Tuesday, August 26, 2014

PSALM 135 - He's Got Your Back!

He it was Who struck down the first born of Egypt, both of man and of beast; Who, in your midst, O Egypt, sent signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants; Who struck down many nations and killed mighty kings, Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan, and gave their land as a heritage, a heritage to His people Israel.   (Verses 8-12)

Remember how Moses came to be in the house of the king of Egypt? There was an edict that all the male children born to Jewish women should be killed. In order to save her child, his mother set Moses in a basket and let it float in the Nile toward the bathing daughter of Pharaoh. Saved from the slaughter, Moses grew up as the princess's child. The revenge for that slaughter took a generation for God to deal with. He performed mighty miracles through Moses when the man returned at the age of eighty with an imperative from God to get His people out of slavery to the Egyptians. Over and over again there was no relenting from the Egyptian government. No matter which plague, every mighty act of  God was ignored until the night of Passover when the angel of death took the firstborn of any whose home didn't have the blood of a lamb on its doorpost. That seems pretty patient of God...being as gentle as He can with stubborn hearts. Showing His power and glory and hoping for a response to that instead of having to play the brutal hand that avenged the deaths of the Israeli children eight decades previous to that mournful night.

On their journey through the desert, the Israelites needed to pass through the land of the Amorites over which Sihon was king. He'd won the land by killing the former king of Moab and taking all the land out of the man's hands in a bloodbath. Israel sent messengers to Sihon asking for safe passage through the land via the King's Highway, a thoroughfare used for peaceful transport. Israel vowed not to drink from the wells of the Amorites or turn into their vineyards. The mass of people in exodus from Egypt just wanted to walk on through. Sihon's response to their peaceful request was war...a bloody battle in Jahaz. Israel fought against the Amorites and won, taking control of their country.
It was the first victory of their journey to Canaan and showed them their God was still with them. It was a struggle they were surprised by, but God championed them.

In Deuteronomy 3, Moses tells the story of the defeat of Og, who was king of Bashan. This struggle came on the heels of the fight with Sihon. Bashan heard of the coming throng of Israelites and went out to slaughter them and take their spoils. No provocation. "Do not fear him," said the Lord to Moses. "I have given him and all his people and his land into your hand." And so it was.

To anyone simply reading this psalm without thought to the stories behind it, God would seem ruthless and angry, taking lives of entire nations in order to establish His people in Canaan. History, however, records the savage nature of those kingdoms. Imagine the torturous sobbing and heartache the Jewish women experienced at the mass slaughter of their babies. Pharaoh's ears were silent to the anguish he caused by the infanticide. God is slow to anger, but the retribution came at the end of that generation, to a Pharaoh still stubborn and haughty.

God doesn't arbitrarily extinguish nations or command the slaughter of kings, but He does protect His children from the power of the enemy. I'm sure back then those enslaved wondered when on earth God was going to free them. Why day after day they were stuck in the same old bondage to the same old ruler. While Moses was herding his father-in-law's sheep in a desert wilderness, God had a plan. All along. And it was big. And the Jews wouldn't have been able to dream it up in their wildest imaginations. Plagues of frogs, rivers of blood, boils, hail and mass deaths of livestock. Natural disasters that swarmed in at the waving of a dried up stick from the floor of the desert.

Why would God do such a thing? Love. "He who touches you touches the apple of His eye. (Zechariah 2:8)." That's why. Whoever comes against us in our walk with God comes up against Him. To our God it's like someone sticking something in the iris of His eye. It stings. It makes Him mad. He feels what we feel. In every case described in this psalm, man poked at what is precious to God...first! But be careful when our God stands up! His great love covers us, defends and protects us. And though to us it might seem slow in coming, God's great grace is extended to even our enemies so that they might come to repentance. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night...(2 Peter 3). Make no mistake, you are loved by Love Itself. Covered in eternal protection. Equipped to fight your enemy, the evil one. Trust the heart of the General Who leads the surge because He's already won the war!
 

Monday, August 25, 2014

PSALM 135 - What Does God Really Want?

For I know that Yahweh is great. Our Lord is greater than all gods. Yahweh does whatever He pleases in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the depths. He causes the clouds to rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain and brings the wind from their storehouses.  (Verses 5-7)

 "The God of the Old Testament is an angry God." Hmm. I guess one could read of the rebellion of men and women and God's judgment on their sin in a way that makes God an irritable old guy in the sky Who carries a large switch that He can't wait to use on errant humans as they dally in their folly. However, that would mean the seeker reading the Bible would have entirely missed the heart of God evident there on every page. So if God does whatever He pleases on the earth and every other imaginable place, should that make us wary of Him? Should we run in fear because He's essentially after us for our infractions? What is it that pleases Him?

