Are You SEARCHIN’ FOR DIRECTION IN YOUR LIFE?

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SEARCHING FOR DIRECTION IN LIFE?

One of my favorite singers of the past, was the late Dusty Springfield along with Dionne Warwick: Wishin’ and Hopin’ and Thinkin’ and Prayin‘. What was the lyricist “prayin'” for?  To find, search for LOVE, perhaps in all the wrong places?  Perhaps, but in doing so, frustration must have set in to the “thinkin”.

My search for some answers, begins with finding and knowing God’s will in my life; the search for direction–thus, the question presented in the title for this weeks BLOG.  Not in your life necessarily, but in mine.  Hopefully. in reading this post, you will find and know God’s will more clearly in your life too!

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but how much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose”  (Philippians 2:12-13 NIV Bible).

DOING GOD’S WILL WITH A SMILE -

Before doing God’s will…we need to know before the “doing”, “HOW DO I KNOW WHAT GOD’S WILL IS in any given situation of my life?”

The answer I found, isn’t really complicated.  There are steps in the process like everything else in life.

We live in a “I want it now society”, and patience in knowing, is not a virtue of ours.  Yeah, we might know the words found in Galatians 5:22-23 (“THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT”)…love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…but living with them, applying Holy Spirit’s gifts…that’s not something most of us seek on a daily basis.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t…just, most of us don’t!

FINDING THE ANSWERS IN THE RIGHT PLACES:

How can we find the WILL OF GOD for our lives?  If we don’t follow God’s will for us, we will pay a heavy price in facing the negative consequences.

GOD wants to know His will for your life–

If you’re NOT a believer in Jesus Christ, NOT placed in a saving faith in Him, you’re out of the will of God!  He desires that ALL come to repentance, faith, and to be born-again.

GOD’S WORD:

Psalm 40:8:  “To do your will, O my God, is my desire; your law is within my heart.”

“LAW” (or His Word) = WILL OF GOD.

Example:  We know through reading the Word of God that marrying an unbeliever is NOT God’s will for our lives (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).  God tells us in His Word, ‘Don’t get the cart before the horse’ in new relationships in dating.  Your desires may just precede God’s desire in your life.  And that’s not His will.

THE FIRST and PRIMARY WAY of knowing God’s will for your life…

You are unsure in making an important decision in your family; changing jobs, changing locations because of your job, financial commitments, and you don’t know where to find the answers in your Bible.

If you don’t know where to find your particular circumstance in God’s Word, and don’t have a BIBLE CONCORDANCE, invest in one.  SEARCH for it in God’s Word.  IMPATIENCE might just lead you in the wrong direction.

 1.  God wants us to be WHOLE and NOT SICK…

[2] And behold, a leper came up to Him (JESUS) and, prostrating himself, worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You are able to cleanse me by curing me.    [3] And He reached out His hand and touched him, saying,  “I am willing; be cleansed by being cured.  And instantly his leprosy was cured and cleansed  (Matthew 8:2-3 AMP).

2.  Knowing God’s Will for us is Not to be Poor and in Debt…

More than Enough!

More than Enough!

God wants us to have enough so our needs are met and we give to others in return.

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the servant to the lender”  (Proverbs 22:7).

God’s Word also tells us, to those who might be struggling making ends meet in this economy, one reason why He sent His Son into this world:

[JESUS speaking] …I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:10 AMP).

The “overflow” is much more than “just enough”!

3.   GOD doesn’t want us to be DEPRESSED:

HIS WILL for us is to be happy (to “enjoy life”), full of joy!  (Philippians 4:4)

“REJOICE in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!”

THE NEW ROGET’S THESAURUS, definesDEPRESSION” – dishearten, dejection, lowness, worthlessness.  

If you are feeling in a state of constant depression right now…it’s NOT God’s will for your life!

The general will of God is clearly specified in the Word of God for us.  But just knowing where to find thee TRUTH and not claiming and receiving God’s will for our life is another.

So, how can we know the specifics, the details of GOD’S WILL?  Our Bible doesn’t tell us which job to take, doesn’t tell us who to marry, even if we are following God’s will.  E.g., disciples in the boat–“Let us go over to the other side.”

4.  Through the PEACE OF GOD:

“Let the PEACE OF CHRIST rule in your hearts, since members of one body, you were called to peace.  And be thankful”  (Colossians 3:15 NIV).

“RULE” =  “BRABEUO” (Greek word)  [Footnote [i] ].

This verb is found only in this verse and expresses the underlying sense of “having the role of greatest influence.”  The Amplified Bible says PEACE, ["acts as umpire continually".]

Just as every sport that has disputes, they must be settled by the officials, the PEACE OF GOD as the umpire, settling all disputes as to what the will of God is for our lives.

THE PEACE OF GOD is always “umpiring” in our hearts, but we don’t always pay attention to it.  Sometimes, we even go against the PEACE of God in our hearts.

As you sit in the presence of God, be still, take a “time out”, consider all the options, discerning the will of God by the PEACE given to your heart (Psalm 46:10).

5.  DISCERNING correctly what the Lord is trying to tell us–

Lining the Lights Up…

Aligning Things Up!

Aligning Things Up!

There was a certain harbor that was treacherous and dangerous to enter.  In order for the captain to guide his ship safely into the harbor, he had to be attentive to three lights used to guide him.  When all three lights lined up as one, he knew it was safe to proceed.  Then, and only then, would he bring his ship safely to port.

As we seek GUIDANCE, we too have to be attentive to “THREE LIGHTS”…to guide us into the harbor of His will:

~ The WORD of God,

~  Our outward circumstances,

~  Our inner conviction.

When all three of these Lights line up, we can then proceed with assurance, of being led safely into the harbor.

6.  God’s Will Revealed Through the Word of Knowledge and Prophecy:

“To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit”  (1 Corinthians 12:8 AMP).

“…to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones]”  (1 Corinthians 12:10).

WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL with this!  Whatever is being revealed should be tested and consistent with the Word of God.  We shouldn’t take others words blindly, but we ourselves should test what the other person has said in respect to what God says (His will) from His Word (Scripture).

God does speak through audible voices sometimes (friends and family).  We have to DISCERN whether we’re listening to God’s voice, or someone elses.

Good intentions…

If we are receiving a word of knowledge or prophecy from a person, we should know and make sure that particular person that’s speaking to our issue is living a godly life too.

But it is possible for some true servants of God to NOT LISTEN to the Lord correctly.  In that case, they should tell you clearly they are not sure.

PROPHECY is not fortune-telling.  We’ve got to be careful of this.

“What should we DO to know God’s will for our life?”

Romans 12:1-2 KJV:

[Verse 1]  “I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your responsible service.

[Verse 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.”

This “renewing” is not a  one time experience, but a daily reminder in every decision and circumstance we face in our lives.  In order TO KNOW GOD’S WILL, we need to…

OFFER OUR BODY (who your are in your spirit–our whole being) as a LIVING SACRIFICE, living holy lives.

