Saturday, November 22, 2008

Week 10: Mended Hearts, Eternal Ties

Day 5: The Intimacy of the Holy of Holies

"Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of you holy temple" Psalm 65:4

Can you believe that we can enter the Holy of Holies. We have learned from the very beginning of this study of how God longs to dwell and fellowship with us. Because of the sacrifice that he made on the cross, all believers today have personal access to God's presence everywhere and at any given time - Did you hear that... Anytime, anywhere, anyplace - that is how our God works! We are NEVER alone, he will not forsake us!

I have to say that this study has been a blessing at this time in my life. Just when I felt myself pulling away, God reeled me back in - and boy am I ever grateful in this whole process and for all of you!

Beth said, "If you stop short of a willingness to fellowship in His sufferings, you stop short of the indescribable experience of His holy of holies." Oh how I long to fellowship with him. I want to be on the "High" of loving and experiencing God all the time, not just during the tough times in my life. I want to be able to do it anytime, anyplace, and anywhere - just"Because".

I have had questions of my own, mainly due to a recent family death. I knew that Sara's husband, Shane has a true passion for the book of Revelation, which can sometimes be confusing to me. So I emailed him this passed week about somethings that needed to be cleared up. (Which he blew me away with his responses). One of the verses he gave me was the exact one that Beth Moore quoted.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true'" Revelation 21: 3-5


I am concluding this study today, which has been amazing in so many way. I know that Sara and Meghan feel this very same way. It couldn't have come at a better time in our lives. If you have any questions that may have come up throughout this study feel free to email us at, email Justin Wood at, or email Shane Wood at

We are planning to do another study sometime in January. We are working out the details with schedules now, so we will let you all know when the plans are finalized. We thank you for all your hard work and efforts. We pray that this study has touched you as it has us. Just as Beth stated, "If you dare enter, you will never be the same. Nor will anyone around you."

Love In Christ,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Week 10: Mended Hearts, Eternal Ties

Day 4: The New Tabernacle

We, personally, and We, communally (the church), are the very dwelling of God in these times. It is a time like no other in the history of the world! Well, for the last 2000 years it's been this way. But prior to that, God dwelt in a physical Tabernacle--like a building or tent. Today, He dwells within us. It is simply amazing, isn't it?! From a few different Scripture references (in today's study), we find that there is a "we," individually, and a "we," the church, in which God dwells.....

Let's speak first of the individual "we." There are many implications that come from this. Like Beth pointed out, it is important to take care of these bodies that God gave us. Gnosticism, which the apostle Paul wrote many letters fighting against, was a philosophy that believed the actions of the body did not affect the soul. It's simply not true! We all know that our actions affect our souls in a very real way. To carry this out we must have a good balance of taking care of our bodies. This quote from today's study sums it up: A healthy, holy tabernacle provides the best possible environment in which a healthy, holy soul and spirit can thrive. Just as every inch of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament was to be perfect, so God cares about the bodies He made for us! It's not about being beautiful, ugly, skinny, fat, etc. It's about being responsible and taking the best possible care of your body, and living in the knowledge that God dwells within!

Now, let's speak of the church "we." We must realize that God dwells among us as a community as well! Too often we make our Christian walk very individualistic instead of communal, as God intended. We must share with each other, encourage one another, meet each other's needs. We must love each other! All of this is part of being a follower of Jesus!

Remember, you (singular) are the temple. So, take care of yourself! And remember, you (plural) are the temple. So, take care of each other!

Do you struggle with understanding that you are the temple, God's dwelling place, either as an individual or in the community? What practical ways can we take care of these dwelling places for God?

Week 10: Mended Hearts, Eternal Ties

Day Three: The True Tabernacle

"The Lord Himself will give you a sign: the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14

And so Jesus came to earth to dwell among us. He became human and took on the appearance of man. He was the Word in flesh - the true tabernacle!

Have you ever thought about what that meant? For God to cram all His Glory into a human form? To experience all that we as humans experience - pain, joy, longing, temptation...not to mention some of the more, *ahem*, shall we say unmentionable aspects of the body He surely experienced! Maybe it's because at the moment I am joyously mired in the land of small children, but I've often wished that the bible included a book devoted to Jesus' life as a child. How was He like as a baby? Did He ever throw a tantrum? Did He go through the "terrible twos...or threes? You know, vital information! OK, probably only vital to a mother and not really that important in the scheme of things, right?

