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Leviticus 4: It's all about Grace
Leviticus 4: It's all about Grace

Calvary Baptist Temple • February 18, 2020

By Sarah Snyder

Here’s a fun fact about me, I love the book of Leviticus! I know that sounds crazy, but seriously, I think it’s great! I think I find it so fascinating because it’s so foreign to me. I have no world to compare the life of sacrificing animals too. It makes no sense to me. So when I read this text, it’s learning about a whole new system of life. And yet, as foreign as it feels, it is still a message from the same God I worship. I think that’s the craziest part.

The book of Leviticus is not a book about the law, it’s a book about what to do when one breaks the law. God gave the law to Israel in Exodus. In Leviticus He is instructing the people on how to get back into communion with Him after they have broken a law. One thing that we miss when we read about the tabernacle and sacrifices is how messy it is. The tabernacle was a place of constant noise, people, animals, and, well, blood. There were always people bringing animals for sacrifice, noisy animals. There were priests constantly covered in blood as they slaughtered animal after animal. It is no wonder they had to clean themselves before entering the tabernacle. All of this takes place outside amongst the dirt and mud. There was blood flowing always and the smell was so powerful. Between the smell of sweaty people and animals, there was also the smell of smoke and burning animals. This place was the furthest thing from anything clean, neat, and orderly, and yet, God finds pleasure in it. It is in this space that He is honored. It is in the space that holiness prevails. 

One interesting thing to note is Leviticus 4:3-12. In this section, God is instructing Israel about the sins of the High Priest. He says, “If the High Priest sins so that the people are guilty, on account of the sin he has committed he must present a flawless young bull to the Lord for a sin offering.” The High Priest was the messenger between the people and God. When he sins, all of Israel has sinned. In order for them to be right with God, the priest had to be forgiven of his sins. It was a way in which Israel had to remain in communion with God. God had chosen for the High Priest to be interceeder for the people and when he was not right with God, they were not either. 

As overwhelming as this book is, there is an underlying message that cannot be missed: grace. This book is 100% about grace. God is so holy that He cannot have communion with us without some sort of absolution of sin. So He creates a way for Israel to be with Him. It seems crazy and overwhelming but it is a story of love and grace. God accepts the death of an animal on behalf of sinful people that they may be with Him. Even the High Priest, the one offering these sacrifices on behalf of the people, was given grace. The best part about this book for us is reading it knowing that the final chapter. Next week we will read Hebrews 4:14-16, which says, “ Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” Jesus came as our great High Priest to absolve our sin absolutely and finally. As thankful as we can be that God created a way for Israel to be in communion with Him, I am even more thankful that Jesus came as the ultimate sacrifice, once and for all.

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Philippians 2: Where is Your Focus?
Philippians 2: Where is Your Focus?

Calvary Baptist Temple • February 10, 2020

By Patrick Mulvehill

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” - Philippians 2:3 ESV

From the moment I was born into this world, my human nature dictated that there was only one person that mattered, only one set of needs that had to be met….mine. From the first cry to the first bottle, to the first diaper change, it was all about me. As I grew up and a little brother came along it became a daily battle to make sure that my needs were coming first. As a young teenager, the fight continued as I struggled to establish myself in the dog eat dog world that was middle and high school. I believed that I had to look out for #1 because no one else was going to do it.

Imagine my shock when as a teenager I was reborn into the Life of Christ to find out that I am supposed to put the needs of others before my own!?!! All of a sudden I had 15 years of self-focus that now had to be retrained to focus on others before myself. Not an easy task! In fact, it has been a thirty-two year struggle of remembering that the needs of others should be my primary concern. My daily challenge is also my challenge to you, are you humbling yourself and putting the needs of others above your own? How have you put someone else above yourself today?

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Exodus 14: The Great Escape!
Exodus 14: The Great Escape!

Calvary Baptist Temple • February 03, 2020

By Allan Bosson

In our “reading through the Bible in a year,” we are now coming to the book of Exodus. Wow, what a truly exciting book this is with such an intense and gripping drama! Here we have somewhere between two and three million people of all ages, about to embark on a journey after 400 years of captivity in Egypt, to a land none of them had ever seen before. Here they are walking out of Egypt with nothing but their lives and the clothes on their backs. And, they were asked to leave everything behind and start this arduous journey by foot to “the Promised Land.” 