KING DAVID came upon the scene of a threshing floor of a Jebusite by the name of Araunah as commanded by the Lord.  When Araunah saw the king coming, he went out and bowed himself down before the king.

Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”  And David said, “To purchase the threshing floor from you; to build there an altar to the Lord.”

What Araunah did next seemed to me a honoring gesture as he offered the king everything he had for the altar of sacrifice–of worship and praise.

But David refused the offer in saying to Araunah,  “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my GOD of that which cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24).

“What’s that particular story have to do with knowing God’s Will for my life?  There is never an offering, a sacrifice of worship, praise or anything else that doesn’t cost you something.  After paying the price, according to God’s Will in the circumstances, David made the offering.  He knew God’s will in this matter because of the Word of his LORD GOD.

The RESULTS OF KNOWING and APPLYING THE STEPS:  

So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and Israel’s plague was stayed.”  (verse 25).

PHILIPPIANS 2:13:

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”

GOD gives us the DESIRE to do His will and…He also enables us to do His will.

ILLUSTRATION:

A young man entered his church one Sunday morning where he started praying before the service began.  He was so anxious to find God’s will for his life that he took out a piece of paper he kept in his bible, writing down all the things he was going to do for God.

He started to PRAY that God might revel to him whether these promises were acceptable to Him.

God whispered in his ear, “This is not the way I want you to find My will.  All I want of you is for you to sign your name and leave the paper blank for Me to fill in.”

 

 

Footnotes:

[i]  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

Photo Credit:

Photo Pin

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Being Careful with the Company You Keep”

The words in this blog title, were the words I heard from my parents constantly while growing up as a child.  I’m sure your parents emphasized the same idea to you as well.

I remember my dad telling me, “Mel, if one of your friends jumped off a roof into a fire, would you do the same?”  Hanging my head in shame, “No.”

In essence, my parents were trying to get the point across to me, “Be careful who you associate with (‘who you hang with’).”  Did my parents WISDOM stick in my adult years?  I’ll answer that question while investigating together, the WISDOM given from a father to his son in The Book of Proverbs.

TEXT: PROVERBS 4 – “Oh, kids will be kids…”

This parental phrase has been repeated over and over again in families.  So, I want to elaborate on the idea of responsibility as a PARENT, GRANDPARENT, GREAT GRANDPARENT, AND UNCLE when it comes to teaching the ways of the Lord.  This principle will apply not just to our family kids, but also to our spiritual children; the friends, brief acquaintances, neighbors, and others that we have led to JESUS or leading to Christ.  Some in the church call the process “DISCIPLING”.  And it can be.  But I’m going to call it teaching godly WISDOM, as Solomon speaks to in the Bible.

PROVERBS 4:1-27 AMPLIFIED BIBLE:

"Do NOT forsake my teaching"

“Do NOT forsake my teaching”

HEAR, MY sons, the instruction of a father, and pay attention in order to gain and to know intelligent discernment, comprehension, and interpretation [of spiritual matters].  For I give you good doctrine [what is to be received]; do not forsake my teaching ~  (verses 1-2). 

 

“Boys will be boys” …

We all heard those sayings before, perhaps even repeated the words ourselves.  BUT, what do they mean to us and others?

It means that when someone says that, they don’t believe they have any reason to worry how the kids will turn out…because kids will always be kids.

Now, that may seem logical…but its not!  The MESSAGE I want to make clear in the blog-POST…a child left to their own devises without instruction and correction of disobedience can become monsters.

PROVERBS repeatedly WARNS PARENTS…children left to their own desires will metamorphose into…

-  All the days of the afflicted are evil; but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast ~ Proverbs 15:15 KJV.

-  A wise son makes a glad father, but a self-confident and foolish man despises his mother and puts her to shame ~ Proverbs 15:20 AMP.

-  A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him ~ Proverbs 17:25 NAS.

-  The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother ~ Proverbs 29:15 NIV. 

The Story of Two Sisters:

This story involves TWO SISTERS who had spent the day fighting.  And girls (I helped raise two daughters), if you are reading this story, it’s not 8681712-a-young-girl-says-her-prayers-just-before-bed-timeabout you…well, maybe.

When it became bedtime, the two sisters were still mad at each other.  But as usual, they knelt beside their beds for their prayers.

“Dear God,” the 8-year-old began.  “Bless Daddy and Mommy, bless our dog.”

Then she stopped.  Her mother gently prodded,  “Didn’t you forget somebody?”  She glared across the bed at her 6-year-old sister and added,  “And oh yes, God bless my ex-sister.”

Still, you might be thinking,  “What can you do?  There are some who look at kids who behave badly and just shrug and say…Well boys will be boys; kids will be kids.”

The author of PROVERBS wouldn’t agree.  He believed a parent should and could influence their children.  He constantly preached to his kids about what was right and wrong; as he noted in Proverbs 29:15:

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left undisciplined brings his mother shame” (MP).

Proverbs 22:6:”

“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

According to a 2003 study by the Barna Group [See Footnote [i] ]- they found that:

~  A person’s moral foundations are laid by the age of nine.

~  Most people make a decision regarding the personal significance of Christ’s death and resurrection by the age of 12.  [For me personally, I was thirty years old and my wife was twenty-eight].

~  In most cases,people’s spiritual beliefs are irrevocably formed while they are still preteens.

An Attention Getter…

“Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice; sit up and take notice so you’ll know how to live!”  (Proverbs 4:1 Message Bible)

SOLOMON is saying “listen to me” “pay close attention to me and learn”–he’s assuming something worth saying is something worth listening to.  So…as if you’re a PARENT, GRANDPARENT, UNCLE/AUNT…what can you say worth listening to?

A SHORT SURVEY OF PROVERBS:

I searched out THREE MAIN THEMES:  (There may be more, but these were the ones that stuck out to me).

Those three main themes are summed up in the following verses:

PROVERBS 1:7 – “The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge…” (AMP Bible).

PROVERBS 1:8 – “My son, hear the instruction of your father; reject not nor forsake the teaching of your mother.”  

PROVERBS 1:10, 15-16 – “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent”  “My son, do not walk in the way with them; restrain your foot from their path;  For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.”

The On-going Message….

FIRST…Fear God.

Then REMEMBER what I’m teaching you.

And then, be careful who you hang out with and who you try to be like.

Proverbs 4:19:

“The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.”

SOLOMON–ONE OF THE WISEST MEN WHO EVER LIVED!

10646657_10152631217078930_8754778246084982255_nHe talked the talk.  BUT he ended up NOT walking the walk.   And by failing to “walk the walk”…he hurt his son.

Looking back on life, especially in raising our son; in my spiritual immaturity–I perhaps hurt my son by NOT walking the walk with consistency.  Sometimes my life would be exemplary in being like JESUS, and other times, not so much.  Examples: complaining about work, neighbors next door, loosing my temper while driving, etc.  It certainly wasn’t demonstrating the LOVE of Jesus.