Certainly creation. The beauty that makes us wonder at it. Stars, moon, mountains, oceans, valleys, hills, varied creatures too numerous to mention, sand, forests, sunrise, sunset. It is good in His eyes. Made for us to live in and enjoy. Food for our bellies and a feast for our eyes. A world that makes us write poetry and sing love songs. Pristine in its inception. Marred only by our humanity. And it pleases God when we acknowledge that He made it...all of it. He should be able to expect that from us, shouldn't He?

Obedience. I know this a place of conflict in the hearts of some, that God would demand our obedience. Who does He think He is? Um...God. And this desire on His part to see us do what He wants isn't a wielding of power out of His great hubris. He knows how He created things to work. He knows everything; so, of course, He knows things we don't know. To thumb our noses at Him as we do it "our way" is completely idiotic if we understand how little we really understand. It's like a two-year-old striking out on her own to get a job, a husband and a car. Ridiculous. "Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifice as much as obeying the Lord?" The prophet Samuel is speaking with King Saul after the king willingly disobeyed what God told him to do. Look: To obey is better than sacrifice. To pay attention is better than the fat of rams." God's not looking for us to do all the holy things that smack of religion so we feel better about not doing what He asks. The bottom line is, "Do we trust His heart toward us is good?" If we do, we will happily obey, even when we have no clue what's going on...which, by the way, is most of the time, for me.

Giving. To us. It makes God deliriously happy to pour out His blessings on us. Have you ever tried to be sweet to a rebellious kid, neighbor or friend? Giving to someone who always thinks you have ulterior motives? It's beyond frustrating to be completely misunderstood in one's benevolence. How much more God. He knows we are dust (Psalm 103), but we've been made in His image (Genesis 3). We are capable of great wisdom and power when we accept the gift of life given to us by Jesus. Here is the heart of the Old Testament God from Isaiah 41, speaking of the coming Savior: This is what God, Yahweh, says--Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and what comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it and life to those who walk on it--"I, Yahweh, have called You (Jesus) for a righteous purpose, and I will hold You by Your hand. I will keep You and appoint You to be a covenant for the people and a light to the nations, in order to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those sitting in darkness from the prison house."  (Italics, mine) 

His children. Before we knew it, God had a heavenly plan to bring us not only to salvation, but into His family. "Look at how great a love the Father has given to us that we should be called God's children. And we are!" exclaimed the apostle John (I John 3). It pleased God to make us His kids! To lavish His grace on us, cover our rebelliousness with the blood of Christ that paid a heavy, heavy price for our adoption into the family. For you didn't receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by Whom we cry out "Abba, Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children, and if children, then also heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8).  We get it all. Just the same as Jesus does. And that gives God joy to offer us a place at His table.

God could, as the preeminent Creator and Sustainer of Everything, be Whoever He wanted to be. Do to us whatever He wanted to do. His heart is now, and always has been, to be near us and love us. From the garden of Eden forward, it's been His number one priority. We have broken His heart over and over again. His response: Come here to Earth, show us what Christ's love looks like, then die a sacrificial death so that we can be eternally His kids. God knew in the Old Testament He'd have to do that as it shows in the Isaiah 41 verse I quoted. So how in the world do we go the other way? There really is no other way. We are quite lost without His guidance; quite deprived without His parenting; quite desiccated without His love. Let God be God, then. Trust the heart that wants to make us His and His alone.

 

Friday, August 22, 2014

PSALM 135 - The Little Pot That Would...

Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord! Give praise, O servants of the Lord, who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of the Lord our God! Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to His name, for it is pleasant! For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself; Israel as His own possession.  (Verses 1-4)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 1:3-5

 The little earthen jar sat cooling on the shelf after she was removed from the kiln. Beside her were ornate, larger vases created to grace the homes of millionaires, perhaps. One was clothed in a coating of real silver and its lips were lined with large amethysts that sparkled even in the inglorious lighting produced by a single bulb hanging from the ceiling in the storage room where they waited. On the other side of the little jar was a "special order." A hand-built planter on which intricate scenes had been carved by the master potter, whose wheel fashioned world-renowned creations. So when the potter took the earthen jar from her place and wrapped her carefully in tissue paper, the jar thought only of the ignoble purposes she might be used for. Probably on my way to a souvenir shop in the city. It was all right, though. She knew she hadn't been designed for greatness. A mundane knick-knack at best. A runt of a creation. An afterthought of the potter, maybe just an excuse for him to use left over clay. The detritus from the lovelier vessels.

