Saturday, December 27, 2014

Suhweeeeeeet Smelling Savour!

Over Thanksgiving, I cooked a turkey. Our home was filled with a great aroma that reminded us of more than just that we were hungry. The smell of turkey cooking always reminds me of thankfulness and gatherings. That is what Thanksgiving is all about!

As I have read through Leviticus, I have noticed a certain phrase popping up repeatedly. It is "sweet smelling savor unto the Lord" and refers to the burnt, meal and peace offerings made to God in the Old Testament. The same phrase also pops up frequently in Numbers .  It is not necessarily the sacrifice itself but the pious and and attentive heart behind the sacrifice that pleased God.

In the New Testament, the connection of the sacrifice to Christ is made. In II Corinthians 2:14-16:
14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
Another great smell is the smell of coffee brewing! It always reminds me of good conversation, slowing down time to get together, quiet joyful, mornings when the phone doesn't ring and I don't have to rush anywhere. I can write, read and have great conversation with my husband.  The smell of coffee brewing may not have the same effect on others. It may bring up entirely different feelings like digging in at work. Some people may not even like the coffee aroma.

The sacrifices of the Old Testament foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice  and triumph of Jesus Christ. It was  a sacrifice of genuine love:
2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. Ephesians 5:2
 In the Old Testament use of this phrase, it is not used in connection with the sin or trespass offerings (which were made outside the camp and not in the tabernacle) as sin is not sweet smelling to God. In the context of this Ephesians use, verses 3-16 contain some tough talk about sin (it is not a sin to mention sin).

Jesus Christ gave his life for us. In God's eyes it is the giving that is emphasized. We please God in believing (Hebrews 11:6) and that involves believing in His son. Since believing is action-based, it involves giving on our part to others and that is causes us to abound in  productive, satisfying fruit. 
17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. Philippians 4:18

Saturday, December 20, 2014

So Where Do You Go To Church?

In the book of Acts, it is pretty easy to see that the early Christians 'fellowshipped' on a daily basis. Nowhere in that book are there examples of 'set' meetings like the liturgical works of art we have today. We have tried to imitate the 1st century by dividing up into home fellowships or bible studies and the question still is asked  "Where do you fellowship?" This really is the same question as: "Where do you go to church?"

In the Old Testsment there was first a tabernacle (in the wilderness -Exodus, Leviticus Numbers etc) then there was the temple that Solomon built. Under the New Testament contract a new  construct appeared which was 'not made with hands:
44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. 45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; 46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built him an house. 48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Acts 7:44-49
The church I belong to is a church that a person can't GO to. Fellowship occurs on a daily basis. It is a huge group and it is amazing what transpires within the group  because it is directed by the "Head' ( or 'Lord' if you prefer) Jesus Christ. Its members are found all over the world and it is called 'the body of Christ':
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. ........... 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (I Corinthians 12:12-13,27)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Grace is Not That Complicated!

Years ago I found the concept of 'grace' difficult to understand clearly. Part of my confusion rested in  different teachings of various teachers in the doctrine as well as practice of grace. People define it, connect it, compare it to the law, equate it with mercy, read into it, and sadly invoke what I call 'worm theology', accusation and guilt with it.

I remember distinctly an 'aha' moment on grace I had when I walked by a display of the Pentecost scene portraying the holy spirit as it was poured forth on the twelve apostles(Acts 2:40-47). On the display the word, 'POWER' was written over the tongues of fire. Right then and there I got it! 'Grace' is what God has given us. God on that amazing day gave the opportunity to all who believed, to connect with Him and have bold access to the throne of grace, the source of all power.

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour ('charis' Greek for grace) with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:46-47
When we truly recognize the power of God in our lives, it affects us. We change, we love and in those moments we don't think about sin. We think about how great God is!

The first use of 'grace' is in connection to Noah. God bestowed grace on Noah. The earth had become corrupt and was 'filled with violence' (Genesis 6:11). God is not the author of evil, He is a God of justice and all that is right. Evil is destructive and destroys those committed to it. This breaks God's heart. He created an earth to lavish His love on man, and man allowed evil to take over. Noah was an exception (Genesis 6:9) and God provided Noah with help in a time of need against the violent activity of men. He helped Noah build a boat so that he and his family would survive. I suppose the God of the universe could have spoken into being a fancy cruise liner and plopped it down in front of Noah and his family. Instead he taught him how to build it and gave him the information, power and stamina to complete the task. Noah had to build the boat!

Grace makes us strong.  On the day of Pentecost God gave those who believe an amazing tool belt of power to provide strength. The book of Acts reveals some tough times that assaulted the 1st century believers. As they applied the tools, strength replaced weakness in face of adversity. It was God's grace that made them strong.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Molten Gods and Graven Images

Leviticus 19:4 4 Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.
A molton image is made when a metal is heated up to a liquid state and poured into a cast. The cast is formed by someone to generate an image. Idols were also commonly called 'graven images' in the Bible. An graven image is carved on wood or etched on stone or metal. In either case, man supplies the design.

God designed man. Man was designed to live according to his designer. Man was not made to be loved by a dumb, silent sculpted object on a shelf.
Habbukuk 2:18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? 19 Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.
Ideas are casts of mental structures. They too can become idols. Certain ways of thinking can usher the mind in directions that are not what God had in mind for His own. Religion can often fall into this trap by going beyond what God says in His Word.  People pour their whole heart, soul and resources into doing what they have fashioned in their own minds as right instead of enjoying the righteousness God has intended for them.

The world also shapes and molds mental structures continually. The news media, educational systems, arts and culture all contribute to the mold. Ideologies become idolatry and confusion and mayhem abound. It is going on everywhere.

God warned his sojourners in Sinai in Leviticus chapters 17, 18, 19 and 20 to watch out for the pagan ideas that would try to ingrain themselves into their way of life and practice (Leviticus 18:3-6). The same warning is found throughout the New Testament too.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Ideology Versus Truth

In today's world of social media, the internet and cable TV, it is easy to see how different people think about things. Opinions and ideology run high not only in intellectual circles, but also in religious, political  and cultural circles. It is pretty clear that we don't all think the same way. So what is the right way of thinking? Which is the right denomination, government, or morality standard? What is truth?

