The Millennial Treasure

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Photo credit to Evangelical Focus, an article by Will Graham.

 

“Thus says the Lord God; ‘If the prince gives a gift unto any of his sons, the inheritance thereof shall be his sons’; it shall be their possession by inheritance.’” Ezekiel 46:16

 
A millennium with Jesus, wouldn’t that be an awesome thing? Now I’ve seen some disagreement over whether this prince of Ezekiel’s vision is Jesus or not, but the Jewish rabbis looked to this prince as the Messiah. On the other hand, there is disagreement through commentaries upon whether this prince is Jesus or an appointed prince by God among the people. Frankly, I’m not an official Bible scholar, so I don’t know for sure, but when I read this, it sure makes me think of Him.

 
I wouldn’t have a problem with this being Jesus as the prince, after all, He is the Prince of Peace and He is the One who can atone for our sins. I’m just wondering why God would have anyone else approach the Holy of Holies now that the veil was torn through Jesus. What greater picture for all mankind at the time than to see Jesus standing in the place for us right before our very eyes?

 
But sacrifices? All that ritual? Why would Jesus die only to re-institute the sacrifices and rituals again? What purpose would that serve? What about a visual reminder? It seems to me that we as people need more reminders than we like to admit. And our reminders need to be pretty strong and visual. It’s not like a light nudge is often enough. Often, don’t we find that we need the cold water thrown on our faces to wake us up? Well, I don’t really look at these sacrifices as being cold water unpleasant. Let me explain.

 
What if the ritual and sacrifice we see in the Old Testament, that here God is saying He will re-institute in the millennium, isn’t about ritual experience? What if it never was about following ritual and obeying because you had to obey or else? What if walking through these rituals and walking through these sacrifices was always about understanding our relationship to God in different ways? What if it was about understanding different pieces of God, so to say? What if every step of obedience was supposed to be a step of love and adoration? What if understanding the reasons behind the ceremonies and celebrations and offerings was to understand more of our relationship with God and His relationship with us? Could there be a reason that God said these would be perpetual celebrations and perpetual offerings? Could they always have been intended as more than ritual and more than just commanded obedience? Is there more to this than meets our eyes?

 
Why can’t Jesus enter the East gate and offer up sacrifices for us? Wasn’t Jesus just as holy and just as much Jesus when He came to earth? Didn’t He obey all that God required of “Temple worship” and walking with others and submitting to authority then? If it wasn’t wrong for Jesus to participate then as an example before us of how we are to participate in the life that God has called us to, then why wouldn’t it be right for Him to continue to exemplify all things God for us, all things life for us?

 
Why are we so afraid of sacrifice and God’s ordained feasts and festivals and commandments? Is it because we really don’t understand them? What if they weren’t so foreign? What if it was all more about uncovering God like a glorious Treasure than following a ritual? What if participation was participation with God?

 
I can get stuck in the rut of ritual whether I am Jewish or Christian or any other religion or even not of any religion. That’s called a habit. But this isn’t about ritual and never was from God’s perspective. It’s always been about relationship. Abram didn’t follow after ritual. He followed a God whose voice he heard and who showed Himself on his behalf. He obeyed because He found a Treasure worth selling his whole life for! Moses would have followed ritual for sure at first. But God stripped him of that thinking. God brought Moses to the point where God was his Treasure, where the reality of life was the God of the burning bush. Moses became a man after God’s own heart, so humble, which was the total opposite of the Moses leaving Egypt.

 
I’ll skip ahead to the New Testament and look at Paul. Paul was a man of devout ritual. That wasn’t God’s choice. I know it wasn’t God’s choice because God confronted him about it. “Why do you kick against the goads?” And once Paul’s relationship with God changed through Jesus, the Treasure of worship in all the affairs of the Temple and Scripture opened anew to him and he was able to invite others, both Jew and Gentile, into the beauty of that Treasure! I must not forget that those first Gentile converts worshipped along with the Jews, not separate from them. Oh, the beauty of what was opened to their eyes! Even if it was only in part, the measure of the new understanding and beauty of God would be wonderful.

