Spice Up Your Life
Exodus 35:8
. . . And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for the sweet incense, . . .

I recall when I was a young man I would receive a shaving kit from someone as a Christmas gift. It would often contain a small container of after-shave lotion along with other items. I always used the after-shave lotion until it ran out. And I am sure many people appreciated the fragrance of it as I came close to them. The shaving-kit I most-often received was made by "Old Spice" and it did make me smell better - I'm sure. Unfortunately, when the bottle ran out of the after-shave lotion, I went back to my normal routine of just shaving, brushing my teeth and getting the rest of my day started.

As I was reading today's scripture reference it reminded me that the anointing oil used by the Jewish priests in the Bible was NOT just some common variety of olive oil. It was much more than that. In the context of this verse God was giving Moses a list of the items needed for the tabernacle which was being constructed at the time. He was instructing Moses to tell the people to bring these and many other items together as an offering to the Lord. And as we read further into the next chapter we read how, they were so willing to give, that Moses had to send out a message to the people to hold off bringing any more items because there was already too much piling up. Wouldn't that be a blessing today when the pastor requests a special offering for the "building fund."

God had already given Moses the recipe for this special anointing oil earlier when he was on the mountain: Exodus 30:22-33; "Moreover the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy. And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations. Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people."

So, why should the addition of all of these "spices" be of importance to us as Christians?

Let's begin by looking into 1st Samual 16:13 where we read about David being anointed King of Israel: "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. . . ." This is an important verse that easily illustrates the connection between the "oil" mentioned in the Bible and how it is a "type" of the Holy Spirit. It wasn't just "any oil," it was a very "spicy" oil, emitting a lovely odor that caused those who were anointed with it to become more delightful to everyone nearby.

As Christians we need to be continually mindful of the presence of God's Holy Spirit dwelling within us. His presence in our body consecrates us just as it did Aaron and his sons mentioned in the above scripture. When we receive Jesus as our Savior it is as if that special anointing oil had been poured over our souls. And as it says, "And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy:" But, sometimes we forget these important details of our salvation. Sometimes that sweet aromatic radiance seems to disappear. It is as if someone has placed a "lid" on the vessel containing that oil. And you and I happen to be those "vessels."

Let's take a look at some verses we should probably memorize, or at least keep at the forefront of our intentions as we go about each day.

First Thessalonians 5:16-19; " Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit."

If God's Holy Spirit were simply compared to a bottle of olive oil like one you could purchase at the local Walmart, the above verses would not be such a big deal. But - if you take the time to examine the recipe and the contents that God wanted placed into "His" anointing oil - you may begin to see the difference these verses can make in our own lives. The trouble you and I often have is forgetting just how much difference God's Holy Spirit can make when we allow Him to dominate our thinking and actions throughout the day. He is NOT just "The Holy Spirit." He is a sweet, aromatic, permeating, powerful presence emanating from within our being. That is, of course, IF HE IS NOT BEING QUENCHED by the carnal, sensual attitudes that we can develop as a result of the different outside influences and pressures of the world around us.

When this happens we stop "rejoicing" evermore. We stop "praying without ceasing." We stop "giving thanks in EVERYTHING." And - we are definitely NOT in "the will of God in Christ Jesus." All of the "spicy" things that God gives us through the presence of His Holy Spirit in our lives seem to disappear. And not only do we feel unhappy and discouraged, but others around us will definitely notice the absence of that delightful aroma that they had once experienced in your presence.

I encourage you to continually examine your heart throughout each day to be sure you are not "quenching the Spirit." Because by allowing Him full control of all you are, and all you do, there is no doubt you will, Spice Up Your Life. And probably all those around you.

God bless.

The Talent Sow
Matthew 25:14
For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Although the scripture reference for this blog is only one verse long, I implore you to pause here, open your Bible and read the context from Matthew 25:14 through Matthew 25:46. I realize that is asking an awful lot but it will help you truly understand what this blog post is about.

I will try to summarize it if you cannot do the reading but you may not be as blessed when all is said and done. So, to begin: Jesus was on the Mount of Olives and His disciples came to Him asking about ". . . the coming of the Son of man." which He, earlier, had been speaking to them about. In the first part of chapter 25:1-13 He relates the kingdom of heaven to the parable of the ten virgins. Five were wise and ". . . took oil in their vessels with their lamps." And the other five were foolish and took no oil. But in verse 14 He begins speaking of another example of the kingdom of heaven. And that is where we want to take a closer look today.

He tells about a man who traveled into a far country and called his servants, delivering his goods unto them. If you remember the context, he gave the first man five talents, the second man two talents, and the third man one talent. In verse 16 we read, "Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same and made them other five talents." And we read that the man who received two talents also gained another two in the same manner. But the man who only received one talent " . . .hid his lord's money."

Then, Jesus said, "After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them." And you may already know how the first two servants profited, doubling their lord's money. And in return their lord commended them by making them rulers over many and inviting them to enter into the joy of the lord. But when the servant who received just "one" talent came before his lord he said, ". . .Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine." Then his lord replied; "Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: . . ." And Jesus went on to tell about the punishment he would receive.

Here is where it would help if you would take time to read the full context of the scripture reference. Because if you have been saved for any amount of time and heard sermons on this topic over the years, the emphasis of the message is usually an encouragement to USE the talents the Lord has given to you. But at this point in the story I want to STOP and make an admission: Have you ever wondered what the servant meant when he spoke to his master and told him he was a HARD man, and said the words, ". . . reaping where thou has not sown, and gathering where thou has not strawed:" That statement has always confused me because it seems to be impossible to reap where you have not sown and gather where you have not strawed. It would seem this unprofitable servant was just making excuses. But in verse 26 it is CONFIRMED that the master IS that kind of man where; " His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:" And, I have always been confused and wondered about this. Because the master, himself says the same thing about is true about him. So, the unprofitable servant was NOT making an excuse. This always confused me - until I read it again this morning.

