Day 107: Read today’s devotional on Bible Gateway.

Covered

Read Leviticus 16:1-34

The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons, who died after they entered the Lord’s presence and burned the wrong kind of fire before him. The Lord said to Moses, “Warn your brother, Aaron, not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; if he does, he will die. For the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—is there, and I myself am present in the cloud above the atonement cover.

“When Aaron enters the sanctuary area, he must follow these instructions fully. He must bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He must put on his linen tunic and the linen undergarments worn next to his body. He must tie the linen sash around his waist and put the linen turban on his head. These are sacred garments, so he must bathe himself in water before he puts them on. Aaron must take from the community of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.”
(Leviticus 16:1-5)

Reflect

The Day of Atonement was the greatest day of the year for Israel. A number of events occurred on this day. The people confessed their sins as a nation, and the high priest went into the Most Holy Place to atone for them. Two goats were also prepared: one was sacrificed, the other was sent into the wilderness. The two goats represented the two ways God was dealing with the Israelites’ sin: (1) He was forgiving their sin through the first goat, which was sacrificed, and (2) he was removing their guilt through the second goat, the scapegoat that was sent into the desert.

The Hebrew word for atone means “to cover.” Old Testament sacrifices could not actually remove sins, only cover them. Thus, the same rituals had to be repeated year after year. Sacrifices were made and blood was shed so that the people’s sins could be “covered” until Christ’s sacrifice on the cross would give people the opportunity to have their sins removed forever. Jesus Christ’s death replaced this system once and for all. We can have our sins forgiven and guilt removed by placing our trust in Christ (Hebrews 10:1-18).

Respond

Aaron and the high priests after him had to spend hours preparing to enter God’s presence. But we can approach God anytime (Hebrews 4:16). What a privilege! We are offered direct access to God! Still, we must never forget that God is holy nor let this privilege cause us to approach God carelessly. The way to God has been opened to us by Christ. But direct access to God does not eliminate our need to prepare our hearts as we draw near in prayer.

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When You’re Challenged, How Do You Respond?

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Even Jesus faced conflict, both internally (the disciples were experts at sniping and one-upmanship) and externally (Jewish leaders questioned Jesus’ tactics and motivation.)

So when you’re challenged, confronted, opposed, pressured, or intimidated, how do you respond?

Don and Mark served together at a sizable church for years – Don as lead pastor and Mark as executive pastor. The two regularly found themselves at a crossroads. Don would cast vision for his next great idea. Mark always seemed to be the first to ask tough questions, blowing holes in Don’s “great” idea. Don began to wonder if Mark was really on his team and if they really shared the same goals.

If you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, I am sure you can relate.

The Real Issue is Not Conflict

This type of conflict is common between ministry leaders. Don’t think you are the only one who is frustrated with this kind of situation. What most don’t understand – and what I help them to see – is that their core issue is not about learning to resolve conflict (a negative approach.) Rather, the issue is learning to lead from their strengths and help others do the same (a positive approach.) Why would God create Don and Mark so differently, place them together in ministry, and pray for them to thrive, unless it was possible?

It’s Not Such a Mystery: Understanding the Law of Differences

Just as there are scientific laws that govern our physical world (such as the Law of Gravity), there are spiritual principles that govern relationships.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 explains it beautifully using the metaphor of the human body, God’s ultimate creation. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body” (1 Corinthians 12:12, NIV). Like parts in the human body, different people combine together to make a ministry unit.

But look a little closer. Study your eyes … and then your ears. They don’t have much in common other than they are part of your head. Taken by themselves, they may even be considered peculiar. But “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?” (1 Corinthians 12:17). God manages to put all those odd parts together to bring value to the whole.

He does the same with people. The Law of Differences is based on these simple truths:

  • God only creates good things.
  • God creates each individual uniquely with specific strengths, gifts, and abilities.
  • Differences are good because God ordains them.

Where’s the Mystery?

God’s approach to conflict is much different than ours. Our human tendency is to try to “judge” each other’s differences or compete with each other. Yet God is able to take a curious collection of differences and blend them into a well-functioning unit. His intent is to allow our unique strengths to contribute value, making the whole greater than the sum of our parts.

Leading God’s people is an exciting task in which Don and Mark are privileged to play a role. Over the next three articles we will share the practical steps they took as they worked to understand each other. As you walk alongside these two leaders, the clues you find can help solve your own mystery of differences … and even change the way you do ministry.

If you would like to discover your strengths you can access the Leading From Your Strengths Profile. Follow the instructions and be sure to use the Ministry Advantage discount code “advantage” at check out.

This week’s article is submitted by Russ Olmon, President, Ministry Advantage and Rodney Cox, President of Ministry Insights. For more on this and other helpful subjects, go to www.ministryadvantage.org.

For over ten years Ministry Advantage has been one of the premier church resources that provides coaching and training for pastors and church leaders helping them turn their vision into reality.