When I first started teaching, a mentor teacher gave me advice. She said do not smile until Thanksgiving. The stricter you are in the beginning of the year, the longer you will have their attention come spring. It was such a strange concept, but SO TRUE!!!! If I was consistent, strict and unbending for the first three months of school, the students were still on task come May and June. If I was too gracious in those first few months, the last three months of school was a battle.
When the Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt, they were a people that only knew slavery. They were subjected to so many cultures, idols and evil practices. They were so indoctrinated by their surroundings, it seems that God used the wilderness to prepare them to be His people. As their Creator, He knew what type of lifestyle choices would breed life and joy and love and goodness. He also knew what would lead to unhealthy cycles of emotions, behaviors and destruction. As I have just finished Leviticus, I am struck by the holiness of God and His unwavering authority to remind the people that He alone is God. He alone knows best. In the last 8 chapters, the phrase, I AM THE LORD is repeated 35 times (12 in chapter 19). Chapter 11.45 states “For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” To me this is a turning point of not just externals, but the motivation behind God’s ways. I count six times He instructs us to be holy. Chapter 20, verse 8 states, “Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you.” Here is the first reference of the God as Jehovah-Mekeddeshem. Such a fun word to say. Seven times, He states, I will sanctify them. I love that. One reason, is because the Lord takes the responsibility to sanctify me knowing within my own strength I can not. Two, because 7 reminds me of completeness. God will completely sanctify me. Sometimes it’s hard for me to realize the exactness of the Law’s commands and the reality of how far I would pervert myself if it was not for His Spirit showing me what is right and true. I could never imagine thinking some of those acts would be okay, yet I humbly acknowledge that I could fall down any path without His grace at work in my life.
Holy Spirit, continue to instruct me in the ways I should go so that I would honor You, Your holiness and live according to Your Word. Your ways are just and life-giving. You is my Creator and therefore knows what is best for me. Teach me to trust in You and not lean on my own understanding but in all my ways acknowledge you so that You will make my path straight.