Do you think they were a little apprehensive about this whole thing? Maybe somewhat afraid? I’m sure there were a mountain of challenging thoughts and uncertain feelings rushing through their minds and their lives. What if Moses had misread God’s will? They had burned their bridges behind them in Egypt. There was no going back. All they knew to do now was follow Moses, as he led them on the “great escape.” This escape would prove to be the greatest escape from enemy captivity ever in the history of mankind.

Eventually, almost exhausted, the Israelites came to the Red Sea. What now? Two million or more people could never swim the Red Sea together. ‘Okay, Moses, you strong and brave leader, what are your plans now?’ Again, a very good question, especially since the Israelites had no wood to build boats and no time to build them even if they could. And look at that big dust cloud behind them. It was Pharaoh’s army, and Pharaoh wasn’t planning on congratulating them on their brave escape. Remember, all the firstborn in Egypt were dead, and Pharaoh strongly felt someone needed to pay for that crime. 

Have you ever been in a situation when you have come up against an immovable barrier and right behind you was another mighty force ready to pounce and finally destroy you, or at least it seemed that way? I am sure you have because you’re human, and in life, we all face barriers and forces far greater than ourselves. In those times, it seems, without a miracle, those forces will consume us and steal so much from our life that maybe life will never be the same again.

Well, what is the answer? The truth was, Moses was not alarmed at the situation in the same way all the people were. Moses simply admitted his utter inability to solve the situation himself and cried out to God for help. (Hmmm, what a very novel idea!) What was God’s answer to Moses? ‘Well, thanks Moses, I was waiting for you to do that. Now let me tell you what to do. Get up, go forward and lead the people.’ In Ex. 14:13, when Moses got his answer, he encouraged the people and himself, “Fear not, now stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord . . . the Egyptians whom you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for us and you only have to obey and be silent.” Then God said again to Moses, “Lift up that little stick you are carrying, and hold it over the Sea.” Immediately when Moses did that, a strong east wind began to blow, and it blew all night. In the morning, they saw before them two huge walls of water, one on the left, the other on the right. There is was, a dry roadway open before them reaching right across the long stretch of the sea. The entire nation of Israel, at Moses’ beckoning, rushed onto the roadway and raced across the vast crossing as fast as they could ahead of the oncoming Egyptian army. Just as the last person exited the opening in the sea, the Israelites looked back only to see the Egyptian army enter the roadway speeding after them. And the people said, “Moses, look what you have done to us. Would it not have been better to serve the Egyptians than to die here in this wilderness?” Then suddenly, when all of the Egyptian army was in the sea, there came a terrible roaring sound and all of those vast, high walls of water came tumbling down and swallowed up the entire Egyptian army.

So, what is the main lesson here. In all honesty, there are many lessons here, but I will mention just a few. First, don’t ever count God out, no matter how impossible the challenge is before you. When God makes promises to set you free from your challenges in life, He’ll keep His promise. Like Moses, you simply have to put aside doubt, exercise faith and trust Him. Second, don’t ever question the power of true, committed, sincere prayer. This kind of prayer can hold back mountains of water, take away the stress of fear and open up a way before you that you never would have imagined possible. But, third, and perhaps most important, very often the challenges before us are there to prepare and strengthen us to deal with even bigger challenges that are coming up behind.  Our God always has an amazing plan to take us through every trial! 

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Galatians 3:1-5: Let the Spirit Work!
Galatians 3:1-5: Let the Spirit Work!

Calvary Baptist Temple • January 27, 2020

By Sarah Snyder

Do you ever find yourself snippy with someone? Do you ever get fed up with someone and respond sarcastically? If you’ve ever spent more than 5 minutes with me, you know that I am a very sarcastic person, probably to a fault. Most of my sarcastic responses are humorous in nature as opposed to being annoyed with someone. So it should be no surprise that as I was reading for this week I found myself pausing at a moment of, what I call, Sarcastic Paul. Of all the New Testament writers, Paul is by far the most sarcastic. If you’ve spent any time in Romans you know this to be true. 

