God’s Power for God’s Purpose

“…in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you…” Exodus 31:6 (NASB)

As a man, this is going to be hard to admit, but here it goes. When assembling children’s toys, I have not always perfectly followed the instruction manual. Christmas is an especially hard time for me. I can even remember one occasion when I did carefully try to follow the instructions, but still got something wrong. I had to disassemble it and start over. It can be annoying, but it’s not the end of the world. But what if the instructions were specifically given by God? That would come with a lot more pressure. 

No Pressure, Israel

Exodus 25-30 gives Israel an incredibly detailed instruction manual for assembling the tabernacle along with intricate details for the priestly garments and consecration. As I read through these instructions (via my daily time in the ESV Reader’s Bible. You should check it out.), I found myself getting discouraged. What if someone doesn’t measure something right? What if they miss something? If you read through these chapters you will find that it is way more challenging than any children’s toy. And if Israel gets something wrong, it is not just annoying. It is an offense against God. I felt the weight of this as I read. I wondered, “Who could handle this pressure? This is too much.” And I was right. It is too much for any man. So a question came to mind, “Did God give Israel a job they could not do?” He did, then He equipped them to be able to do it.

Empowered By the Spirit

After the overwhelming demands of chapters 25-30 there is a sigh of relief. God says, 

“See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship…And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you…”

Exodus 31:2‭-‬3, 6 NASB (emphasis mine)

There is one ingredient here that makes it possible for Israel to meet all of God’s demands: the Spirit of God. God did not make demands too heavy for Israel and leave them to collapse under the weight. He called out and empowered men from among them to be able to do the work by His Spirit. 

This means God gave them a job they could only complete with God’s help which would result in the enjoyment of God’s presence for God’s glory. Notice that all of this is from God, through God, and to God.

 Take Courage

I can relate to this. Maybe you can too. In our New Covenant times, God’s people are no longer responsible for temple and tabernacle measurements, but we are accountable to God for our lives and actions. If you are anything like me this can seem overwhelming. God’s standards are way higher than I could ever hope to meet on my own. But thanks be to God that Christ lived the life I couldn’t live, died the death I should’ve died, and gave me the life I could never earn. Because of His sacrifice I am now empowered by the same Spirit that Bezalel was. But instead of constructing a building, the Spirit is at work shaping me into a tabernacle pleasing to God. And the same goes for all who belong to Jesus.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19‭-‬20 NASB 

So take courage, Christian. God has given you a job you can only complete with God’s help which will result in your enjoyment of God’s presence for God’s glory. And you have been empowered for the work from God, through God, and to God. 

The Cross and the Bird Feeder

crossWhat is the difference between the cross and a bird feeder? For many people, sadly, not much. It is not uncommon to walk into a home and see crosses hanging on the wall, propped up on a table, or even being used as a form of jewelry. And for many of these homes there is no difference between the cross and other decorative items and ornaments except that maybe some are outside and some inside. Decorations and ornaments are used in order to pretty up a room. Whether it is an accent piece or the centerpiece, decorations make the space more inviting and comfortable. But there is nothing comfortable about the cross.

Foolishness to the World

The cross was meant to be an instrument for shameful, excruciating, and dehumanizing execution. So viewing the cross as purely decorative is similar to thinking the guillotine makes a wonderful centerpiece for your family gatherings. When Paul said, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…” (1 Corinthians 1:18), he wasn’t kidding. To the world, the cross would make more sense in the climax of a horror movie than in the home of a loving family. But if we can forget what actually happened there, wrap bows around it, and maybe paint it a pretty color to match our kitchen set then it will work perfectly.

Don’t be mistaken, I am all for having crosses in your house. In fact, from where I am sitting in my own house I can see four different crosses. But my challenge to you is to no longer view the cross in your house as simply a decoration. View it as a reminder.

God’s Power to the Believer

Paul finishes his statement about the foolishness of the cross by saying, “…but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” It is the power of God because what happened there is what allowed the dead to be brought back to life. What happened there allowed those clothed with wickedness to be clothed with Christ’s righteousness. The cross as a symbol ought to be a reminder to us that sin is serious and God is gracious.

It is not uncommon, when someone sacrifices their life to save another, that the rescued person finds some way to remember. There have been many who were rescued in this way who carried around some kind of symbol to remind them of their debt to the one who rescued them. The cross serves us in this way. It is the place where Jesus became our sin, suffered complete rejection from the Father, and cried out, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). He received the condemnation of Almighty God for the believer’s sins and in turn gives to all those who will believe His righteousness. The cross displayed the horrible and utterly devastating wrath of God. But, at the same time, it displayed His mercy and grace for those who rightfully deserved that wrath.

Remember

I pray you see the cross as more than just a decoration or an accent piece. I pray you see it as more than just a religious symbol. I pray the sight of the cross calls you to remember. And I pray the same for myself. Every day, when we look upon the crosses hanging on our walls or sitting on our mantles, I pray we remember the horror and destruction Jesus suffered. I pray we feel the weight of His groaning. I pray we remember the day the perfect Son of God drank our cup of wrath and handed to us His cup of righteousness. And I pray the thought of it all shocks us back to life, humility, and faithful service every day.

Brothers and sisters, let us not place the cross in our living room in the same category as the bird feeder out back.