Search 'YeahImABeliever' for specific subjects, words, and Scriptures.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

We Have The God of Covenants, Signs, & Promises!

"...and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel."  (Genesis 3:15    NKJV)

Here we have a Covenant.  God established the premise that the only way any person who truly feared, (i.e. revered, held in awe, ect.), God could live in this world with satan running wild would have to be in a [type of] relationship with satan in which enmity, or outright hatred, was the most relevant attribute of that relationship.

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."  (Isaiah 7:14    NKJV)

These words of God were spoken to King Ahaz by the prophet Isaiah to convey a Sign of God's faithfulness to His promise to him after he refused to ask for a sign, and after the prophet made it clear that he was well aware the Ahaz was trying to play mind-games, we as New Testament Believers have to accept these words as the affirmation of a Covenant established between God and man.  This verification by God of the Messiah to come carried much significance for not only the Jews of that specific time period it was voiced to by Moses, but also right up until the time the final condition of the Messianic Prophecy was fulfilled. 

"13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you."  15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.  16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.  17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."  (Hebrews 6:13-20    NKJV)

Now we have a Promise that outlines for us a '...hope we have as an anchor of the soul,...' 

We've looked at three Scriptures that display for us three very important attributes of God.  Without any of these three characteristics of the God - man relationship, that relationship would be incomplete. Now let's look a little closer at each of these three attributes.

1)  The first Scripture we looked at, Genesis 3:15, is actually very important to the establishment of the second of the Biblical Covenants, the Adamic Covenant.  God goes on in Genesis 3, speaking through Moses, to outline the conditions of that Covenant before fixing Adam and Eve up with some clothes and then kicking them out of the Garden in the eastward of Eden.

2)  Then we have a Sign in the second Scripture, Isaiah 7:14, that goes a little further to make clear what may be a little confusing to some, in regards to the Lord God making reference to the coming Messiah mentioned in Genesis 3:15.  (Note: Genesis 3:15 is actually the first time any person in the Bible, specifically God, first performed in the role of an Evangelist, or 'bearer of good news/glad tidings.'

3)  Finally, in the last of the three Scriptures, Hebrews 6:13-20, we have the all-important Promise that should be at the very core of every New Testament Believer's life.  An often overlooked fact here is that this Promise isn't limited to the hope of an eternity with God.  This Promise is of a life in the Kingdom of God, and that life begins the moment we come to the Throne of Grace and accept the shed blood of Christ as [the only] atonement for sin.

"20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!'  For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."  (Luke 17:20-21    NKJV)

Up until now we've looked at Scripture supporting that we do indeed have a God of Covenants, Signs, and Promises, and each of these Scriptures make reference to the coming Messiah.  Now let's look at this Covenant, this Sign, and this Promise fulfilled.

"18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows:  after His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.  19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.  20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in here is of the Holy Spirit.  21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."  22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."  24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.  And he called His name Jesus."  (Matthew 1:18-25    NKJV)

As we read earlier in Hebrews 6:18, "it is impossible for God to lie..."  With this in mind, it shouldn't have come as any surprise that in His time, the promised Messiah was borned of a virgin of the House of David.

So, where does this leave us, as New Testament Believer's, today?  Do we sit back and mark time until the rest of the Biblical Prophecies are all fulfilled?

"21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.  22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.  23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."  (John 4:21-24    NKJV)

While Jesus was in fact talking to the Samaritan woman specifically about her people and how and where they worshipped God, we have to take these words as words of warning for this present day.  Our time, as New Testament Believer's bound by the commitment we each made in regards to what we call 'The Great Commission' is growing shorter and shorter with each passing day.  This is evidenced by the constant changes we're seeing in this world gone totally mad that we live in, changes that while are not good for the general welfare and safety of mankind, are Scripturally necessary.

Are you ready for the end of days?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Easier Coming or Going?

I heard it said recently that on average a given person only responds and seeks Salvation after there has been what I think of as an 'in your face' invitation to come to the Throne of Grace at least three times.  That number may be significantly higher, but I don't think there is much argument that most folks don't come to Christ with any fewer promptings. What often happens in a Christians life after the initial trip to the Throne of Grace, regardless of how many or how few invitations led up to that life-saving trip, is that for any number of reasons many Believers turn away from Grace. 

While Grace leading to Spiritual Salvation is by and large a New Testament concept, if we ignore the Old Testament presence of Grace, to both Old Testament Worshippers and pagan god worshippers, then at the very least we are committing a serious injustice in regards to the authority of God.  With this in mind, let's take a good look at chapter five of 2 Kings by breaking this bit of Scripture down into six sections, which will make it much easier to clearly understand what God would have us to learn from this piece of the Old Testament.

'Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper.'  (II Kings 5:1    NKJV)

This first verse is pretty much self-explanatory, in so far as the author of this Book is introducing the pertinent facts about Naaman, who along with Elisha and Gehazi are the main characters of chapter five of 2 Kings.  The only thing absent in this background on Naaman is that like his master, the king of Syria, Naaman was a worshipper of pagan gods, specifically in the temple of Rimmon.  (Note: Rimmon, in addition to being a town allotted to the Tribe of Judah (See Joshua 15:32), was also the chief [pagan] god of Syria.)  It's important that we establish this background on Naaman, if only for the purpose of developing what is contrary to what many may believe in regards to God's intent for Old Testament people other than the Children of Israel.  We mentioned earlier that Grace was present in God's dealings with Old Testament people, and while that Grace didn't lead to Spiritual Salvation at that time, it did provide the means to salvation of a different sort, usually being delivered or rescued from bad situations or imminent physical harm or death.  The point of establishing Naaman's pedigree, so to speak, is to realize that this Old Testament Grace was not only available for the Children of Israel.

The next five verses lay the groundwork for Naaman to even consider going to what to him would be a foreign land in search of salvation, that being delivered or rescued from his affliction of leprosy.

2 And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. 3 Then she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” 4 And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel.”   5 Then the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”  So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. 6 Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy.'  (II Kings 5:2-6    NKJV)

I've often said, and firmly believe, that we do not have a God of coincidence.  There is no room in any Christian's life for 'luck', good or bad, or things that 'just happen.'  With that fact firmly in mind, think for just a minute about how events were orchestrated so that; 1) Naaman, a pagan god worshipper, had leprosy; 2) a young girl of Israel had been captured from her homeland and was now a servant to Naaman's wife; 3) this young servant girl had the steadfast belief that Elisha, a prophet of God in Samaria, could by the power of God heal Naaman of his affliction and; 4) that while the king of Syria did not worship God, he still sent Naaman to the king of Israel with a letter of introduction and expensive gifts for the express purpose of receiving healing from his leprosy. 

'7 And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.”  8 So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”  9 Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” '  (II Kings 5:7-10    NKJV) 
Now things start to really get interesting in this mini-saga of Grace in Naaman's life.  First, upon receiving the letter of introduction from the king of Syria, Joram the king of Israel from 852-840 BC, immediately thought the worst. While a quick read of this Scripture makes it very clear that Joram, the king of Israel at the time, was extremely upset when he read through the letter from the king of Syria, a more thorough reading combined with an understanding of the times will serve to wonder just exactly why Joram was so agitated.  Look back at 2 Kings 5:2 and you'll see a part of why King Joram might have looked at Naaman's letter of introduction with not only anguish, but quite possibly with suspicion as well.

'And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife.'  (II Kings 5:2    NKJV)

The thing that was probably foremost in Joram's mind was that here he had the king of Syria's right-hand man, who had in the recent past, as evidenced by the age of the Jewish servant girl, raided victoriously against Israel, coming with a letter of introduction that in his mind basically demanded the king of Israel to have Naaman healed.  Was there an underlying connotation?  I would say that it's safe to say, 'Yes'.  At least in Joram's mind.  We also have an irony here, and that's putting it mildly.  As the subsequent events tell us, the intent of Ben-Hadad II, the king of Syria from 860 through 842 B.C., was not to put the king of Israel in any kind of jepardy.  His apparent purpose in this matter was also his honest intent, to seek healing from leprosy for the supreme commander of his armies, Naaman.  This is what illustrates the irony I mentioned just a moment ago, that being that in a time of specific need, and we can be sure that Ben-Hadad II and Naaman would've already exhausted all of the resources available to them in both their own land of Syria and their temple of Rimmon before even thinking of following the Israeli servant girls advice to seek help in a foreign land from what to them was a foreign god, these two men, who were pagan-god worshippers, were so much more ready to turn to God for His grace than was Joram the king of Israel.  From the Scripture, Joram's first reaction was to rant and rave and throw a big fit about how Ben-Hadad II was trying to pick a fight with him, (See 2 Kings 5:7).  This is something that we, as humans, are prone to do, to think the worst about everything that happens.  It's our first instinct to only see the negative aspects of any given situation, and so the question comes to mind, "Where is God in all of this?"  Keep this in mind as we move on.

Now we come to a very important happening, and this event, although it did in fact take place about 850 years before the birth of Christ, the lesson to be learned in many ways is more relevant today in regards to the Believer's status before God while living in a secular world gone completely mad.

8 So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”  (II Kings 5:8    NKJV)

Let's look closely at the words of the prophet of God, particularily the last sentence in this verse when Elisha made the all-important point that only if he (meaning Naaman) came to Elisha would it be possible for Naaman to know that there is a prophet [of God] in Israel.  Now let's tie this lesson in with the question we're keeping in mind from our look at verse 7, that being, "Where is God in all of this?"  The point I'm working towards in all of this is that it's easier for us, especially as New Testament Believers, to separate ourselves from the Grace of God than it was for us to come to the Throne of Grace to begin with.  There are several reasons for this, with the first being that after the initial 'flush'  of the newness in Christ begins to fade away, we begin to try and maintain the feeling of Spiritual well-being by our own means.  We begin to decide what we should feel, and think, and do as Christians.  We morph into the type of Believers that Paul described in the beginning of Romans 10.