I'm thankful I live in the United States of America not because of 'American exceptionalism' (whatever that is). I'm thankful for the the principles upon which it was founded. I'm thankful for the Constitution and the guaranteed rights of an individual; that we can indeed have our opinions and yet we must respect another's right to disagree. Democracy is an ideology.

I am thankful for a God who has given us free-will choice to believe or not believe in Him. It is amazing that that is the way He chose the universe to operate. All men are equal in His sight as He gave His only begotten son for all (John 3:16). God's love is available to all without exception. The choice is ours whether to believe it.

I looked up the first use of truth in the Old Testament:
Genesis 24:27 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master's brethren.
Abraham sent a servant out to look for a wife for Isaac and God led him to one of Abraham's brethren. It was non-coincidental and involved breath-taking timing.

In the New Testament, the first use of truth is in Matthew 14:32-33 in the record of after Jesus bid Peter to walk on water:
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. 
Jesus Christ is the son of God! These two situations don't represent an ideology. They reveal the truth about God. The Creator of the universe is the source of truth. Love and truth go hand in hand.

There is always the opportunity with which an ideology can bring people into bondage when it is not based on truth. We have seen this throughout history. Loving the truth doesn't mean that one cannot develop an ideology, but it is truth that actually sets us free.
John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Money is Not Evil!

There was a time I felt that money was evil and that giving it up was a way to show God how much you loved or believed Him. I have seen people go through some of the weirdest motions of self-sacrifice to prove God in their lives. It is really quite simple. It is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil and it is not hard to recognize when you are in that mode of thinking.

When the love of wealth transforms money into an idol that comes before God things get murky and dark. Compromising on what is right goes hand in hand with this. Just because you have a lot of money doesn't mean you have the love of it, sometimes not having enough makes you love it and put it before anything else.

Overly obsessing about the budget also is not a glory to God (been there, done that) either. Budgeting should be a grand experience in seeing God's work in your life. If you go at it with thankfulness, it will bless you immensely. Too often that thankfulness comes in retrospect when we get to see what God has done for us. Things take time, but God's presence in our lives is always there when the air we breathe is thankfulness.

Prosperity is individual. One man's prosperity is another man's poverty. We are all different, so when we look at something another has we are doing ourselves a disservice. God supplies all our needs, yet every man has different needs.

Thankfulness is a big filter to keep stain, strain, drain and pain out of our lives.
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. Titus 1:15
Once we lose thankfulness, things become tainted and everything seems negative, suspicious, and stark. On the other hand focusing on thankfulness generates power, love and sound thinking because God is allowed to go to work.
Philippians 4:6-8 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Awesome Comfort- Better Than Chocolate!

In the New Testament, 'comforter' and 'advocate' are English words translated from the Greek word 'parakletos'. Parakletos means 'one called alongside of for help'. 'Para' (alongside) is found in various English words like 'parasite' and 'parallel'. In the Bible, four of the New Testament uses are found in John referring to the holy spirit that came on the day of Pentecost.. The fifth use of 'parakletos' is the word 'advocate' used in I John 1:2.
2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate (called alongside to help) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
John 15:26 But when the Comforter (called alongside to help) is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
Even if we sin we have help.  It's the alongside kind of help, how amazing! We have a lot to be thankful for! Another form of the Greek word is found in:
II Corinthian 1:3-4 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
That's a lot of comfort!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Leviticus 17:1-7 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them; This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, saying, 3 What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp,4 And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto theLord before the tabernacle of the Lord; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people: 5 To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the Lord. 6 And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the Lord.7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.

The sojourners of the desert had left Egypt behind, yet may have carried some extra pagan ritual (verse 7) baggage. Offering sacrifices in an open field was an example. God made it clear how this had to be stopped.

Culture has a huge effect on people. God loves us and wants the best for our lives. Blurring the lines of God's word allows devilish practices to blur the blessings of God.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Life is in the Blood

In Leviticus 17:11 there is a very interesting statement about blood.  Actually the word for 'blood',
like 'holiness' and 'atonement', is used more times in Leviticus than any other book. 
Leviticus 17:11For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
Physical blood is very important to the human body. It has two basic parts: the liquid plasma and the formed bodies that include the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The blood plasma contains proteins, water and other solutes (electrolytes, waste products, nutrients gases and regulatory substances, vitamins). The red blood cells have the the largest population of the formed bodies. They transport oxygen to the cells without using it themselves. The white blood cells have several types of protective bodies that watch out for for allergies, bacteria and viruses. The platelets exist to repair vessels that break so that the organism doesn't bleed out.

All these components work together to maintain the human body. It is absolutely amazing right down to every detail.  All of God's creation is magnificent, and it reflects God's heart and desire for us. We can learn from the things that God has made available (Romans 1:20). There is a greater depth to how the blood effects our lives than what is listed here, but there are certain key things that stick out.

First, oxygen is a key player. God breathed life into Adam (an interesting word which by the way which has the Hebrew word 'dam' for blood embedded in it). Oxygen is necessary for all the reactions that take place to supply energy to the body. Second, the blood also carries nutrients, regulators also necessary for those reactions. Protection is a third factor provided by circulating blood. We humans are outfitted with several types of warriors that travel around keeping us us safe.

All components work together to provide energy, strength, building blocks and repair vehicles and protection. Holy Spirit does this spiritually for us. God is spirit and He has given us of what he is: spirit to provide spiritual energy, strength, nutrients, regulators and protection through the utilization of the spirit.
2 Peter 1:3-4 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Reminder To Self

This morning my radio/alarm went off very early. Normally I wake up on my own, but I had to do
something early so I wanted to make sure I was up on time. The first five minutes of my morning was filled with the relentless chatter of complaining, grumbling and whining about events in our country on the radio. So I got up and turned it off and walked to the kitchen and what was going on in my head? Grumbling and complaining! Go figure! Whoa! Praying is much more advantageous! As soon as I stopped thinking about what was on the radio, my brain was cascaded with a whole bunch of things to be thankful for!