It's funny, expanding on the mother theme, I have often, actually, looked into my babies' faces and pondered what Mary must have felt watching her precious baby be crucified on the cross for the sins of the world. I thought it so appropriate that Beth Moore made that comparison. Can you even imagine? I can't - it's inconceivable! I would do anything to protect my babies from pain or suffering. What mother wouldn't? Maybe it was for that very simple reason that God protected her from the knowledge of just what was to come for the tiny, perfect son she held in her arms.

And so He came to earth. And lived. And died as the atonement for our sins. We no longer have to be slaves to the law or some sacrificial system. Jesus obliterated the old way when He came to earth as a man and died on the cross. Through His sacrifice we can now have the "true tabernacle" living in our hearts!

What does it mean to you that Jesus had the power to escape His circumstances but chose to endure suffering for our sake?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Week 10: Mended Hearts, Eternal Ties

Day 2: Home to Jerusalem

It is actually reassuring to me when I read of Israel's history due to the fact that they were horribly disobedient and unfaithful. And yet, God still used them. Isn't it so true with us? How often do I find myself trusting something or someone other than my Lord? How often do I choose bitterness, pride or unkindness over Christ's forgiveness and the freedom it brings?

So, the Ark found a resting place in Jerusalem. Did you notice all that was left in it? Only the stone tablets. And soon, as the Bible and history record, even the ark will be lost.... But even that is a testimony to Christ's work. No longer would God dwell in a physical sanctuary made by men. But now He would dwell in the very hearts of those who would accept Him! Awesome! Are you realizing just how amazing it is to live on this side of the cross?!! We do not have to look to the Ark of the Covenant or to the Temple in order to know whether God is present or not. We merely open our hearts and allow Him to occupy there. We accept what God made us for all along--His dwelling within us. Within our hearts. And within us as a people--His church, His bride, as one community. It's important to realize His dwelling within our hearts, but I believe it's equally important to understand His dwelling among us as a people--one body, one community.

The other thing that really hit home with me was the fact that the Israelites did not keep the same knowledge and obedience to the Lord from generation to generation. This baffles me! How could you witness the awesome works of the Lord and not tell future generations about it? To become so complacent or used to His presence, provision and wonder leaves me speechless. And at the same time, I become complacent with Jesus' work on the cross--whether I disregard it and get caught in unforgiveness or whether I just plain choose to not honor the amazing sacrifice that it was! How does this happen? Not to mention the awesome work I have witnessed in my own life and many lives around me! There is never a reason, for any of us, to become complacent with such an amazing, awesome, powerful, and holy God!! And it should be our life's mission to pass this on to our children and future generations!!

What does it mean to you that God dwells in you? The Israelites saw a cloud in the Tabernacle and knew God was present. How do you know that God's presence is within you? How do you see God's presence in others? What are you doing to make sure knowledge of God and obedience to Him passes on to future generations?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Week 10 Mended Hearts, Eternal Ties

Day 1: A Peek at the Promise Land

Can you imagine getting a peek of what you've been waiting for? Especially if you've been waiting on it for what feels like forever? The group of men that were chosen to go explore the Promise Land for 40 days got to see things first hand, and then all but two of them had to go and spoil it for the rest of them by start rumors. Again, why is it so hard to follow God's lead? The Israelites certainly had their fair share of challenges, but each time God showed himself to them in the end, so why... Why, Why, Why did they always fall away from him? God saw to it that all that treated him with contempt would NEVER see the promise land. In all reality hard hearts may very well find us in a situation such as this.

Then we witnessed the passing of Moses. I have to say that I was very upset that he didn't get to enter into the Promise Land. I kept thinking, "But God, look at what he has done for you? We all make mistakes, where is the forgiveness?" But then I had to refresh... God gave Moses and Aaron very specific instructions and explained to them that there would be consequences if they were not followed very precisely. So when Moses struck that rock twice out of anger and disobedience instead of speaking to it like God asked him to, he sealed his own fate. God gave his very faithful servant his own special burial, that only he knows about.

"How God must grieve over two common approaches to His unfolding plan: those who want position without preparation and those who refuse to leave the comforts of preparation to take the position." (Moore, 2007)

In conclusion today, I highlighted away on the last three paragraphs of today's study. Find a questions that sits well with where you're at in your life right now and elaborate on it.