Our reading this week brings us to one of these sarcastic moments. We begin reading this week in Galatians, a letter Paul wrote to the church of Galatia to address some issues between the Jew and Gentile Christians. In Chapter 2, Paul writes that some church leaders had led the Jewish Christians astray by falsely saying that Gentile Christians ought to be circumcised as a requirement for their salvation. In Galatians 2:15-21, Paul states that though they may have been Jews by birth, since Jesus has been crucified, they are no longer justified by the law. If we say we are justified by Christ, yet still seek justification through the law, then Christ died in vain. 

This leads us to Galatians 3:1-5, where we get a taste of Sarcastic Paul. He starts by calling them foolish since they saw Christ being crucified vividly portrayed (v.1). He then asks them these questions, “The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort” (vv.2-3)? It should be obvious to us that these are rhetorical questions. Paul is instructing the Jewish Christians that their attempt to bring the law back into the salvation story only inhibits the work of the Spirit. It was clear that we could never perfectly keep the law. That is why Christ came. The law was a bandaid for our sin problem and Christ was the solution.

So why did Paul react so sarcastically? Is sarcasm justifiable? It is hard for me to imagine that Paul would react so strongly to this correction if they did not know any better. But reading the context from chapter 1 onward, it is clear that Paul had already addressed this issue, not only with them, but other church leaders. But what’s the big deal? The big deal is that this is a gospel issue, a deep one. Christ came once and for all. There are no works needed to partake in salvation. The moment we add any works to being saved we void what Christ has done. We could never obtain salvation on our own, that’s why the law was a bandaid. Christ was the final authority and salvation was a gift to humanity. And now “[we] have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer [us] who live, but Christ lives in [us]. So the life [we] now live in the body, [we] live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved [us] and gave himself for [us]” (2:20). So I want to thank Paul for being sarcastic. He left no room to question where our salvation comes from and for that I am thankful. 

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Life: On Mission
Life: On Mission

Calvary Baptist Temple • January 20, 2020

By Chris Watson

This week we have the opportunity to read about what many refer to as passion week in the book of Mark. In chapters 11-16 we visit a story that is all too familiar to many of us. So much so that some of us glaze over the topic each Easter, knowing that the story will come around or be referenced continually throughout the year. As I read over the details of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection one of the biggest things to jump off the page is the mission with which Jesus lives His life. 

We don’t get a ton of details of the childhood of Christ, but Jesus pops onto the scene immediately following His baptism. We get our first glimpse of Jesus’ awareness of the mission He is on at the Wedding in Cana found in John 2. Mary asks Jesus to perform His first miracle at the wedding, and Jesus, knowing God’s plan and timing for His life responds, “My time has not yet come.”

Now let’s pick up in this past week’s reading. We see in Mark 8-10 Jesus tries to prepare His disciples 3 different times for what they are going to see, and experience in the coming weeks once they enter Jerusalem. The first in 8:31 Jesus tells them plainly that He will be rejected and killed, and three days later would rise again. Peter doesn’t care too much for Jesus speaking this way and takes Jesus aside to tell Him not to talk that way. Jesus then calls Peter out to say that Peter’s mind is not on the things of God, but the things of man. This is our first glimpse into the not my will, but yours be done mentality that Jesus lives His life with. Jesus tries to get His disciples to wrap their heads around these things 2 more times before they reach Jerusalem, but they just don’t get it. 

Finally, we reach Jerusalem. The scene of the crime. The place that Jesus just told His disciples He will be betrayed, mocked, beat and crucified. Still, He marches on toward the mission. As Jesus and His disciples approached Jerusalem, we get another glimpse into the specific detail to which He knows His fate. Before they even enter He tells His disciples how they are going to enter, where they will find the colt, and how the people will react to their taking of it. Again in chapter 14, as a woman is chastised for dumping an expensive bottle of perfume on His feet, He corrects them and tells them that she is preparing His body for burial. We see Him reference His broken body and poured out blood during the Lord’s supper. Finally, in a moment of true anguish, we see Jesus’ final plea to God, if there is any way to change course from the mission, but completes the request with “Not my will, but yours be done.”