The smaller jar joined the lovely masterpieces in the back of the potter's station wagon where they traveled down country roads toward the big city shop in which most of them would be displayed. The gorgeous ones, who deserved grand attention and would command exorbitant prices, talked excitedly among themselves. Expressed great hope of being in His great mansion. The One Who came often to shop, wanting to find just the right piece, and Whose great halls were filled with just the kind of light that made clay vessels shine in a way they'd never dreamt of. But the little jar kept silent. She knew she was created for function. Not beauty. Never had any hope, really, of being on display in the grandeur of the Man's place.

The potter pulled up to the rear door of an upscale shop on Main Street. Left all his creations with the shop owner. Hey, you made a mistake! The little jar wanted to jump up and down. I'm not supposed to be with these others! But, of course, the potter couldn't hear her. Hours later, the shop owner lifted the little jar from the box and unwrapped the bubble wrap and the tissue paper that hid her from view. Disappointment registered on the lady's face as she turned the jar over and over in her hands. "Hmmm..," said the woman as she studied the diminutive vessel from every angle. "Hmm..," she said again. Calling a sales representative over, the owner said, "Come look at this one."

I know I'm not like the others. I didn't ask to be here. The potter made a mistake. A shameful thing. Not good enough. I wish they'd stop looking at me that way.

The saleslady took the jar from the hands of the shop owner and wandered around the lovely gallery within the shop deciding where to put such a thing as that. It seemed to the earthen jar to take forever, making her feel even more out of place and ugly. Finally, at the very back of the shop, the woman made room for the jar on a dusty shelf seldom used and almost out of sight. There she was left all by herself.

Days and weeks went by. From her perch on the shelf, the small vessel watched as wealthy and important people wandered the galleries of the shop, sometimes fingering the lovelier creations saying "ooh" and "aah" as they wondered at the craftsmanship and beauty of the many pieces of artwork sprung from the potter's wheel. Sadly, no one noticed her sitting hopeful on her shelf.

The day came at last when the bells hanging from the entry door to the shop jangled in surprise as they announced the coming of the Man. All the magnificent creations sat up a little straighter; put on their best faces; shone bright as possible to display their loveliness and worthiness to Him. They held their collective breath. This was the moment they'd waited for!

Our little pot wriggled down in shame on her shelf, fearful that He would notice how small and worthless she was next to the gleaming and intricate works presenting themselves in all their glory. That's why what happened next so stunned and changed the insignificant jar. The Man said, "I've come for the magnificent creation on that shelf over there," and He pointed toward her. "I want it for My own." And He smiled broadly.

"That one?" The shop owner was incredulous. She actually pointed her long skinny finger toward the dusty shelf at the back of the store.

"Yes. Yes!" He replied. "I absolutely love it!" Then the Man pulled out His money clip. "Here," He offered. "I'll pay three times what you're asking for it! That's how much I want to take it home with Me."

"No. No," replied the shop owner. "That pot's not worth nearly that much!" She pushed the money back toward the Man.

"Maybe not to you," He said, "but I have just the place to display its beauty."

As the Man walked back to the shelf where the little  pot sat shivering in fear, the others gaped. "What?' she heard them whispering to each other. "She's nothing, that silly pot!"

But when He picked her up and held her to the light, gently blowing away the dust that had gathered in her cracks and crevices, He smiled. "I've always wanted a beauty like you," He cooed to the little earthen jar. And the bell jangled cheerily as the Man walked out with His treasure.

Chosen because...because we are chosen. That's it. Not because we are grand and glorious. Not because of our potential and power. Not because we are better than the rest...or worse. We are chosen by God because He decides to make us His. That's all. Often God walks past the most likely candidate for His benevolence, straight to the ones we think deserve it the least. And God gets to choose for Himself His own possessions. Praise God for His eye for beauty. For His prescience in our lack of potential. For knowing just where we fit into His glorious kingdom. Stand in the house of the Lord and sing! For we are all little jars of clay God picked by grace to adorn His courts forever!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

PSALM 134 - Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!

