The Sabbath and the Passover (Leviticus 23:3 – 8)

The first short paragraph outlines and reiterates the sanctity of the Sabbath.  It is declares the Sabbath to be a day of solemn rest (which we have sadly forgotten) and holy convocation.  The regulations concerning the Passover are reiterated, as well, specifically concerning the identification of it as a feast in the Jewish calendar, and the dietary instructions to eat only unleavened bread.  And on the first day they were to have a holy convocation.  And on the seventh day, there would also be a holy convocation (Sabbath).

What is the significance of the Sabbath?  God created us.  He knew our limitations.  He knew our need for rest, and he knew our need for fellowship with God.  Therefore, He called for His people to take a day to rest and connect with God.  Societies often program day after day full of activity, work, and play.  Be sure to give God and yourself a day to recharge and reconnect.  You need it!

Offerings Accepted and Not Accepted (Leviticus 22:17 – 23:2)

The Levitical Code speaks here to the sacrifices unto God, and the conditions whereby they may be acceptable to God.  They must be given with a willing heart, they must be offerings of perfect animals, with no defects.  The animal cannot be blind, broken, or maimed, have skin diseases, uneven limbs, bruised, crushed, torn or cut, etc.

With this in mind, the offering for sin or to establish fellowship with God had to be perfect.  One may look at that requirement and say that today, we cannot reach the level of perfection required to be acceptable to God.  That is why the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is such an awesome gift.  He was the perfect offering for our sins and to establish our fellowship with God. Without Him we are lost.  With Him we are redeemed and whole.

Penalties for Breaking the Law (Leviticus 20:1 – 22:16)

Penalties for crimes in Israel were severe.  Many things were considered capital crimes, worthy of death, in their legal system:  offering children to idols, consulting with mediums, cursing one’s father or mother, adultery, and incest. Priests were to conduct themselves in specific ways as well: he shall not touch anything dead and defile himself, except for the case of a close relative, no shaving of the head or face, no cuttings in the skin.  They could not profane the name of the Lord.  They could not marry a harlot or a divorced woman.  He could not uncover his head nor tear his clothes, nor serve the temple with any physical defect.  Only those who were clean could eat of the holy food of the temple.

Restrictions, laws, and prohibitions are not popular among the society in which we live.  However, the call to holiness and separateness is still valid today, as mingling with or embracing unholy practices and things corrupts a man’s character.  Hold to God fully and shun evil.  Touch not the unclean and God will draw near to you!

Moral and Ceremonial Laws (Leviticus 19)

The opening words of this chapter gives the overarching theme for the entire chapter,

          Leviticus 19:2 (NKJV)

              2 “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

The commandment to be holy is seen as God’s statement of expectation for His people.  As it is throughout the Bible, the standard of God is high and definite, but also is appeased by direct holy actions and living in addition to being appeased by the grace of God found in sacrifice.

From this expression of holiness from God, the chapter then delineates numerous prohibitions that help the people of God know the boundaries for their actions.  The chapter commands, among other things, revering parents and the Sabbath, refraining from idolatry, leaving the corners of fields and some of your grapes for the poor to reap, not stealing, cheating, or lying.  Additionally, the person of God must be just, must not hate, must not sleep with another man’s wife or concubine (archaic practice, but the principle applies).  It prohibits divination or soothsaying, cuttings and tattoos for the dead, and the prostitution of your daughters.  It requires giving honor to the old, and taking good care of strangers.

These are all in line with prior teachings of the law, but are here reiterated and fleshed out for clarity and completeness.  The bottom line of the entire law and this chapter, though, is simple:  God wants His people to look and act like Him.  When we hear the voice of God, and respond in obedience, God will be pleased with our lives and bless us beyond our wildest dreams.  When Israel obeyed God, He took them to a land flowing with milk and honey.  And when they disobeyed, there was a price to be paid.  Praise God that Jesus is that price for us today!

Moral and Ceremonial Laws (Leviticus 19)

The opening words of this chapter gives the overarching theme for the entire chapter,

          Leviticus 19:2 (NKJV)

              2 “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

The commandment to be holy is seen as God’s statement of expectation for His people.  As it is throughout the Bible, the standard of God is high and definite, but also is appeased by direct holy actions and living in addition to being appeased by the grace of God found in sacrifice.