 
So, who are the sons of the prince? What if they are the children of God? What is the inheritance of the children of God? Isn’t the most precious inheritance to know God and be known by Him? Isn’t God through Jesus Christ our Treasure? I’m not sure what else there is to focus on. I mean, if you ask me, heaven isn’t as grand a treasure as God because heaven, without God, would be nothing but hell. Maybe if my real focus in life was the inheritance of God, you know, believing and acting as though God was my only treasure, then maybe I’d act a lot differently as I walked through this life. Maybe some things wouldn’t be so important any more. And maybe other things would be more important than ever.

 
But I do know this one thing, if there is a desire in my heart to spend a millennium with Jesus, I ought to start living in my inheritance now. I ought to start rejoicing in everything that represents the Treasure of my God every day because if I’m in Him, my inheritance in Him has already begun. I don’t get to be lazy. Because there will come a day, during that millennium when there will be people who turn from the Prince because He never was their Treasure and there will come a time when the Treasure passes judgement. And only those who know the Treasure will inherit the Treasure Himself. There is only one gift and the Gift is God Himself through Jesus Christ. I don’t ever want to ignore You.

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Forever Engraved in Your Hands

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“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.”  Isaiah 49:16

Were you ever just driving down the road and somehow got to thinking about something in God’s Word and just got so excited about it that you couldn’t wait to sit down with the Lord and your Bible to get into it even deeper? That’s how I am right now and have been since the day before yesterday about this!  And it’s not that I put off getting into this Word here.  I had to wait and finish another treasure hunt in His Word first!

The day before yesterday, as I was driving in my car, I started thinking about making a gift for a dear friend.  I have a wooden plaque at home that I used a router to engrave these words, “Without firm faith you will not be firmly established.” (Isaiah 7:9b)  And I was thinking about making an engraved plaque for my friend.  But what I was thinking about saying on it was too much.  And while all this “visionary contemplation” was going on in my mind as I was driving down the road, I was struck with the thought in Isaiah 49:16.  I was brought to the idea of the people of God, of whom I am one, having been engraved in the palms of God’s hands and in Jesus’ hands and I was struck with what a wonderful treasure that was as I began to think about the significance of that statement and truth by the mouth of God.

“Behold, I [God] have engraved you upon the palms of my hands…”  I think about that piece of wood on my shelf, that one that at one time was sanded and smoothed all over.  And then I took a router and and engraved within its substance the words that would now forever be a part of that piece of wood.  The wood and it’s engraving are now inseparable; they have become one.  To destroy the words would be to destroy the wood.

Now, there is no way anyone can destroy You, God.  That is a wonderfully empowering thought.  And You, by Your power and in Your pleasure, engraved me and each of Your children, Your people, in the palms of Your hands.  This perfect, glorious, all-knowing, all-powerful, worthy of all praise and adoration, God engraved us who are not yet perfect and like You into Your very own hand.  You take us and place us within the substance that is You.  You make us a part of You forever.  We become inseparable; we become one even though You are always more and always still God.  And there is nothing that can ever destroy You.  And there is nothing that can negate the work that You have done.

That gives a whole new and deeper meaning to Jesus’ words in John 10:28: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”  Did you get that?  We are engraved right into the Father’s hands.  And since Jesus and the Father are one, that means I am that closely held by Jesus too.  He’s not just closing his fingers around us.  Because He had engraved our names in His hand before time, Jesus demonstrated the depth of that glorious engraving through His life, death, burial, and resurrection!  We are engraved in the hands of the One who lived and died and lives again that He might be fully glorified in us and through us, His ultimate creation!

When I think about how Jesus tells us we must abide in Him and Him in us, I think of this picture.  I am engraved in His hand.  My being has been made a part of God Himself.  What courses through the hand of God, courses through me.  The strength in just His hand alone, is there surrounding me and coursing through me.  And because I am in Him, He is in me.  Therefore I have His strength and character as my source.  I am embedded in You, Lord.  Do I live like that is true?