May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.  (Verse 3)

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens...In Christ we are set free by the blood of His death, and so we have forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.  Ephesians 1:3, 7-8

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In God's great mercy He has caused us to be born again into a living hope because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Now we hope for the blessings God has for His children. These blessings, which cannot be destroyed or spoiled or lose their beauty, are kept for you in heaven. God's power protects you through your faith until salvation is shown to you at the end of time.  1 Peter 1-5    Italics, mine

I've heard people say that heaven can't be a substantial place. Not palpable and real, like Earth. Their thinking is that it's a completely spiritual realm where we are see-through vapors, souls only, moving ghost-like through a place where everything is translucent and, in my opinion, a little weird. That isn't what Jesus promised us. The book of Revelation that was given to John, the apostle, straight from the mouth of the risen Jesus, tells of a city, measured out in exact dimensions, with jewel-encrusted foundations and a mighty river that pounds through it. Huge trees bear fruit that heavenly saints eat. And before He left Earth on the night of His arrest, Jesus told His disciples: "Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you (John 14)." Heaven is as real as Earth and as substantial. If it weren't, Jesus would have told us that.

So, what can we expect from the God Who dwells there as our Father? Do you expect to have blessings lavished upon you today? Lavished. That is the kind of grace we received by the death of Christ. The spiritual blessing of salvation was an extravagant purchase, bought by the blood of God's Beloved Son. A real Son. Real blood. That sets us free! And, boy, do we need to be unchained! We have been rescued from the grasp of Satan and unfettered from our own reckless desires. We are freed to be our true selves, children of the Most High God, filled with the Holy Spirit, made new to walk in joy, no longer having to follow the road to hell. That doesn't mean we don't struggle. We do. But we have One Who protects us through our faith. Jesus is still watching out for us in our warfare with the world. Blessing us with a grace and hope that can't be destroyed or spoiled. My heart is drinking that in this morning. I want to experience every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ and to be drenched in sumptuous grace. To know my Abba is seeing my life today from the throne room and encircling it with blessing. I can't breathe without His blessing. I tell Him this every day.

My grandsons went home last Friday. Back to Virginia with their mom. Waiting for them was a dad who hadn't seen them in over two weeks. "I have surprises for you," Nick told them over the phone on Thursday. "They're waiting for you when you get here." That's exactly what our Father says to us. "I'm keeping a place for you...and I can't wait to give you all the blessings I've stored up to lavish on you when you get home." Unspeakable beauty, unfathomable joy, uninterrupted time with our God. Only the hint of that down here. Earth is only a type of the real realm where everything begins and ends. Where the Maker of heaven and earth chooses to cry out blessing over me right now, reminding me of the blessings yet to come.

May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you today from Zion!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

PSALM 134 - Heavy Lifting

Come bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!  (Verses 1-2)

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
Hebrews 12

When we first were exposed to a worshipping church, it was a very new thing for Bill and me. I was raised in the Baptist church; Bill, an erstwhile Presbyterian. I was steeped in hymns, always part of the youth choir, alto section. Singing to God while wearing long red choir robes with white collars thrown around my neck. It was about the singing. About staying on key. I didn't really know worship. Had never abandoned myself to belting out "Amazing Grace" in the face of God.

There was a morning in the first year of my marriage (I was twenty-one, barely) when God called me in prayer to the side of my bed. For months I'd yearned for more of the Spirit of God to take over my heart and mind. Growing in love for Jesus, desiring more intimacy with Him. But never in my experience had I ever, ever lifted my hands to Him. Never seen it. Didn't know anyone did that sort of thing. Bill was at work that early morning, so it was only our dog, Hoover Jean (Bill named her...not my fault), and I in the room where God met me. The deepest, most sincere cry of my heart: "Jesus, give me all you want for me. Pour out Your Spirit on me."

"Lift your hands." Very clear. No mistaking the Voice.

It quieted me for a moment. It was a bit nonsensical to my mind. "Jesus, I love you so much and want everything available to me. Fill me with the Holy Spirit!" I waited.

"Lift up your hands." Clear again. My heart started to pound. A certain fear was building up. I didn't understand the imperative and was embarrassed to raise up my arms. Embarrassed though only our dog would see me do it.

This particular conversation continued for many, many minutes. Finally, just like I'd plunged a thousand times in summer into cold water, I threw up my hands in sheer obedience. What happened next stunned and shook me. Out of my mouth flew a stream of words I didn't understand. Loud. Really loud. Joy coursed in as the language streamed out. I was laughing and crying at the same time. An abandon of worship. First in the new language then in my own. I couldn't have faked it because I didn't even understand it very well at the time. And I could still be beside that bed today the experience created such a flow of genuine adoration for Jesus.

