Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September, 2013

It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in princes. Psalm 118:8-9

On the Decline

Have you read the articles or seen the news? Apparently the Christian church is in decline. Is this something you have sensed as well? I pulled this disturbing blurb from an article in the New York Times written in December, 2012:

LifeWay Research, an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Barna Group — have found that a majority of young people raised as evangelicals are quitting church, and often the faith, entirely…Evangelicals, while still perceived as a majority, have become a shrinking minority in the United States. In the 1980s heyday of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, some estimates accounted evangelicals as a third or even close to half of the population, but research by the Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith recently found that Christians who call themselves evangelicals account for just 7 percent of Americans…The global outlook is more optimistic, as evangelical congregations flourish in places like China, Brazil and sub-Saharan Africa. But while America’s population grows by roughly two million a year, attendance across evangelical churches… has gradually declined, according to surveys of more than 200,000 congregations by the American Church Research Project.”

Should we be shocked by this news?

I’m not shocked and I’ll tell you why: I read my Bible. The Apostle Paul expressly tells us in 1 Timothy 4:1 that people will depart from our ranks and in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 he tells us why they will leave.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith…For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 

The Decline

What does the word decline mean anyway? Is it simply a decrease in the numbers of people sitting in the pews or is it something more significant than that? I discovered that the word pewdecline in the ancient Hebrew is ‘satah‘ (eerily close to satan, isn’t it), and it’s defined as, ‘to turn or go aside.’

There is no doubt that this occurring in the American church, just as our brother Paul had prophesied, but don’t be alarmed, for the reality is that those who remain are growing stronger and bolder in their faith. So while there may be less bricks in the walls, the Christ-centered foundation is alive and vibrant.

Fact:

The oppressed and/or persecuted church is a strong church. We see proof of this around the globe. Even the New York Times article admits that ‘The global outlook is more optimistic, as evangelical congregations flourish in places like China, Brazil and sub-Saharan Africa.’ These are places of great oppression and persecution! Even Bible history bears witness to this truth. Look how the church grew when Peter and John were persecuted.

Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. Acts 4:1-4

And remember when scandal hit the early church; when Ananias and his wife Sapphira were struck down by the Lord for being deceitful?  Those on the peripheries fell away, but the true followers were strengthened.

So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things. And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. Acts 5:11-14

saeedEven current events demonstrate the truth. Have you read how American pastor, Saeed Abedini, imprisoned for his faith in one of the worst prisons in the world [in Iran] has led more than 30 Muslims to Christ Jesus while incarcerated?

Christ’s church is getting stronger!

Should we pray for persecution?

Um, no. We should not.

Rest assured this kind of persecution and oppression is coming to America, and it’s coming swiftly. As a result, the pews will empty as the ‘nominals’ succumb to their fears and seek comfort in those places where the doctrine is not sound, where they can focus on their latent desires, and where they can heap up teachers who tickle their ears, while at the same time fearfully dodging secular and governmental persecution. However, during this same period of time, the church will thrive in the revival of His saints and will become both vigorous and tenacious. This is the inspiring part of the equation — the numbers may fade but the body will flourish!

In the meantime

Be persistent in your prayers for the lost, praying for both repentance and revival. And pray for yourself that you’ll grow in the hope and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, submitted and obedient to His will in all things.

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:1-2

If you enjoyed the post please like it, share it, subscribe to it, or leave a comment. Of all these, I’d hope you would SHARE the blog via one of the links provided. God bless you.

Read Full Post »

So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5

A Good Thing

goodThe moment we read a title like ‘Courtyard Christianity’ we tend to think the worst, “Oh great, another dissertation on the reasons why I am a bad Christian,” but that is not the case here. Let me tell you right-up front, if you are a courtyard-Christian, it is a good thing.

However…

It is not the best thing.

Let me explain.

When I think courtyard, I think ‘Tabernacle’; that one hundred and fifty-foot, by seventy five-foot chunk of land set aside as God’s meeting place. A space that you and I might say would be too small for two million desert-roaming Jews, but God might have said, “Don’t worry, it’s big enough; not everyone will be interested.”

Bottom line (and as far as this pertains to the Christian life), if you are in the courtyard of the tabernacle, you are saved. Celebrate! But know this: you can go deeper. Going deeper doesn’t save you; remember: if you’re in the courtyard, figuratively speaking, you are saved.