We don't live in the age of the people of Leviticus and the sacred reminders of God through the tabernacle, offerings, sacrifices and laws. We live in the days of the spirit, but taking a lesson from the Old Testament, it doesn't hurt to put up reminders of God's great goodness in our lives. We don't even have to strain at this because the holy spirit in our hearts can bring things to mind if we tune in to that channel.

There are many things going on in our country today and it is election time, so there is a lot of grumbling, negatives and aggravating political calls.  So why not put a reminder on the phone and TV that says 'Pray for our country'. I know that when the people in Exodus turned and prayed to God they got answers. Complaining didn't get them very far and it delayed their entry to the promised land.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Brought Forth

In reading through Leviticus with all its detail of the offerings sacrifices, and feasts, it is certainly clear that God has made himself known to man as to what he expects and how his will is laid out. Much of what is recorded in Leviticus is for man's focus, remembrance and and an unveiling of what is future. For all that God has done, continues to do, and will continue to do, man is to revere the creator.

God brought his people out of bondage, to be holy, not as bondmen but God's own servants. He said over and over that He is the Lord and He was to be their God just as he had said to their forefathers. He gave them a new land to be an example to all. The reminders are all through Leviticus.
45 For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. Leviticus 11:45
36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.37 Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord.
Leviticus 19:36-37
31 Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the Lord. 32 Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am theLord which hallow you, 33 That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord. Leviticus 22:31-33
43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 23:43 
38 I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God. Leviticus 25:38

42 For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen. Leviticus 25:42

55 For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 25:55

13 I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright. Leviticus 26:13
45 But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the Lord. Leviticus 26:45
This is a good lesson for us today. God hasn't changed, except now we can enjoy the privileges of as sons of God. We are not to profane his name by bringing things down to a human level but recognize we are being brought up and out of the weights, burdens and injustice of the world by God. So instead of looking down, we look up and focus on God!

Challenges swirl and mix around at us at an amazing moment to moment rate. I saw this so simply again this past week.  News and current affairs have a profound effect on us even when we may be unaware of its effects. The internet brings us instant access to all sorts of information. A phone call, a magazine, or a conversation can all  effect our thinking.  However, when we are immersed in the Word, prayer and thankfulness, the negatives bounce off of us. The joy and utter peace of a relationship with the Father sterilizes our atmosphere. Light dispels and overcomes darkness.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Security in God Knocks Down Walls of Defensiveness

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone about God and realize that somehow something went awry. As I read Exodus this problem seemed constant just as it is today. People often misinterpret what others say, read into it what others say, throw up walls of defensiveness and sometimes act very offended.

When you really understand the gift of holy spirit and its value to the individual, there is a security and confidence that develops that is not based on arrogance nor pride. Fellowship between two people is absolutely magnified. No one is trying to get the drop on another or outdo someone to build themselves up because God is the true source of adequacy.

God planted His tabernacle smack dab in the middle of the orderly dispersion of the twelve tribes when they camped. All were reminded of Him in their midst. Everything in the set-up reminded them of Him: the offerings, the laver, materials used, the structure of the entire place, the veils and hooks and gate. In the opening of Leviticus, God is recorded to have met with Moses in the tabernacle. He no longer had to make treks up Mt Sinai.

In our world today God is even closer to the individual believer. He is at the center of our hearts.
That doesn't mean we don't need others. We do need to surround ourselves with those who remind us who we are in Christ and who seek his lordship. I love people who remind me of God and contrast the Bible with of the false narrative of the world. Too often even religious people can reflect a false narrative in the name of religion which can be quite confusing. It is great to know that God is nearer than our own breath and when we get together with others that have that understanding, it is amazing!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Rise and Shine!

In 2 Corinthians 3, there is a beautiful section dealing with the glory of God. The word "glory" is used
of something that attracts praise, honor and esteem.
2 Corinthians 3:12-18
12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13 And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
Have you ever felt the invisible veil that seems to drop down around fear, negativity and condemnation. Often I cannot feel that slippery dark intrusion as it falls, but when it starts to permeate the things around, I usually sense a foreboding and ask for God's help. It is then I can see the lifting and change in atmosphere very clearly. Joy!  The people in Exodus could not see spiritual things without the help of Moses. He reflected the glory of God to them in His face. In the New Testament the veil was torn down separating them personally from God's holiest inner workings, but some of them kept the veil over their hearts. They could not experience the joy and freedom of basking in God's glory.
verse 17: Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Our lives reflect the glory of the Lord as we believe and turn our face to God. The New Testament  describes a relationship with God that is open, full-faced and enduring(not fading away). Veils are completely torn down! There is no shame that darkens the joy of living in great freedom with the Father. As we live our lives in that freedom we reflect the love of the Father. In the morning when I get up, the first thing I do is open the curtains and blinds. I love the morning sun. When people see the love of the Father, it opens the blinds to their hearts and lets the glorious sonlight in! You don't have to ever shut them because it is light that never sets.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Do you think God could have miraculously moved the Exodus pilgrims up and out of bondage and into the land of milk and honey in a split second? He really is the God of the universe. Any being who could bring the universe into existence certainly could do that!  However, man didn't design the true God and we certainly shouldn't try to define Him outside of His Word.

God is His Word and He hasn't changed. We can't see God but we can see His effects. We see Him in the Word and we can see Him wherever an individual manifests His operation in his/her life. Our big example is His son, Jesus Christ. God is spirit and He imparted spirit to Jesus Christ.

So why the trek across the desert? The truth is God didn't whip an abracadabra world into being when He said 'Let there be light'. Light is energy and it transforms energy into a force to make things happen. The force needs to be utilized.  God didn't create a fantasy world. He created a working world. Living things in this world grow, mature, work, produce, function, endure, repair, believe, trust, love, think, and move among many other things that require energy. Even the signs and miracles that occurred when they left Egypt behind required action.

Action is not a way of earning God's grace, it is the way to carry it out. Grace is unearned favor. It is a gift.  If someone gives you $1000 as a gift, it is not earned. If you don't utilize the money, you don't get the benefits of the gift. God is the great giver and He has given us His spirit also.  It is His desire to love and bless people, but people have to act upon His Word and utilize His grace. God's love is active and grace is not just some lovely bauble. It is the power to do!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Judging Others?