Make a Decision NOW!

 Here’s the deal:  If you want a child to grow up the way they should go, and believe me, I learned the following priorities the hard way, you have to DECIDE to keep your priorities straight.

~  DECIDE that YOU’RE going to FEAR GOD.

~  DECIDE that YOU’RE going to REMEMBER what God taught you.

~  DECIDE to be CAREFUL who YOU hang out with.

If a parent will repeat those THREE IDEAS–over and over again to their children–FEAR GOD, REMEMBER OUR TEACHING, BEING CAREFUL WHO YOU HANG WITH; WHO YOU TRY TO BE LIKE, over and over again to the younger generation, it WILL make an impact.  My adult children have demonstrated our teaching and demonstration of living with godly fear in their lives for the most part.  Thank you JESUS.  Are things perfect in their lives? No, but neither is my life.

SOLOMON was very good at “talking the talk”

For the majority of his life, he even walked the walk.  BUT, toward the end of his life, he grew tired of that walk (1 Kings 11:9-13 NIV):

[9] The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.  [10] Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’S command.  [11] So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.  [12] Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime.  I will tear it out of the hand of your son.  [13] Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.

Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, talked the talk yet ended up NOT walking the walk because he FAILED and hurt his son!

Todays PARENTS “Walking the Walk”; Needing to look to God as a Way of Life…

As parents, if we look to God, God will be the One who’s in the center of our lives; and that goes far beyond Sundays at church–or Wednesdays, Mondays…

And if that is true, our own kids, grandkids, nephews/nieces will take notice.  They may not tell you so with their lips, but by their decisions and actions away from the family unit…

That which you fear is that which you will obey…

That’s why Proverbs 9:10 tells us,

The reverent and worshipful FEAR of the Lord is the BEGINNING (the chief and choice part) of WISDOM and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding.

If I FEAR GOD, I won’t FEAR anything else.  

So FIRST, we need to talk with our kids.

Secondly, we need to “walk the walk.”

And third…we need to Look to God; looking to God as the center of our lives as PARENTS.

If that’s true, our kids will notice.  If we sincerely look to God in faith–if we believe we can trust God with our everyday lives in all situations–our children will too!

I remember an incident on a New Year’s night, my wife and I were celebrating the evening at home…snacking, dancing, snacking…you get the picture.  We heard a car drive up and heard several voices laughing and quite vocal. As we went to the front room windows, peering out into the darkness (about 11 PM), the front door opened and our youngest daughter, her boyfriend and another couple came upstairs.

Our daughter’s voice rang out at the top of the stairs, “I hope you don’t mind mom and dad, if we hangout here for New Years, it’s nuts out there and we thought it would be safer over here.”   What ‘music’ to our ears as parents.  Godly teaching had gotten through! Thank you JESUS!!

One thing Solomon knew about his daddy, his relationship David had with God was real.  And knowing that, Solomon wanted that same bond/closeness he’d seen in his father.

And because Solomon knew that; because he struggled to follow his father’s example…Solomon’s kingdom eventually became even greater that David’s had been.

Leaving you with one last thought…

What your children/grandchildren become depends to a great extent…upon you; what you choose to do with your God in your life.

Who’s company are you keeping these days?

 

Footnote:

[i]  Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions: Ventura: Gospel Light, 2003.

Bible Translations:

Amplified, NIV, The Message, King James bible.

Photo Credits:

photobucket; Photo Pin.

 

 

 

 

Events Have Transpired-The Shadow of Things to Come (Part Two)

THE SPRING FEASTS -[Part ONE recap]:

As we have seen, the four Spring Festivals presented in Part One, have been FULFILLED by JESUS, who was our Passover Lamb; died on the day of Passover.

He was, without a doubt, buried of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Jesus was in the grave during the day of Unleavened Bread; He was the kernel of wheat buried in the earth.

JESUS arose from the grave as “First Fruits” of the barley harvest, He Himself being the first to rise from the dead.

Finally, the promised New Covenant arrived during the Feast of Pentecost, or Weeks, to gather all the believers in Christ Jesus to be God’s Spring Harvest on earth.

THE FALL FEASTS–A Prophetic Foreshadow of Things to Come!

FEAST OF TRUMPETS (Leviticus 23:24):

Feast of Trumpets

Feast of Trumpets

“Say to the Israelites, On the first day of the seventh month [almost October], you shall observe the day of solemn [sabbatical] rest, a memorial day announced by the blowing of trumpets,  a holy [called] assembly.”

A 2014 Announcement…

This year, between September 25-26, Rosh Hashanah occurs.  Coincidentally, the FEAST OF TRUMPETS falls on my 50th Wedding Anniversary. We will be listening for the blast of the TRUMPETS.

GOD Seems to ENJOY Trumpets sounding… 

Ever since Issac was spared by the ram caught in the thicket by its horn, God seems to have enjoyed the TRUMPET.

He used it when Joshua conquered Jericho, and in Leviticus 25:8-10…He specified its use in having trumpets sounding,  “proclaim liberty throughout all the land…”  (The quotation appears on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia demonstrating that America was founded by Bible readers).

The FEAST OF TRUMPETS occurring in our month of September (Tishri on the Jewish Calendar), and the jump in time from the FEAST OF PENTECOST in May or June, represents the Church Age in God’s planning.

The “TRUMPET” Was A Signal…

jesus_christ_image_321

The field workers of old, when they heard the shofar (the Ram’s Horn) blasts, they were to come into the Temple to worship God almighty.  The HIGH PRIEST actually blew the trumpet and the faithful would stop the Fall Harvest.

Since the TRUMPET unquestionably represents the RAPTURE, or the “catching up” of the Church; when we hear the sounding trumpets, those who are in Christ, the living believers will cease their HARVEST and will rise from the earth (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17):

“Take notice! I tell you a mystery (a secret truth, an event decreed by the hidden purpose or counsel of God). We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed).  

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the [sound of the] LAST TRUMPET CALL. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [in Christ] will be raised imperishable (free and immune from decay), and we shall be changed (transformed).

For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us, this nature that is capable of dying] must put on immortality (freedom from death).

And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished forever) in and unto victory [Isa. 25:8]”  (1 Corinthians 15:51-54 AMP).

THE FEAST OF ATONEMENT (Yom Kippur):

“The LORD said to Moses,  The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the Lord by fire.  Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God”  (Leviticus 23:26-28 NIV).

This FEAST on the Jewish Calendar provided a day of confession, the highest of holy days.  On our calendar, the FEAST  OF ATONEMENT begins on October 3rd 2014 at sunset and ends on October 4th 2014 at night fall.

“Yom Kippur”…

Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the HIGH PRIEST (nobody else) may enter the Holy of Holies and meet there the glory of the LORD (the Shekinah)(Hebrews 9:7).

The High Priest…

The High Priest makes ATONEMENT for himself and for the people of Israel by the blood sacrifice of goats and bulls (Leviticus 16).

