Kaden and Ashley with some hail.

Our rain and hail outreach adventure with the kids!

The kids love to accompany us when we go out discussing “the meaning of life” with people! On one such adventure it started to rain … actually, POUR! So we took cover under a little archway together with a bunch of other people! Here’s a video clip:

After about five minutes the water level started rising and we wondered whether we should start building an “ark” or not! :) A bit later the rain turned in to hail! BIG ones too!

Well, in any case, some life-giving seeds were sown that day!

Connecting with God – The altar and the incense

I was just reading the Bible with Kaden (my six year old son) in Exodus chapter 30 where God explains how the alter for burning incense was to be built. It struck me how God’s instructions concerning this altar and the incense parallels our spiritual walk and offers insight for walking in fellowship with Him.

This altar was located just outside the Holy of Holies (where God would manifest His presence) and was separated only by a thick curtain. The incense to be burned on this altar was a specific mixture set forth by God Himself — a mixture which was holy and sacred. Nobody was to make nor use this recipe for any purpose other than for burning on this specific altar before the Lord.

One portion of scripture I found particularly interesting concerning the altar was the instruction from God:

“You shall not offer unauthorized incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering, and you shall not pour a drink offering on it.” (Exodus 30:9)

God had specific instructions in regards to the incense to be used.  There was to be no substitute.

The other kinds of offerings were good offerings sanctioned by God — but they were not to be offered upon this altar before the holy of holies. The altar was strictly for the burning of this specific incense.

This got me thinking how incense is spoken of in relation to our prayers and communication with God.

“And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5:8)

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!” (Psalms 141:2)

Considering incense is like our prayers — and at the beginning of Jesus’ model prayer He prays “your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10) — putting the two together we can see the relationship between communicating with God and His will being accomplished.

Prayer is our communication lifeline with our Creator. Without this vital communication and fellowship we’re unable to partake of God Himself.  We may accomplish many things which our mind and logic (as well as many other voices in the world) tells us are important, but only by seeking God’s will alone do we know that we’re accomplishing the things He wants us to which have the greatest impact on lives and eternity.

If we offer God the incense of HIS choosing and as per His instructions upon the altar of our life (Romans 12:1) — that is, if we do not offer “unauthorized incense” (incense (plans and prayers) which have root in our own selfishness) but rather seek to enact His Word and the things He reveals to us — in so doing we will not be presenting our own “burnt offering”, “grain offering” nor “drink offering” upon the altar of our life which was created solely to offer a specific, sweet incense to God; instead, we will be listening to God’s instructions and guidance and following it up with obedience and action. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

Each of us has a realm of influence which no one else has. Therefore as we seek first His Kingdom, He can make clear how to best enact the plan He has for us as individuals and how to incorporate all He has already shared with us through His Word — the Bible.

If we pray with Jesus, “… not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42) — then we’ll find the humble position of our heart is such that allows us to fellowship with God, as Jesus says, “where I am, there will my servant be also.” (John 12:26)  “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and respects my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)  “If anyone loves me, he will obey my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence with him.” (John 14:23)

I don’t know about you, but I want God to “take up residence” in my life. There is nothing that compares to the love, joy, truth and meaning He brings.  There’s just something about knowing you’re in the center of God’s will — burning the incense which He’s custom designed for you personally“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

And may God grant us the grace to allow Him to replace our old “wineskin” of our current way of thinking with a new wineskin of His making — one that will enable us to accommodate His new wine of instruction, guidance and fellowship in our lives.  May we allow Him pour out our own ideas, plans and opinions — to be replaced by His love, truth, fellowship and instruction.  “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. Instead new wine must be poured into new wineskins.” (Luke 5:37–38)

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Some people search for God with their mind — wondering why they can’t find Him.  Instead, we must open our heart and say with Jesus, “Not my will, but yours be done”.  In such a position of the heart and will, we find God.  The eternal and incomprehensible to human understanding then becomes known through the resultant indwelling of His Spirit within us.