It is easy to get into the mind set about those early pioneers of Exodus. They appear grumpy, griping every time when something went wrong. But can I truly see the whole picture of their lives when I read Exodus as I sit in my air-conditioned home with all the modern day conveniences and not in the  desert? Humans are always passing judgement on others. It can be quite cruel at times.  I've been at both ends on this.

It is very important to recognize evil:
Hebrews 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good (kalou) and evil (kakou).
Sometimes we are unaware of evil and sometimes we are too aware of it. We can make such a big deal of something that it mushrooms into fear. That is why it is important to run things by God. The key to judgement is God. He does the judging and He has a better view. Our job is to listen. Fear is noise and it is hard to hear when fear is around.

There are times in my life, I have vacillated on things I knew were right courses. God is patient, but there are specific times where immediate action is absolutely required. Exodus is full of examples of this. The golden calf incident is one such incident. Moses had to expose it for what it was. Idolatry is never right. It is a big "No,No" and never beneficial to man. Evil competes with good, good doesn't have to compete.

Evil involves a system of errors, so it is important to weed out error. We have the Word and we have access to God through Jesus Christ in the form of holy spirit. Anything or anyone who steps into the way of that needs examining honestly. Your walk with God is unique and no one has a right to judge how you serve God. That is between you and God.

Thank God Ananias in Acts 9 understood this! He ministered to Paul. Now there is a situation clearly that judging someone by how he acted would have clearly brought calamity. There is another man named Ananias in Acts 5. His actions were judged and he bought into error.  They had the same name, but they each had two completely different mindsets!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Ever-present God

People have various perceptions of the book of Leviticus and I have read some interesting commentary about it. Many people question its importance today. Some people label it as legalistic. How many sermons have you heard about Leviticus? It is a very detailed book and centers on worship, atonement and holiness.

As I read through its amazing detail, I am reminded of God's absolute love. He set down these instructions out of love. God is not a megalomaniac. To the contrary, anything He does or prescribes is to be best for His creation. It is obvious that He desired and continues to desire to be present among His people:
Leviticus 26: 11 And I set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
In the history of these people, there are many times they forgot the miracles God wrought among them.  The tabernacle was to reming them of His presence. There was  a prescribed pattern of encampment centrally around the tabernacle.

The numbers represent the adult male population, so the actual numbers were even larger than written in Numbers. The population of the town I live in is considerably lower that the population of the smallest tribe. Imagine what a huge undertaking this trek through the wilderness would have been! There were no cell phones, restaurants, motels and indoor plumbing! 

God's instructions and set-up reminded them of Him and His desire for them. The set-up for the tabernacle foreshadowed the future appearance of Jesus Christ as the one-time sacrifice for mankind permitting entrance into God's throne room, the Holy of Holys! God wants to be at the center of our lives. Today His presence is not amidst a bunch of tents, but in the middle of our hearts.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Tent

God has always desired to dwell with His people.
Exodus 29:44-46And I will sanctify the tabernacle (NIV 'tent of meeting') of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office. 45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.46 And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God.
This was the place where God could meet with His people in the wilderness. God gave distinct instructions to Moses as to how this tabernacle was to be instructed and used. Most of all it was a reminder that He was with them. They spiritually could not see Him, they could only see His physical acts.
Psalm 103:7He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
The tabernacle construction and function foreshadowed, in it's details, God's plan for the New Covenant later on that would come through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The tabernacle in the Old Testament was a tent that literally housed the presence of God. Later it was the temple. The veil separating the Holy of Holies was torn down so that today we have the gift of holy spirit:
John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Acts 7:44Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. 45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built him an house. 48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
The place of rest today is the 'fleshy table of our heart'. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Holy Spirit Action

The book of Acts in my Bible is titled 'The Acts of The Apostles'. Titles and sub-headings were added by man. There are great records about the apostles in the book of Acts, but there are also records of others who did great things for God like Philip and Stephen, the certain disciple, Ananias, and others. The common denominator of all those that did great things for God was the gift of holy spirit. Instead of Acts of the Apostles, it might be better to title the book: Acts of Holy Spirit, or maybe even Holy Spirit Action.

God is spirit and everyone who truly loves Him worships Him in spirit and in truth. The very essence of what He is, spirit, has been imparted to man, with measure in the Old Testament, without measure in the New Testament. Throughout the New Testament there are references to the 'new man' or the inner godly nature that the spirit of God brings us. The Word of God fans the flames of that spirit. Where God is concerned, 'spirit' and 'truth' go hand in hand.  Spirit can exist without truth and truth without spirit but both may not be godly. Spirit without truth can be quite lively and misleading. Truth without spirit can be verrrrrrrrry dull.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter delivered a great explanation about what had just gone on in Jerusalem after all the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of holy spirit. Peter was a changed man, no longer denying Jesus, he squarely confronted those who had put Jesus to death. Not only was he changed, but those listening were changed also and acted without fear in response as recorded in Acts 2:42-47:
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear (respect) came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
People recognized the wonderful compassion of God.  They rejoiced. People changed in their hearts as the holy spirit worked in them. They continued boldly in the temple and from house to house and were no longer afraid of those who who sought to extinguish their movement. These verses are about the spiritual reaction to the gift energizing them. Love energizes. They were inspired. This section of scripture should be read with that in mind.  Remember the people in Exodus? They didn't exactly see deliverance the way the believers in Acts did. On the day of Pentecost God must have been so blessed with the 3000 people who were praising Him and sharing grace with all the people.

The grace continued as Peter  and John ministered to a lame man and he was healed. People got excited about it. Peter responded to their wonder by telling them exactly where the powerful and faithful love  was from:
12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. Acts 3:12-13 
The power or holiness came from the gift. A lot has been written about holy spirit, some of it very confusing and frankly misleading.  Internal genuine power comes from a loving and willing God.
When people truly understand its significance, lives get changed and the glory goes to God. He has given us such a gracious gift and it didn't disappear at the close of Acts.

Friday, August 29, 2014


As I was reading through the 10 commandments in Exodus 20 and subsequently the expansion of those laws in chapters succeeding, I am amazed at the justice, non-partiallity and compassion implied by God. How loving it was of God to establish a code of conduct on civil and social relationship issues, worship and personal responsibility.