"Have you found yourself on the brink of the place for which God has long been preparing you? A location? A place of service? A circumstance? A position? Something of which you sense He has been preparing you for a long time?"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Week 9: The Heart of the Testimony

Day 5: A Cross in the Desert

Is it any surprise that today we pointed out a "cross" within the Tabernacle? All along, we have been building upon this idea, God's plan from the beginning has been to dwell among us... And not only among us, but within us! He had to start somewhere. And since we rejected His intimacy in the Garden, He chose to start slowly. Isn't that how we need Him to work sometimes? Get us used to the idea?.... So, He chose a people group to whom He would reveal Himself! Now, as we've learned, His presence is mighty! His glory is almost too much! So, once again, He moved slowly... Convincing the Israelites He could be trusted, and He would take care of them. Helping them see that in His provision He has our best interest in mind, and it's always perfect (even if we can't see it that way!). He brought them out of Egypt, out of slavery and depravity... into the wilderness?!... We can see in our own lives that in a barren and drought-filled time, we are more likely to reach out in desperation. God knows us best, and is willing and patient to work with us. And think of all the ways God revealed Himself in the desert! Water from a rock, manna from heaven, leading them with a cloud in the day and fire by night! Simply amazing!... And then, the Tabernacle. A physical, tangible structure where the Israelites could know and experience the very presence of God. They put every effort into making it perfect, as God commanded. And it was finished....

And now, we see all along that God was pointing to a time when He would not only dwell among them--just barely at an arms length. Where they couldn't quite grasp Him, but they knew He was there. He would dwell within them--within us! He was preparing them, preparing all of us, for a time when He would come--and become one of us--to dwell with us and in us.

Do you realize that Jesus' work on the cross has made all of this possible for us? If not for Christ's finished work at the cross, the "cross" we see reflected in the Tabernacle from long ago would be nothing more than a "T"-shaped arrangement of some ancient tribes around a dead religious tent of meeting. All the pieces fit perfectly together, and we cannot leave any of them out! It's so important that we understand the God of the Old Testament who is the same God, and Father and Savior, that we know and worship today! It is so important that we know the journey of our forefathers, so we can better understand the depth of God's love for us and the extent to which He has gone for us! We are more than blessed to live on this side of the finished of Christ and the cross. How often do we take it for granted?!

Solomon said in 1 Kings 8:27, Will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built?

Think about those words... And we now live in a time when we know God's presence like never before--for He dwells within us. The mighty power, the awesome glory that Solomon spoke of has chosen to reside in you and me.....

Have you recently taken the time to meditate on Christ's finished work at the cross? How has this week's study opened the eyes of your heart more to this truth?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 4: Finished Work

What a great feeling when you have finished something, huh?! I was trying to imagine the atmosphere at this time in Israel's community. It must have been buzzing with excitement! Think of all they had been through for so long in Egypt. They had had one year of exodus, when at times they wished to be back in Egypt! They were seeing God in a way they had never before witnessed! They were trusting someone--Moses--that they weren't too sure about. They were reverting back to old ways--worshiping idols, being slaves (to sin this time). What a whirlwind!!! But all of these things surely added to the greatness and wonder of this moment. The Tabernacle was completed. While they were disobedient and stiff-necked, concerning this-- the Tabernacle--they were obedient, passionate, and they passed inspection! Amazing, really. I mean, if Moses was a surprise as a leader, the Israelites were certainly a surprise in the way they came together and prepared the Tabernacle exactly the way God commanded and desired!

"It had been the worst year of his life and the best year of his life. Funny how often that happens when the Lord is your God." This statement that Beth Moore made in today's study really hit me! It is so true! When we choose to follow Jesus Christ, He does what we so desperately need Him to do--strip us of our sin and shortcomings, point out our weaknesses and do a new work in us, and make us a new creation all together! This is the most amazing thing to look back on, however, the process can be grueling at times.

A particular time in my life, several years ago, is a testimony to Christ's work! For years, when I was younger, I dealt with things so inappropriately. I had a few traumatic things happen when I was young, but never knew how to deal with it all in a healthy way. So, instead of communicating or giving it over to the Lord, I just held it all in. I kept striving to follow God, and ended up finding myself in Bible college--surrounded by wonderful, godly, healthy friends who loved me more than I deserved. Through their encouragement and my own circumstances, I started seeing a Christian counselor who helped me deal with all the things in my past. I mentioned earlier this week that I held onto a lot of bitterness. I also dealt with sadness, depression, emptiness, and a confused self-identity. Not to mention, I was afraid to communicate or be myself or express myself for fear of more rejection in being vulnerable. All this to say, through the help of God's community and through the very Word of God, I was able to gain the confidence in knowing that Christ loved me, and that He makes me whole. There is nothing I could ever do, no one I could ever become on my own that would make me deserve His love or gain His grace and salvation. He freely gives it to me simply out of His unconditional, amazing love for me! Awesome!... And Christ promises to complete the good work in us (Philippians 1:6) and that we will reap a harvest if we don't give up in doing good (Galatians 6:9)!

Do you have a testimony to Christ's work in your life? Or do you have any other thoughts about "Finished Work?"