Sanctuary Christians

There are two types of sanctuary Christians; both are saved, but one is better off than the other. (Please note that I am not saying one is better, but rather that one is in a more favorable position, spiritually speaking). The sanctuary of the tabernacle was the forty-five foot by fifteen foot tent that had two compartments within. The first room of the sanctuary housed the lampstand, the table of show-bread, and the golden censer. If you have left the courtyard and entered this first room of the sanctuary you are in a better place, for you have entered the realm of Christian service.

How So?

The utensils of the sanctuary are symbolic of (they picture) Christian service. A person who trims the wicks of a lampstand is concerned with the light going forth. The one who daily changes the show-bread is interested in feeding the flock. And finally, the one who tends the incense is steeped in intercessory prayer, offering petitions, pleas, and praises as a sweet-smelling fragrance to the Father.

But deeper still are the…

Mercy Seat Christians

maryEntering into the Holy of Holies is to sit at the feet of Jesus. The difference between this best place and the place of service is revealed in the story of Martha and Mary. We know from that account, Mary chose the best seat in the house; the mercy seat. This inner sanctum is the greatest place to be for it is here we are closest to Jesus. And what makes the space so uniquely special is it is a place of refinement and restoration. The veil has been torn, so we should take advantage of the opportunity!

Consider the Ark

The Ark of the Covenant held three things: manna, Aaron’s rod, and the Law; three things that are symbolic of man’s fallen condition. Covering the box (and more importantly these three items) was the mercy seat, symbolic of Christ’s mercy and the covering of our sins. It is in His Holy presence He can do what He desires to do. At this point, we are free to roam and function within the tabernacle!

Conclusion:

Simply put, in the tabernacle, all are saved, but perhaps not all are fulfilled. There is always more to be had if the believer is willing; there is always a deeper experience.

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart–These, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17

If you enjoyed the post, please let me know: like it, share it, subscribe to it, or leave a comment (I read and respond to every remark). God bless you.

Read Full Post »

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:16-17

Are You a Child of God?

Sadly, the term ‘child of God,’ (or children of God), is far too often misappropriated. While it is true we are all of His making, we are not all His children. God’s word is explicit: all people childare God’s creation (‘For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth…All things were created through Him and for Him.’), but only those who are born again are children of God. That’s not to say God doesn’t love everybody. John 3:16 reminds us that God loves everyone and desires that all become His children. But know this: the ‘child of God’ designation is reserved for a very unique group of people.

Some will disagree.

To them I lovingly say that this isn’t my opinion; it’s the Bible, so we should examine what God has to say on the matter.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13

This passage is pretty cut and dry: only born again believers have the right to be called children of God and subsequently are joint heirs with Christ Jesus. In fact it was Jesus who said,

“Truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ John 3:5-7

Born Again?

The phrase ‘born again’ literally means ‘born from above,’ signifying that it is something we cannot do ourselves; it’s 100% Divine. Our re-birth is in reality an act of God that we receive by faith; believing that God’s word (His Bible) is true and that God sent Jesus (our Lord and Savior) to die for our sins. Therefore (and because God has already declared it), we believe we are new creations in Christ, that Jesus did the work that we were unable to, and that it was all according to His Grace and His mercy. A born-again person is a saved person, and a saved person is a child of God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Chastened?

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons (Hebrews 12:7a)

This verse reminds us that children of God (both sons and daughters) are willingly stusubmitted to their Father; it is a choice freely made. But don’t let the word ‘chasten’ frighten you away. While it’s true that chasten does mean to correct by punishment, that’s only part of the equation. The word used here [in the Greek] is paideiva,’ and it covers the entire scope of training and education, relating to holy cultivation of both mind and morals, employing direct commands, admonitions, reproof, and yes, occasionally punishment for the purpose of correcting mistakes and curbing passions.  In this regard children of God understand that whatever God does to us, is a benefit for us.

“If you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Hebrews 12:8-10

God’s Words, Not Mine

But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Hebrews 1:8 

Bastard is not a term I would have used, as it seems a bit unkind, but God uses it to drive home the point. Plainly said, if you’re not a born again Christian, you are illegitimate and cannot be considered His son or daughter, and therefore, you have no Heavenly inheritance. I’m not bringing it up in order to mock or belittle you, but rather to offer you a change and invite you into the family of God. As His child, I have His permission to do that. All that is required of you is that you believe (you don’t have to understand).