10 'Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.'  (Romans 10:1-3    NKJV)

I'm going to leave you with this thought today, and my prayer for everyone is that this thought, and the admonishment it holds, will never leave anyones thoughts.  Our Lord God promises us that He will, '...never leave us nor forsake us...'  Now this promise of God to us has to be held true in our hearts and minds or nothing else will ever come of our coming to the Throne of Grace.  If you think about it for just a short minute, if this most basic of promises is not true, then the shed blood of Christ is of no value and carries with it no hope.  But now let's look at the other side of this equation, so to speak.  God promises us to never leave us, but He doesn't promise us that we'll never leave Him, and that's where the trouble begins.  I made the statement earlier that it's far easier for us to separate ourselves from the Grace of God than it was to make the  initial trip to the Throne of Grace.  The only way to successfully guard against this happening is to keep Elisha's words in mind, "Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”  Naaman came to Israel seeking to be cured from his leprosy, and since he was a worshipper of pagan gods, it was only natural for him to go to the secular leader of Israel. That's how things are done in the non-Christian world even today.  Then we have King Joram reacting in a totally natural and worldly fashion, which we still see today, by assuming the worst.  Joram was the king of Israel, so it would only be logical to assume that he was a believer in God, yet his reaction to the arrival of Naaman with his letter in hand was what we would expect from anyone except a believer in God.  But it's sad to say that this exact sequence of events is what is seen constantly throughout the churches filled with New Testament Believer's around the world today.  Why is it so much easier to fall away from Grace than it was to obtain Grace in the first place?  Maybe it's because most of us come to Christ only after exhausting all other resources, and we feel as if we have nowhere else to turn to.  Then when things no longer seem so bad, we begin to try to rationalize away the awesomeness of God.  We try to either elevate ourselves to His level, or lower Him to ours, or maybe combine the two.

So, is it easier to come to Grace, or to fall away from Grace?

Be Blessed in your daily walk in the Light of His Grace!!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Dumb Decision, or What?

The facts of how what has always been a topic of controversy came into being have never been hidden from people, they just haven't been learned by a great many people, both Christians and non-Believers alike. 

'8 Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.  4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”  6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. 9 Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”  10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. 11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”  19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”  21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the Lord. 22 So the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed their voice, and make them a king.”  And Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Every man go to his city.”  (I Samuel 8:1-22    NKJV)

First we have here what it was that changed in regards to the life of the Children of Israel, that Samuel, who had been the judge over Israel for some time, was getting old, and so appointed his sons to carry on his judgeship.  It wouldn't be a reach here to assume that Samuel did this so as to not leave a vacuum in this important office should his death come suddenly, which is still not uncommon amongst those who have a long life behind them.  Now, whether Samuel's sons had always lived in ways contrary to what God would require from any of us, or only began the type of behavior discussed in the beginning of our Scripture with their judicial appointments we don't know from the reading of it.  The only real reason for this to become an issue would be for those who would want to question Samuel's judgement in appointing his offspring as successors, and exactly what point that would serve, I've no idea.  So, let's get on with our purpose here today, shall we?  The point we're looking at here is that the people gathered together and let Samuel know that they wanted a real, live, flesh and blood king.  They didn't want to have a king they couldn't see anymore to rule over them, and as God pointed out to Samuel, who it sounds like got his feelings hurt  (See I Samuel 8:7), the people were not rejecting Samuel, but God Himself.  Samuel warned the people of what to expect, that they would be used and abused by any earthly king, but the people persisted, with God finally telling the retiring judge to give the people what they wanted, and to send all the people home.  (See 1 Samuel 9 and 1 Samuel 10 for more on the first king of the Children of Israel).  

Now let's jump ahead several thousand years to when the Pharisees were attempting, yet again, to entrap Jesus with a combination of legalism, Old Testament Law and traditions, and downright orneriness.   

' 15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. 17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”  18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.”  So they brought Him a denarius.  20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”  21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”  And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.'  (Matthew 22:15-22    NKJV)

A good friend of mine acually brought up the subject a couple of weeks ago of just where the line was that Christians have no business crossing in regards to getting the Church (the one built without hands) involved in secular politics.  The whole reason I got into the history of how God's Chosen People, and have no doubt that New Testament Believers are just as much His Chosen People today as the Children of Israel were during the days of the Old Testament, was to get in firmly in mind that God never intended, by His choice, that mankind would have a secular government leadership apparatus.  In God's Perfect Will for His people, He and He alone, would be our only King, in all respects.  Just one of the reasons for this is illustrated in our Scripture from the book of Matthew we've just looked at.  Man, and it doesn't matter for this point whether they were Pharisees or Sadducees or Babylonians or Muslims, has always and will always use anything to attempt to undermine the authority of God.  We're warned about this throughout the New Testament, to ever be on watch for any kind of contrary teachings and rifts and dissension amongst those who profess Christ.

'17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.'  (Romans 16:17-20    NKJV) 


'10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?  '14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.'  (I Corinthians 1:10-17    NKJV) 

As we can easily see here, what we refer to as the 'Early Church' was no stranger to people trying to use God's people, His Words, and His Will to accomplish their own ends.  In both of these excerpts from epistles, or letters, written by the apostle Paul to the churches in Rome and Corinth, Paul warned of what we still see today.  I included these last two bits of Scripture for the purpose of making it clear that what we had looked at earlier for the account of Matthew wasn't, and isn't, limited to just those who are openly adverse to the teachings of Christ and the Will of God.  There are many in this world [gone mad] that we live in today who do their best to distort the Word of God while at the same time professing the [shed] blood of Christ.  So, a word of caution to my Brothers and Sisters, 'Beware!' 

