Saturday, 25 February 2012

Does it Really Matter?

Some people make a big to do about what has to be believed and what should be shunned at all costs. Does it matter? I mean, if you believe that Jesus died to save you, and you know that there is no salvation in any name but Jesus, isn't that enough??? Jesus didn't intend for us all to become Bible scholars, and Lord knows we don't all have the aptitude for it, and we are covered by His grace after all, right?

Yes, of course....and no....(yikes! am I getting into a murky quagmire here!!!???)

I personally believe that we do have a responsibility (and the Lord knows our capabilities, and is compassionate, to be sure) to seek out whether what is being taught is true (Acts 17:11 is a reminder that we need to check and recheck to make sure we are taking in accurate info). Of course the Lord knows we are not going to do it perfectly every time, and He also knows our limitations of our comprehension skills, the Lord is not stupid, and He IS forgiving (Thank You Jesus!), AND we shouldn't use those facts as an excuse to be lazy either.

My personal pet peeve (one of them, anyway) is the pre-trib rapture theory, and yes, I said theory, and I mean theory. I do see it as a hindrance to a proper reading of scripture, and placing of faith on an EVENT over and above of the placing of faith where it needs to remain: in the PERSON of Jesus.

We can all disagree on the timing of an event...the most recent event setting that messed alot of people up came through the "teacher" Harold Camping. Yes, obviously, he was wrong, and many people got hurt as a result of his error. Did any lose their salvation over this? No, I know that Jesus loses NONE of His own, so ultimately He will bring all of us to Himself....however, there are many places in the Bible where there are warnings not to fall prey to false teachers and wolves in sheep's clothing who ravage the flock. There is damage that is done, and we do need to use caution and seek the Lord's guidance through it all, always.

It is good, and often interesting, to read or listen to this theory and that, but at the end of the day, WHAT DOES THE BIBLE REALLY SAY (in context)? Let's not let our or someone else's dogmatic assertions cause us to follow the wrong shepherd....we must still keep our eyes focused on HIM over and above all pet theories.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Mirror Mirror on the Wall....

I've been pondering mirrors relation to this world, and how tricky it sometimes is to maneuver about in this world...the devil sure knows how to keep us going in circles trapped in his devices (although in Christ, ultimately we are no longer trapped, but there are sure plenty of illusions and strange things that he can keep us "entertained" with that waste precious time, or daily gets us turned around from where we need to be, optimally). I was thinking about the church's current "prosperity gospel" to be specific. How turned around is that? Jesus said not to lust after the things of this world (and I have to admit I have not completely conquered that hill---however, I do understand that all things of this world are dust, and do not cling to these very tightly---maybe a little more tightly than I should, though). The prosperity gospel teaches that if we put our minds to it and trust in Jesus enough, He will bless us with all kinds of material wealth and health, etc...hmmmm, and by contrast the Apostle Paul said:

 Php 3:13  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Php 3:14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Php 3:15  Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Php 3:16  Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
Php 3:17  Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
Php 3:18  (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
Php 3:19  Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 

That's quite an indictment....humbling, isn't it?

On the topic of mirrors, there is a very interesting little point of perspective regarding the laver in the temple of the OT. Check it out:

Exo 38:8  And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

The lookingglasses (mirrors) of the women were high polished brass similar to what is pictured above, though probably not as tarnished, so the women could see themselves in the reflection. 

Exo 40:30  And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal.
Exo 40:31  And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat:
Exo 40:32  When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses.

Image link 
(be sure to check out this link, very good article)

Take a moment to muse over this one with me. The laver was set between the congregation and the altar, and where Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and feet. There is so much going on here, main points being:

1. Washing of the hands is symbolic of purifying one's deeds before others (for me this brings to mind Pilate  washing his hands of the terrible cruelty of the people who decided Jesus's fate)
2. Washing the feet, to walk in a way that is worthy and cleansed of previous dirty places that have been trudged along in...and also it is a refreshment, even today, think of soaking and cleaning your achy feet after a long day
3. The laver is made of women's lookingglasses. What women used for vanity, became a temple device that was there for cleansing, so in applying this lesson to ourselves, what used to look so appealing (vanity) now has the appearance of how God sees us (humbling, we are in need of Him washing our hands and feet).... very different perspectives.... comparing God's perspective with how we see ourselves, eh?

Just some things to ponder as we look in our mirrors in the morning, as we dress and get ready for our day. :)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

God's Book

I had once heard somewhere (I really can't remember where anymore.... so I apologize that I cannot give the source) that our lives are like books that we are writing for others to read (just like the Bible records the lives of people in other times and the things that God did for them and through them). I am writing my own book with how I live each day, each day is a journal entry into the book of my life that is written into the sands of time (think of the sandy beach in the footprints poem... and the sands moving down through an hourglass) each day is leaving it's imprint in the story of my life.
....As such, am I happy with my book so far? Is it one that I want others to read?