“So what” you may say. “Jesus is God after all. He knew that it would all turn out in perfection in the end. This is the reason He came in the first place.” However, as He experiences all of the betrayal, the mocking, the beatings, and the crucifixion, He is still flesh. His body is still going to experience the most gruesome, brutal execution saved for the worst of criminals. All of this to accomplish the mission set before Him by His father, the redemption of mankind. 

And as Jesus’ mission on earth has been completed through His death, burial, and resurrection, so too he charges his followers with a new mission in Matthew 28:19-20. That mission is to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to be obey everything I have commanded you.” So as we have been assigned our mission from Jesus the question is: Will you live your life on mission?

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Psalm 1: Who are You Delighting in?
Psalm 1: Who are You Delighting in?

Calvary Baptist Temple • January 10, 2020

By Jacob Mock

This week our Bible reading program brings us to Psalm 1, which is very timely for us as we start a new year. Psalm 1 begins with some practical advice: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” These verses bring on a few questions: Am I spending most of my time around godly people? Who/what am I being influenced by? Do I love the Word of God? How much time do I really spend in God’s Word? 

The Psalmist makes a clear connection between godly counsel/reading God’s Word, and being blessed. No, this is not prosperity gospel. The Psalmist is not saying if you read the Bible and have godly friends then blessings will fall from the sky. Maybe you’re asking, “If that’s the case, then what’s the blessing?” Let’s take a look at verse three. “He (the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord) is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” A tree needs water in order to survive, right? Well, a tree planted beside a stream of water has a constant source of life. The roots are constantly taking nutrients from the water and spreading it to the rest of the tree, which brings life! The same is true for a person who loves the Word of God and spends time reading it! Just like a tree needs water, we need God. Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Do you almost feel like a tree withering away? Do you feel worried, angry, desperate, or like there’s no more gas in the tank? Open the Bible. Hear what God is speaking to you through His Word. 

Let’s look at the word “blessed” from verse one again. It carries the meaning of a deep joy and contentment in God. What brings you joy and contentment? Where are you searching for these things? Maybe in your job, your spouse, television, school, books, sports; think about it. You won’t find true joy and contentment in any of those things—they are only found in God. 

My prayer for all of us at Calvary Baptist Temple is that when 2020 is over, we can look back on the year and see that we delighted in God and His Word. I pray we spend more time meditating on the Scriptures this year than any other year so far. I pray that when we face trials this year we will stand firm on God’s Word and trust His promises to us. Church, let’s do this together this year. 

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In the Beginning...
In the Beginning...

Calvary Baptist Temple • January 06, 2020

By Kenny Grant

"In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth"

The first ten words in the Bible are perhaps the most important to believe, because those who dare to believe that statement in its naked force will not find it difficult to believe anything else the Bible has to say. The statement certainly demands faith, but so does every other theory that deals with the creation of the universe. This bold statement demands that that faith be place in the God of the Bible. This ten word statement brushes aside the foolish notions of atheism that says that there is NO god, by asserting that there IS a God. The statement ignores polytheism that says that there are MANY gods, by asserting that The Creator is one. It deals a deathblow to pantheism, that says basically that EVERYTHING is God, by asserting that The Creator is separate His creation. In this bold statement there is no attempt made to apologize to the skeptic, explain to scientist or prove to the unbeliever. God, in this statement is not defending Himself, He is simply declaring himself, and deems this truth to be self evident.

It is no wonder to me why there is such a battle over the Bible and the book of Genesis in particular. It's as if the devil has marshalled all his artillery against the first book of the Bible and most particularly against Genesis 1:1. He would love for us to think lightly and loosely about this great truth of creation, because he knows that if we can be moved off of CREATION truth, we will have no grounds upon which to stand in matters of SALVATION truth. If we can't believe what He says in Genesis 1:1 about creation, we will have no grounds to believe what He says in Jn. 3:16 about salvation.