In getting back to the attempted trickery of the Pharisees, they were trying to trip Jesus up by mixing secular statutes up with what should be Spiritual worship of God.  If Jesus had been anyone other than who He was, and is, He would have found Himself crossing the line that we all should learn by His example to not cross.  We, as Christians, have available to us an invaluable weapon in our Spiritual arsenal, if we'll only use it.

2 My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, 2   So that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding;  3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.  6 For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; 8 He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints.  9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path.  10 When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, 11 Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, 12 To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things,  (Proverbs 2:1-12    NKJV),
The very important Spiritual weapon I'm talking about is identified by name in verse three up above here, as discernment, and then verse four stresses just how valuable discernment can, and should, be to those who believe in God.  It's important to have developed the habit of praying for discernment on a whole multitude of issues, with this line between secular politics and New Testament worship of God being right near the top of the list.

Let's talk some more about this line I keep going on about.  I'm not talking about not voting for elected officials and public issues put up for a vote.  Neither am I talking about isolating ourselves from the secular world in its entirety.  What I am talking about is first and foremost seeking direction from God, often in the form of the  discernment we just looked at in the book of Proverbs.  What I've often heard from people when this subject comes up is something like, 'Well, that don't always work.'  Hey, here's a newsflash, if praying for discernment doesn't always work, then maybe you aren't always praying!  God will never abandon any of His chosen ones when the need and the petition is real and sincere. 

5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”  (Hebrews 13:5-6    NKJV)

These two verses are what I think of as 'promise verses' from God to all Christians everywhere.  If anybody says that they've prayed for discernment from a sincere heart based on a real need and didn't get an answer, they are a liar.  The alternative is that God lied when He made the two promises recorded here in the book of Hebrews, and God is not a liar! 

So where exactly is this line I've been going on about, the one we should never cross between secular politics and our Spiritual worship of God?  That's the tricky thing about this whole issue, which is why discernment is so important.  The line doesn't stay in one place, it can and does move around quite a bit, but what else should we expect from something firmly anchored in a world ruled by satan?  One easy test to conduct that will show us whether an issue is something we need to get involved with is a simple question, 'Does this issue have any impact on my, or anybody elses, ability to start and maintain a relationship with God?'  This is the ultimate 'litmus' test.  It's a pass or fail situation.  If you find yourself having to qualify your answer, then something is already wrong.  

Be right, and be strong in all that you are before the Lord!

Be Blessed Don B., and we thank God everyday that you and your wife are who you are!

Serving Him in Absarokee MT and all points of the compass,
Reverend Terry and Faith Keiner 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chains of Life!

One of the most basics of dealing with 'signed' numbers in math is that when we multiply a negative with a positive, the answer is consistently a negative.  But there is a special and unique situation in which the only way to end up with a positive is to add a negative. 

'For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.'  (Ezra 9:9    NKJV)
What we have here is the prophet Ezra before the Lord in prayer for the sake of the people.  Earlier on God had told the people, who by this time in Biblical history were His Chosen, to separate themselves from the people, and by direct contribution their [practised] abominations, of the land(s) (See Ezra 9:1).  The people had failed to do so, and now faced the anger of a loving Parent defied by His much loved children.  Let's break this verse down just a bit, and get it into manageable pieces.  Right at the beginning, Ezra acknowledges the Children of Israels' status before man and God, that they 'were slaves.'  Notice that the prophet did not specify as to what or whom the people were enslaved to, and that is something we'll look at closer in just a minute.  Next, we have a statement, which can also be viewed as a promise, which we'll also get more into shortly. The verse is finished by documenting the proof that God did not abandon or give up on, the Children of Israel as the results of their disobedience in not separating themselves from the other peoples.  My question to you is this, 'Does anything from the words written by the prophet Ezra remind you of anything?'  If his words does not describe every one of our conditions before coming to the Throne of Grace then I have to question whether or not we really understood just how precarious our standing was before the Lord, prior to having claimed the shed blood of Christ as the atonement for our sins.  Let's go on and take a look at the apostle Paul's words to those members of the church at Rome, and see if this helps us to understand what can be described as the 'before and after' state of man.

'16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.'  (Romans 6:16-19    NKJV)