The Bible has many references to lives lived many years ago, and tells the whole story. It tells of both the good and the bad  that had happened, and also tells how the Lord intervened in the lives which are on display in it's pages. We can see the highs and the lows of what the flesh can do and how it all falls short, because in the end Jesus needed to die to redeem all that was so hopelessly lost. Even King David who was a man after God's own heart, made some very tragic decisions that caused him sorrow and shame, but the Lord used him as a key person in Jesus' family tree.

When I think of all of the pages of MY book, there are pages I would like to tear out and never let anyone see because I would be horrified to show off my shame. But when I picture it from God's perspective, seeing it as revealing His love and compassion of HOW MUCH God is able to forgive, it tells a different story. It tells a story of reclamation and of the incredible success in spite of impossible odds against it.

This brings to my mind:

 Luk 7:36  And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.
Luk 7:37  And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
Luk 7:38  And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
Luk 7:39  Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
Luk 7:40  And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
Luk 7:41  There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
Luk 7:42  And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
Luk 7:43  Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
Luk 7:44  And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
Luk 7:45  Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
Luk 7:46  My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
Luk 7:47  Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
Luk 7:48  And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.

The passage above doesn't say what the pharisee's sins were, but I imagine that he had terrible sins just like anyone else...but let's just say he didn't, that he lived an almost perfect life...and didn't need God's forgiveness (or so he thought)...his self-justification blocked the love Jesus wanted to bestow upon him, and not only that, Jesus said "to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little" ...


You mean to tell me if I live a scrupulous life and have very little that I need forgiveness for, that actually works against me??? What?

Let's look at another one:

Luk 18:9  And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Luk 18:10  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
Luk 18:11  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Luk 18:12  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
Luk 18:13  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
Luk 18:14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Is your life one that you would be embarrassed to have published? Then how much more wonderful it would be read your book with the addition of the  love bestowed through Jesus. Then we see all these things in the proper context of forgiveness, and the love that it grows in us (His recipients) as a result of that wonderful forgiveness that reached so deep that all those many horrible things are now turned into the beautiful gold of all that love which gets returned to Him in our answers to His generosity.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Perfection (Part 1)

Mat 5:48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. 

Have you ever had that verse thrown at you by legalists who insist it is possible to do all of the commandments of the OT (over 600 of them, including not wearing clothing made of mixed fibers, and stoning your children when they are disobedient)???? Things that make you go "hmmmmm"

So let's read that verse in context of the passage:

 Mat 5:38  Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
Mat 5:39  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Mat 5:40  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
Mat 5:41  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Mat 5:42  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Mat 5:43  Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Mat 5:44  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Mat 5:45  That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Mat 5:46  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
Mat 5:47  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Mat 5:48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. 

This passage is talking about not returning the "favor" when someone slights you or abuses you. It talks about going the extra mile, to bless those who curse you... it says nothing about going to church on a certain day of the week, or about abstaining from pork.

Let's find another passage which has that word "perfect" in it...

Mat 19:16  And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
Mat 19:17  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Mat 19:18  He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Mat 19:19  Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 19:20  The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Mat 19:21  Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Wow, the young man boasted of keeping the ten commandments, and yet that was not enough. Many legalists will still say it is possible to be perfect, and that this passage is a testament to that fact because Jesus would not tell us to do something that He knows we cannot do....and yet I still have to find one legalist who actually HAS sold everything and given it all to the poor.... but is that truly what Jesus was saying here? I personally believe (and of course I can be way off) that Jesus knew this rich young man's weakness was his love for and dependence on his wealth. We are to have that kind of love for and dependence on Jesus. That is the point. If we love Him, we keep the commandments (which? see above: don't return evil for evil, but always return love even when spat upon, or crucified for the truth), not the other way around (keeping the commandments legalistically in order to prove to everyone that we love Him, and are better at it than most everyone else).

But there's more...that word perfect...does it really mean what the legalists try to make it to mean? My Strong's says this:

From G5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter (as noun, with G3588) completeness: - of full age, man, perfect.

Complete. Jesus completes us, when we are in Him we are complete and in need of nothing... but let's not get that wrong, because we can become complacent in thinking we are in need of nothing because we are rejoicing in the things we have that bring us the comfort of this world:

Rev 3:14  And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev 3:15  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Rev 3:16  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Rev 3:18  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Rev 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Rev 3:20  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Rev 3:21  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Rev 3:22  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

We can be destitute and at deaths door, covered with boils like Job was, and yet be complete if we are content in all circumstances knowing that God has us covered, and that this life is fleeting and not the place to set our hopes.

