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Archive for February, 2013

Numbers

Numbers

I have a social security number, passport #, alien registration #, a medical record #, driver’s license #, three telephone numbers, Flying Blue #, student I.D. #, and a AAA number. There are also credit card numbers, PIN #s, bank account #s, power, water, phone, insurance account #s, tax assessor #, and our street number. All of our cars have both a license and VIN #. Every appliance in our kitchen, anything electronic in house, each power tool in my garage has at least a model and a serial number. Heck even our dogs have a number on their tags.

Some of these numbers are pretty important. If they fall into the wrong hands your identity can be stolen, your money can be drained from your accounts, your life turned into a mess.

What about if you are assigned a number, or if you have to take a number? When you are reduced to number, when your name is no longer important, when who you are is no longer important?

How about if some has your number, when they have you figured out? If they don’t love that can be scary, frustrating, and filled with pain.

And what do you do when your number is up. Nothing I suppose, because we don’t decide when that is.

Some keep waiting for their lucky number to come up, for some machine to spit out some balls with numbers they picked and paid for. Waiting and hoping to beat the odds, to have enough money for paradise now.

There are haunting, weeping numbers like the number of children who went to bed hungry today, the number of lives snuffed out by war and violence today, or the number of women and children abused today, the millions who are enslaved, aborted, forgotten, discarded, and spiritually lost..

There are shameful numbers like our National and individual debt, the number of pounds of our collective overweight, the number of children killed by abortion, the amount of money spend on gambling, porn, self-indulgence, decadence, and war and destruction vs. what is spend on doing good.

There are also glorious numbers. Like the number one, when one sinner repents, or when one person returns to give God thanks (Luke 15:7, 17:114-15). Or the number of the acts of compassion and kindness that qualify for what Jesus said, “…, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” Matthew 25:40 (NIV).

One thing is for sure, no one knows the numbers better than God. He knows the number of birds flying, the number of the hairs on each head. To him we are never a just a number, He knows our names. If we are not careful we will care about the wrong numbers, or fall prey to the way numbers can depersonalize and keep from caring.

So what do your numbers say about you? What are the numbers you care about? And how do your numbers square with what God cares about?

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

P.S. Why did God have the Israelites count so much in the book of Numbers if He already knew the numbers? Send your reply to dergermanshepherd@gmail.com, Pastor Hans, 4175 Abeto Street, La Grange, Ca 95329.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In this way he will make atonement for the Holy of Holies because of the uncleannesses of the Israelites, their acts of rebellion, and all their other sins.
Leviticus 16:16a (MSG)

It is always easier to point at others. It is easier to spot their faults and correct their ridiculous ways. Politicians and lawyers make easy targets, and depending on which side of the political isle you’re on, liberals, tea-partiers, NRA members, environmentalist, the rich, the entitled, unions, banks and big business, socialists and the conservatives are all easy targets. Rednecks, immigrants, gays and lesbians, gangs, welfare people, trash of various colors, young people, old folks, druggies, Muslims, Christians, and atheists make fine targets for finger-pointing as well. If the president Obama and the Congress would pay more attention to all of our finger-pointing and connected problem solving skills everything would be so much better.

I am sure the ancient Israelites did their share of finger-pointing, including the priests and High Priests. But God had ordained a day when their fingers could not point at him, or her, or them, a day where the only pointing to be done was at me and us – the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).

On that day the High Priest had to first of all deal with his own sin and every citizen had to take responsibility for his contribution to our sin, the collective guilt. There wasn’t anybody who could say I did not contribute, I am without sin, without guilt. Only after the High Priest dealt with his own sin was he allowed in the presence of God to make atonement for the people’s sin. Maybe we should learn from that? Maybe we need to do less finger-pointing and more concentrating on our own affairs, our own sin before God? Maybe we need more of an us and less of a them mentality?

Atonement (covering my sin properly, dealing with my sin God’s way) is about me, it is about us. Of course ultimate and lasting atonement comes only through Jesus Christ, When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever Hebrews 9:6-7, 11-12 (NLT).

We like holidays, celebrations, feasts and fests. Give us Mardi Gras, Carnival in Rio, Fasching in Germany, the Super Bowl, Fourth of July, yes give us a party. But what we need is Holy days, none more important than the Day of Atonement, the day Christ – God dealt with our sin and guilt. The day we stop evading, look in the mirror, stop speaking about them, and acknowledge our need for God’s mercy, and find atonement in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

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It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, a lot of things in life don’t (make a list of ten things that don’t make sense to you and email or mail the list to me – dergermanshepherd@gmail.com, Pastor Hans, 4175 Abeto Street, La Grange, Ca 95329). The ancient Israelites left Egypt to go to the “Promised Land” and then on their way, out in the wilderness God stops them to construct a Tabernacle, a portable Temple. It doesn’t make sense; why not get the people as quickly as possible to their new home, and then build a temple?

It was twelve months after they departed from Egypt when they set up the tabernacle for the first time. New Year’s Day to be exact (Ex.40:17). So for months they stopped to build the Tabernacle according to God’s specifications.

What was the tabernacle? It was God’s tent, where God dwelt, right in their midst. When they set up camp the Tabernacle was the center, encircled by the Levites, and then surrounded by the other tribes (Numbers 1-3).

Remember, God invited the Israelites into a covenant relationship with Him (Ex. 19). He did not force them, but they accepted. Just like God now invites us into a covenant relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Once you are in a relationship with God the challenge is living with God. Having and maintaining that relationship with God is more important than getting to the “Land flowing with Milk and Honey,” more important than “going to heaven.” So God slowed them down to construct the Tabernacle.

They needed to learn how to live with God, how to stay connected with Him, how to foster their relationship with Him. Too many who call themselves Christians got saved, were born again, and haven’t slowed down since. Too many Christians have God living at the edge, the fringe, the margin of their lives, far from the center. Too many have never slowed down to carefully build a “Tabernacle,” to learn the habits that keep God in the center. Maybe it is time to slow down to construct a life that is truly centered on God, a life that has time for the activities within the curtains of the Tabernacle: Awe, consecration, sacrifice, gratefulness, God’s word, prayer, forgiveness, worship.

What will your life look like a year from now? Will you have build a “Tabernacle that moves to wherever life takes you, a life with God in the center?

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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To Love

To Love

I know it is wrong to bring up being on a sunny beach in the middle of winter, but we were laying in the Southern California sun, Huntington Beach to be exact. I was recovering from being pummeled by a massive wave, which is what happens when you turn your back to the ocean. That’s when my prayers were answered, she put her hand into mine. That’s when we went from being best friends to romance, to complete twitterpation.

33 years latter I still love for her to put her hand into mine, and I still feel like I am the luckiest guy in the world. Actually I think it was Mother’s prayers at work. Susie and I talked about it the other day, trying to figure out how she ever said yes to me. Without my Mama’s praying I am certain I would have fell for some bimbo and ended up with hard drinking, chain smoking, nagging floozy. But somehow her prayers had me looking for godly, gifted, graceful girl, a bright, beautiful, and breathtaking woman.

I knew she was something special, but I had no idea how special. Actually I am still finding out just how blessed I am to have her as my wife, my best friend, my love. She is God’s abiding favor in my life. It is true, “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22, NLT).

What my Mama prayed for me and my brothers I am now praying for my children, to look for, pursue, and find godly men and women who will turn out to be the greatest blessing of their lives – the very favor of God. To experience how wonderful, how thrilling, and how lasting love can be.

Happy Valentines, Pastor Hans

 

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