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Do you want to know more about coming into God’s family and being saved? Then please click on this link.

If you enjoyed the post please like it, share it, subscribe to the blog, or leave a comment. I read and respond to every comment.

Read Full Post »

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. Hebrews 11:24-29

God’s Grace Through Faith

There’s a lot of hope found in Hebrews 11. As we read through the entire chapter we quickly catch hold of the theme: God through faith equips His children to do His work. By faith (we read) the church understands God’s word. By faith Abel made his offerings to the Lord. By faith Enoch spoke testimonies of the Lord. By faith Noah built. By faith Abraham obeyed. By faith Sarah was strengthened. By faith Issac blessed. By faith Joseph prophesied.

moThe Biblical Hall of Faith continues with the likes of such other notables as: Rahab, Gideon, Sampson, David, and Samuel, but in the middle of these hallowed halls the writer pauses over Moses in order to reflect upon 7 consequences of his faith. I find them conspicuous in that they were all allotted to one man and that they seem to be the same things that the Lord desires to works through us, His children.

Are these things in operation in your walk of faith?

The Magnificent 7

1) By faith we reject what the world has to offer.

By faith Moses…refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter

By faith Moses turned down the world’s offer; refusing the title and the position, and rejecting that which his flesh had previously craved. By faith, Moses was able to (as per Romans 12:2), ‘not be conformed to this world, but was transformed by the renewing of his mind, that it could be proven what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.’

2) By faith we let go of sin.

By faith Moses…(chose) rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin 

By faith Moses repented and let go of sin, choosing to suffer the consequences associated with leaving one’s past behind. By faith Moses understood that, ‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.’ (James 1:12)

3) By faith we invest eternally.

By faith Moses…(esteemed) the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt

By faith Moses invested in things eternal. By faith Moses had the assurance of, ‘hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began (Titus 1:2). Missionary Jim Elliot must have understood the concept as well, otherwise how could he have written, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

4) By faith we stand.

By faith (Moses) forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king

By faith Moses was fearless. By faith Moses knew to, “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

5) By faith we see Jesus

By faith…(Moses) endured as seeing Him who is invisible

By faith Moses had spiritual vision. A Christian’s faith isn’t truly blind, for the reality is believers see more.  By faith Moses knew, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ (John 20:29)

6) By Faith we are religious

By faith Moses kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood

By faith Moses kept the precepts of our religion, knowing it was not the faith or the religion that saved. By faith Moses knew these components were given by God in order to brig him closer to God. Moses understood ‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.’ (John 15:7)

7) By faith we move.

By faith (Moses) passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned

By faith Moses moved forward, obeying the word that he heard; knowing that to reject the truth of God’s word was to die. I can almost imagine Moses saying, “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13b-14)

So what is this thing called faith?

Again, I found an answer during my research that is better than anything I could have come up with on my own. I found this definition from ‘The Complete Bible Answer Book,’ by Hank Hanegraaff (AKA: The Bible Answer Man). Hank writes:

“The Bible defines faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Thus, in biblical vernacular, faith is a channel of living trust—an assurance—that stretches from man to God. In other words, it is the object of faith that renders faith faithful. Furthermore, faith is the assurance that God’s promises will never fail, even if sometimes we do not experience their fulfillment in our mortal existence. Hebrews 11 underscores the fact that we trust God to fulfill his promises for the future (the unseen) based on what he has already fulfilled in the past. Thus, our faith is not blind, but based squarely on God’s proven faithfulness.

Finally, the faith that serves to protect us in spiritual warfare is not to be confused with mere knowledge. Millions worldwide believe in the trustworthiness of Billy Graham. They have heard him proclaim the good news on television and yet do not believe that his message corresponds to reality. Thus, they have the knowledge that it takes to be saved but do not have saving faith. Others hear the message, agree that it corresponds to reality, but due to the hardness of their hearts do not bow. Rather, like the demons, they continue to live in fearful anticipation of the judgment to come (James 2:19). Some, however, have what Scripture describes as genuine justifying faith—a faith that not only knows about the gospel and agrees that its content corresponds to reality, but a faith by which they are transformed.”

What kind of faith do you have?

If you enjoyed the post please like it, share it, subscribe to the blog, or leave a comment below. I read and respond to every remark. God bless!