From this expression of holiness from God, the chapter then delineates numerous prohibitions that help the people of God know the boundaries for their actions.  The chapter commands, among other things, revering parents and the Sabbath, refraining from idolatry, leaving the corners of fields and some of your grapes for the poor to reap, not stealing, cheating, or lying.  Additionally, the person of God must be just, must not hate, must not sleep with another man’s wife or concubine (archaic practice, but the principle applies).  It prohibits divination or soothsaying, cuttings and tattoos for the dead, and the prostitution of your daughters.  It requires giving honor to the old, and taking good care of strangers.

These are all in line with prior teachings of the law, but are here reiterated and fleshed out for clarity and completeness.  The bottom line of the entire law and this chapter, though, is simple:  God wants His people to look and act like Him.  When we hear the voice of God, and respond in obedience, God will be pleased with our lives and bless us beyond our wildest dreams.  When Israel obeyed God, He took them to a land flowing with milk and honey.  And when they disobeyed, there was a price to be paid.  Praise God that Jesus is that price for us today!

Law Concerning Blood and Sexual Morality (Leviticus 17 & 18)

Laws Concerning Blood relate to the fact that God designated the blood as the principle of life in an individual, animal, or other creature.  Therefore, Israelites were prohibited from eating anything with blood still in it.  Any animal which was killed for food must have the blood drained from it before it was prepared for eating.  This was God’s way of reverencing life and recognizing its sanctity.

The laws concerning sexual morality are clear to the nth degree.  Any sexual relationships with members of one’s family, even as far removed as first cousins, is prohibited.  Incest is clearly prohibited with parents, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, etc.  Sexual relations with another man’s wife is specifically restricted as well.  It is reiterated that sexual relationships with a woman during her impurity (menstruation) is prohibited as well.

Two other specific prohibitions are mentioned here as well, but with added emphasis by being classified as abominations:  homosexual relations and bestiality.  These two things are given equal guilt and are prohibited at the cost of death.  While society today is desperately trying to legitimize homosexual relations and make them appear normal, the Biblical record stills identifies these relationships as abnormal and abhorrent.  We must hold up the Biblical standard.  We cannot cave to societal convention.  It may seem offensive to some to compare homosexuality to bestiality, but the comparison comes from the Biblical record, not from any individual.  Therefore, hold up the banner of God’s truth unashamedly.

The Interdependence of the Body: Lean on Me (1 Corinthians 12:23-26)

Sermon Notes from Sunday, June 7, 2015

1 Corinthians 12:23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

All types of parts are needed, and every member of the body has a gift or part to play in the kingdom of God.

Paul uses the examples of lesser and greater organs of the body to illustrate those who either feel unworthy or too worthy for work in the body of Christ. Paul uses this to show the Corinthians that all members are important for the operation of the church. This is ultimately to attack the division that existed in the church.
I. The Less Honorable
12:23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. NKJV
Alternate Translation – 12:23–24 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, while other parts do not require this special care.

So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. NLT The play on words in this verse is difficult to bring out from the Greek to the English. “The parts we regard as less honorable” refers to the parts that we carefully protect from the eyes of others. The point of this verse is that appearances are deceiving; all parts of the body are necessary, even the ones that should not be seen and the parts that have less dignity. No one should dismiss anyone else as unimportant in the body of Christ; neither should undue prominence be given to anyone.

Heart, Lungs, Intestines, Kidneys, Reproductive Organs
None of them are attractive or “front-cover” body parts
Without any of them, though, the body dies.
What are the “Less Honorable” in the body of Christ?
I submit that they are the unsung heroes of the church.

