garments which they shall make; a breast plate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. And they shall take gold, and blue and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen…Thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue…and beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about. And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the Lord, and when he cometh out, that he die not. And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.”
Exodus 28: 1,2, 4, 31-36, K.J.V.
You may be wondering what these old-time garments worn by the High Priest Aaron have to do with Jesus’ visit to the home of three special friends in Bethany. Well, these two very different incidents are actually linked closely by the heavenly call to a life of holiness which continually testifies to the glory of God.
While I will readily admit that not much in your world or mine reflects the image portrayed by the priest of the Israelites long ago, the fact is that whether we can even imagine a glimmer of what God’s holiness is about in this sad old world of ours, there is still a call which comes from the lips of Jesus to you and me, just as it did in that Bethany home long ago: “One thing is needful.” And without a doubt, that one things is to be like Jesus – to be holy as He is.
It was during my search for that one thing which got me to go back to the Old Testament book of Exodus. As I studied about the great care, taken by a band of slaves who God had chosen as His children, I began to see how the holiness of God was, for them, the defining core of their worship. No one in the camp of Israel exhibited the longing to reflect God’s holiness and His glory more than Moses – one of God’s closest friends in history. Exodus 33: 17-23 relates a discussion between God and His friend Moses who God told, “I know thee by name.” In this conversation, Moses asked God to shew him His glory. And God replied, “Thou canst see my face: for there shall no man see me and live…behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock; and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by…and when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone (Exodus 34: 30, K.J.V.).
For a moment, I’d like you to join me in the camp of the Israelites. There’s a beautiful sound – tinkling bells – as the High Priest Aaron enters the Tabernacle built for the glory of God. What do you think would enter your mind when that sound radiated through the camp? I believe it was the phrase engraved on the priest’s breastplate – “Holiness to the Lord.” And when Moses came down from Sinai’s peak with a radiant face, I believe the thought we would have had was, “Holiness to the Lord.” Especially as we witnessed Moses’ radiant face.
Years later when the Son of God came from heaven’s glorious throne to rescue a bunch of rebellious renegades who spurned His love as they spit on His face, in a home in Bethany, gathered with a group of dear ones, Jesus again pointed those close to Him to the one thing which was needed, “Holiness to the Lord.”
And now today, we come to June 3, 2015 and our hearts long to be filled with the “Holiness of our Father.” Isn’t that what we need? To have our sin-filled beings replaced by our Father’s purity and love. As I was researching this word “holiness,” I came upon a wonderful piece penned by Robert Leighton, Archbishop of Glasgow in the 1600’s. I’d like to share with you how this essay, entitled “Rules and Instructions for a Holy Life” begins: “Put all your trust in the special and singular mercy of God, that He, for His mercy’s sake and of His holy goodness will bring you…to high degrees of spiritual and divine life, which is always growing…when you with hearty and fervent desires, do continually wish and long for it.” Then Robert Leighton provides us with a simple summary as we reach out for that “one thing which is needed.”
“The sum is:
1. Remember always the presence of God.
2. Rejoice always in the will of God.
3. Direct all to the glory of God.”
Let us always remember that Moses didn’t have to paint his face with theatrical glitter when he came down from the mount after spending time with God. The change took place when Moses spent time with God. He didn’t work harder to be like God, he leaned closer into God. And the same thing happened to Mary as she recognized that there was “one thing needed” – time in the presence of God’s holiness. The change in us can be the same today. For as English theologian and hymn-writer, Richard Baxter describes, in everyday, relateable language – God’s holiness is at the center of all transformed lives, “Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day’s work or approach any activity in the world, let HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon your hearts in all that you do.” This one thing is truly needed.
“A holy life will produce the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine.”
Dwight L. Moody
“(Moses) didn’t know that the skin of his face glowed because he had been speaking with God.”
Exodus 34: 29, The Message Bible
To Glorify My God
My God-given life and powers shall henceforth claim;
My body, soul, and spirit, Lord, are Thine;
The joy to give them back to Thee be mine.
To do His work and will His only thought;
About His Father’s business He must be:
Lord, may Thy business be as much to me.
Naught can be added to His majesty;
But I can let His glory through me shine
And shed on all around His light divine.
Who sought to build a temple to the sun,
And reared the chiseled stone and burnished gold,
But still the splendid walls were dark and cold.
A temple of transparent glass be reared,
And lo, the sun came down his work to own,
And with his glory through the temple shone;
So let my heart be open to Thy sight;
So glorify Thyself, O Lord in me,
Till all my being answers, Lord, to Thee.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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