Read Full Post »

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. 2 Corinthians 5:10-11

Persuading Others

This clip reminds me of the coming judgment.  Did you know judgment is coming? Did you know there are two separate judgments for two separate groups of people? When you mention biblical judgment, many people think of the Great White Throne judgement (although they may not know that is what it’s called). You should know that if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, this is not the judgment that you will receive.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15

Perhaps you have heard it said, Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess.” Well I believe this will occur at the White Throne Judgement. Everyone who stands before Jesus on that day will bow and proclaim that Jesus is Lord, but sadly, it will be too late for them.

Not so for you, Christian.

Your name is written in the book of life, therefore, you aren’t going to hell. However there is another judgment spoken of and believers refer to it as the Bema Seat judgement. I’d like to say it’s more akin to an awards ceremony for Christians, but I don’t believe that’s a fair assessment, despite the fact that there will be awards (crowns) presented.

The Apostle Paul speaks of that judgment day:

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

Bema Seat

While searching for intelligence on the Bema Seat judgment, I happened upon these two paragraphs from the ‘Got Questions.org‘ website. Frankly, it was easier just to cut and paste their explanation, then to re-absorb the data and put it into my own words.

They say (and I concur):

Romans 14:10-12 says, “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat…so then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”Second Corinthians 5:10 tells us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” In the context, it is clear that both scriptures are referring to Christians, not unbelievers. The judgment seat of Christ, therefore, involves believers giving an account of their lives to Christ. The judgment seat of Christ does not determine salvation; that was determined by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf (1 John 2:2) and our faith in Him (John 3:16). All of our sins are forgiven, and we will never be condemned for them (Romans 8:1). We should not look at the judgment seat of Christ as God judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us for our lives. Yes, as the Bible says, we will have to give an account of ourselves. Part of this is surely answering for the sins we committed. However, that is not going to be the primary focus of the judgment seat of Christ.

At the judgment seat of Christ, believers are rewarded based on how faithfully they served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-27;2 Timothy 2:5). Some of the things we might be judged on are how well we obeyed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), how victorious we were over sin (Romans 6:1-4), and how well we controlled our tongues (James 3:1-9). The Bible speaks of believers receiving crowns for different things based on how faithfully they served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-27;2 Timothy 2:5). The various crowns are described in 2 Timothy 2:5,2 Timothy 4:8,James 1:12,1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10.James 1:12 is a good summary of how we should think about the judgment seat of Christ: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

What does any of this have to do with the Schindler’s List clip?

Glad you asked.

Well first it reminds me that I can always do more. And just so we’re clear, I’m not referring to a ‘in-my-own-flesh’ kind of approach (Heaven forbid). No, I’m talking about in an ‘obedience to the Holy Spirit’ way.

Looking back over my [personal] Christian history, I know my stewardship-efficiency-ratio (SER), if there is such a thing, has been substandard. I’m not comparing myself to anyone else; I perceive because the Holy Spirit has revealed it. So at this juncture please do not accuse me of that, or worse, of beating myself up over my past. That is not what I am doing. I am merely reflecting upon my past in order that I might do better; that I might learn from my mistakes. I fully understand that I will fall short in the future, but it is my desire (placed there by God), to improve my performance, knowing full well I’m not earning my salvation, for that is a done deal, all praise be to Jesus.

schThe video clip also reminds me that there will be tears in Heaven. Just like the movie portrayal of Mr. Schindler, when the Heavenly books are opened and I see all that I’ve done in Christ’s name compared to what I could have done, there will be great remorse. Oh, I’m still going to Heaven, but this revelation will be gut wrenching. The only question that remains is,

“How gut wrenching do I want it to be?”

When I watch the movie clip, that’s what goes through my mind.

Heaven’s Gate

I envision it all going down like this:

I stand before the Bema Seat and watch in astonishment as most of my works burn-up before my eyes; praying, hoping that something survives the furnace. Sweat pours down my face, but it’s not due to the torridity of the blaze. Then Jesus turns to me and opens the book and shows me all the opportunities I’ve willingly and knowingly squandered. I want to protest and defend myself, except, “But, but, bu…” is about all I can say. Then it happens: perfect realization.  It will be the first time that the word perfect will be applicable to me, for with perfection I will fully understand how I quenched the Holy Spirit so much more than obeyed Him. With that, the tears will begin to flow and I sense this sobbing will be truly uncontrollable. There is no time in Heaven (so I have heard), but I picture this examination going on for decades, as every second of my Christian life is replayed with not one event being omitted.