Now do you see where I'm headed today with my rambling?  Just as the Old Testament prophet told us, 'we were slaves.'  Have no doubt that his words, though written at least five hundred years before Christ walked the earth as Jesus the Man, are just as relavant to us today as to the wayward Children of Israel then.  While they were literally, physically, enslaved by real life captors, their condition was just as desparate and fatal as we are today before coming to accept Christ as Savior and Lord.  Also, just as God never gave up on them, so He never gives up on us.  But there the simularities end, as regards their condition versus ours today.  God never called for the Jewish people to basically trade one slave master for another, but that is exactly what He requires of us today when we come to the Throne of Grace.  A mental image of being enslaved brings to mind being secured into our bondage by real life chains and shackles accompanied by those charged with preventing our escape by whatever means necessary, including death.  Now, here's the kicker, when we 'trade up', and are freed from the enslavement to sin, which is one hundred percent fatal, and are redeemed by the [shed] blood of Christ, we are willingly placing ourselves in bondage  to 'obedience leading to righteousness'  and as 'slaves of  righteousness for holiness.'  Is this trading a negative, being enslaved to sin, for a negative, being 'slaves of righteousness for holiness?'  Think about it this way, being held captive in bondage that is contrary to everything this world claims as good and normal has it's own dangers and is quite often just as physically fatal as the slavery of those captive Hebrews almost twenty-six hundred years ago.  There is a difference though, and it's a huge difference.  We, as Christians delivered from the condemnation of sin, have joy in our captivity to righteousness unheard of by any people or person living in the agony of slavery.  So the equation we have here is the positive of being delivered from slavery to sin being added to what some may view as the negative of choosing being enslaved to righteousness and ending up with the positive of having eternal life with our Lord Father in heaven.  The chains we choose are truly chains of life!

Be Blessed,
Reverend Terry Keiner
Absarokee MT

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Life, or a Way to Live?

Godliness, or the presence of the attributes of Godliness?  Just what is it that makes man feel that a choice has to be made to either pursue Godliness as life itself, or to acquire the attributes of God as a lifestyle? Sometimes the facts of Godliness are confused with the desire to possess the characteristics or traits of Godliness.  Just because a person acts in a certain way doesn't necessarily mean that the person is of a certain type.  Let's look first at the inspired words of David, who laid it out straight and simple as to just what it was, and is, the Lord desires from man in order to be [found] righteous.

'15 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?  who may dwell in Your holy hill?  2 He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart;  3 He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;  4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the LordHe who swears to his own hurt and does not change;  5 He who does not put out his money at usury,  nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.'  ( Psalms 15:1-5    NKJV)  (See Psalms 24:1-5)

While it's acknowledged that this particular Psalms was written during the time of moving the ark of the covenant to Mount Zion (See II Samuel 6:12-19), it's obvious that this Scripture is just as relevant for us today as it was to the peoples of the time of the Psalmist.  David didn't waste any words here, he kept it simple, for people like me who have trouble with two-dollar words and one-page sentences.  First, in verse one we have the all important question.  I think its safe to say that David's references to God's tabernacle and holy hill  was referring to God's Kingdom, both within men now and the new heavens and earths of our future.  The question is an honest query more to the point of what type, or kind, of person God would accept into His Home than what makes a person eligible to receive His gift of Grace.  These are words spoken from the heart, not just some whimsical and random jottings of an idle mind, and so they should be read with a sincere desire from an earnest heart for understandings.  This is so for this entire passage we're looking at, so let's take a look at the next three verses, which answers the question in verse one.  Again, just as in the first verse, David uses plain, straightforward language with no hidden mysteries.  We need to walk uprightly, and by these words we can understand that this is a figurative description of how our Spiritual posture should be maintained at all times.  Look at it like this, what is the opposite of walking uprightly from a literal point of view?  To slouch, to not keep your back straight, to not hold your shoulders up, maybe a combination of all of these.  What is your first impression when you see two people walking past, one with good posture while the other is slouching?  Which one of the two would you feel would be more dependable and trustworthy?  Now, let's apply this scenario to a strictly Spiritual setting.  What do you think of when you hear the words, 'good Spiritual posture?'  How about the opposite of that, 'Spiritual slouching?'  Do I need say more about walk[ing] uprightly?  The next part of verse two tells us that those chosen to abide with God works righteousness and speaks the truth in his heart.  What we're not going to do here is go down that old, much worn road of faith by works or works by faith while we're looking at the works righteousness part of this verse.  It's well established that our faith produces good works, and by a direct connection, those works are not only done in a righteous manner, but also for a righteous purpose.  Another very important thing about works [of] righteousness is the motivation behind the works.  It's very easy in this world to get caught up in a 'keeping up with the Jones' cycle.  If we do something that on its surface appears good, but our motivation, which only we and God may know, is flawed, then we are giving no glory to God.  The last part of verse two identifies those who've answered God's call as those who speaks the truth in his heart.  Right about now I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some readers questioned how someone would go about speaking anything, truth or otherwise, in his heart.  It a person doesn't understand this very simple ideal, then I have to question whether or not there is the accurate grasp of believing in your heart (See Romans 10:9) necessary to salvation.  Our relationship with God is not based in the intellectual center of our selves, the brain.  Our relationship with God has to be based in spirit and in truth (See John 4:23-24), and these are concepts that the human intellect can only have a basic academic knowledge of.  When Jesus answered the Pharisees question as to where the Kingdom of God was, He certainly was not talking about a part of the human body that only was able to grasp academic truths.

'20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."'  (Luke 17:20-21    NKJV)

The physician apostle could not have made it much clearer when he recorded this actual event and exchange of question and answer.  When we tie this Scripture from the book of Luke with Scripture from one of the apostle Pauls letters to the church at Corinth, it's even more obvious that knowing with our brains has nothing to do with what we believe, and speak, from our hearts.

'Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?'  (I Corinthians 1:20    NKJV)

The next verse, verse three from our Scripture up above, covers a lot of ground in a hurry.  Basically giving us three things that a child of God will not do, nor should we have any desire or urge to backbite, or slander, anyone, or do anything evil, or bad to anyone, including our neighbor(s), or to take up a reproach towards our friends, or anyone else.  There isn't much opporatunity for the fools of this world to distort this particular verse, it's pretty plainly written in plain speech.  Always remember that we do not have a God of coincidence.  Verse four gives us an idea of how we should percieve those who've elected to not answer God's call along with our recognition of those who choose to come to the Throne of Grace.  While we're told that we should despise a vile person, this is in no way telling us to completely separate ourselves from those not walking with the Lord.  If we did this, how could the testimony of our lives have any impact on them, and besides, Jesus taught us by the examples He set, and He specifically identified those who were without God as the ones He came to minister to  (See Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17, and Luke 5:32).  Next we're told to honor those who fear the Lord.  Remember that the translated word 'fear' has several contextual meanings, including 'to hold in awe' which is without doubt the meaning when this word is used in regards to the Christians perception of God.  David now addresses the issue of vows by identifying those who swear to his own hurt and does not change.  The main thing about vows to God is this; it's very rare that God calls on man to make a vow.  But, man has repeatedly chosen to make a vow to God over different issues, and so God requires a vow made to be kept.  David stressed this with the last few words of this verse, and does not change.  This requirement of God, to not change, is relevant in the Christians life in more than just this application.

'11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.'  (Ephesians 4:11-16    NKJV)

Now let's finish up our mini-study of Psalms 15 with a look at the last verse, verse five.  Under the earliest Jewish traditions and ordinances, Jews were prohibited from taking advantage of their fellows who were in bad positions by charging them high interest rates on loans (See Leviticus 25:35-37).  When we expand this Scripture to include Christians today in their dealings with the less fortunate, it's simple enough to gain from this verse that we are not to take advantage of anyone.  Then we're also told that should we ever be in a position to be swayed, by any means, from giving  truthful testimony against someone in exchange for a bribe, in any form, to do so would certainly not gain us any points with God.  Finally, we're given a promise, that, he who does these things shall never be moved.  So long as we keep what I think of as our Spiritual focus locked firmly in on God and His Will, His, Word, and His Way, nothing can separate us from our eternity with Him.

,31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

                                    “For Your sake we are killed all day long;
                                   We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'  (Romans 8:31-39    NKJV)

Be Blessed, on this day and every day to follow!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I heard it said not long ago, and the tone of voice was extremely sarcastic, that it appeared as if the Christian population of the United States will not be satisfied until the White House administration was made up completely of Christians.  Also, the Senate and Congress along with every other office of every agency in our government.  My response to all of this is, "You betcha!"  To me, this is a
no-brainer.  Remember the final words of Jesus before He Ascended?

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalme, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."  (Acts 1:8    NKJV)

Let's take a quick look at this Scripture, and let's reverse engineer it.  Okay then, I know that it's coming at it backwards, but just humor me for a second.

What does the verse above not say?  Well, it doesn't say we should do these things directed at all people except those individuals holding public office, does it?  It also does not give any indication that politicians are given a pass in regards to the salvation thing, does it?  I mean, isn't that the reason for all Christians to be empowered by the Holy Spirit and then go out and spread the Word?  Have we taken this reverse engineering look far enough?  Do we all get the picture now?  Right about now some will undoubtedly be hollering about the separation of church and state.  Okay, let's take a quick peek at that issue.  First of all, nowhere does any law or statute in this country disqualify any person from seeking election to public office because they are a Christian.  Secondly, the intent of the framers of the separation of church and state amendment was to address a major sore point found in European governments, one that had played a very large part in this countries desire for freedom from Great Britain.  This issue was not about people bringing their religious beliefs into either public office or public view, but to prevent the government from deciding that a certain belief system would be adhered to by all the citizens of the country.  As usual, those stupid enough to deny God cannot even get their facts straight.

Hey! Guess what?  I'm finished for now!  Can you believe it, not even a whole page.  Don't worry for a minute, those of you who might feel short-changed, I'll make up for this short post with the next one, it's going to be a doosy!

Be Blessed before the Lord!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's Not Even Close!

Throughout recorded history, and yes I am talking about Biblical recorded history, man has repeatedly tried to do two things.  The first of these, and understand that the order in which we'll look at these two things in no way reflects and precedence of one over the other, is that man has over and over again tried to reduce God to man's level.  Secondly, man has never stopped trying, to this very day, to elevate himself to God's level.  Hey, don't take my word for this, let's just take a look at a couple of instances. 

Let's put everybody from Joseph Smith to Muhammad to Allah to just about every person that man has chosen to worship instead of God into one big pot, and have no doubt that it would have to be a BIG pot.  They all have several things in common that are relevant to my ramblings today.  Each of these mentioned, and be sure that this short list is by no means complete, all felt themselves worthy to be worshipped [by man].  They also felt themselves to be an equal with God.  Finally, they were all sinners.  This in itself should have been the dead giveaway that something was wrong in the kitchen, so to speak.  The point I'm after here is that not only did these men, who sinned every day of their lives, feel they were worthy of the worship of their fellow [sinning] man, but also that their fellow man felt they deserved to be worshipped.  So here we have in one big mess those who put themselves on God's level and others who chose to worship mere man instead of God. 