Skip Moen, another contemporary believer, was meditating on this verse also.  He shares how cultures of long ago used inscriptions to engrave things like laws and decrees on stone or metal tablets.  Sound familiar?  Even God did that when He inscribed the commandments for Moses.  Inscribing something in such a way insured that the law was permanent.  The Hebrew word used in this verse is “haqaq” which means “to carve or engrave or portray.”  And it does have to do with statutes and legal rights.   And I wonder if God does the work to engrave us on His hands because it’s the only way that we can meet the demands of fulfilling His covenant, His Law?  I can only be and do what He calls me to in Him and in His power.  He perpetually binds me to Him and to His Holy Spirit in Jesus so that He can perform in me what only He can do.  But only when I surrender to Him and allow Him to place me in Himself so deeply will I be able to live in and fulfill His will.  Skip Moen shares these thoughts, ” In this verse from Isaiah, God says that He has made a permanent record of our names in a place where He is constantly reminded of each of us.  The visual image is that He sees us as His own every moment.”  How do I see myself?  Do I see myself as fully Yours, Lord?

Along that line of thinking, I’m carried to another verse.  Revelation 2:17  shares, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. ‘ To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.'”  (Just thinking that Jesus is referred to as the Bread of Life and as the Rock.)  So our name is written in God’s hands and we will receive a new name written in a white stone.  Do you know that name?  I don’t know that name yet.  But I do know that Skip Moen and I aren’t the only people who thought about it.

George MacDonald, a scottish author, poet, and Christian minister thought about.  Listen to what George had to share from the 1800’s, his lifetime.  “The giving of the white stone with the new name is the communication of what God thinks about the man to the man. It is the divine judgment, the solemn holy doom of the righteous man, the ‘Come, thou blessed’, spoken to the individual…The true name is the one which expresses the character, the nature, the meaning of the person who bears it.  It is the man’s own symbol – his soul’s picture, in a word – the sign which belongs to him and to no one else. Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. For no one but God sees what the man is…It is only when the man has become his name that God gives him the stone with his name upon it, for then first can he understand what his name signifies. It is the blossom, the perfection, the completeness that determines the name: and God foresees that from the first because he made it so: but the tree of the soul, before its blossom comes, cannot understand what blossom it is to bear and could not know what the word meant…Such a name cannot be given until the man is the name. God’s name for the man must be the expression of His own idea of the man, that being whom He had in his thought when He began to make the child, and whom He kept in His thought through the long process of creation that went to realize the idea. To tell the name is to seal the success – to say ‘In thee also I am well pleased’.”

MacDonald goes on to speak about the individuality of the relationship of each man to God.  We all, every one of us, have our own peculiar relation to Him.  Yes, we are peculiar people. ( 1 Peter 2:9, Titus 2:14)  Lord, You fashion each of us for our own particular purpose for You.  I can worship You like no one else.  And You respond to me as to no one else.  You have a secret for each one of us and each one of us is to search that out in You.  You don’t reveal this secret name of mine to someone else.  You reveal it to me.  Therefore, no one else can totally enter into the inner chamber of my peculiar life in You.  Only You can fully enter.  And here’s the thing.  George says there is a chamber in You that no one can enter but that one peculiar person himself, and when we enter and come forth we “bring revelation and strength” for others.  George adds, ” This is that for which he was made – to reveal the secret things of the Father.”

Well, I don’t know my name yet.  But I can confidently step forward in the delight and strength of knowing that who I am, me, my name, is not just written on Your hands, Lord, but forever engraved in the essence of who You are.  Some day, when You have completed Your work in and through me and my character is everything that You created it to be, You will reveal it to me and I will see the glorious work of who You created me to be.  That will be a beautiful name.  So, right now, I don’t know that name.  I don’t know my full identity yet.  As Skip Moen expressed, “I am a man who lives without an identity, a wanderer far from home where I am known as myself.  I am sure God knows my name but I have not grown to the place where He has revealed it to me. I have not yet become what He envisioned. I am not yet His thought of my fulfillment.”

Lord, I so long for that day when I shall fully know, even as I have been fully known.  (1 Corinthians 13:12)  And I know that You will bring me to that day.  But in the mean time, it’s hard looking through that dim mirror.  But I will walk forward in You, in Your strength, in Your power, in Your love, in Your guidance, forever more than held, forever engraved in You.  And that will remain my hope.  That will remain my joy.  And I will praise You because You made me in a fearful and wonderful way, even engraving me within You.  You said it, Lord and You have done it.  “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches:  he that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:4,5)

Forming His Treasure

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“I know that whatever God does will last forever; there is nothing to add or subtract from it; and God has done it so that people will fear him.  That which was is here already; and that which will be has already been, but God seeks out what people chase after.”  Ecclesiastes 4:14,15

Maybe it’s funny or unusual that I’m drawn to the writings in Ecclesiastes right now.  I mean, really, it’s not one of the most encouraging books.  Solomon, the author, actually seems pretty disillusioned with things.  All his wisdom, riches, and power have become “vanity of vanities” to him.  But there are these nuggets throughout that run deeper and give me hope in a life that sometimes doesn’t seem to make sense.