Mat 19:22  But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Mat 19:23  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 19:24  And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Mat 19:25  When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
Mat 19:26  But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them,....

....With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

It is impossible for us, because our flesh always gets in the way. The minute we think we have got it, we are now perfect in God's sight, we become a boastful and proud pharisee, and we don't have it at all. Paul put it like this:

Rom 7:14  For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Rom 7:15  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
Rom 7:16  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Rom 7:17  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:21  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Rom 7:22  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Rom 7:23  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Rom 7:24  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Rom 7:25  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

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Peter prayed this for all the faithful in Jesus (which includes you and me!):
2Pe 1:2  Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
2Pe 1:3  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:
2Pe 1:4  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.

Amen! :)

Love Is...

(this is an interesting link, btw)

4 Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth [1] not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil....

Tomorrow being "Valentine's Day" I was musing about the Love (Agape or Charity) chapter.
Love is the opposite (according to 1st Corinthians 13) of the self-love that our flesh desires. Love looks out for others to the setting aside of our own wishes. It is the kind of caring that parents have for their children, who would themselves go without food when there is scarcity so their children will have food to eat. It is the kind of caring that Jesus had for us by setting His own life aside on the cross, so that we might be saved.

The world tries to tell us (wrongly) that in order to love others we must first love ourselves. That is NOT what the Bible says at all. That we are to love others as ourselves is not putting ourselves first. We naturally desire to put ourselves first, so loving myself does not require any training prior to caring for others (to be honest here, I am very naturally inclined to be self-serving and concerned that others are getting a bigger portion than myself, and say this to my dismay and shame) . I was pondering this very thing today while musing about what has been bothering me about the sequence of events at my place of employment over the past couple of years...(yes, I am STILL thinking about THAT, sheesh) and the fact is, I have told a few people that I felt I could trust about my hurt and my anger, and gossiped about things that I should have kept to myself between me and the Lord. Sigh.

I continually see how I do not measure up to God's standard of LOVE, the kind of love He has for us. I am truly amazed that He loves me that much, and am humbled and shamed about my own selfishness and vaunting of myself before others.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Spiritual Garments

Gen 3:6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Gen 3:7  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Gen 3:8  And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
Gen 3:9  And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
Gen 3:10  And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 

There is so much packed in the book of Genesis...even in these few short verses, there's alot going on. One question that had me puzzled in my young Christian days was "If God knows everything, why didn't He know where Adam and Eve were hiding?" and surely the answer must be that HE DID KNOW where they were, but He wanted them to tell Him. He wanted them to "get real" with Him, to tell Him honestly where things went wrong, not because He didn't know, but because He wanted to draw it out of them, so THEY would know. That is an incredible insight, one that would help teachers to be better teachers, and evangelists to be better evangelists.

Pro 20:5  Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.

Another thing that is a main feature of this passage is nakedness and covering. Adam and Eve lost something that covered their nakedness after they ate the forbidden fruit. Was it something physical that could be seen tangibly? Was it a spiritual covering that was part of their spiritual senses? I tend to think it was the latter...they tried to make up for it by sewing leaves together, "and made themselves aprons". I tend to think these were grass skirts similar to the type the Polynesian people still make and wear, but that is a small and inconsequential detail, perhaps. God didn't accept their self constructed covering, and provided them with coverings that He chose for them. They were animal skins, so, it obviously  had to involve the death of some other creature(s). I think on the animal rights people who get their panties in a bunch about people wearing fur coats, and mink coats are unnecessary, perhaps, but it is still a reminder of the original animal coverings and the death of God's creatures, and yes, when we really think about this, it is offensive.

When I was a new baby Christian, I came across this scripture passage, and it bothered me:

Mat 22:11  And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
Mat 22:12  And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
Mat 22:13  Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 22:14  For many are called, but few are chosen.

I thought: "What is this wedding garment, and how do I get one?"

I forgot about it, until a few weeks later, I was listening to a pastor on a radio program. It was a few days before Thanksgiving, and his sermon was on the topic of giving thanks. This pastor said:

"When we come to Jesus and ask His forgiveness, He takes off our dirty garments like our mommies used to after a day of playing and getting dirty. Remember when you were little, and your mom would take off your dirty shirt? You would raise your hands, and she would pull off your dirty shirt. Then after you got your bath and were all nice and clean, you would raise your hands and she'd put on your nice and clean pajamas. So it is when we raise our hands in thanksgiving, and Jesus gives us our nice and clean garments washed in His blood."

 Psa 100:4  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

We enter into His gates because of Him, not because of any garments we can fashion for our own smug selves. We enter through Him, He is the door...if we try to sneak in some other way that involves our own righteousness, we are without the garment of His design, His sacrifice, His gift.