Finally, mercifully, this occurs…

God (wipes) away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation 21:4-5

Then I hear these words…

‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Matthew 25:23

Hearing this pronouncement, I want to cry again, but I can’t! There is abundant joy and crying is now impossible for me!

I’ve made it home!

So why do I fret over a silly video clip? Well I’m not fretting over it, it merely serves to remind me that Jesus has work for me to do, or more accurately, Jesus has more work that He wants to do through me. The Holy Spirit, working somehow through the clip, prompts me to be tuned-in to His will, submitted and obedient to all this Kingdom stuff that’s going on.

I was thinking that you might want to be tuned in as well.

When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.1 Peter 5:4

If you enjoyed the post please like it, share it, or subscribe to it. I’d also like to keep the conversation going, so please leave a comment. I read and respond to each one. God’s blessings to you!

Read Full Post »

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

For the Believer

Christian, I have a word of encouragement for you today.

Are you familiar with the ‘Hall of Faith‘ in the Book of Hebrews, chapter 11; that list of our Biblical heroes who triumphed in faith, by faith?  If you are, did you ever notice that this extraordinary list begins with someone very near and dear to your heart?

Who is this special person?

It’s you!

Check out what God recorded in His word:

“By faith ‘we’ understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:3

Did you see it? “By faith ‘we’ (that’s you and me) understand this Godly stuff! Isn’t that so cool that God took the time to put us at the top of the list, above such notables as Moses, Noah, Abraham, and Issac? What an honor!

But don’t be too surprised. After all, didn’t Jesus say…

“If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” John 12:26

Hold on there, Babalouie!

Is this Hebrew passage really talking about you? In order to find out you must ask yourself these questions:

quickDo you believe that the worlds were created by God through His  word?

Do you believe in the invisible attributes of all creation?

Do you believe in the Biblical ‘Genesis’ account of creation? Or do you embrace unbiblical doctrines or the unprovable theories of evolution and big bangs?

If you do believe in those things, then the Hebrews passage is not talking about you, and therefore your are not included in the Hall of Faith. Sorry. The facts would show that you just might be a nominal Christian; that is, a Christian in name only.

But…

It could also mean that you’re merely immature in the faith.

Not to worry!

I remember being right where you are. When I became a new-believer, I carried around the nonsensical teachings of the world for years and it wasn’t until I became a diligent and submitted disciple of Christ that the truth of the Bible was revealed to me. In the light of that truth, I could not help but embrace it!

It can happen to you!

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

Are you diligent in seeking Him?

The dictionary defines ‘diligently’ as steady application and care; with industry or assiduity (constant effort); actions not done carelessly or negligently.

Diligence of the Biblical sort is deliberate in its effort towards holy accomplishment, both attentive and persistent, and obedient to follow-through with the results that are discovered. In contrast, the unenthusiastic Christian is not rewarded, for God is not pleased if we are operating outside of faith. Would a parachute instructor be pleased if you refused to don the chute, even after being convinced it will save you? Similarly God is not pleased if you neglect your faith and His truth.

Diligent Christians believe by faith that ‘God is’ and that He rewards our faithful attentiveness.  It is not enough for us to just know God is God (head knowledge), we must seek Him with a persevering faith that says He will provide the things He knows we need.

To know Jesus is to know truth. For the Christian, ‘seeing is believing‘ is an errant and worldly concept, for it is our testimony that believing is the first step to seeing those things that truly matter. It is by this faith we understand God is the Creator and it is by this faith we are inducted into the Hall of Faith.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:1,3,14

I pray you were somehow blessed today. If you enjoyed the post please like it, share it, subscribe to it, or leave a comment on it. I read and respond to every comment.

Read Full Post »

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. Hebrews 10:1-3

 A Shadow of Our Savior

We should recall that the writer of Hebrews is admonishing Jewish Christians to not return to their old sacrificial, ‘first covenant’ system. In the Hebrews 10 passage above, they are specifically being reminded that if these old ordinances were of any effect, they would not have to do them over and over. So while it’s true the rituals covered their sin (for a year at a time), it’s also true that they did not remove their sin, doing very little for the conscience and nothing towards salvation. With each and every sacrifice, the liturgies were doing little more than bringing their transgressions, and the guilt associated with them, into their memory.