The most God centered chapter in the entire Bible is Genesis chapter 1. The book of Genesis in its entirety is not just fascinating, it is factual. Only God has the truth as it pertains to origins. As you read this book in, pray the prayer of the psalmist who prayed, "open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Ps. 119:18

A suggested outline to the book of Genesis is as follows:

Human History 1-11

Creation 1-2

The Fall 3-4:15

The Flood 4:16-9

The Tower 10-11

Hebrew History 12-50

Abraham 12-25:18

Isaac 25:19-27

Jacob 28-35

Joseph 36-50

Happy reading!

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Genesis 1-2: What Does it Mean to Glorify God?
Genesis 1-2: What Does it Mean to Glorify God?

Calvary Baptist Temple • January 06, 2020

By Sarah Snyder

Have you ever wondered what is your purpose in this world? 

Have you ever struggled to find meaning? 

If you’re anything like me, you have. 

If you grew up Presbyterian you knew that the first catechism of the Westminster Confession states: 

“Q. What is the chief end of man? 

A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.” 

Although I grew up Baptist, the concept was the same. I knew this concept conceptually and in my younger years I really tried to serve God unquestioned. However, all this came crashing down in college. 

Like most college students, I began to seek out and question most of what I had learned growing up. My saving grace was that I attended a Christian college and was studying Bible/Theology. My struggle was not so much with the “why” but the “how.” I had no issue glorifying God because He was God, that made sense. He created the world and everything in it, He deserves our undivided attention. However, the more I learned the more I realized that “glorifying God and enjoying Him forever” was quite arbitrary.

Using the Bible as a guide, glorifying God looks very different from one event to the next. On the one hand, glorifying God looks like serving in the Temple and helping make people holy before Him. On the other hand, glorifying God looks like wiping out entire nations to get some land. That might sound a bit brash, and I do realize that God’s ways are always good, but I don’t think it would glorify God today for me to invade and wipe out Mongolia for the sake of the kingdom. Here’s my point, God’s ways are far superior to ours and understanding them is difficult; thus glorifying God looks arbitrary to us. 

However, our first reading for the year offers some insight on what it means to glorify God. Genesis 1-2 is a happy reading. The tone is joyful as God creates the world and everything in it. The word “good” is repeated twelve times in just two chapters. The Bible opens up and introduces us to a good God who is joyful of His creation. The most joy God gets is His creation of humanity. In 1:26-30 God creates humanity and calls us “very good.” In these few verses we get a glimpse into what it means to glorify God. God gives us our purpose from the very start. He says, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish or the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all creatures that move on the earth” (v. 26). Our purpose here is to live in the image of God, to be in His likeness. We are to subdue and rule over creation, caring for all that He has given us.

So what does it mean to live in God’s image? A little bit of history helps us with that. In ancient times and in ancient civilizations, kings of nations would erect statues of themselves whenever they left their land. These statues would be in place so that the people could look at the statue and remember that the this king is still king of the land. The statue represented the king and the people were to still act as if the king were there. Similar language is found in Exodus 25:9-10 when Moses was given instructions on the temple. Moses was to make the temple “according to the pattern” he was shown. This makes us wonder if Moses was shown a glimpse of heaven (see note 49). In Psalms 8:4-8, King David reflects on humanity and our purpose. He says,

“Of what importance is the human race, that you should notice them?

Of what importance is mankind, that you should pay attention to them?

You made them a little less than the heavenly beings.

You crowned mankind with honor and majesty.

you appoint them to rule over your creation;

you have placed everything under their authority,

including all the sheep and cattle,

as well as the wild animals,

the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,

and everything that moves through the currents of the seas”

Here David tells us that to be made in God’s image is to be crowned with glory and honor! We are majestic and are appointed over creation! 

So what is our purpose here? What does it mean to glorify God and be in His image? According to the Bible, we are to point others to God. Like the statues made by kings, others are to look at us and see the reflection of God. We are to love others and see them as God sees them: crowned with glory, honor, and majesty. We are to love his creation and encourage others to do the same. Others should see God in us. As the world falls further from God, we are to be the light and the statue that points them back. As 2020 begins, let us live in God’s image not just be existing, but by doing. Let us be proactive in glorifying God by bringing others to Him. 

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