After the listing of the 10 basic commandments, God expounds on the topic of slavery in chapter 21:1-11.
Exodus 21:2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.
Slavery is regarded in our culture negatively and rightfully so, but in the Bible it is different. God spells out some important considerations regarding Hebrew slavery. First of all, servanthood in the Old Testament came about when people fell into poverty and also when people were caught at theft (Exodus 22:3). People went to work for a master when they needed money or to pay restitution. Masters were to treat their servants justly. This falls under the category of indentured servant.
3 If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. 5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: 6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever. (Exodus 21:3-6)
There is a difference between a servant and a bond servant. A bond servant chooses to remain with the master forever. Through the master he may have received great blessings so after the 6th year, he could decide to stay on with the master.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Understanding the Importance of Holy Spirit

There are interesting comparisons of the giving of the law at Sinai and the outpouring of the spirit on
the day of Pentecost after Christ's ascension. In the Old Testament God placed spirit upon certain individuals but not on the general population. God talked to Moses and Moses talked to the people. God's Word was literally written in stone for their benefit so they could see it. That is how they understood God. On the day of Pentecost, all who received the gift of holy spirit had access to God in a new and different way, through spiritual eyes. The spirit gives power and strength to the flesh.
Romans 8:3a For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, 
 The gift of holy spirit is a big deal, it is unparalleled access to God. It involves communication through inspiration and revelation, as well as imparting power in life's situations. The Word of God is also revelation of God's will in written form. The written form that we can study and hold in our hand today is at best a version, and there many people who interpret it in many different ways. One thing we have to keep in mind to get clear on all this is to remember that the word of God is not made of stone. The Word of God is a living breathing reality when combined with the spirit that is in the heart of man.

My trek through the Old Testament is teaching me a lot of things. The Israelites in Exodus tried to see their journey as a dry dusty trail.  That was all they could see at times despite the miracles involved with getting away from Pharaoh's clutches, the Red Sea parting, the pillar of the cloud by day, the pillar of fire by night, manna, water out of a rock, and the brazen serpent. The five senses took front and center when they had something to complain about.

Our lives have been blessed. We can see God and all he does for us. The Word helps us recognize His voice and the spirit draws our attention to Him. God works continually through our lives. The adversary tries to too. The devil wants us to focus on the tangle of the world and problems. In the long run he knows the big picture exposes him, but he certainly tries to blow things out of proportion in our minds like a mushroom cloud. We can bring it back into focus with all the tools God has provided (read all of Romans 8 and see!).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

All that He Began

Have you ever had a lyric with a catchy lilt stick in your brain and play over and over? You just can't get it out of your head? Sometimes that happens to me with phrases in the Bible. The most recent one is: 'all that Jesus began both to do and teach'. Actually that phrase has a rather melodious ring to it.  I've read right over it  many times when reading the book of Acts. Last night however, the phrase popped into my head and stuck.  After looking it up and checking the context of those beginning verses of Acts, it really struck me that these are very pregnant words. The word 'began' stands out in big letters.
Acts 1:1- 2 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus BEGAN both to do and teach until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
Jesus Christ was a beginning! The book of Acts is a continuing. On the day of Pentecost those people who, by their own free-will choice decided to believe all that God was doing, became a part of that continuing.

It is interesting to note that Jesus Christ had given his parting words through the holy spirit to the apostles. Holy spirit is a communication life-line. God is spirit and they that love him must love him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). In order to do that people need to receive the gift of holy spirit. Jesus Christ had the spirit. The apostles received the spirit in their hearts on the day of Pentecost. You and I can obtain holy spirit by accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ and believing that God brought him back from death to life. Then we become part of the continuation.

Moses made 6 trips up and down the mountain of God to receive instructions during the Exodus stopover at the foot of Mt Sinai. Moses could talk and listen to God because he had spirit upon him. The Israelites couldn't. Things had to be written in stone for them and sometimes they still forgot. Today God doesn't need stone tablets when God can impress the fleshy table of our heart.
2 Corinthians 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Feasting on the Blessings of God

So how many feasts are there in the bible? Some people say 8, some 7 and because of this it gets a little confusing.  The big picture lesson may get a  little blurred. God is always teaching, either directly or through foreshadowing, proverbially or in figures. So when I ran across the following verses in Exodus, things seemed to simplify for me.
Exodus 23:14 Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. 15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:) 16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. 17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God.
In the first feast listed, the Feast of the unleavened bread, Passover and the barley harvest can be included. It was a feast celebrating the Exodus from Egypt. This meant deliverance and an escape for God's people. Jesus Christ is our passover today.

The second feast is called: the Day of Harvest and the Day of Firstfruits. A good study of 'firstfruits' yields utter perfection and reason for this description. The Feast of Weeks is involved the wheat harvest. For the Hebrews it was a day commemorating the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai and God's presence in the holy of holies in the Exodus tent. In the New Testament, those that are Christ's are considered the 'firstfruits' of God's beautiful grace through a spiritual relationship. The veil to the holy of holies dividing God from His people was ripped in half.

The last feast was The Ingathering. It was the celebration of the final harvest. This included the trumpet announcement, day of atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles (booths). For the Hebrew this was a remembrance of God's oversight throughout the 40 years in the wilderness. The parallel under the New Covenant involves the gathering together of 1st Thessalonians, the judgements, and the ultimate reign of Christ.

I like the way God maps out his plan: deliverance, firstfruits and conclusion. God has provided an escape out of bondage and corruption. Those who believe in his provision are blessed and receive power. Finally, in the grand scheme of all things everything is set right and we all live happily ever after!

Maybe I'm being a little simplistic, but it is a simple framework and a story of eternity. Each feast has additional embellishments and plans, but basically the big picture and results are the same. It fits nicely into my brain!

Check out Leviticus 23!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Burnt Offering and Peace Offering

After the listing of the ten commandments, God mentions the 'burnt' offering and the 'peace' offering. There are other types of offerings but He specifically calls attention to these two. They both involve the sweet smelling savor to God and they are voluntary offerings:
Exodus 20:22 And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23 Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. 24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. 25 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.
It is interesting that God prescribes an 'altar of earth' rather than a tooled man-made structure as the altar of these sacrifices. No gold, no silver, no man-made designs were to be involved. God even goes so far as to call it pollution.