How was this happening?

shoePut yourself in the Jew‘s shoes. Every year the sinner (in this case, every Jew) would bring his prized little lamb or mighty bull to be sacrificed. As per the law, these animals were to be the best of their best, born and hence maintained to be without imperfection. Naturally, their hearts would ache as they walked these beasts from their homes to the temple, knowing the animal’s fate. Finally, when the priest took possession of the their animal, and the knife was plunged in, and the critter would squeal, and the blood would begin to flow, how could they not lament that their sin caused this dreadful thing to occur. Animal sacrifice was never meant to be a pretty thing and subsequently they were reminded each year, “Nothing has changed; I am still an appalling sinner. Look at what I have done.”

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. 2 Cor. 7:9

God had a purpose in all this — these things were a picture of what was to come in Christ Jesus, but as we have come to know, pictures and shadows do not save a man. Our sin should make us sorrowful, but in Christ Jesus it is a one-time event. After the Law (the old covenant) has done the job of identifying us as sinners, we can take the offenses, along with the guilt and the shame, and leave it at the foot of the cross, once and for all. The accuser of the brethren might bring up our sin, but Jesus never will.

Not to worry…

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. Revelation 12:10

Our new covenant in Jesus, His ultimate and final sacrifice, has done away with the old system. As a result, we no longer lament.

Today, Jesus says in our communion with Him, “Do this in remembrance of Me!”

Nowhere does Jesus ever say, or will He ever say, do this in remembrance of your sin.  So while Godly sorrow (appropriate sorrow) works to bring us to a place of repentance, we do not need to sacrifice Jesus over and over. For this reason we do not recall the sin, but joyfully recall the Savior of our salvation. We celebrate Holy Communion, we don’t bewail it.

The work is done, we are forgiven, we are free, and we are at peace.

For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:13-14

Sacrificial System = Dead Works

But you say, “I’m not sacrificing animals for my sins; never have, never will.”

Me either. However, many are guilty of doing good works that they falsely believe will save them, while others are faulted in rejecting His grace and embracing their shortcomings, beating themselves up with the ugliness of their sinful past.  Jesus would not have us fall into that trap, which is why the Book of Hebrews is applicable to every believer.

Christ desires that we would celebrate Communion often as a reminder that He finished all the work on the cross, and that we need not get sucked back into our own little sacrificial systems; those “Oh, I sinned again,” pity-parties that we have a tendency to throw for ourselves.

Final Exam

Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Corinthians 11:28-29)

Why are we to examine ourselves?

To give worth to Christ’s deed, and not to be consumed with our selfish impulses and false ideologies. When we acknowledge the work is done, we are free and we are at peace with the Lord, hence we do not condemn ourselves. In other words, the examination process is to focus on Jesus (giving Him worth) and not ourselves, lest we fall back into the practices as the Hebrews were doing. Behaving in an unworthy manner only serves to bring judgment upon ourselves.

So let us celebrate our salvation. The tomb is empty, we are free, and we are saved!

Rejoice and stay the course!

I pray you enjoyed the post. If you did please like it, share it, subscribe to it, or comment on it. I read and respond to very comment.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Overcoming The Times

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Whosoever Believeth in Him

Whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus Christ) should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Michael Gaither - Dedicated 2 Jesus Christ

and Jesus said, Take Heed that No Man Deceive You, For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Dedicated 2 Jesus-Birth Pangs

America Without Jesus-A Political-Socialist Society

Illuminating Truth

"For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." John 18:37

Greater Cause

Addressing Daily Issues From a Biblical Worldview

Disciples of hope

Living the hope that comes from Christ

thriftcycler

Thrift Store Tripping and Frugal Living at its Best

In the Little Things

Finding meaning in the madness and the mundane

claytonzeimet

intersections of a spirit filled life

The Perfect Dad

Every man dies. Not every man truly parents.

Jesus Is The Light Of Men

Devotionals of Christian Beliefs and Teachings

The Neff & Whilden Wedding

Kick off Your Flips Flops & Dance the Night Away

Food for Thought-Videos

Jesus-Yeshua is God Manifested In The Flesh

Kendall Lyons

Faith, Media & Culture

God charts the road

A road that represents the course of those who desire to follow God

%d bloggers like this: