Morning Prayer Summary for Thursday, March 14, 2024

Morning Chapel Prayer Playlist
Morning Chapel Prayer Today

Pastor Heather…

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to morning prayer. My name is Heather Sibinski. I’m one of the pastors here at the church.

Reading through the Bible…

I started reading at the beginning of the Bible again. It’s always a good place to start, right? And get a good refreshing. I like to spend most of my time in Psalms or Song of Solomon or the Gospels or Romans. I have all my favorites… Acts too. But every once in a while, I feel like, “Okay, it’s time to go back to the beginning and get a good grounding again.” And so, of course, reading through Genesis and then Exodus and reading about the story of the children of Israel. And there’s a lot to learn about the children of Israel, right? They set some good examples and some bad examples for us.

The journey to the Promised Land…

But I love reading through the part where God delivers them through this amazing exodus, right? They leave Egypt and all the plagues and everything, and most of us know all these stories from Bible school. But then after they leave Egypt, which you know, is like the world oppression, right? They leave Egypt and God brings them out and is going to bring them into the Promised Land. And we all know the story. I read somewhere that it was literally just supposed to be an 11-day journey to get to where they were going. But it took them 40 years because of so many different reasons. Mostly complaining, right? Complaining. “Why did you take us out of Egypt? We should have just stayed in Egypt. You took us out here to die.” And they continually complained against Moses, against God.

Sometimes the Lord has us take the long way home…

So God makes them take the long way home. And sometimes He does that in our lives. He’ll make us take the long way home. There are many mountains in life that we’ll just continue to circle until we kind of get it right. I have my own mountains. You have your own mountains, whatever they might be… learning humility, learning boldness, learning to step out of your comfort zone, all these things. And the beauty of God, of course, is His mercy is enduring. It’s everlasting. And He’s so patient with us. He’s so merciful with us. And so sometimes He’s like, “Okay, we’re going to go around the block on this one more time.”

The ark of the covenant, the tent, tabernacle, and holy of holies are all symbolic…

Anyways, I love the part, of course, where we get to where God gives them specific instructions on building the arc of the covenant and building the tent and the tabernacle and the Holy of Holies. And it’s so cool to just read about how specific He was on how it had to be built. He gave them measurements and what kind of supplies. It’s just interesting to read as somebody who is over the building, there’s lots of specifics we have to know about fixing the fountains, painting the fountains, fixing the things in the building and stuff. And so I love that those little specific measurements and things were so important to God that He took the time to put that detail into it. And He used the most precious of items, gold and there was lots of gems. And, of course, the children of Israel were supposed to bring offerings and each tribe was supposed to bring the offerings of supplies to build this arc, to build this tabernacle to house the arc. But as we read, of course, all of that is symbolic of His presence.

All symbolism of our relationship with Jesus…

So you have the arc, which supposedly contained His presence for them. The 10 commandments were in there. Then you had like the gold cherubims on top, and then they had the mercy seat. All of that is symbolic of our relationship with Jesus. They had to sacrifice animals and put it on the seat of mercy. The high priest could only go in on one day a year, and that was the day of atonement, to make atonement for the people to sacrifice and to put blood on that altar. And of course, we know that Jesus is our high priest. And He made the atonement once and for all, for our sins, right? He went in there and so now we can go into that holy place. It even says when He was crucified, the veil was torn because there was a veil that separated the people from going into the Holy of Holies, where that arc, was where the presence of God was.

We become the temple…

So Jesus dies. He atones our sins, once and for all. Rips the veil so that we can go into that holy of holies where His presence is and we become that dwelling place. We become that temple that He dwells in. We become the house of the Holy Spirit.

When I was Googling… I like to read what they did. And of course you can read it in the Bible too. But this kind of summarizes it. So you have the holy of holies. So they had the tent where there was an outer gathering area. Then there was the holy place. And then inside, behind that veil was the Holy of Holies where the arc was.

So the Holy of Holies was the innermost chamber in the tabernacle. A room so sacred, only the high priest could enter it only one day out of the entire year. Only one object was housed there: the arc of the Covenant. There was no light inside the chamber other than the glow from God’s glory. That alone is pretty amazing to think of. We’re used to going in and like flipping on a light. Well, back then they had sunlight and they had candles or fire. There was nothing in there. It was completely closed, no windows. But the arc provided light in that room. His glory. God’s glory.

The thick embroidered veil separated the Holy of Holies from the holy place in the tent of the meeting. Regular priests were allowed to go on the outer holy place, but the Holy of Holies could only be entered by the high priests on the annual Day of Atonement. On that day, the high priest would bathe, then put on clean linen garments of the priest. His robe had solid gold bells hanging from the hem. The noise of the bells told the people he was going into the Holy of Holies and making atonement for their sins. He would enter the inner sanctuary burning incense. And of course, all of those are types and shadows… burning incense, that’s our prayers going up to them. They’re a sweet-smelling sacrifice to Him. Cleaning his garments. Obviously, we should come clean before God when things have built up inside of us. And we lay those things at His altar. We clean ourselves with the washing of the water of the Word. And the garments are our robe of righteousness, that Jesus paid the price that we could put that on and be clean because of the blood of Jesus.

The high priest would then sprinkle the blood of a sacrifice bowl and a sacrifice goat on the atonement cover of the ark to make amends for his and the people’s sins. When Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn from the top to the bottom, signifying that the barrier between God and His people was taken away. That’s not a small thing. And I think we forget when we come into the presence of God, sometimes we can be so casual about it. And I think there’s a familiarity that God loves. We are His friends. We are His sons and daughters, and He does want us to come boldly before His throne, but also He wants us to come with awe. And just think, all these people had to wait outside while the priest went in and he could only go in one day out of the year. And here we are. We can come in this room, you can turn on your computers online, and we can come into His presence every morning. And whenever we want, really, because of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

It’s good to remind ourselves of the privilege…

And I think it’s always good to just remind ourselves of the privilege we have, that God sees us as His sons and daughters, that He sent His only Son to die for us, so that we could come into that place of His presence, that we could come face to face in the presence of God.

When Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom, signifying that the barrier between God and His people was taken away. Now, the Holy of Holies, or God’s presence, is accessible to every believer. We may approach God confidently, not on our own merit, but through the righteousness given to us through the blood of Jesus.

Jesus is our high priest…

Jesus atoned once and for all, all of humanity’s sin and became our high priest. No longer does God confine Himself just to the Holy of Holies, separated from His people. We became temples of the Holy Spirit, the living dwelling place of God.

We have a better covenant…

And I think that’s such a beautiful thing to dwell upon. You think of what the children of Israel had and then what we have today. Obviously, it’s a better covenant. It’s a new covenant, and that Jesus paid that price so that we can come into His presence. But I think it’s good to remind ourselves of the privilege of that, the awe of that, that we get to come before our creator, the creator of heaven and earth, the creator of the universe. The creator that was here before all time, the “great I am.” The beginning, the end, the Alpha Omega. And there’s so many describing words that we can put to God, El Shadi, He’s our provider. There’s just so many names that He has. And if you ever have time to study out the names of God, every name is like a promise of who He is. It’s a piece of His character.

I wanted to read Numbers 9:15–23.

And we all know that Numbers is a great place to just sit and just really reflect on the presence of God. I’m joking. If anybody’s read Numbers, it’s a lot of like really specific details and it can get a little laborious reading it. But there was one part that I read that I really liked and I did want to share it.

“On the day of the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it, but from evening until morning, the cloud over the tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. This was the regular pattern. At night the cloud that covered the tabernacle had the appearance of fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And whenever the clouds settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever He told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle. If the cloud remained over the tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord. Sometimes the cloud would stay over the tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord’s command, they would break camp and move on. Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, whenever the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. Whether the cloud stayed above the tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in the camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses.”

They followed the cloud…

So the cloud of glory that they’re talking about was a cloud by day, fire by night. It would hover above the holy of Holies, over the place where the arc of the covenant was, over the mercy seat. And that’s where God also met with Moses and communed with him.

Move with the cloud…

So when I first came to Living Word back in 1992, I was just a little 18-year-old, new to Christianity and to the church. And they used to do this song called “Move With the Cloud.” Does anybody in here remember that? It was “the cloud of glory is moving. Move with the cloud. Move with the cloud.” Does anybody remember that song? And I remember giggling, it sounded a little Brady Bunch to me at the time. It was a little hokey sounding to me as a new Christian. I’m like, what are they talking about? Move with the cloud. What does that mean?

And of course, as I’m reading this this morning, I’m like, that’s what that song was! They were moving with the cloud. They were obeying, when the cloud started moving, when God’s presence moved, they moved. And I just think it’s such a good lesson for us. It’s like, here are these people, they have a covenant with God, but they don’t necessarily have a personal relationship with Him like we do now. They didn’t have the honor of having the Holy Spirit living and dwelling in them like we do now.