 HEBREWS 9:14:

“How much more surely shall the BLOOD OF CHRIST, Who by virtue of [His] eternal Spirit [His own preexistent divine personality] has offered Himself as an unblemished sacrifice to God, purify our consciences from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the [ever] living God?”

So Through JESUS’…

Through Jesus’ DEATH at the cross, our way to the Father is FREE…for everyone, at anytime (Mark:37, 38).

“And He [that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world”  (1 John 2:2 AMP).

“God presented Him [JESUS] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–”  (Romans 3:25 NIV).

At Jesus’ Second Coming…

When JESUS arrives on planet Earth for the second time, He will come out of the HOLY OF HOLIES (heaven).  And when He returns, besides other functions, He will come as the HIGH PRIEST to His chosen people (Zechariah 12:10).

This is the one FEAST not already fulfilled by the church…

The church owes no ATONEMENT.  The Church is not innocent, but it is exonerated.  The Greek word katallage [See footnote [i] ] is a noun derived from katallasso (RECONCILE), found in four places in the New Testament with the meaning “reconciliation.”  However, in each instance it is clear from the context that such “reconciliation” of sinners with God has come about only as a result of Christ’s work of atonement through His death on the cross (cf. Rom. 5:11; 11:15; 2 Cor. 5:18, 19).

THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES (Sukkot – “Booths”):

“And the LORD said…Say to the Israelites,  The fifteenth day of this seventh month, and for seven days, is the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths to the Lord”  (Leviticus 23:34).

FEAST OF TABERNACLES or "Booths"

FEAST OF TABERNACLES or “Booths”

From the age of 12 to the age of 18, my parents used to mark on the calendar on the back porch wall, specific days that the family was going camping in the mountains of Southern California [Idyllwild State Park].  We would pitch a tent after mom would rake, even sweep the ground where the tent would be placed with a camp broom (mom was more than ‘just neat’).  Our family CELEBRATED our days of family camping.

God Wanted to CELEBRATE the FEAST…

God wanted to celebrate the fact that He provided a shelter for the ISRAELITES in the wilderness.

Each year, devout Jews build little shelters or “booths” outside of their houses and WORSHIPPED in them.  And so TABERNACLES represents the Lord’s shelter in the world to come for those who believe in JESUS as their Lord and Savior.  His great TABERNACLE to exist in Jerusalem during the Kingdom Age (Revelation 20).

The LORD will establish HIS TABERNACLE in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 37:26) and the world will come every year to appear before the King of kings to worship Him (Zechariah 14:16, 17).

CONCLUSION:

You’ll probably agree, after reading this TWO PART SERIES, Christianity’s Jewish Roots offer an eye to the future as well as the past.  The next time someone mentions “The Seven Feasts of Israel,” you’ll realize they’re talking about the Seven Feasts of all time!

 

*For Footnotes, See PART ONE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Events Have Transpired–The Shadow of Things to Come! (Part One)

For the past month, our pastor has been speaking on PENTECOST from the book of THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES; the introduction to the Holy Spirit and the POWER introduced to the believers in Christ Jesus–the NEW CHURCH.

“AND WHEN the day of Pentecost had fully come,

they were all assembled together in one place”

~Acts 2:1~

THE JEWISH FEASTS – A TWO PART Series in Leviticus 23 [PART I--The Springtime Feasts]:

A thought came to mind, and a question–  “Should Christians be celebrating the Jewish religious festivals?”  Although it certainly NOT REQUIRED for Christians to CELEBRATE the Jewish Feast days, I find that it is beneficial to go beyond what’s said on Sundays, and investigate God’s Word on the topic of conversation even deeper.

360de

The JEWISH FEASTS is a fascinating study.  God provides picture after picture of His entire plan for mankind and… one of the most startling prophetic pictures outlined within the Jewish feasts of Leviticus 23.

“These are the set feasts (or appointed seasons) of the Lord, holy convocations you shall proclaim at their stated times” (Leviticus 23:4 AMP).

The Hebrew word for “feasts” (mow’ed), meaning “appointed times”; and the words “holy convocations” means “rehearsal”.

In other words, the FEASTS of the Lord were appointed times of worship for Israel, which then serves as a “dress rehearsal” in God’s prophetic calendar.  You will see all this come into play as you follow along in this series [There are TWO PARTS to this study].

The SEVEN ANNUAL FEASTS of Israel:

To give you some perspective of the 7 Feasts, I thought I would list the months of the Hebrew Lunar Calendar (12 months of 29 or 30 days), with the corresponding months (English):

HEBREW MONTH        Corresponds

1.  Nisan                             March/April

2.  Ivar                                 April/May

3.  Sivan                               May/June [Shavuot]

4.  Tammuz                       June/July

5.  Ab                                   July/August

6.  Elud                               August/September

7.  Tishri                            September/October

8.  Marcheshvan        October/November

9.  Kislev                           November/December

10.  Tebeth                          December/January

11.  Shebat                     January/February 

12.  Adar                           February/March

 

The MAIN PRINCIPLE…of the Jewish Festivals

All of these rituals laid down by God in Leviticus have at their core, the teaching of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross.

In the BOOK OF AMOS, the “secrets” of God’s plans in the future times is made plain:

“Surely the Lord God will do nothing without revealing His secret to His servants and prophets”  (Amos 3:7).

God has always warned the world of coming judgements in order that it may not bring them upon itself.  Christ’s coming was foretold throughout the Old Testament, from Genesis to Malachi.  Equally plain and a certainty of fulfillment are the warnings of JESUS and the prophets concerning the future that each day comes nearer to every nation on earth.

#1.  ISRAEL’S UNIQUE ROLE IN GOD’S PLAN:

That role is far from being over, and it will again come to the forefront as the TRIBULATION time begins (Matt. 19:28; Luke 2:36; 22:36; Acts 13:21; Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3:5; Heb. 7:13; Rev. 5:5; 7:14; 21:12), coming to full fruition in the Millennium and Eternal State beyond.

That said, it is a mistake to think that we, the present day Church, pretend that we are something we are not, and we are not the divinely appointed nation Israel charged by God with observing Mosaic Law.

As Christians, if we choose to celebrate these special days, we should put Christ Jesus in the center of the celebration as the One who came to fulfill the prophetic significance of each one.  That’s my take, and I’m sticking to it!

THE INTRODUCTION TO THE SEVEN FEASTS:

“On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover” (Leviticus 23:5).

THE FEAST OF PASSOVER, it’s Origin– 

The FIRST MONTH of the Jewish Calendar is NISAN – 14th evening, the Passover (Seder meals).

The PASSOVER (Hebrew Pesach), means “to pass over”, “to skip”.

 passover_door_blood“The Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said to them, Go forth, select and take a lamb according to your families and kill the Passover [lamb].  And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood in the basin, and touch the lintel above the door and the two side post with the blood; and none of you shall go out of his house until morning.  For the LORD will pass through to slay the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood upon the lintel and the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to slay you”  (Exodus 12:21-23).

