The Bells and Pomegranates

“So when all these things being to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” Luke 21:28, NLT

As we conclude our series on the High Priest’s garment, there is one aspect left. The fringe.

Yes, God’s attention to detail also includes the edges of clothing. He is that comprehensive and thorough in all that He does.

The fringe is a combination of tiny bells and pomegranates. Though it sounds like ear-pleasing décor, even this detail serves a purpose.

The Most Holy Place was to be accessed only one day each year. The High Priest was the only one permitted to enter this room. Because of the solemnity of this space, the High Priest required special preparations, including being cleared from sin before meeting with God.

The bells on the fringe of the garment would tinkle lightly as the High Priest moved about doing his duties. Attentive listeners stood outside, making sure that they kept hearing these bells. The tinkling meant that the High Priest was still alive while in the glory of God. His personal sinful condition and the sins he carried on behalf of the people did not overtake him while in God’s presence.

The bells on the garment of the High Priest gave the people an audible sign that he was alive and interceding for them in the Most Holy Place. As Christ intercedes for us in the Most Holy Place, even though we cannot hear the bells on His garment, we should pay attention to signs that He is about to finish His work as High Priest and come back as a Judge and King.

As we’ve studied the High Priest’s garment, we’ve been reminded that God has a plan.

We are not alive without an intended purpose from our Creator. There is significantly more to life than we see each day. Jesus is coming back to take us to our home in Heaven.

Because of sin, God sent Jesus, our High Priest, to earth to die in our place. Jesus was that unblemished and innocent young lamb that was sacrificed to atone for our sins. When Jesus died, the veil tore in the curtain, from top to bottom, allowing the Most Holy Place to be accessible to everyone at any time.

We are able to pray–talk to God–directly. We can be direct in seeking His forgiveness. We can be direct in bringing our needs to Him. Likewise, God can be direct with us as tells us His plans for our lives.

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT


This article is part of the Ten Days of Prayer 2018 series. Visit that page to find all the other articles in this series.

An Unlikely Source of Hope

The worst day of my life was the best day of my life.

It was the day I learned that hope can come from the most unlikely source.

It was a travel day. Though notorious for its hazards, I’d always been fine when traveling on this path. Until this particular day.

One moment I was walking upright. The next, I was face-planted into the ground, choking on dust. I was viciously beaten and kicked. My clothes were stripped off and everything I had with me was stolen.

I don’t know how long I lay there, floating in and out of consciousness. I discovered that one could shiver underneath the blazing sun rays.

At some point, I heard footsteps. I cracked an eye open to see a minister’s robes. Finally, my help had come!

Except he did nothing.

He didn’t even check to see if I was breathing. In my haze, I was confused. Why would the minister not help me? He’s not blind; he can see that I’m unable to help myself. It sounded like he actually ran away from me. He did not represent the same God that He taught about in church.

Later, I heard more footsteps. I caught a glimpse of a church worker’s clothing. Surely he came to help me.

But instead, he did not a thing. This must be the new standard in churches. Do nothing when people are in need.

Well, I give up! I’m about to die under this hot sun. If was a lost cause with my own church people then I must not be worth saving. No one wants me.

God, if You’re still there, please take me now, I pleaded.

After some time, I heard sounds. Great! I’m about to be trampled to death by a wild animal. Wait—there’s also a man. A third person has come to look at me before turning away.

This man is hovering, rather than leaving.  I don’t recognize his clothes. His scent is distinct though.

Uh oh! It’s a Samaritan. This is the worst day ever!He probably came to finish me off. What a humiliating way to die. I have no energy to resist even him.

Another set of smells. It’s—owwwwww!!!! I winced. Is this what death feels like? Hang on a minute–this Samaritan guy is cleaning me up. He is actually helping me. Doesn’t he know that our people don’t ever mix?

He’s mumbling something. If my head didn’t hurt so badly, I’d think he was praying for me.

Wherever I am, it’s much cooler now. It’s dark and I’m in a bed. I laid eyes on my rescuer.

It IS a Samaritan. Oh boy! What are people going to think when they hear just who helped me.

How can I twist this story? I can’t exactly lie about the minister or the church official. But could I lose my job, my friends, because this other guy helped me out?

He did help me out, didn’t he? No one else stopped, but this man. He didn’t even torture me first. Instead, he tended to my wounds and brought me to safety.

He saved my life. Wow! I didn’t know that these people were the compassionate type. Those are not the stories I grew up hearing about Samaritans.

I wouldn’t have learned the truth had I not been lying on that roadside.

When I was flat on my back feeling completely hopeless, the hope of rescue came in an unexpected manner.

Wow, God! I guess You really are there. Thank You for sending help. You care about all kinds of people, even Samaritans. I learned something new about You, God.

Turns out that this was the best day of my life.

(adapted from Luke 10:30-37)

The Censer

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. Hebrews 7:25, NLT

There is great pomp and circumstance when it comes to meeting royalty and high-ranking dignitaries. They don’t just meet all people when requested. We can’t easily call them or send a text message hoping to arrange a tea date for any random afternoon.

If we’re to cross paths, it’s because we were invited. Not even a personalized invite, mind you because these people have no clue who most of us are. Perhaps we’re associated with an organization or cause of interest, so a meeting with us would benefit their cause. Usually, it’s nothing personal.

Included with these invitations are a detailed list of rules and guidelines for the upcoming meeting. As an added bonus, for their safety, they may conduct a background check. They will investigate us months in advance, in some cases, to ensure that we are not a threat or that there is nothing risky about having us in their presence.

With all of this, I’ve never heard anyone decline these prestigious invitations. We’d willingly go through hoops and red tape for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To see someone from afar, not even to sit and chat. The guest of honor may leave there without even learning our names from our lips.

As a complete opposite, there is God. He is the highest-ranking Being that exists. If there’s anyone who deserves and has earned the right all kinds of prestige at approaching Him, it’s the Almighty God.

The censer and the incense are a symbol of Christ’s intercession for us.

Though our sin has caused a vast chasm between us and Him, God has gone through hoops and blood-red tape to bridge the gap.

Through prayer, God is always approachable. We can chat with Him while sitting, standing, walking, dozing off, and much more. He knows us all by name. God desires an intimate relationship with each of us because He loves us intensely. He has given us a personal invitation to come to Him that has no expiry date.

God requires no background checks first before we pray. Our prayers will not get stuck in a holding queue, to see if we’re deemed worthy of His ever-attentive ear. God knows all about our pasts. In fact, He freely offers to forgive us if we simply ask. Once God forgives, the offense is gone, stricken from the record.

With God’s excellent character coupled with the fact that He loves us, why do we hesitate to come to Him?

We don’t have to worry about impressing God. We’re able to talk to God through Jesus, our intercessor. Jesus has covered us with His righteousness when He died on our behalf.

The enemy uses falsehoods and phony feelings to make us believe otherwise. There is power in knowing God’s truth. We can get better acquainted by spending time with God through daily prayer and reading His Word.

God enjoys us and being with us. May we also be excited to be with Him.


This article is part of the Ten Days of Prayer 2018 series. Visit that page to find all the other articles in this series.

Urim and Thummim

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Ephesians 5:15-17, NLT

On the television program, Undercover Boss, a top-level executive would alter their appearance to immerse themselves in their company undetected, to learn more. While the chief executives had overall goals, they needed all parts of their organization to work together to achieve them. They wanted to be sure that employees on all levels understood the mission and purpose of the organization.

Pretending to be a new applicant, the disguised executive would ask questions to learn about the company. They would ask about the overall goals and whether this was clearly communicated and upheld all throughout the organization. Additionally, the executives would also spend time getting acquainted with staff, learning what their personal goals and intentions were as part of the organization. Why did this job matter to them.

The Urim and Thummim were placed on the shoulders of the High Priest and revealed God’s will to His people. It is essential for us to understand the work of Christ on our behalf and His will for our life today.

Jesus came to earth as a type of undercover boss. He altered His appearance and immersed Himself in our world to learn more. Disguising His glory, Jesus put on a costume of human flesh. His goal was our salvation. He wanted us to be sure of God’s love for us.

Jesus spent time asking questions and teaching those who were willing to learn. He also spent time getting to know people on a personal level. He learned what mattered most to them. Jesus also showed us what things are valuable to Him. He was always willing to meet needs. Especially if that fulfillment would help to strengthen a relationship with Him.

We no longer rely on the Urim and Thummim method to learn of God’s will. Jesus’ death on the cross gave us direct access to God. We see His will revealed throughout history and in the Bible. God’s will is for us to be saved.

We don’t have to live forever wondering why we’re here. God has a plan for us. To save us and to help share this good news and blessed hope with others. Anytime we’re unsure of how to serve Him, we can ask. We have access to Him at any time, through prayer. He always has time for us.


This article is part of the Ten Days of Prayer 2018 series. Visit that page to find all the other articles in this series.

The Breastplate

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 1 Corinthians 1:10, NLT

When you first unbox a new puzzle, the pieces are not pre-assembled. A puzzle is a deconstructed image. It’s up to the user to take the time to put the puzzle together. Often the box cover serves as a reference point.

Each piece is a tiny section of the larger image. It’s hard to understand what the final product is supposed to be if we’re only looking at the puzzle as individual pieces. They must come together to achieve the effect that the artist intended.