So we found ourselves in a Baptist church where many of the people had had the same experience as I. For me it was a bit of heaven. For Bill, not so much. The "hands thing" was a complete distraction for him. Some people had their hands straight up, arms extended, some only had one hand up, some waved them, some cupped their hands...Bill could barely sing. So while I was involved in the joyous rapture of corporate worship, Bill was analyzing hand gestures. Then one day, in the middle of worship, I heard God plainly say to my heart that Bill needed to go talk to the husband of a friend who was a few aisles away from us. "God asked you to talk to him, Bill. To pray with him right now." "No." My man was squeamish about such things. "Okay," I whispered. "But God said go do it."

While my eyes were closed, Bill slipped out of the pew and trod with some trepidation toward our friend, going on the blind faith that his wife had heard from God on his behalf. And the result...miraculous. The man wept at Bill's prayer. Overwhelmed that Jesus sent a friend to prayer at exactly the time he needed it. After that experience, Bill just closed his eyes, lifted his hands and went with it. With his eyes shut, he wasn't worried about what the rest of the congregation was doing nor what they thought of what he was doing. Over forty years later, that's still his way.

But I didn't live in that wonder. Not always. Life happens and kicks us in the gut. You know. It's happened to all of us who love Jesus more than life. And the admonition of the writer of Hebrews becomes the cry of our hearts. "Lift up your hands again, get up on your wobbly legs, and walk it!" I can't worship without lifting my drooping hands. Singing to the face of Jesus as He sits at the right hand of God the Father places me in the throne room. Centers me before Him. Makes me remember His might, valor, plan, purpose. Connects me to His steadfast love, never-ending faithfulness, and reminds me again of the Lamb Who makes me right with God. I acknowledge in the abandon that raising my arms signals, that I am His and He is mine. All of me. And sometimes I just dance there. Because He is my beloved and I am His and if I don't twirl, I'll just die! I am absolutely, completely, desperately and hopelessly in love with my God!

If you haven't in a while...or ever...shot those drooping hands up, do it! Give yourself away today to the One Who gave Himself away for you!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

PSALM 133 - Dewdrops in the Desert

It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded blessing, life forevermore.  (Verse 3)

Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he or she it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me, you can do nothing.  Jesus   John 15

Speaking of what the unity of Christians is like. Soothing like the anointing that flowed down the beards of the priests. Now it's like the dew that falls on Mt. Hermon, a high, snow-capped mountain in northern Israel. Refreshing and necessary for the growing vegetation in the dry seasons.

Dew is created when the heat of the day gives way to the cooler temperatures of the evening, particularly a calm, windless night where the refreshing drops can form atop the leaves on vines and grass and sink into their veins. Grape clusters need this kind of temperature in order to prosper. Hot days--cool nights. That's why California is such a great environment for vineyards. An abundant crop of grapes needs the harshness of the heat and the refreshing of the cool, damp nights.

Jesus wants us to grow in clusters. To experience the heat of life together and to be refreshed in relationship when the evening calm brings refreshing. To be a lone Christian is to miss the joy of the dew, the companionship of taking the mutual heat of the struggle. It is also to be severed from the Vine that flows through the veins of each branch and into the whole. We are to be refreshed as a community by each other, to be soothed as a group by the dew that settles on us as we fellowship, sweet and encouraging, making facing the searing sun the next day bearable to all.

July 19 was the deadline for Iraqi Christians to leave the ancient towns of Mosul and Nineveh or face execution, the renunciation of their faith or payment of a crippling tax. The understanding among them, however, was they should leave or be killed. Once a city with well over a hundred thousand Christians, it's estimated that at the time of the edict there remained only a few thousand in Mosul. They left their homes, which were red-tagged by the Islamic extremists and taken over. Without their belongings, homeless and in fear, they lined the highway out of their city awaiting permission to cross over into Kurdish territory. Fleeing separately, they are finding refuge in their community on the other side of the border. A dew settling on them in a calmer environment. Just being together, branches of the common Vine, gives them strength to cope. Perhaps it will make them even stronger, as it did the early church. Left penniless and homeless by the declaration of their faith in Jesus, they have only their common hope--and prayer. I'm sure as they hold each other's hands and invite Christ to soothe their grief, it is good and pleasant, like the dew in the mountain after a scorching day.