We do have another factor we should look at today, and by identifying this action we may be able to connect the dots as to what both of these groups do, why they do it, and what the end results are.

'4 For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.    5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways.  You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—In these ways we continue;  And we need to be saved.  6 But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousness are like filthy rags;  We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.'  (Isaiah 64:4-6    NKJV) 

The Old Testament prophet has a clear understanding of not only who God is, but also why God is who He is.  It all comes down to one thing, the same thing that made it possible for God the Son to stand as man's perfect Atonement, or payment, for sin.  This is the same thing that some men at different times down through [Biblical] history claim to have, or to have in a much greater degree that everyone else.  Okay then, let's get to it.  God the Father is who He is because He is righteous.  God the Son was able to shed His blood for man because He was, and is, righteous.  Man can present himself as righteous before his fellow man and God all the day long, and like as Isaiah says here, "all our righteousness are like filthy rags;" 

The apostle Paul, in his letter to Titus at the [Early] church on Crete, was very clear in his understanding of what we can think of as a 'before and after' status of man in regards to our own righteousness and the righteousness of God.

'3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,'  (Titus 3:3-5    NKJV) 

If man's worthiness to expect or to receive anything from God were to be based on how 'good' we are, then every single one of us is destined straight to hell, no passing Go or collecting $200.  God's gift of grace, which brings with it eternal life by the shed blood of Christ, is based on His mercy, and His righteousness, and last but by no means least, His love for us.

'2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.  4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.'  (Ephesians 2:1-9    NKJV) 

So there we have it.  Without God's great love, which everything else revolves around, the best that man can do in the righteousness department is not even close to what real righteousness, like that of God the Father and God the Son, is like.  That is what makes everyone who either tries to bring God down to their level or to raise themselves to His level fail.  It's the righteousness factor that man simply cannot duplicate.  Do you want to know the best thing man can do?  Quit trying.  Hey, know when enough is enough, quit beating your head against the wall.  Yeah, I'm talking to every single person who hasn't accepted God's merciful gift of grace.  I'm talking to every person who denies God's existence.  I'm talking to anyone who would question God's sovereignty and power.  Am I talking to you?  If I am, send me a comment, Email me, call me (1-406-290-4227), at the very least, pray.  Be blessed brothers and sisters before the Lord and any who haven't made it to the Throne of Grace just yet, be blessed!

Rev. Terry Keiner
Absarokee MT

Monday, April 16, 2012

One Time Renting Was Good!

All of the experts have an opinion on just about every single thing.  It used to be that only the tabloids and 'smut' papers carried the most updated 'facts' about what was good and what wasn't so good, what was health and what was sure to take years off of our life expectancies. Up until just a few short years ago, it was the general consensus among real estate and financial experts that renting was just about the worst thing a person could do, and that their was no 'upside' to renting.

(By the way, and I promised myself that I would not detour off topic today, I spent some time trying to get some information about what it is that makes a person either a real estate or financial expert.  I was after what I thought was some fairly simple answers, like what college degrees to take, or what kind of career paths to pursue, and how many years needed to be spent working in your degree field or career path before a person would be accepted as an expert.  Guess what?  I couldn't get a single consistent answer other than for the most part the 'solvency and mobility' of the real estate and financial markets played a huge role in whether a person was an expert or an idiot in either the real estate or financial fields.  Go figure!) 

Okay, back on track!  Well people, I can tell you one time when renting was without doubt a very good thing that happened for all of us.

'45Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 47Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. 48And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. 49The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. 50Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;'  (Matthew 27:45-51    NKJV)  (See also; Mark 15:37-39; Luke 23:44-46).

As some may have figured out by now, we're not talking about paying a certain amount of money on a regular basis for the use of a property.  What we are talking about is one very important effect caused by the One who chose to pay the highest price imaginable in behalf of people, who literally hated Him, so that they could basically live rent free for all of eternity.  It's obvious here that we're dealing with two different meanings for the word 'rent'.  Both meanings are literal to the secular world, one being to 'tear' and the other to pay to rent a property, as we've already talked about.  In verse fifty-one from the Scriptures up above, the contextual meaning is that the veil, a hanging curtain separating the 'holiest of holies' from the rest of the sanctuary, was quite literally torn in two.  I've heard some, in trying to take God out of the happenings on that very fateful day about two thousand years ago, explain that the veil, along with the rocks also mentioned in the same verse, were destroyed through the event of an earthquake, nothing more and nothing less.  Just one of many things that occurred to me in response to this kind of silliness is that why was that one particular earthquake, out of all of the millions that have taken place in that fault-ridden part of the world, so important as to have noted the damages that resulted.  Anyways, moving on...let's take a look at the real meaning behind the veil being rent, or torn, in two at the exact same moment that Jesus, '...yielded up the ghost.'   (Matthew 27:50    NKJV).  What we have to understand in order for the torn veil to have any meaning is the process, or ritual, that was a very  important part of the Jews worship of God at that time.