“I know that whatever God does will last forever; there is nothing to add or subtract from it; and God has done it so that people will fear Him.”  But I wonder if Solomon, the wisest man ever on earth, still missed some things?  Because here he was, looking all around himself and talking about how none of it would last.  And he was talking about his legacy not lasting after he was gone.  Some fool could follow and destroy everything he had worked so hard building.  And in the midst of thinking that way, he made this statement, “whatever God does will last forever.”  Well what does God do?  What do You do, Lord?  What have You done?  What are You doing?

Weren’t You molding Solomon?  Weren’t You building a kingdom?  Was Solomon looking at things the way You were?  I’m not trying to insult his wisdom here, but if this was written later in life while Solomon had been wrongly influenced by the beliefs of his Pagan wives, maybe Solomon’s “wise” perspective was just a little off.  I mean, he was still speaking wise truth, but maybe he wasn’t seeing the full truth himself.  Was God really doing a work outside of Solomon?  Was His work in the works of Solomon’s hands, in the physical kingdom, on the outside?  Is that the real work that You were doing, Lord?

Whatever God does will last.  That word for does is “asah.”  It’s also used in the creation account.  But so is another word “bara.”  These two words carry different weights.  Bara is the essence of “created” while asah is the forming of the stuff that was created.  So maybe the thing that Solomon and I have to focus on is what You are really working on forming?  Are You using all the created things in my life and were You using all the created things in everyone’s life, including Solomon’s to form and mold and shape each one of us into Your image?  Is that the important part that will last forever?  Is it not about the stuff but about the one You are forming and the one who is allowing You to form them?  Are we the part of creation that is supposed to last with You?

So here You are forming us, moment by moment.  And there is nothing in this world, no wisdom, no fortune, no power, no thing that exists on earth that can make us more complete, more formed than what You are doing in us.  You, God, are doing this work in us so that even when we lose everything, we and the people looking on see You and they think great things about You.  Or, if You bless me with much for Your glory, they see and are amazed by You again.

Isn’t that what happened with Solomon?  Didn’t the queen come and glory in what God had done with him?  It wasn’t that she gloried in Solomon.  She knew it was of You.  There are people I have met, and they’ve been through really hard experiences in life, but Your hand is so glorious upon them, and You shine so brightly.  It’s not the stuff around us that is Your masterpiece.  That’s not the solid stuff, that’s not the stuff that is going to last.  That’s all perishing.  But what really matters and what will last forever is the workmanship of Your beautiful, glorious hands in Your people.  Solomon was the treasure.  Those who put their trust in You and let You have Your way in their lives, they are the treasure that lasts.  They are the ones who shine Your glory and instill the fear and reverence of God in others.  And they do it by letting You be You in them.

“That which was is here already; and that which will be has already been, but God seeks out what people chase after. “  Now, I’m not saying I get all this.  But it’s making me think.  And it’s making me ask You questions, Lord, because I think there’s a lot to this.  And I want to know what You want me to know.  I think this all relates to the fact that there is nothing new under the sun.  You, Lord, already established everything.  You have it all under control.  You know all the answers.  And the clincher is in the last part of that sentence where it says, “but God seeks out what people chase after.”  What are we chasing after?

What was Solomon chasing after?  Was he chasing after all those things on the outside bringing fulfilment?  Maybe You, Lord, are wanting me to ask myself what I’m chasing after?  Is it You?  Are You going to place things in my life to get me to figure out what I’m chasing after?  Do You care enough to get Solomon to focus on what he’s chasing after?  And me?  Would You take the time to show us the futility of the things we chase after when it ought to be all about You?

There is something interesting about that word for seek.  It’s the word “baqash” and it does mean to search out, but specifically in worship.  It’s about what we strive after.  Maybe this whole thing is about You getting us to really understand our own hearts and desires and strivings and to refocus them on the One who ought to be our Focus.  Yes, everything else is vanity.  But You are not.  And in You, our lives are not in vain.  In You our lives have meaning and purpose and eternity.  In You, we are the glory of God.