Now, I get it! That is exactly what our Lord does all the time. When Jesus (The man who traveled to a far country) was here on earth He did the sowing and reaping as he walked about healing and saving people. He sowed as he met the needs of those around Himself - and - reaped as they put their trust in Him. Back then He reaped what He had sown. But, then He died on the cross and three days later rose from the dead and is now up in heaven seated at the right-hand of God the Father. He, himself, can no longer sow and reap as he once did. But guess what! He can still reap where He has not sown and gather where He has not strawed. HOW?

Because, as Christians, you and I have been given the "talents" spoken of. And we are to "go and trade" them with those around us as we come into contact with others in need of the love of Jesus. We are to be doing the "sowing." We are to sow, and sow, and sow until the Master returns in order for Him to reap, and reap, and reap. He will then be "reaping without sowing." How simple!

But how do we accomplish the "trading" spoken of back in verse 16? This is where verses 31 through 46 come into the story: Where the righteous are separated from the unrighteous. "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me."

As we read on from verse 37 the "righteous" asked where did they do these things and when did they do those things? And in verse 40 He answers, ". . .Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Then the "King" goes on to scold the wicked pointing out that when they saw the hungry and the thirsty and the stranger and the naked and the sick, etc. they did nothing. He said, "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."

So, how do we accomplish the "trading" of our "talents" spoken of back in verse 16? Whenever we see an opportunity to be a blessing to someone in the "least" way, we need to STOP whatever we are doing - trade our comfort zone for their discomfort zone and SOW the love of God into their lives. What do we get in return for doing that? It really doesn't matter at this point. But the day will come when our Master will REAP WHERE HE DID NOT SOW - and we will enter into "The joy of the Lord." The one who reaps where He does not sow.

God bless.

Moses - The Micromanager
Exodus 18:23
If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.

What is a micromanager? Well, let's take time to break the word down into "micro" and "manager." Micro: According to the Webster's dictionary means, "very small; especially : microscopic : involving minute quantities or variations." Manager: According to the Webster's dictionary means, "(Outside of the business world) a person who directs a team or athlete." To paraphrase the meaning it would be someone who directs those people around them without regard to how large or small, or important or unimportant the matter may be. OK, now that we understand that, let's now take a close look at the context of our scripture reference.

Moses is in the beginning stages of leading the children of Israel to the promised land. God has led him south along the eastern shore of the Red Sea into the area where he once was a shepherd for his father-in-law, Jethro. Jethro comes to meet Moses and brings Moses' wife and children to be with him. Moses had left them behind after God called him to free his brethren from bondage in Egypt. Jethro sticks around for a few days visiting and and worshiping God together with Moses.

But, as the Bible says in verse 13, "And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. And when Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?" Jethro sees two unhealthy things taking place. He says, "What is this thing that thou doest TO the people?" In other words, Jethro sees Moses doing something TO his people which is not good for THEM. Then in verse 17 - 18 he says, ". . . The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, . . ." He also sees Moses doing something TO himself which is not good.

I didn't mention that earlier, in Exodus, chapter 2, we learn that Jethro is a priest: "The Priest of Midian." He is a wise man, close to God and loves his family. He came to visit with Moses but has to stand by watching Moses judge the people from morning until night. Maybe he stayed long enough to see this going on for several days. However it went, he could tell that sooner or later Moses' physical and emotional health would soon begin to deteriorate. (And what we often tend to forget is that Moses is writing a journal of all that is taking place. His journal is known as the "Pentateuch" - The first five books of the Bible).

We can easily see that Jethro is right about one thing: Moses needs help. But what about the second problem? Moses is trying to fix all of the "little" problems and issues the people bring to him. These issues are not all that important to Moses but they ARE important to the people facing them. So, in verse 21 and 22 Jethro suggests, " Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee." And verse 23 is our scripture reference verse. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.

By trying to judge all the people by himself he is actually denying many of his followers who have been given the gift of "leadership and wisdom" from serving the Lord with those gifts. His micromanagement is not allowing them to share in the joy of making a difference in the lives of other people. He is not allowing them to develop into productive, healthy followers of God. And, if Moses WILL do what Jethro is suggesting, as it says in verse 23, ". . . all this people shall also go to their place in PEACE.

So, how can you and I learn from this passage of scripture? Well, if you are a parent, or grandparent, or guardian, or anyone who watches over children it would be wise to keep these two principles in mind as you work with them. It may even apply to anyone who is any kind of leader in the business world.

Principle #1: You will wear yourself out micromanaging every LITTLE detail of every issue that you encounter with those you are helping to develop. You may even become so physically and emotionally distressed that you become a hindrance to those whom you lead rather than a help.

Principle #2: And, this one may be the most important; You are likely to be interfering with the development of important skills that your followers need to develop on their own. By micromanaging you smother their ability to develop good judgmental thinking processes. You hinder their learning on their own. That very important process of "learning things the hard way."

These are the two principles that Jethro was trying to teach to Moses. They are Biblical principles which we all need to remember as we try to help those around us. And, if we can just remember the advice of Jethro as we go about our day - we too shall also go to their (and our) place in peace.

God bless.