“You shall observe this rite for an ordinance to you and to your sons forever”  (Exodus 12:24).

“In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house; neither shall you break a bone of it”  (Exodus 12:46).

FULFILLMENT IN JESUS–The Passover Lamb:

Through the BLOOD of JESUS, we have eternal life.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has CROSSED OVER from death to life”  (John 5:24–capitalized for emphasis).

JESUS was without fault–sinless, the perfect sacrifice.

“For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of]  the righteousness of God [what we ought to be approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness]”  (II Corinthians 5:21 AMP).

No bone of Jesus was broken on the Cross of Calvary (John 19:31-36).

Photo by photobucket

Photo by photobucket

THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD–

“On the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread”  (verse 6).

“For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast.  On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel”  (Exodus 12:15 NIV).

“Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with leaven of vice and malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened [bread] of purity (nobility, honor) and sincerity and [unadulterated] truth”  (1 Corinthians 12:15 AMP).

“Do you not know that [just] a little leaven will ferment the whole lump  [of dough]?”  (1 Corinthians 5:6).

Metaphorically, “yeast”, “leaven” is a symbol for sin.  In the Jewish feast, yeast couldn’t even be kept in the house for seven days!

The 15th Day of Nisan…

UNLEAVENED BREAD is to be eaten exclusively for seven days.

JESUS’ FULFILLMENT OF THE FEAST:

Luke 22:1-2, 7-8

Luke 22:1-2, 7-8

“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone.  But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest”  (John 12:24).

“JESUS replied,  I am the BREAD OF LIFE.  He who comes to Me will never be hungry…”  (John 6:35).

JESUS was without SIN!

FIRST, the unleavened bread is a picture of His holiness, purity and sinlessness.  His life and sacrifice was “unleavened”–without identifying with the curse of death–a Lamb without spot or blemish for the ultimate Passover sacrifice (1 Peter 1:19).

JESUS died for us on the Cross; His body was buried (put into a grave) and after three days, the tomb was found empty!  He is alive!  Still producing a “rich harvest” of lost souls.

THE FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS:

“Tell the Israelites,  When you have come into the land I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.  And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, that you may be accepted; on the next day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it [before the Lord]”  (Lev. 23:10-11). 
Spring Barley Harvest

Spring Barley Harvest

In biblical times and again today, the first day after the Passover Holiday (Sabbath), the Feast of Firstfruits is celebrated.  The festival acknowledged the fertility of the land that God promised His children.  They were to bring the early crops of their spring planting and “wave it before the Lord”. 

THE FULFILLMENT in Jesus’ Resurrection…

“But the fact is that Christ (the Messiah) has been raised from the dead, and He became the FIRSTFRUITS of those who have fallen asleep [in death]”  (1 Corinthians 15:20 AMP).

The FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS in Leviticus 23, pointed to the Messiah’s resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous.  Jesus was resurrected on this very day, which is one of the reasons that Paul refers to him in 1 Corinthians 15:20 as the “first fruits of the dead.”

THE FEAST OF  WEEKS–PENTECOST (SHAVUOT):

The Origin–The Month of SIVAN:

In Exodus 19, we see for the first time, Moses received the Ten Commandments on stone tablets and the whole Law about seven weeks after the death of the Passover lambs in Egypt.

The Torah is put into place by God, through Moses and given to the Israelites; it’s a commemoration of the giving of the Law.

Leviticus 23:15-16, we read“You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day you when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths.  You shall county fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord”  (NASB).

The fourth FEAST is often called the FEAST OF WEEKS, because God specifically told the sons of Jacob to count seven weeks from FIRST FRUITS and then the day after, this feast was observed.

This also marks on the Jewish Lunar Calendar, the Summer Harvest [First Fruits began the Spring Harvest].

SHAVUOT (Hebrew) means “weeks”.  The Feast of Weeks, Pentecost, goes back to the Greek word, “penteconta, fifty”.

SEVEN WEEKS are forty-nine days–add one day (“the day after”), brings the total to fifty days.  ISRAEL has been born as a nation through the Gift of the Law.

THE FULFILLMENT:

Acts 2:1-4 Pentecost

Acts 2:1-4 Pentecost

THE CHURCH of Jesus Christ has been born, not from the Law written on stone tablets, but the followers of Jesus the Holy Spirit; the law of life written on your heart.

AND WHEN the day of Pentecost [Feast of Weeks] had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place.  When suddenly there came a sound from heaven like the rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them.  And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit…”  (Acts 2:1-4 a.).

As the Jews see the Feast of Weeks as the birthday of God’s covenant relationship with the nation of Israel, the fulfillment is found in the Book of Acts, the New Covenant.

When you hear the word “Pentecost”, what do you first think of?  Acts 2? Tongues? Charismatics?  What should come to our minds is the beginning of the New Covenant.

THE BIRTH OF THE CHURCH.

JESUS was resurrected on the Feast of Firstfruits; fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus, and the promised New Covenant begins!

(“Events Have Transpired–The Shadow of Things to Come”  PART 2; The Fall Feasts are coming!)

REFERENCES:

Bible Translations used: Amplified Bible; New International Version (NIV) translation; New American Standard (NASB).

1.  got Questions?org  [www.GotQuestions.org].

2.  info@hebrew4christians.com  John Parsons.

3.  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

4.  The NIV Complete Concordance.

PHOTO CREDITS:

Photo Calendar by Gavin Finley MD endtimepilgrim.org

photobucket – www.photobucket.com/images/pentecost

Photo Pin – Miscellaneous.

JEWISH CALENDAR Luzrius Schneider Feb. 03, 2000.

SPIRITUAL “Sclerosis”

Before going on in this POST, I thought it important to give you first, definitions of the word “Sclerosis” –then, explain how it fits in with our spirituality in life and in the Church as a whole.

“SCLEROSIS” or “hardening”:  (See Footnotes [i] and [ii])

#1.  Medical Definition – A pathological hardening of tissue, especially from overgrowth of fibrous tissue or increase in interstitial tissue.

In the GREEK, “hardening or “to harden” – 

#2.  porosis denotes “a hardening,” a covering with a poros, a kind of stone, indicating “a process” and is used metaphorically of dulled spiritual perception.

With the above definitions in mind, lets take a deep look into God’s Word and investigate a principle set forth for us all to ponder in our Christian service.

CAUGHT UP IN “RITUALISM”?  (Zechariah 7:1-7 AMP Bible)–

[1] AND IN the fourth year of the reign of King darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, Chislev.

[2] Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and regem-melech and their men to pray and entreat the favor of the Lord.  [3] And to speak to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and to the prophets, saying,  [Now that I am returned from exile] should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself as I have done these so many years [in Babylon]?

[4] Then came the word of the Lord of hosts to me [Zechariah], saying,

[5] Speak to all the people of the land and to the priests, saying,  When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years you were in exile, was it for Me that you fasted, for Me?  [6] And when you ate and when you drank, did you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?