Peter reminds us, “You will have to suffer only a little while; after that, God, who is full of grace, the one who called you to his eternal glory in union with the Messiah, will himself restore, establish and strengthen you and make you firm.”  (1 Peter 5:10)  This is what You are doing.  We are the work of Your hands.  Solomon himself was the treasure.  I am the treasure.  And You continually care for us and shape us and mold us to Your glory.

So what was Solomon’s final conclusion?  “Here is the final conclusion, now that you have heard everything:  fear God, and keep His mitzvot (commands); this is what being human is all about.” (v. 13)  But there is this one thing.  Here’s the wisest man on the earth by the power of God, but He didn’t fully understand about Jesus yet.  But I know You, Jesus.  And when I hear these wise words and put them into perspective with You, I am able to draw the right conclusion.  And it’s not just about obeying commands.  It’s all about fulfilling our created purpose and living in You.  That’s what humans were created for, to live in You and to glorify You.  That’s the only satisfying purpose of life because You are LIFE.

Solomon has treasures for us, but he was missing some parts of the picture.  Listen as Paul explains it through Ephesians.  “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.  This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel…this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places.  This was according to the eternal purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him.”

Yes, His people are His treasure.  We are what You are doing, Lord.  We are the kingdom that You are forming and shaping as Your very own bride!  We people are the church.  Those glorious unsearchable riches are being invested in each one of Your children.  If only Solomon had gotten to see Jesus, it would have all fallen into place.  But that’s the good news for us.  We can see Jesus.  Yes, Lord, we can see You and know You.  You are not a hidden mystery any more.  If only I learn to worship and chase after You so You can reveal Yourself in me.  Because every part of beautiful You that You bring to life in me will last forever.  Keep forming me, Lord, I love being the eternal work of Your hands.

Grabbing the Snake By the Tail

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“What is that in your hand?    And he said, “A rod.”  Cast it on the ground.  And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.   And the Lord said unto Moses, “Put forth your hand, and take it by the tail.  And He put forth His hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:  That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared unto you.”  Exodus 4: 2-5

Times, talents, treasure, rods, and tsedekah boxes, what do they all have in common?  The character and person and presence and power and actions of You, God, displayed for us.  But it doesn’t stop there.  It’s not just about You and Your glorious character and power because lots of people believe You have a glorious character and glorious power, but You are out there, somewhere far away, like in heaven, and someday, only someday, I can know that and experience that and be with You.  You know, someday, after I die.

But time, talents, treasure, rods, and tsedekah boxes are really things of the past, things of the present, and things of the future.  You have already put these things in motion and called them forth in You and from You before time began.  You put them into vessels on earth when You created Adam and Eve.  You took what was of Yourself and shared of Yourself intimately with Your glorious and intimate work, man.  You placed a bit of Your character in us when You created us in Your image.  So these traits of Your character, now, because of sin, lie dormant waiting to awaken in us.  And when You awaken us in Christ, in the knowledge of You, Your character, Your power, Your presence is restored in us, in me.  And not only do time, talents, treasure, rods, and tsedekah boxes have things in common with each other, and with You, but now they are a part of my life in You.

When I was invited into mission with Dr. Zapanta to the Philippines,  I was repeatedly confronted with the challenge of giving my time, talents, and treasure to the Lord.   And I was continually reminded of the blessing of doing so.  Well, it wasn’t really a blessing because of what I did.  See, the blessing is IN the doing.  When I live IN the Lord, when I hand my time over to Him and it becomes His time, when I hand my talents over to Him, and He imparts His talents to me that He has specifically designed for me according to His Spirit, when I surrender my treasures, my money, my possessions, or whatever my treasure is to Him, and allow Him and His desires to become my treasures, I walk and live in this special state of bliss, this place of peace and presence with the Lord, regardless of my circumstances.  See, the blessing is in receiving the fullness of You.  And good things accompany that.  Good things beyond measure.  Because Your cup overflows, and when I am drinking from Your cup, well, my cup overflows.