We need each other. We branches. It's not God's desire for us to pump out grapes from branches that aren't bursting from the Best Vine. And we would do well to remember that there are those days when the impossible heat of living withers our hearts and tests our souls and we need the refreshing dew of fellowship, praying together, grape against grape, soaking in the balm of fresh anointing, resting for a while in the cool, still air of His Presence. It's the only way we will make it through what is surely before us all.



 

Monday, July 21, 2014

PSALM 133 - Little Old Me

It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes.  (Verse2)

The anointing you have received abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie--just as it has taught you, abide in Him.  1 John 2:27   Italics, mine

"Take the finest of spices," the Lord told Moses, "liquid myrrh, sweet smelling cinnamon, aromatic cane and cassia and mix them with olive oil. This will be the holy anointing oil. With it anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony and all the altars and utensils in the temple. They will be consecrated to Me and most holy. Also anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they will serve me as priests. It shall not be poured onto the body of an ordinary person, and you are not to make another oil like it. It is holy and shall be holy to you."

An ordinary person made holy by the anointing. That got a WOW out of me this morning as I read it. The difference between a child of God and the rest of the world is the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. And I shed my mundane life for the extraordinary because, like Aaron, the Holy Spirit enters my life and flows into my bloodstream, lodges in its marrow, cuts into my thought patterns and pierces my heart, exposing its thoughts and intentions. The Great Counselor sets up His office in my tabernacle and speaks. I am no longer my own, but belong to the Father Who adopted me into His Presence. Who has a dream for me that I could never imagine on my own. Ordinary goals, hopes and dreams are now replaced by the extraordinary will of God for my life.

For example. I was teaching high school. But in California, the state mandated that I go back to school to get classes in Reading then go on for a degree in either counseling or school administration. Neither subject interested me. Besides, I had three school aged children, I was establishing a speech and debate team for the high school and had very little time to devote to extra schooling. So, when the five years mandatory time for getting the classes ended, I left teaching, though the administration graciously offered to extend the opportunity for me for another two years. Left jobless, I was hired by a local learning center to be the director. Within the first six months on the job, the learning center was sold to the prominent market leader. Bill and I began to pray about what was next. I still needed a job, my daughters were about to enter their expensive college years and we needed a plan. The new company offered me the opportunity to purchase the local centers...for lots of money. "No, thank you." Then they offered them for less money. "Maybe." Then, one Saturday afternoon, the CEO of the company called. "What would it take?"

"I'll buy the territory for $20,000," I heard myself saying. I didn't have that kind of money. "But you have to enlarge my territory to include the abutting community."

"Sold!" she nearly shouted. She loved me is why. Favor I couldn't have engendered for myself.

The problem was, $20,000 was the same as $500 for us. We didn't have it. The offer I blurted out, once settled in the room when I hung up the phone, was ridiculous. But I took the steps to the downstairs room, where Bill was playing with our son, one at a time, thinking, thinking, thinking. We can do this. Only God could give me such a thought. Such a confidence. "I just bought the center for $20,000," I told my husband, still in wonder.

"What!"

I repeated it, a little less confident.

"Uh, Kay...we don't have $20,000." Just a fact.

"God does."

And He did. It was miraculous how the provision was made. An anointing for what He wanted me to do. Owning a business that ultimately put the kids through college and blessed the lives of countless kids who needed help. I'd never imagined such a thing. I was an ordinary teacher living an ordinary life when God decided to make it extraordinary to accomplish His will.

Holiness is what makes us out of the ordinary. A precious setting aside of our lives by God for His purposes. His sweetness for our debauchery, His love for our strife, His joy for our depression, His peace for our discord. A holiness that has nothing to do with our own particular goodness. It is proffered, freely, by the precious blood of Christ which flowed from His hands and feet and sides. A new anointing oil that doesn't simply cover our exterior, but which changes our entire lives by flowing in us. It is the only thing like it, made of particular components that can never be duplicated, precious beyond all telling. That anointing makes me God's possession. A holy instrument of His will. Precious to Him. It should call to me to come closer. It should lead me in the right paths. It should make me yearn for my God. It should make me love my brother. Ordinary me. Washed in the oil of God's favor. Priceless like the oil that anointed Aaron as priest. Set him aside to do a thing for God. Bathe me in it today, Father, that even in my most mundane tasks, I can do the extraordinary for Your glory.