[7] Should you not hear the words the Lord cried by the former prophets when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity with her cities round about her, and the South (the Negev) and the lowlands were inhabited?

According to the Scofield Bible, “Religious Externalism”:  “The whole matter, like much in modern pseudo-Christianity, was extra-Biblical, formal and futile.”   RITUALISM appeals to the FLESH and helps people feel “religious.”  

In my opinion, I don’t think Christianity needs any help in being “religious” in today’s society and I find it a sign of spiritual decline.

How so?

Zechariah 7:1-3 – “What about FASTING?”

The question seems to imply a readiness to discontinue the practice, the ritual of THE FAST.  That question may have been going through their heads at the time, but was not asked…”Would discontinuing the FAST be evidence of a false sense of security or would it add to the displeasure of the LORD?  All good questions.

In their present SPIRITUALITY, the people were still in distress, under the Lord’s displeasure.  From the human viewpoint, there might be something said in favor of discontinuing the fasts–and in case you’re wondering by now, is this blog-Post about “FASTING”?  Yes and no. I’ll get to that as we move along

The LORD has changed His method of dealing with His people; returning to them in the way of MERCY!  So, would it not be proper to change their method of performing their duties?  [NOT just "fasting" as required by the clergy].

It seems as if the MAIN CONCERN of the delegation was the FAST held on the fifth month; the remembrance of the burning of the first TEMPLE.  At this point in time, the NEW TEMPLE was almost completely restored [See picture below of model].

So why FAST?

Having kept the ritual of fasting for 70+ years in exile, the delegation members felt it wouldn’t be a good idea to discontinue something they had grown accustomed to without approval from the PRIESTS and the PROPHETS.

The 2nd Temple Model

The 2nd Temple Model

 Some Questions Arise…

Should a good and productive method of RELIGIOUS SERVICES, which we find beneficial to ourselves and others, be simply abandoned or altered because of the changes taking place in society and the world?

What then, should OUR PURPOSE be in coming to church on Sunday, or during the week in “service”?

In this portion of Scripture,  Zechariah 7, the delegation’s PURPOSE for coming was to PRAY and SEEK God’s will in the matter of the continuance of the FASTS.

Our PURPOSE for coming to the House of the Lord…

It should be to pray and seek the LORD’s will for our lives; to WORSHIP HIM.  It’s NOT for entertainment.

When we present our requests, our petitions to the LORD, we should be in a READINESS TO RECEIVE instructions from Him.  If we refuse to listen, we can’t expect the LORD to accept our prayers.

The QUESTION we should bring before our LORD and Savior is not, what will You do for me, but what can I do for You, even though You don’t need my help.

In God’s answer to the LORD of hosts asked question,  “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years…was it for Me that you fasted, for Me?”  – (verse 5).

“CONSIDER YOUR WAYS”  

Consider what you’re doing and why; WORSHIP WITH PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING, PRAYING IN PUBLIC, TITHING IN CHURCH, SERVING IN MINISTRY, etc., etc.

The question posed in VERSE 5, not only does it involve the delegation, but to ALL the priests and the people of the land.  And in case you are wondering…we too are included in the answer…”was it for Me…, for Me?”.

The LORD of hosts asked this question because the delegation’s question seemed to be more concerned about the ceremony, the ritual, than about the SUBSTANCE or the spirit of it.  They seemed to be BOASTING of their fasting, believing they should have been returned to the LORD’s MERCY sooner than it did.

A similar question was asked by the people in the prophet Isaiah’s day:

“Why have we fasted, they say, and You do not see it? Why have we afflicted ourselves, and You take no knowledge  [of it]? Behold [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins], you find profit in your business, and [instead of stopping all work, as the law implies you and your workmen should do]  you extort from your hired servants a full amount of labor”  (Isaiah 58:3 ).

What the priests and people were doing wasn’t bad, not done in the right way.  The LORD wasn’t charging them with OMISSION or NEGLECT of their duty.  He was charging them of WRONG INTENT!

He was saying,  those who come with a good intent, to SEEK GOD’s MERCY, must be willing to admit their FAULTS, a hard thing to do.  We can sometimes be so zealous in our approach, in performance of our worship on Sundays, we set aside our need to faithfully examine our attitude or motives for even being there.  Don’t wait for the Worship & Praise team to motivate you on Sundays!

We should ask ourselves in service and duty,  “WHY AM I DOING WHAT I’M DOING?”

The LORD appeals to the conscience…

If the people had not been sincere in the performance of duty and their worship, they needed to understand, we need to understand, there is One who is far greater than their consciences.

PhotoBucket

PhotoBucket

In their FASTING and WORSHIP, a form of godliness, they lacked life, soul, and power.  The stress of their doing was laid upon the REPETITION of the rituals, instead of upon the worship of the LORD.  Even those who were seeking to please their heavenly Father, to obtain His favor, who are sincere in their intentions, were wanting.  This is why, in the sight of the LORD, their FASTS were a mockery.  They were using FASTS as a covering; a covering for their SIN, as Jezebel’s fast, or as the Pharisees’ fasts, resting in outward expressions of humiliation [false humility], while in the process, their hearts were unhumbled.

Nothing New in Zechariah 7:7:

The people and priests are told what the LORD of hosts has said, and it’s nothing new.  The question seems to imply they have forgotten.  The GOOD THING the Captives should have done…was left undone!

On their FAST DAYS, the captives went and separated themselves from daily activities; being a sign of their sorrow for the judgment they were under.  This wasn’t enough.  What they should have done was to search the Scriptures and they would have seen what was the reason for God’s controversy with their fathers, taking a warning by their miseries, not going down the same pathway.

The AFFLICTION that rested on their shoulders was to WAKE THEM UP!  Bring them to REPENTANCE!

A Warning!!!

The disobedience of others and the consequences should be a WARNING to us!  God’s judgements upon Israel of old for their sins were written for a CAUTION to Christians today:

“Now these things befell them by the way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax (their consummation and concluding period)”  (1 Corinthians 10:11).

So Church, Why do we do what we do on Sundays?

In my reading for this study, I ran across a story that directed my thoughts to the above question.

A story is told about a wife who was cooking a roast.  She cuts the end off of the roast, puts it on a pan, then into the oven.  The husband asks,  “Why did you cut the end off?”

She replies  “Because my mom always did.”

The next day the wife asks her mom  “Why did you cut the end off of the roast before putting it in the oven?”  Mom replies  “Because my mom always did.”

So both of them went to Grandma and asked the same question.  “Grandma, why do you cut the end of the roast off before cooking it?”

Grandma replies  “So it would fit in the pan!”

Mark Batterson says  “All of us develop hypotheses about everything all the time.  Then we look for evidence to support our hypotheses and ignore evidence to the contrary.”    GUILTY! 