Offerings provide lessons and foreshadowing. A 'burnt' offering implies 'ascending'. It is a symbol of commitment and devotion. A flame burns upward. On Pentecost, there were tongues like as a fire that sat on the heads of the apostles as they sat in the temple 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. These men recognized Christ's Lordship and were committed to all the provision of God through His son. It heralded in the receiving of the holy spirit. What came out of their mouths was perfect praise and thanksgiving to God. The 'peace' offering heralds thanksgiving, praise, and vows because of the peace provided by God. God delights in these offerings.

As with the commandments, God offers protection, guidance and instruction through what he lays out. We can clearly see what he values and enjoys.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

In Awe!

Very basic and the starting place to understand God- "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth"- Ok, so the Hebrew says 'God in the beginning'..... regardless this still is a very humbling concept.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Seeking and Finding - From the Strait and Narrow

Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The word 'find' in the above verse is interesting. It's a Greek word which means 'discover'. Used alone is usually has a sense of 'not seeking'. The same word in used in previous verses: Matthew 7:7,8.
In these two verses 'seeking' is included in the verse and a prerequisite to finding. Without seeking, few people will discover what they are looking for.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Strait and Narrow

Sometimes it is hard to cut ties with something you have been involved with for a long time. Whether it is a change of job, a change in location or a change in affiliations, change is hard. The Israelites in Exodus had a difficult time leaving Egypt despite the hard times they had there. Even as they were on their way, they questioned whether they were doing the right thing.
Strait doesn't mean straight!

In the the record labeled 'The Beatitudes', Jesus talks about a lot of very practical things about life. When I was thinking about the records of Exodus, a couple of verses popped into my mind and I dug in and found some gold.
Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The gate can be strait (small) or wide and the way can be narrow (link-compressed, hemmed in) or broad (spacious). There are a couple of ways one can look at this verse: from the legal point of view or the love point of view, or both. From a purely legal point of view only it sounds hard, but when a person understands God as a loving Father it makes so much sense.

Yup, the gate is small and the the road it leads to can be pressed in, but the pressure is not from God.  Jesus Christ is the way, that was God's decision. The world is full of forces pressing in on human lives, just turn on the current news and see. Pressure starts the moment we get up and there is a broad spacious avenue that tantalizes us to deal with it in various ways. Life is not easy because of the pressure of evil that strives and vies for the dominion of the world. That doesn't change the fact that there is a gate to the way to life that the Father lovingly provides us with.

Sometimes those pressures make us feel like God is not around, that He is not real or that he doesn't love us. We should push back those thoughts. Making Jesus Christ Lord and believing that God got him out of death is the wall that holds back the pressure big or small. Jesus Christ was  and is God's plan. There's a lot that has been written, interpreted, theorized  and opined about him, but God is the ultimate authority on him. The gate is small and there is pressure on the way it leads to, but we are to trust God and therein we truly find life that is exceedingly abundant (John 10:10).

At the side a narrow driveway, brush and greenery needs to be constantly clipped back or it will overgrow the roadway or at the very least, scratch the side of your car.  Sometimes I just hate to cut back raspberry bushes, but it has to be done.  Sometimes in our spiritual lives we need to clip back the branches that grow into our path and move on ahead. When it was time for the exodus this was true for Moses and his crew.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Ten Commandments

While the Israelites stayed near Mt Sinai, Moses ascended and descended Mt Sinai several times. It was after one such descent he brought back the 10 commandments from God. This occurred after Moses had already divided them up in groups and put rulers over the groups.

The ten commandments are pretty simple. The first four listed have to do with loving God and the second group with loving each other. Later on, Jesus Christ narrowed the ten down into the same two basic categories. 

As Moses was sharing them with all the people, they saw thunder and lightening, heard the noise of the trumpet and saw the mountain smoking. Scary! They were panicked:
Exodus 20:19And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
Moses's answer was comforting:
20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
God wanted them to remember how he had brought them out of bondage.  He wanted them to know Him. He didn't want them to be afraid but He also wanted their respect (also written as 'fear') so that they would benefit from His love as he provided the best way to live. Remember all the complaining these guys had done. They almost went back to the grind again. Sin is missing the target that brings the best results.

God created this world.  I should think He knows how to run it best. If it were up to natural man, he would redesign all of creation (and continues to try to do this). These commandments are not grievous. Just love the God who has blessed us so much already and don't do your neighbor in.

In the gospels, there is a record of a rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16ff, Mark10:17ff, Luke 18:18ff) who asked about eternal life. Some of the commandments are mentioned in this dialogue between Jesus and the young guy, the ones dealing with loving one another. The young ruler says he had done all those commandments from his youth. Jesus establishes in that record at the very start that there is none good but God. He told the ruler that if he wanted to be mature, he should sell everything he had and give to the poor. This young man was proud of himself to the point of it being a stumbling block. I don't know what happened to this guy later on after the resurrection, but pride was a challenge to him as his life seemed to be all about him. Eternal life is based on "What I trust" rather than "What must I do".

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Who are These Guys? Road To Emmaus Revisited

The record of the road to Emmaus has always amazed me. Luke records the journey in Luke 24:
13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; 23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory. 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. 36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
I don’t think I ever really looked at verses 28 and 29 closely. It is interesting that Jesus acted as if he was going on and leaving them at this point. However, they constrained him. Jesus hadn’t tried to persuade them; he simply just shared God’s word. By their own free choice they wanted to hear more. They had been blessed by his expounding of the scriptures from Moses, the prophets and the Messiah. Can you imagine how illuminating that would have been? When they broke bread together, the men put it all together as their eyes were open, and then Jesus vanished. They were deeply moved (big case of heartburn, the good kind) and returned to Jerusalem to join the disciples. It is so interesting that these two men were back with the others when Jesus came in and stood in the midst of them. Not much else is said about these guys, so we don’t know really who they were, but it is interesting to think about the length and substance of the record of their interaction with the risen Christ!

