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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!