Questions to ask ourselves before, during and after the Sunday Service–it’s more than about “fasting”:

Why do we take COMMUNION–How many of us are partaking in the way God desires us to participate in the Lord’s supper?  What is it that you WORSHIP?  What is it that you get excited about?  Why do we TITHE, why do we FELLOWSHIP (meet and greet time) right after worship and praise?  Why our we FASTING?  Does GOD want me to, or is it just at the pastor’s request?  Why do we do what we do?

And the answer to the many questions…”Was it for Me?”

“WAS IT FOR ME that you fasted, for Me?  (Zechariah 7:5 b.)

“WAS IT FOR ME” that you are taking the Lord’s Supper?

“WAS IT FOR ME” that you are singing and worshiping?

“WAS IT FOR ME” you put in your tithe and offering?

Or is the condition of our SPIRITUALITY in a state of “Sclerosis”?  You’ll have to answer that question.

 

 

Photo Credits:  2nd Temple – Wikipedia Israel Museum;  “Sorry I’m Fasting” T-Shirt–PhotoBucket

Footnote References:

[i] – Merriam Webster Dictionary

[ii] –  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words–page  466 NT Words.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Get Stuck In A “WRINGER”!

Zechariah 3:1-7  (MSG):

(1-2)  Next, the Messenger-Angel showed me the high priest, Joshua.  He was standing before God’s Angel where the Accuser showed up to accuse him.  Then GOD said to the Accuser, “I, GOD rebuke you, Accuser!  I rebuke you and choose Jerusalem. Surprise!  Everything is going up in flames, but I reach in and pull out Jerusalem!”

(3-4)  Joshua, standing before the Angel, was dressed in dirty clothes.  The Angel spoke to his attendants, “Get him out of those filthy clothes,” and then said to Joshua, “Look, I’ve stripped you of your sin and dressed you up in clean clothes.”  I spoke up and said, “How about a clean new turban for his head also?”  And they did it–put a clean new turban on his head. Then they finished dressing him, with GOD’s Angel looking on.

(6-7)  GOD’s Angel then charged Joshua, “Orders from GOD-OF-THE-ANGEL-ARMIES:  ‘If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in my service, then you’ll make the decisions around here and oversee my affairs.  And all my attendants standing here will be at your service.’

The "Little Old Wringer" Washing Maching

The “Little Old Wringer” Washing Machine

 

I still remember a little old wringer type washing machine my mother would used every Monday when I was a child.  MONDAY, was WASH DAY. Period!

It was an all-day ritual; washing clothes, wringing them as dry as possible, and hanging the wash outside on a clothesline.

I know most of you would wonder how anyone could remember that far back.  Wasn’t that before the days of radio?  No, it wasn’t that far back but it was before the days of 4- track and 8- track players, cassettes, color TV (most couldn’t afford a black & white TV), and the internet.

It was the early to mid-1950’s, when I remember mom pulling that old wringer washer out from the closet beneath the stairway, then pushing it on its wheels into the tiny apartment kitchen.  What a job wash-day must have been.

I was too young to do much work but, I’m certain that I was a drain on her energy level as she had to watch me too.

There’s one image that still remains about that old washing machine.  The image of those flat pressed clothes as they came out of the wringer and into the clothes basket before hanging them outside to dry.

And on one of those days, in my enthusiasm to help mom on wash-day, I decided I could and would…feed the clean, wet sheets through the wringer.  My thoughts must have been”,  I wonder if those sheets are in any pain?”  

And at that moment of “wondering”, being somewhat distracted, I inadvertently let my fingers and hand follow the sheets through the wringer. The clothes weren’t the only thing in pain.  By the time my mom could release the rollers, she found me up to my elbow, with my little toes barely touching the floor–frozen in time as tears flowed down my cheeks.

To this day, I still think of that old wringer washer and how much of our lives are spent going through a wringer, and I can definitely say…it does hurt when you’re going through it.

The problem is, if you didn’t put those DIRTY CLOTHES through the process, of washing and wringing them out at regular intervals, then the clothes would become useless, or, if you did wear them anyway, no one would want to be around you very much.

IN THE OLD TESTAMENT BOOK OF THE PROPHET, ZECHARIAH 3:1-3:

Who Was JOSHUA?

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.  The Lord said to Satan,  “The Lord rebuke you, Satan!  The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you!  Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”  Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.  (NIV translation)

The GARMENTS of the High Priest

The GARMENTS of the High Priest

At the end of the Babylonian Captivity, Nehemiah and a number of Jews were released and sent back to REBUILD Jerusalem and the Temple.

At the end of the work, one of the HIGH PRIESTS who ministered in that rebuilt temple was JOSHUA.

This man, Joshua, was typical of the priesthood and its condition in Israel at the time.  He had little or no rule over his own house.

His sons had married outside the faith, polluting the nation with idolatry.  And, because of Joshua’s SIN, the sin of his family, Zechariah was given a VISION that spoke of Joshua’s life.

The Similarities…

But in a greater sense, that VISION spoke of the condition of all of us.  JOSHUA may have worn the outward robes that signified righteousness and holiness, the ephod of the High Priest, the golden mitre on his head with the words, “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD” on a gold band around it, and the robe he wore under the outer garment made of pure, white linen.  But Joshua’s life was far from the holiness he tried to display to those around him.

God Knew Joshua’s Heart…and so did Satan

We see in Zechariah’s vision, Joshua, Israel’s High Priest standing before the courts of Heaven; standing before the Angel of the Lord, which is no angel at all, but is one of the Old Testaments names given to Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Angel of God’s very presence.

Here then is an unholy priest standing before a Holy God in pure guilt and shame from the SIN in his life.

His self-righteousness was shown for what it was now–“FILTH!”:

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.  No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.  Yet, O Lord, you are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand”  (Isaiah 64:6-8 NIV).

It wasn’t bad enough Joshua stood there in sin and shame facing almighty God, but he had some company.  Right beside Joshua, on his right hand, was the one that Revelation 12:10 calls “the accuser of the brethren”, Satan.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need the devil pointing out my sins to God.  I do a good enough job on my own to condemn myself.

Nevertheless, there he was, Satan, standing there with his outstretched pointing finger, accusing Joshua right in his face–every failure, every sin, every doubt, every fear, and every disobedience before the Bar.  He was there for one purpose only.

Satan’s One Purpose…stealing this soul from God’s hand…

Destroying any chance of Joshua’s survival of High Priest in the land, but of Israel’s right to be a nation.  Satan’s PURPOSE was to steal, kill, and destroy Joshua and Israel once and for all (John 10:10-a).

The Evidence…

Satan had eye-witness accounts, even though he didn’t need any, because God already knew how sinful that Joshua was.

As Joshua stood there that day, his filthy garments and the SIN that was on him was evident.  The evidence was so outstanding in court against Joshua, Satan must have believed he had this case in the bag.  CONVICTED!!!  That’s how we are in our own righteousness too.

Right now, before the court in Heaven, the “accuser of the brethren” is standing there pointing his finger of accusation, making known every sin that you and I commit.  He has proof from the way we are dressed–in filthy clothing of the flesh that stinks to ‘high heaven’ with B.O. (‘bad odor’) of sin.