Look at the life of Moses.  He didn’t feel  capable for the task ahead.  He was holding on to something.   Maybe it was preconceived notions of what a deliverer ought to act like or look like, or preconceived notions of what people think, or a real deflated image of himself.  I don’t know.  Maybe he wanted to hold on to his time, or his talents, or his treasures.  But when You told him to lay down his rod, he did.  That thing he was holding on to that was the authority vested in him where he protected and guided others and himself, that thing that meant he was in charge, he layed it down when God told him to.  And he didn’t just lay it down gently.  He cast it down, because that’s what You, Lord, required.  Sometimes we have to just throw down the thing that holds us back.

So he threw it down and it became a serpent and it was a scary thing for Moses.  Funny thing is that stepping into missions holds its scary times for me when I throw my security at Your feet.  Not just in mission, but in my life, when I throw my security and the way I know at Your feet.  But You make something more powerful and wonderful out of it then I ever could if I held it in my own hands and did it my way.

And then You take this horrifying thing that I want to run from and tell me pick it up by the tail.  Grab that thing I fear.  And when I obey, You tame it in my hands and return to me authority and power greater than I ever knew.  Why?  So when people see the evidence of Your character and Your power and Your grace evidenced in my life, or in Moses’ life, or anyone’s life, they may believe that You are God and they can know that You are the God who appears to us not as a vision but in the reality and person of who Your are.

In Psalm 46:10 we are instructed, no, commanded to “Be still and know that I am God:  I will be exalted amond the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”  And I’ve been thinking about what it means to be still.  I read that the Jewish priests and rabbis would be quiet for an hour before praying to prepare and to listen for the voice of God.  I think about that and think, how could I do that?  My mind won’t even stay quiet and silent for 5 minutes!  One hour!  So, I tried it this morning.  And I couldn’t keep my mind silent.  But I think it was receptive.  Because all week I’ve been getting these words that I’ve been thinking about.  And it all seems to relate.

The word this morning when I was thinking about being still and quiet, was shalom.  And I’m wondering if that isn’t what this means.  Because I can’t help think of Jesus in the boat and the storm raging and the disciples crying out in fear and He wakes from His sleep, stands, and commands the storm and the waves, “Peace, be still.”  And they were.  And maybe peace, and stillness, and shalom has something to do with this surrendering to the command and purpose and heart of God.  And when I am surrendered and living in His will, my whole being is blessed and taken care of and provided for in the One in whom I have placed my life and trust.

And now I haven’t gotten to tsedekah boxes yet.  Well, it’s partly a Hebrew word for a box for offerings for charity.  But it stems from the character of You, Lord.  The word itself means righteousness.  It’s all about the rightness of Your character and power for every situation.  It’s all about who You are and were and will be.  It’s the way You act because of who You are.  And I can put all my time, talents, and treasure in my tsedekah box and it still not be charity unless I am giving in Your Spirit.  And Your Spirit is a real thing, a person, and not just an idea or a heart attitude.  And it looks like this person:  “…Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be wearied, and faint in Your minds.”  Hebrews 12:2-3

So, what does Jesus have to do with a tsedekah box?  Well, later in the book of Hebrews, Paul tells us, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”  See, You, Jesus, are the supreme example of what a real tsedekah, a real offering, real righteousness looks like, acts like, and is.  You are it.  And only in You, only when I surrender my staff to You and let You take over, will I be purified and enabled to work the works You desire to bring forth for Your glory.  A tsedekah is just a box with money to do good things if I’m working in my own strength.  But if I entrust my all to You, the Living Tsedekah, then You will call me and include me in Your glorious plans, and You will enable me to do things and experience things in You that are beyond my dreams.

I may not grab a snake by the tail, but I have a friend who lives in You who has!  And even if I haven’t, You have provided hearing aids worth $50,000 that I could never buy on my own, You’ve taken me to places I’ve never dreamed, You’ve grown my family to include the most precious brothers and sisters I never would have met unless You placed our lives together, You’ve take my little things and make much of them, and I can’t tell You enough how grateful I am.   I mean, that’s just the most severe understatement.

And all I know is this, that because of Your sacrifice and Your living beauty as a living offering in my life, it is worth throwing down everything just to have You, and know You, and follow You, and even better, to be in You and You to be in me.  Because there is no greater shalom than in the middle of You.  And I don’t know about anyone else, but that’s where I want to dwell all the days of my life no matter where I walk or what I do.  Thank You that when You appear to us, You make Yourself known and allow us to experience You intimately.