Front-cover parts are people like the Lead Pastor. I get lots of face time with the church.
The staff is highly visible, used in the worship services and ministering on the front lines.  The Choir and the Praise Team and Musicians minister to the body every week.
The elders and other ministry leaders are before the church’s eyes.
All of these are essential to the success of the church, and are valuable. However, there are also those who are not visible and are equally important. These unsung heroes are precious to God, to the church, to me. I want to highlight some of these parts of the church body. I will not mention everyone that deserves mention, because I it would take an entire service just to try, but here are some representative people that explain what I mean by unsung heroes.
The Unsung Heroes
Funeral Dinners – Betty Varner, Shelby Miles, Sandra Owens, Kennette Yates, and all the ladies who assist.
Helping Hands – Ross Vance, Sherry Arant, and any others who assist.
Money Counters & Ushers – William Johnson, Bobby Lyerly, Mike Helms, and all our ushers.
Communion Prep – Larry & Marsha Ballard, Charissa Walters
Volunteer Visitation – Dennis & Sandra Raper, Kay Roseman, Ann Hartzog, and all others that visit shut-ins and the sick.
Big Elm – Rebecca Barnes, Ann Hartzog, Angela Dixon, etc.
SS Staff – Virgil Weddington, Betty Varner, Shelby Miles
Nursery Workers – Michelle Newton heads up the nursery ministry, recruiting and serving, and all nursery workers.
Sound & Computer Techs – PeeWee Newton and all the other workers.
Hospitality Ministry – Terry Karriker has headed up hospitality for the last five years, along with Ann Christy at the Welcome Center and all our greeters.
Handymen – Jason Sorrow, Doug Singleton, David Adams
Christmas Decoration Committee
Unsung Heroes

Mike Bost, the “tea guy,”makes tea for nearly every event.
Ed Thompson (Vivian) take the count every service and greets visitors.
Chris Beck – Security, Drama, Armor Bearer, etc.
Steve Dixon – Fixes Cars for many of our Seniors and others
Chewnings – Cooking, Organizing Car Show
Sastoques – Serving at Dinner Theatre, Homecoming, etc.
Others – Sunday School Teachers, Children’s workers, Youth workers, Clean up Crews, Consignment Group, Fall Festival workers, etc., etc.
Terry Roseman – Witness, Generous, Visiting, Unassuming

II. Why Honor the Lesser?
But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
Schism is the tool of the enemy.
Division in the body:
halts growth
sidelines soldiers
discourages those new in the faith.

III. Share One Another’s Highs and Lows
26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Look around you!
This is your spiritual family, and we must be one!

CONNECTED
What is your response when a fellow Christian is honored? How do you respond when someone is suffering? We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Too often, unfortunately, we are jealous of those who rejoice and apathetic toward those who weep. When that happens, we have overlooked our connection with them in Christ.
Believers are in the world together—there is no such thing as private Christianity. Christ makes us one, even when we wish otherwise. When we follow Christ, we find ourselves in mixed company. We shouldn’t stop with enjoying only our own relationship with God; we need to get involved in the lives of others. That’s also the best way to break through our mere human reactions to them.

The harmony Paul wanted among the members had already been discussed in 1:10: “Now, dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won’t be divisions in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” (nlt).

Such harmony happens only when all the members—the weak and the strong, the flamboyant and the quiet, the up-front and the behind-the-scenes—use their gifts, appreciate one another, and care for each other equally. Such caring is demonstrated as they share in one another’s joys and sorrows. As with the physical, human body, one part’s suffering causes every part to suffer. When the head aches, the whole body suffers. When a thumb is hit with a hammer, the whole body knows it. In the body of believers, therefore, if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it. Believers should share one another’s burdens in order to help lighten them. Likewise, if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. There is no room for jealousy or strife when one person receives praise; instead, all should be glad.
Believers need to be able to empathize with others—to join in with their feelings as if they were experiencing the feelings themselves. Christians should rejoice with others, with no hint of jealousy; and they should suffer with them, offering kindness, concern, compassion, and a shoulder to cry on if needed. Following Jesus will mean that believers will have a wide variety of experiences. Christianity neither denies life’s hardships nor dulls life’s excitements. Both laughter and tears are appropriate before God. Identifying with the joys and heartaches of others is an important way for believers to show love and unity.
Loving One Another:
The visible and the not-so-visible
The very-gifted and the strong backs
The vocal and the quiet
The happy and the sad and the mad
Those on the mountain and those in the valley