Called and Gifted

Scripture Focus: Exodus 37.1
1 Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.

Exodus 36.1-2
1 So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.” 
2 Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work.

Reflection: Called and Gifted
By John Tillman

The descriptions of building the items for the tabernacle should seem familiar. They are nearly quotes of the descriptions of the instructions from Exodus 25 and following. This repetition shows the faithfulness and attention to detail with which the tasks were carried out.

Bezalel took the holiest object in God’s instructions as a personal project. The building of most other objects is attributed to “they.” When building the ark, “Bezalel” or “he” is used.

Bezalel, according to traditional Jewish sources, was Moses’ grand-nephew and was only 13 years old when the project began. 

In ancient cultures, boys were considered adults at around 13. This spares us from imagining trusting the entire architectural construction of a new church building and the crafting and design of the most precious object in our church to a 13-year-old. But even with some cultural adjustments, could we imagine trusting a 17-year-old with the project?

Moses and Bezalel make a great pair for us to consider when thinking about the persons whom God may call to his service.

When Moses was called he was washed up. At the burning bush, stood an 80-year-old refugee sheepherder. He was a failed revolutionary and a wanted murderer. He was rejected by his adoptive royal family and his race. The only thing in his favor was the calling and gifting of God.

Bezalel was a youth. He was untested, unproven, untried.  The only thing in his favor was the calling and gifting of God.

But God called and gifted each of these men into work that would define their lives. Moses would go on to become one of the most revered leaders in history. Bezalel would design and build history’s holiest of objects. Eventually, the ark would disappear into history. Bezalel would likewise disappear without further biblical mention.

Whether old or young or in between, we may be called to something great, or holy, or life-defining that we can’t now understand. Whether infamous or unknown, we may be called to lead in God’s kingdom. Whether we have a criminal past or no past at all, we may be called to a holy task. The only thing we need in our favor is the calling and gifting of God.

Whatever we may be called to, may we be as humble as Moses in taking up our calling, and may we be as faithful as Bezalel in obeying God’s instructions word for word.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness,… make your way straight before me. — Psalm 5.8

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Exodus 37 (Listen – 3:14) 
John 16 (Listen – 4:14)

This Weekend’s Readings
Exodus 38 (Listen – 4:23) John 17 (Listen – 3:40)
Exodus 39 (Listen – 5:24) John 18 (Listen – 5:16)

Read more about The First Spirit-Filled Work
The first Spirit-filled individuals, Bezalel and Oholiab, were artisans, builders, makers.

Read more about Unveiled
When it comes to what God will reveal to us, and the love we will show the world, we haven’t seen anything yet.

Praying for the Persecuted

John 16.2
The time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.

Reflection: Praying for the Persecuted
By John Tillman

There are troubling signs in the way the media downplays or ignores the persecution of Christians overseas.

Western privilege blinds them. They seem to think if Christians have it pretty good in America, stories of Christians suffering overseas aren’t relevant. But in our efforts to get the stories of modern Christian martyrs heard, we must be careful not to take their mantle of suffering for our own.

We must be careful not to claim persecution, when we experience the slightest discomfort or pushback from culture. We must not be “Snowflake Christians” who get our feelings hurt when governments don’t rubber stamp our religious convictions as law, or when prominent voices call us names, call out hypocrisy, or attack us intellectually. (This doesn’t mean we must abandon our convictions. Too many have done so. This doesn’t mean we don’t attempt to winsomely engage with other philosophies or ideas. We must continue to speak the truth in love and speak truth to power.)

The vast majority of you, our readers, are in “safe” countries for Christians. Our difficulties are not comparable to those suffering true persecution.

Our readers outside the United States are twelve percent of our email subscribers but over twenty-five percent of our web traffic and social media. As we pray today, using Christ’s words to his disciples before his crucifixion and considering our reflection from yesterday, may we keep in mind and hold up before God’s throne in prayer, members of our community and of God’s church in countries where they are threatened by the state, by religious militias, and by other dangerous forces.

Praying for the Persecuted
Lord of the suffering and the outcast, we pray the words of your Son regarding the suffering of our brothers and sisters…

“I have told you so that you will not fall away. The time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.
I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them.
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. Your joy will be complete.”

Turn our brothers and sisters’ grief to joy. And turn our mourning into action on their behalf.

Prayer: The Greeting
Your statutes have been like songs to me wherever I have lived as a stranger. — Psalm 119.54

Today’s Readings
Exodus 37 (Listen – 3:14)
John 16 (Listen – 4:14)

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Read more about Prayer for the Church from Indonesia :: Worldwide Prayer
We confess, our God, that in the comfort of your blessings and abundance
and in the safety of the blessing of peace in our land,
we too easily forget others of our body, your Church,
who pray today for your daily bread to feed their hungry children,
who pray for signs of peace in their land,
who pray for freedom to pursue a life worth the living.

Read more about Jeremiah, the Unpatriotic Prophet
When religion gets mixed up with patriotism, things turn ugly. The most patriotic thing Christians can do is see the problems of our nation and speak the gospel to them.
Let them throw us in a cistern like Jeremiah.
Let them burn our words rather than listen to them.
May we be faithful to Christ and his kingdom alone.