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The beauty of the breastplate (2) - SATURDAY 10 JUNE

‘We have a great High Priest…Jesus the Son of God.’ Hebrews 4:14 NLT

Notice two more things about the breastplate worn by Israel’s high priest:

1) It was close to his heart. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, he went into the ‘Holiest of Holies’ where God’s presence was, in order to obtain forgiveness for the people’s sins. And he wore different things, each signifying different truths. But of all the garments he donned, the breastplate was the closest to his heart. This speaks of how much God loves and values you, and His desire to be close to you. Today He’s saying to you: ‘I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]’ (Hebrews 13:5 AMPC). What a wonderful promise!

2) The name of each tribe was not merely written on the breastplate, but engraved on it (see Exodus 39:14). When something is written, it can be erased or accidentally blotted out, but not when it’s ‘engraved’. There are two ways you can sin. First by deliberately choosing to, and second by stumbling through weakness. And God will chastise and correct you in order to get you back onto the right path, but He will never turn His back on you or throw you away. No, you’re too precious to Him. He remembers the price He paid for you and He says, ‘I will not blot out [your] name from the Book of Life’ (Revelation 3:5 NKJV). As long as you are trusting in Christ, you can be sure of God’s love and acceptance.

The beauty of the breastplate (1) - FRIDAY 9 JUNE

‘Twelve stones…engraved…according to the twelve tribes.’ Exodus 39:14 NKJV

As you look at the breastplate worn by Israel’s high priest, you see how precious you are in God’s eyes as His redeemed child. The Bible gives us very detailed information about what the high priest wore, and there are no insignificant details in God’s Word. As we examine this breastplate we see something wonderful about the way the Lord sees us. There were twelve stones on it, each with the name of one of the twelve tribes. And since Jesus is our great High Priest, let’s look at this breastplate and see what we can learn. These were precious stones. God didn’t use common rocks and pebbles found in abundance in Israel; He chose the most costly, rare, and precious gems such as sapphire, topaz, emerald, amethyst, diamond, onyx, and jasper to represent us. Note the word precious.

The Bible says you are ‘precious’ in God’s sight (see Isaiah 43:4). It also says that you were redeemed with the ‘precious’ blood of Jesus (see 1 Peter 1:19). How do you establish the value of something? By the price someone is willing to pay for it. So here’s a truth you must keep in mind when you have blown it and Satan is condemning you because of your sins and shortcomings. With full knowledge of all your sins – past, present, and future – God loves you so much that He sent His Son to redeem you by shedding His precious blood. And as long as you are trusting in Christ, your value in God’s eyes never diminishes. Why does God think you are precious? Because at all times He sees you ‘in Christ’.

Use words befitting a Christian - THURSDAY 8 JUNE

‘The lips of the righteous know what is fitting.’ Proverbs 10:32 NIV (1984 Edition)

When George H. W. Bush was running for president of the United States in 1988, he admitted he’d made an inappropriate remark about American journalist Dan Rather and White House correspondent Lesley Stahl after an on-air confrontation. Bush referred to Rather in an unprintable term, and also took God’s name in vain in speaking about the Columbia Broadcasting System. When confronted, he said, ‘If I’d known the microphone was on I wouldn’t have taken the Lord’s name in vain, and I apologise for that.’ The fact is, he shouldn’t have said it whether the tape was running or not. Remember, God’s tape is always running! The Bible says, ‘A man’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths’ (Proverbs 5:21 NIV 1984 Edition).

Centuries ago Jesus declared: ‘There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs’ (Luke 12:2-3 NIV 2011 Edition). Take a moment and consider these two Scriptures: ‘The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil’ (Proverbs 15:28 NIV 2011 Edition). ‘The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse’ (Proverbs 10:32 NIV 1984 Edition). The first Scripture tells you that a wise person will think before he or she speaks, because they realise every word has a consequence. The second Scripture tells you that a righteous person automatically knows what’s acceptable, and keeps in mind the fact that God hears every word.

‘To thine own self be true’ - WEDNESDAY 7 JUNEW

‘A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapour.’ Proverbs 21:6 NIVUK (2011 Edition)

It’s easier to maintain your integrity than to regain it. It may cost you to do the right thing, but it will cost you more to abandon your principles. ‘Like a bird hatching an egg it did not lay, so are…people who get rich by cheating. When their lives are half finished, they will lose their riches. At the end…it will be clear they were fools’ (Jeremiah 17:11 NCV). In 1994 golfer Davis Love called a one-stroke penalty on himself during the second round of the Western Open. He moved his marker out of the path of another player’s putting line; then later he couldn’t remember if he’d moved his ball back to its original spot. Since he wasn’t certain, he gave himself an extra stroke. And that one stroke caused him to be eliminated from the tournament. At year’s end Love was $590 short in winnings to automatically qualify for the Masters, and needed to win a tournament to get into one of golf’s most coveted events.

Fortunately, the story ends well. The week before the big event he qualified by winning a tournament in New Orleans, and went on to earn $237,600 by finishing second in the 1995 Masters. Later, when asked how he’d have felt if he’d missed the Masters because of calling a penalty on himself, Love replied, ‘The question is how I’d have felt if I’d won and spent the rest of my life wondering if I’d cheated.’ In the words of Shakespeare: ‘To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.’

Let go of your past - TUESDAY 6 JUNE

‘Don’t keep going over old history…I’m about to do something brand-new.’ Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG

Comedian Jerry Lewis joked that his best wedding gift was a film of the ceremony – because when things got really bad in his marriage he could go into a room by himself, run the film backwards, and walk out a free man! We smile, but you can’t go back and rewrite history any more than you can unscramble an egg. When you dwell on the past it’s always at the expense of the future, but when you learn from the past it has the potential to make your future better. Whenever you find yourself saying, ‘If I knew then what I know now,’ remind yourself that unless you grow you’ll be saying the same thing ten or twenty years from now. You say, ‘If only I’d been willing to forgive my spouse instead of punishing them, maybe I could have kept my marriage together and built a great relationship.’ Maybe you struggle with the memory of an abortion, wondering about the child who might have been and the joy he or she might have brought. Perhaps you’re a good person who did a bad thing and ended up with a criminal record; now you’re saying, ‘If only…’ Well, here’s what God says:

1) ‘Your sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name’ (1 John 2:12 MSG).

2) ‘I…will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again’ (Isaiah 43:25 NLT).

3) ‘Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history…I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?…I’m making a [way for you].’ The word for you today is: let go of your past.