The 12 stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel were kept in the breastplate close to the heart of the High Priest. From this we learn how important it is for us to press together, to be united in Christ’s love, and to reveal this love to people, inside and outside the church.

The Breastplate was a beautiful part of the High Priest’s garment. However, its significance is more than ornamental. The breastplate symbolizes that loves that God’s people should have, for Him and for each other.

In order to represent Christ accurately, God’s children need to be united. Just as a puzzle is designed to fit together, God has created us to fit together. There are talents and skills that He has gifted us with to compliment each other as we work toward the Kingdom.

Have you ever tried to complete a puzzle on a soft or uneven surface? It doesn’t work well. Jesus is the solid foundation on which we can assemble together.

Unity is key in order to display God’s love as He intended. His love is perfect. If we, as puzzle pieces, are missing or try to force ourselves into places where God hasn’t called us, we ruin the larger picture. The image is distorted without all the pieces in the right places.

The love that we display when we’re not unified is distorted. Let’s keep working together to provide a clear and accurate picture of God’s love.


This article is part of the Ten Days of Prayer 2018 series. Visit that page to find all the other articles in this series.

When God is With Us

I open my eyes as a new day dawns. Sounds from the early morning drift through my window. Children are waking, filled with energy after a night’s rest. The streets are getting busy as the markets are set to open. There are things to do, places to go.

I should go to the temple to pray today. Praying at home is fine, but there’s something comforting about being where God is. If only I were invisible.

It’s not easy to navigate the streets, even with the daytime crowds. Someone always seems to point me out. Or they whisper angrily as we pass each other. Even without making eye contact, I just know they’re talking about me.


They hate me. I’m not a bad person. God is working on me. But my job? People hate what I do. I’m a tax collector. I’m really trying to make the most of a bad situation, but no one cares to listen to that part of my story.

As I approach the temple, my eyes scan the area for a place to pray. Over there! I spy a little corner where hopefully I can pray unnoticed. Maybe I’ll blend in with the crowd. With head bowed, ready to talk to my God, my thoughts are interrupted by a loud, pompous voice.

I hear a Pharisee praying. Aloud. As though these temple steps were his private chamber. I want to ignore him, but I can hear every word he says.

Wait, what? He’s not like me?

He’s right—he’s nothing like me.


I shouldn’t be here. I am nothing. My days aren’t filled with religious duties like his. My speech isn’t as eloquent. I’m not versed in all the scriptures and fancy teachings. People like him.

All I know is what God has done in my life. Is that even enough? If a Pharisee is going to stand on the temple steps, of all places, and declare that I’m horrid before God, is it true?

Well, maybe, just maybe I’ll give this prayer bit one last shot. I don’t even know what to say anymore. I had something in mind, but my head hurts. My heart hurts. I should really go home. I won’t bother coming back to temple anymore. Yet, I feel compelled not to leave before saying something. Maybe God will understand? Maybe He’ll hear me?

“O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.”

That’s all I have the strength to pray. I don’t need anything else. I don’t want anything else. Just His mercy.

Ouch! How long have I been beating my chest? I didn’t even realize.

Suddenly I’m feeling better than when I first arrived. God, is that You? Are You here beside me on these steps?

I’m glad I stayed.

I have peace.

(Adapted from Luke 18:9-14)

The Girdle


Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. (1 Peter 3:15, NLT)

I remember learning about the benefits of a girdle. Designed to be worn under clothing, this article was small, yet powerful. The main goal was to restrict and alter your shape into something more flattering. Many people do not want to reveal their full selves. Many are uncomfortable with their true selves being on full display. Certain clothing drapes the body better when parts of the midsection are held back.

One of the articles of the high priest’s garment is a girdle. Surely with all the layers of his clothing, no one would notice whether or not his midsection was a bit bulky. Why would he need a girdle?

For the high priest to be girded with his sash meant that he was fully arrayed in his garments and ready to serve. Likewise, we should always be prepared to serve and witness.

The girdle or sash the high priest wore was the opposite of what we know today. His girdle was not restrictive in any way. Rather, when his girdle was on and tied, it was a symbol that he was ready for service. He was ready and available to be used by God.

Are we ready to serve?

Have we loosened whatever may be holding us back from fully engaging in God’s work? He wants to use us to reach other people. God has filled us with gifts and passions that will help spread the gospel message in a unique way. Our stories, our daily life experiences allow us to share a common ground with people in similar situations. But we cannot be effective if we’re living restrictedly.

God wants us to be free.

Free to love. Free to serve.


This article is part of the Ten Days of Prayer 2018 series. Visit that page to find all the other articles in this series.