9 'Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— 10 concernedNKJV) 

Some denominations, and it truly saddens me to say this, still follow the ritualistic tradition we see here, which dates from the time that God chose the Children of Israel as His own.  In a nutshell, the normal everyday man did not have access to God, for any reason.  The priests were the intermediaries between God and man, but even the 'regular' priests were not allowed into this curtained alcove behind the altar.  Only the high priests were allowed to enter the Holiest of All, and that only once a year, in order to ask of God, by petition, just what the people should offer as an atonement for each of the sins confessed to the High Priest.  It wasn't that God is stand-offish, it's that man kept himself from God by his own sins.  But when Jesus, through His acts of obedience, paid man's sin offering in full, He also took on the permanent position of our Eternal High Priest, and since He is also God as well as mans intermediary, now man has permanent full-time access to God.  This is the figurative meaning behind the literal act of the veil being rent.  The Holiest of All was, and is, now wide open to man and for man.  Now, the only thing that can stand between God and man is mans own sin, and with Christ as our perfect atonement for that sin, it's our own fault if we're still separated from our Lord God. 

Another point to be made here, and this is just as important as understanding the meaning of the rent veil on that day, is that just as Jesus assumed His position as our Eternal High Priest able to stand as our perfect Atonement for sin by His acts of obedience, so our obedience is necessary for us to claim Him as our High Priest and His shed blood as atonement for our sin. 

4 'Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works” 5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”  6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.”  8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.'   (Hebrews 4:1-16    NKJV) 

It's only by the obedience of Jesus Christ that we're given the promise of the Throne of Grace, and only by our obedience that we're able to, with boldness, to claim that promise.  One way to look at the God/sin/man relationship is that the shed blood of Christ removed sin, signified by the veil in the temple, from between God and man.  But, man through disobedience can once again place his sin as a barrier between himself and God.  Through disobedience, man can effectively repair that torn veil and separate himself from God.  It is only be obedience, and not just a single act of disobedience in order to obtain salvation, that man can dare have the boldness to stand before God and claim sonship with the Author of Salvation.

How about you?  Do you dare to have the necessary boldness to approach the Throne of Grace?  Have you the obedience to God's Will as the most important part of your life?  Be Bold!

God bless you all,

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Yes, Lord!

'Yes, Lord!'  What do we have here?  Two simple words, a total of seven letters made of up five consonants and two vowels.  Throw in a couple of punctuation marks and we have one of the most important [to God] and abused [by man] phrases in the Christians vocabulary.  I'm not just rambling on today about New Testament Believers, because my point to be made covers everybody from the beginning of Biblical History forward.  Think about it for a minute...  It's easy to imagine the response of Adam and Eve there in the Garden when He gave them their marching orders, when they would've said 'Yes, Lord!' to His instructions.  Choose any of the Biblical characters down through history, and while most of them initially responded with something like, 'I can't do that, Lord.', a vast majority of the time the final response was, 'Yes, Lord!'  Look at the process Jesus undertook to choose His original disciples.  He would select someone, tell them to follow Him, and the response inevitably was, 'Yes, Lord!'  Look around you today at people called by into specific ministries and what you'll find the final response was, even though some like myself didn't have the desire to by in ministry, a heartfelt, 'Yes, Lord!'  Now let's each take a long hard look at ourselves, and this is always hard to do and be honest and objective.  Scripture tells us that while God has called many, few are chosen.  The Parable of the Wedding Feast is a perfect illustration of this.

'22 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.  11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”'   (Matthew 22:1-14    NKJV)

The planning of the Wedding Feast is a figurative comparison to the plans, or Will, that God had in His heart of hearts for all of humankind.  Just as the planning of the king provided for every conceivable need of his guests, so did the Will of the Father include every possible need of those He called, or invited.  And, just as those invited by the king didn't accept their invitations to the Wedding Feasts, so has the vast majority of those called by the King of kings either not responded to His calling or failed to respond in a sincere and diligent way.  Now I know that I've only touched on the high points of this Parable, but my rambling about today isn't about this Parable, it's about two simple words and the impact they should have on man's relationship with God.

When each of us make the conscious decision to come to the Throne of Grace, we are effectively saying, 'Yes, Lord!'  But, and this is a very important and often misunderstood point, we are not saying, 'Yes, Lord!' only to our acknowledgment of our absolute need and acceptance of the atoning blood of Christ.  We're also saying, 'Yes, Lord!' to every single part of the Father's Will for our lives from that point forth.  This is not something that we're able to pick and choose what we want to be in our lives and what we don't want to be responsible for. 

So where are you?  Was, and is, your, 'Yes, Lord!' just that, or is it more like, 'Yes, Lord, but....?' 

Hey guess what?  I've made the point for today, my rambling is finished, for now.  Yeah, I know that this is kind of short for me, but don't let the length of this post lead you to believe that it's any less important than any of the longer ones I've posted in the past.  'Yes, Lord!' is a very important part of your life before the Lord, and all that He has in His Will for you, and my prayer for you today and every day is that your 'Yes, Lord!' is truly 'YES, LORD!!!!'

Be Blessed Brothers and Sisters, today and every day!