Question: How is Christ building his church today? Would love your thoughts.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Good Advice

Sometimes challenge drops a huge heavy invisible veil around us. It can be suffocating and stifling.
It accelerates drama and raps a huge band around us. Actually, it is a dark bubble that needs to to pop. I always could quote 'Light dispels darkness', but when I finally decided to get after it in practice, I was amazed.  'Light dispels darknes!' It is that simple.
Proverbs 4:20-22 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings (listen). Let them not depart from thine eyes (focus); keep them in the midst of thine heart (put them at the center of your heart). For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Advice and Stress

Jethro was a Kenite and a priest of Midian. He was probably a descendent of Abraham through Keturah. He had seven daughters and had an extensive flock.  He is mentioned in Exodus 2:18-21 and  is referred to as 'Reuel'.
And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.
 Jethro reappeared later (recorded in chapter 18) when he visited Moses during the exodus and was excited about how God was helping the Israelites. He rejoiced in the God of Moses.

At that time Moses was burning the candle at both ends trying to take care of all those people. They had struggles and problems and there were a lot of them! Some people might ask the question: 'If God was delivering His people, why all the hassle?" Go back and read Genesis 3 again. In verse 19 God told Adam (among other things):
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,
In other words, He told Adam that because he has listened to the 'sneaky snake' there would be stress. Stress in our lives should come as no surprise. It is everywhere in this world. In the original paradise, in the garden of Eden, work existed but there was no stress because the tree of knowledge of good and evil had not been bought into. Fear of the loss of good and the presence of evil, changed idyllic life for Adam and Eve. Stress resulted and stuck around and was passed on. We have to deal with it.

Moses had a lot of stress. When Jethro observed his daily schedule of constant counseling all day, he offered some advice so he would not burn out turning well-doing into over-doing.  I have thought a great deal about this section, wondering why after all the great communication between God and Moses, a priest of Midian dropped by for a visit and Moses took his advice.  Jethro, to his credit, told Moses to run his advice through God:
Exodus 18:23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
Jethro's advice was a beautiful description for us (2 Timothy 2:2) of the type of people that provide examples worthy of seeking advice from:
21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear (respect,honour, revere) God, men of truth, hating covetousness (covetousness = susceptible to bribes) ......
Our reaction today to stress is to take it to God first because we have direct access. Just this morning I woke up thinking I had missed a small but significant detail in something I had done and I started to worry about how to find out if I did or not. In trying to figure it out, I could cause a big stir, so I shut off the 'worry voice' in my head and replaced it with thoughts of how willing God is to help and within seconds literally, God provided a very simple answer to check it out. There was no problem and I was given direct real tangible proof. Now all I can think about is how great God is!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Foot Washing

At the end of the 'last supper' Jesus launched out into a significant dialogue with his disciples. Chapters 13 through 17 of John are extremely important and worthy of our attention. Jesus Christ was about to leave. It is a gold mine in truth and teaching. The very first illustration he presented was 'foot washing':
John 13:5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.  
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.  
10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
Peter is a funny guy. "Lord, are you washing my feet?" Can you imagine what was going through his head? Dusty feet was a common problem in their dry sandy culture. Peter's reaction was: 'I'll take care of it myself.' Jesus told him there is something deeper behind what he was illustrating. The point  made involves caring for others. Jesus was pretty blunt with Peter. Peter overreacted and offered his head and hands to clean. 'Pete you are clean, it is just your feet.'

Walking through life we get dust on our feet. Our friends are the ones who help us dust it off. We do that for each other. Spiritually speaking, as we walk through his world we are bound to get dusty but we shouldn't let this contaminate our whole being. 'Shaking the dust off our feet' from this world is paramount and others can help us do that at times. Jesus also indicated that some individuals are totally 'dusty' from head to toe when he says "Ye are not all clean." He was referring to some who had bigger problems than dusty feet.

Jesus asked the disciples:
 Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. John 13:12b-16
Do we understand what he was illustrating? 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What is Pentecost?

The celebration of Pentecost originated in the Old Testament times during the Exodus.  It is the celebration of the end of Passover. It occurs 50 days after Passover. The word 'Pentecost' comes from the Greek-speaking Judeans and translates into the 'fiftieth day'.

It is one of the three major  feasts celebrated by Judeans. Interestingly, these feasts coincide with harvests: the barley harvest (Feast of the Unleavened Bread), the wheat harvest (Pentecost) and the final harvest of all crops at the end of the year (Feast of Ingathering).

Barley and wheat were planted during the winter months. Barley was harvested  in the first month of spring (Nisan 15-21). It was at this time that the Feast of the Unleavened Bread was celebrated which commemorated the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:15-20). During this 7 day feast, the firstfruits of the barley harvest were offered on Sunday, the day after the regular sabbath which was on Saturday. Jesus Christ as the firstfruit from the dead was resurrected on Sunday during this time.

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits (singular in interlinear)
 of them that slept. (I Corinthian 15:20)
Counting that Sunday as day one, the Hebrews would count 7 weeks plus one day to equal 50 days. On the fiftieth day Pentecost was celebrated. This coincided with the wheat harvest. This feast was also sometimes called the Feast of Weeks, Feast of Harvest, or Day of the Firstfruits (wheat).  In the Old Testament the Hebrews commemorated the giving of the law on Mt Sinai (Exodus 23:15-17) at Pentecost. Fifty days after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, the outpouring of the gift of Holy Spirit was given initiating the firstfruits of the spirit.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits (singular in interlinear); afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (I Corinthians 15:23). 
The feasts in the Old Testament were shadows of things to come.  A shadow projects and provides a vague outline of an image. Christ's resurrection  and what happened on the day of Pentecost  50 days later are no longer shadows but actual reality. The Word of God is a beautiful tapestry that fits together with an intricate view of God's heart to provide us with power  in our life to handle whatever we need to handle.

This weekend, this holiday will barely be noticed in Hallmark circles. There is no fat jolly ole bearded guy or cute little bunny rabbit to mark it out . There will be no easter egg baskets teaming with glucose and fructose taken to the altar to get blessed. 