The Ephod

I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4, NLT

Competitors on the television show The Amazing Race each carry a large backpack. The bag, when empty, is light and easy to manage. But once it’s packed full of additional clothing, outerwear, extra shoes and other necessities, it can become a cumbersome burden. In fact, sometimes the weight of the full bag can even be a hindrance of sorts.

The racers compete in teams of two. On occasion, the stronger team member would offer to carry their partner’s bag when they notice a struggle. After a time, the unburdened partner would have to resume carrying their own bag again.

As the high priest carried the ephod on his shoulders, so our High Priest carries our burdens, strengthens us in our trials, and enables us to witness for Him even in difficult circumstances.

Some aspects of our lives can burden us from time to time. Depending on what’s happening in that moment, we may struggle to survive. There are times when we may be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. We may have no energy left to carry anything else.

We do not have to shoulder our loads alone. We have a High Priest. We have Jesus! He has offered to carry our loads, permanently.

Shouldering our burdens is only one part of the role. Our High Priest’s work doesn’t end there. He continues to support us by strengthening us through the trials and sticking by our side the entire time. He doesn’t sit on the sidelines, waiting for us to conquer life on our own.

One reason why our High Priest willingly carries our loads is that He loves us. Another reason why He carries our loads is to free us up to share the good news of Jesus with others. Even in our bleak moments, we see glimpses of God’s goodness. These glimmers of hope motivate us to keep moving forward. They’re meant to be shared with others, to motivate them to keep moving forward as well.

Thank you, Jesus, for being our High Priest. Thank you for carrying our burdens.



This article is part of the Ten Days of Prayer 2018 series. Visit that page to find all the other articles in this series.

Are We Willing to Team Up?

“Usually, those two didn’t get along with each other.  But they both hated Jesus so much, that they decided to cooperate to get rid of Him…”

This statement caught my eye as I was reading a children’s Sabbath School lesson one day. The Pharisees and Sadducees hated each other. However, their combined hatred for Jesus was bigger than their hatred for each other. They will willing to work together to eliminate a shared enemy.

These two groups were no longer focused on their differences or figuring out which group was more superior to the other. Their focus was on the bigger picture. They understood they had a better chance to accomplish their goal if they worked together.

They were willing to come together; to drop biases, even if temporarily, to tackle a common problem.

Are we willing to do the same?

Within Henderson Highway Church, we are supposed to be motivated by God’s love in order to share this love with others. Are we willing to come together; to drop our personal biases, even if temporarily, to tackle the work of sharing God’s love?

There are people within our walls who attend regularly but have never experienced God’s love. There are people on the fringes, those who may drop into our church from time to time, who do not know this love. There are those in our community who have never been to our church and do not know this love.

We must work together because the workload is too overwhelming for one person to tackle alone. Jesus was repeatedly exhausted after ministering to people each day. And even He didn’t meet every single inhabitant on Earth while He lived here. He also dispatched His disciples, in groups of two, to do what they were able to do. Likewise, they couldn’t meet every single person.

Though they couldn’t do it all, their love for Christ propelled them to give their best efforts.

God has asked us to go and tell others about His love. God has asked us to go and love others, just as He loves us. While we do have an impact on the people we each know, our reach will be greater if we cooperate and work together to share this love.

Are we willing to work together to share this love within and around our church?

The Robe

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10, NLT

There used to be a television show that aired called “What Not to Wear”. While friends and loved ones would apply to the show on behalf of a friend–the featured guest–who desperately needed a fashion makeover, the ultimate choice to accept it lay with the guest. The show hosts would explain the guidelines and rules before offering a shopping spree and physical makeover. They would then ask the guest if they wanted to accept.

Most people jumped at the chance, particularly those who recognized their need for help. But on occasion, there were also those who said no and rejected the entire idea. They were unwilling to accept help to change and couldn’t see how this positive change would benefit them.

The Robe is a symbol of Christ’s righteousness that covers our nakedness when we accept it.

Because of sin, there is a chasm between us and God. While the enemy tempts us to believe that this breach is unrepairable, God is not satisfied to live this way. God loves us too deeply to let us go without making every effort possible to reconcile our relationship. He wants us to be right with Him. God wants to bridge this chasm. This is why He offers us His robe of righteousness.

On our own, our righteousness is like filthy rags. But we can come to God in our tattered state and He freely offers us a makeover. God is a master designer. His expertise is in radical transformations. Yet, we are the ones who must choose whether or not to accept. He’s awaiting our permission to complete our transformation.

Even though He has the best plans and all the answers that we need to live well, God doesn’t force His will on us. He doesn’t blackmail or manipulate situations to get His way. It has to come unforced, from our own desire to be with Him for Who He Is.



This article is part of the Ten Days of Prayer 2018 series. Visit that page to find all the other articles in this series.