Be ready to get up and move…

So here they are. Just think of that. If that was like present day, what would it look like. You get up and the Lord’s like, “Okay, get up. We’re moving to Florida.” Okay. They just had to be ready to do whatever. I say that because He did call me to move to Florida and then I was in Florida for 15 years and He is like, “Okay, get up. You’re moving back to Minnesota.” And you have to be ready to do what He leads you to do. And sometimes it’s easy to get settled in our way, but you think of the Israelites and even though they had some bad examples, they had some good examples too. Here they are. It’s like when the cloud moved, they moved. When the cloud stopped, they stopped. And they knew how to sit in His presence, stay in His presence, watch for His presence, watch for the way that He moved. And that’s how they were led was by His presence. When He moved, they moved. When He stopped, they stopped.

And I think that’s such an important analogy for us today. How much more should we be led by the Spirit? And when He says, “stop,” we stop. When He says “rest,” we rest. When He says “move,” we move. When He says, “Step out and do that scary thing,” we step out and we do that scary thing.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary about this says…

“This cloud was appointed to be the visible sign and symbol of God’s presence with Israel. Thus, we are taught to see God always near us both night and day. As long as the cloud rested on the tabernacle, so long as they continued in the same place, there is no time lost while we are waiting on God’s time.”

When we are in God’s time, there’s no time lost. And especially just in prayer or in waiting on Him, it can feel so slow sometimes. And I think that’s very intentional of God to do that because we do not like waiting. We do not like being patient. We want our thing and we want it yesterday. We want this to change. And we want it to change now, right? We want our fast food, our microwave, our social media, our instant gratification. But that’s not how God is. He never hurries. He’s very intentional. And you see that like when Jesus walked on the earth, He was very intentional to not hurry.

For example, just the story of Lazarus…

Lazarus whom He loved… it said that in there: “whom He loved” is sick and dying. If somebody calls you and is like, “Hey, your friend, this person that you love is sick and dying,” what are you going to do? You’re probably going to drop everything. You’re going to get over there. You’re going to, what do we need to do? How can I pray? What can I bring? What can I… You want to be there with that person. And not to say that Jesus didn’t want to be there, but Jesus knew that God had a plan and a purpose higher than His own interest. And what does He do? He waits. He waits. And then Lazarus dies. And then He moves

That was specific by the Holy Spirit. He had to wait for Lazarus to die because of the thing He would do next. As we all know, raise Lazarus from the dead. But if He was just obeying His instincts, He would be probably like, “Oh my gosh, let’s get over there. Let’s get over there for Martha and Mary. These are the people I love. I have to be there for them.” But He waited for the Spirit to say when to go. He didn’t hurry.

“There’s no time loss while we are waiting on God’s time. When the cloud was taken up, they moved however comfortably they were encamped. We are kept at uncertainty that we may always be ready to move at the command of the Lord. It is very safe and pleasant going when we see God before us and resting where He appoints us to rest. The leading of this cloud is spoken of as signifying the guidance of the Blessed Spirit. All the children of God shall be led by the Spirit of God, Romans 8:14. And He will direct the paths of those who in all their ways, acknowledge Him, Proverbs 3:6. At the commandment of the Lord, our heart should always move and rest saying, Father thy will be done. Dispose of me and mine as thou pleases. What thou wilt and where thou wilt only let me be thine and always in the way of my duty.”

And I just thought that was a good reminder today of just always watching. Keeping your heart sensitive. When He’s leading you to move, when He is leading you to rest, when He is leading you to stop, when He is leading you to leave something, to start something, He’s always speaking. He’s always leading.

Are we always listening?

We like to think we are. I like to think I am. But I have to be honest, there are times where I’m like, “la, la, la, la. I can’t hear you.” Or I’m just like, “Look, God, look what I’m doing. I’m over here and I’m doing this, and I’m doing this.” And He is like, “Well, I just really need you to come here and just sit with Me for a little while.” Or, “That’s not what I told you to do, Heather. I told you to go over here and do that.” “But this is a good thing.” “Yes, but it’s not what I told you to do.”

And so just trusting in Him that He has plans for you. He has a specific path for you. And when we are in tune with His Spirit and we’re watching… Let’s say we’re watching the cloud, we’re watching His Spirit. We’re watching Him listening for when He is going to move, when He is going to prompt us. And the Israelites had to keep a close eye on what was happening in that tabernacle. They couldn’t be off not paying attention. Because if that cloud was moving, that was probably a big chore. I mean, there was thousands of families that had to pack up all their stuff, get everything. Everybody had assignments of what they were supposed to carry, what they were supposed to bring. And it probably was no picnic, journeying through the wilderness. It was probably hot. And they had to plan ahead and, okay, we have to pack some water. We got to pack food. We got to do this… Whatever they had to do to move when He said to move.

And so where are we at in that? Are we ready to move when He says to move? Are we willing to stop when He says to stop? To rest and just sit in His presence?

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