The last thing Jesus Christ said to his apostles before his ascension says it all about our blessing on Pentecost and it's meaning:

But ye shall receive power, after that the holy spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8
To be 'witnesses unto me' is to manifest the prince of peace. The power of Pentecost goes beyond human will-power  It is a settling, calmness that overrides the storms. Think of the 12 apostles on the Sea of Galiliee in that horrible storm. Christ came to them and the first words out of his mouth were "Be of good cheer, be not afraid".  Paul describes this effect as the 'peace that passes all understanding'.  That is what Pentecost is really about.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

More On Appeasement

At times, throughout the ages, man has fallen prey to 'appeasement' theology. The picture painted in our minds is that there massive white bearded guy sitting on the throne of clouds waiting for us to offer up suitable sacrifices to make him happy.

Look around at the beautiful flowers, birds, greenery, blue sky. Do you think that this world was originally created by a scary narcissist? God is not like that.  The more I read in Genesis and Exodus, the more I understand about how loving and patient God truly is.

If you really want to know who God is, start in Genesis.  Yes I know a lot of people do that when they up and decide to get religious. Often they give up because they say it is too hard.  It is too hard because the religious airwaves have so much clutter flying around. I have been there done that!

I did everything I could to understand the Bible. I took a koine Greek class, I dabbled in Hebrew linguistics. I bought every research book that I thought would help me understand. Yes, some of those skills helped me somewhat just to sort through the variants between versions and doctrine proposed by different organizations.

It wasn't until I absolutely realized that God genuinely wants every person to come to a true knowledge of Him because He genuinely is the God of love. I still love to work the details of the Word but I do it because it is such a blessing, not because I feel I have to appease Him.

We need to understand what went on in Genesis. I had sort of pushed the Old Testament into a "for our learning" (Romans15:4) category and diminished its importance because we live in a different time. That is not what "for our learning" means. Genesis is pretty important to our understanding the big picture especially about the love and patience of God. Exodus and the rest of the Old Testament is too. It is 'for our learning' for real.

One day I bought a new Bible (no old notes) and started in Genesis reading a little at a time and marking places that intrigued me. Thinking about the different records and relating them to life proved fruitful. It also helps to talk to others who are on the same journey. By journey, I don't mean people who believe exactly the same things at the exclusion of others, but people who have the same goal of getting to know who God really is. No one has all the answers to the questions of the Bible, but all believing people have equal access to God. It is amazing sometimes what you can learn from someone who may not agree with you about baptism (dunked, sprinkled or dry-cleaned?) when holy spirit is working in them.

If the wording in the King James is difficult to understand, I look at other versions. I have a Bible that has 4 versions side by side on the page (called a Parallel Bible) to compare texts. Ultimately however, I literally ask God the why of things. The answer comes in a variety of ways and there might be a delay. You learn what you need and want to learn at the right time. There are lots of things I don't understand but that keeps me thinking. Biblical research is absolutely nothing without God and He IS very patient and loving.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Apeasing the Gods? Jehovah-jireh

On twitter, it is fun to read the 'handles' of people who post there. Often the names people use say something about the poster. God has a series of compound names in addition to Elohim, Jehovah, El Shaddai. These names tell us something about God that are significant to remember.

After my last post I was so struck by the significance of these compound names that I had to go back to Genesis and find the first one, Jehovah-jireh. It is used in Genesis 22:13-14.
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. 
This 'shall be seen' is in the sense of God's provision.  God provides.  Abraham was about to offer his own son as a sacrificial burnt offering. This is not a big show of 'appeasing the gods' so prevalent in that culture. God does not have to be appeased. Yes,  Abraham would do anything for God. He genuinely loved God, but the whole event proves that ultimately that it is God that provides, not man.

Evidence that God provides is so prevalent everywhere. It's in His Word. It is found displayed in nature.  It shows up in individuals led by the spirit of God.

God's provision appears in remarkable clarity. There is no mistaking it. Sometimes man's thinking however, gets in the way. Man is responsible to do his best. In Exodus when the Israelites came up against the Amalekites, Joshua was the one sent in to lead the battle and he did his best, but it was Moses up on a hill holding up his hands to God that brought about the victory. It is a classic example how God is the one who provides.

Abraham had several instances where he tried to make something happen by his own means (birth of his first son, the  lie to Pharaoh about Sarah being his sister are examples).  Moses did too. It is very easy to do and it happens all the time today. God is not an over-doer in the sense he does not throw everything at the wall to see what sticks, He always does what's right.  Man often overdoes and seldom gets it right.

There are so many versions and interpretations about this section in Genesis 22 and one could go on and on analyzing it till the cows (or the ram) come home, but the point that God made with Abraham is all wrapped up in the name Jehovah-jireh. God provides! We just need to do our best and let Him do the rest! The key ingredients of doing our best are: prayer, listening (always a part of prayer), reading up on, waiting if necessary, and acting when the time is right.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Lord Is Our Banner

There is a scene in Exodus 17 that is better than the flag scene in the movie, Patriot. It occured right after the children of Israel had been complaining about water again, this time at Rephidum ('place of rest'). Moses, frustrated, went to God. God told Mose to take the rod and hit a rock (water out of a rock?). Voila! Water!

Amalek attacked the Israelites when they were camped at Rephidim. Moses responded by appointing Joshua to lead up the battle against them. Joshua did as Moses told him. Moses took Aaron, and Hur up on top of a hill with the rod of God in his hand. As Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed in battle and when Moses let down his hand Amalek prevailed. As Moses got tired of holding his hands up, Aaron and Hur propped him up until they won.

Moses never physically entered the battle. His praying focus to God was visible. This battle was won by God.  Joshua carried out God's will. Those who stood by saw how the battle was won. For Joshua who would later take on the big task of leading the children of Israel into the promised land, it was just what he needed to learn and experience.

The name for God, Jehovah-Nissi, signifies victory in the battle. The name means: The Lord Our Banner. A banner is a standard (often a flag with an insignia) to identify a group or company with the force behind it. For God's people in Exodus, God was their standard.
Exodus 17:13-16 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi: 16 For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
God is our banner. Whatever today's 'Amalek' is, God provides the victory. The battle may take time and effort, but it is won with focus and prayer. God wants us to remember what he has done, is doing and will do for us. He is the wind in our banner.
Psalm 60:4 Thou hast given a banner to them that fear (respect) thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.