Satan is still attempting to snatch us from the very presence of God.  What a terrible thought it is, to be that close to God’s holiness, yet never know Heaven’s glories.

That’s what it will be like for those who will face God on judgement day without JESUS in their heart.  So close, and yet so far away.

Are you wrestling with sin in your life?

Do you wrestle with the “accusing finger” of the devil, who says to you…”You don’t PRAY ENOUGH, STUDY ENOUGH, AREN’T COMMITTED ENOUGH…and there is no way you will ever be “GOOD ENOUGH” or “HOLY ENOUGH” or “RIGHTEOUS ENOUGH”; at least not in your own power.

The apostle Paul said in Romans 3:10,  “There is no one righteous, not even one;”

So, is there any chance we can be holy and righteous…any way that our filthy garments of sin can be taken away and new clothes place upon us making us more presentable to our Holy God?

Yes, there certainly is, but not by might or power of our own hand.  Too many people keep trying to make themselves more presentable–righteous and holy–and all it does is backfire, proving themselves more sinful and unholy; back through the “wringer” and squeezed once more.

Most of the time we are sorry for being “filthy” but refuse to allow the cleansing POWER OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS to wash away the stain of sin. Instead, we try to find ways to soothe the guilt and pain:

–  We may continue in our sin but we will at the same time, try to spend more time in prayer.

–  We get down on the scrub board, turn on the agitator, bounce around for a while, hoping that somehow what we do… will play a part in our depth of sin.

We can cover the outside with good works (“whitewashing” – Matt. 23:27; Acts 23:3) all we want, but if JESUS isn’t in your heart…the center of your life, then you are still clothed in “filthy rags” of self-righteousness and that’s how you will stand before God.

A WHITER, FLUFFIER LOOK!

“A WHITER, FLUFFIER LOOK!”

Every time we try these the little ‘gimmicks’ ,trying to cover over the iniquities, we’re actually throwing ourselves in the washing machine ( “soft water makes a whiter, fluffier wash”), agitate the contents for a while and go through the WRINGER one more time…and find ourselves  come out, still as filthy, or find ourselves up to our elbows, caught once more in the wringer with our toes barely touching the ground.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t like going through my mother’s WRINGER when I was young, nor going through GOD’S WRINGER now.

HOLINESS:

In the Hebrew, the word is gadash, and in the Greek, the word is hagios (Footnote [i]).  Their similarity in meaning is almost identical:  “Those persons and things that are “holy” in the sense of being SET APART for divine redemptive purposes.”

We should be tired of trying to be holy enough or righteous enough.  I want to have TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS!  I want to live in TRUE HOLINESS!

BUT HOW?

Looking back in Zechariah 3:2-5, Joshua represented you and I.

I love the way God answers Satan.  It’s as though God says to the devil,  SHUT UP! I AM GOD!  I am the One who has chosen this one, who stands before Me!  [Put your name in the place of the word "JERUSALEM".  The meaning is still the same].

God saved us! God chose us!

God did the choosing and He won’t let go; no man can pluck us out of His hand!  Yes, Joshua had on filthy clothing!

– You and I have no righteousness with ourselves.

– We have no holiness within us.

– We have no power to deliver our soul from sin…

BUT JESUS DOES!

God speaks out to the angels who had gathered around…

Listening and watching for His commands-GET HIM OUT OF THOSE FILTHY CLOTHES!  GIVE HIM A NEW GARMENT AND A CHANGE OF HEART!  CLOTHE HIM IN RIGHTEOUSNESS!

Joshua didn’t deserve to be clothed in righteousness but neither are we.  None of us will ever be WORTHY enough.

It has nothing to do with WORTHINESS but everything to do with FOLLOWING JESUS, allowing Him to give us His righteousness by His own choice.

GOD took away Joshua’s SIN, then gave him robes of righteousness–placed a pure mitre of white linen upon his head with the words, “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD,” written across them.

JESUS stood by us when the work was finished because, when He purchased our salvation on the cross, His work was completed.  In other words, GOD takes away our sin, washes them away in the Blood of the Lamb, while clothing us in RIGHTEOUSNESS for His own name’s sake and changing our way of life and thinking while writing His Holiness upon our lives.

Zechariah 3:6-7, then says,

God’s Angel then charged Joshua,  “Orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:  ‘If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in My service then you’ll make the decisions around here and oversee My affairs.  And all My attendants standing here will be at your service.

I love all the “IF s” and the “AND s” in Scripture.  “IF” we will walk in the ways of the LORD, keep His commandments, obey His Word, judge righteous judgements, not judge one another, and keep close to JESUS…then God promises we would walk among those who stood by.

WHO ARE THOSE WHO STOOD BY?

The Holy angels of Glory!  We will be there, right along side of Michael and Gabriel, the archangels.  We will walk and talk with JESUS, living eternally in the presence of our Father God without filthy garments but clothed in the pure righteousness and holiness.

HOW DO WE RECEIVE THESE CLEAN, PURE WHITE LINEN CLOTHING – THE ROBES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS?

HOW DO WE GET RID OF THAT OLD, GREASY, FILTHY BASEBALL CAP WE’VE BEEN WEARING DAILY AND REPLACE IT WITH A NEW TURBAN WITH THE WORDS “HOLY UNTO THE LORD”?

HOW ARE OUR SINS ALL BE WASHED AWAY?

By ACCEPTING and CONFESSING that Jesus as your Lord and Savior–SACRIFICED for your sins.  By BELIEVING in His death, burial and resurrection.  By BELIEVING that He is ALIVE FOREVER, and by ALLOWING HIM to RULE and REIGN in your life.

So the question becomes, are we willing to allow Jesus to enter our lives and give Him the control, or are we ready to go through the WRINGER one more time?

The choice is yours!  What will it be? 

 

Footnotes and Credits:

[i]  Definition of Holy or Holiness is from EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF BIBLE WORDS by Stephen D. Renn.

High Priest Photo by http://www.robertmock@biblesearchers.com

Other Photos by Photo Pin.

Referenced Bible Translations:

The Message Bible; The NIV Bible; Amplified Bible. 

 

 

ISRAELS’ “Title Deed” Has Already Been Issued!

293170964_6790e9ec90“TITLE DEED” Definition:

A deed or document evidencing a person’s or people’s legal right or title to property constituting evidence of ownership.  [See Footnote [i]]

Joel 3:1-14:

I will gather all nations and enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land Multitudes in the Valley of Decision!  For the day of the LORD is near in the Valley of Decision.

TAKING A STAND

“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”  (Genesis 12:3 NIV).

I won’t speak to or about other countries in “taking a stand”; although I’ve recently been in discussion on Social Media regarding feelings and attitudes regarding what’s going on in the conflict of Israel and Palestine/Hamas.  But I’ll leave that discussion for a later time.

AMERICA IS AT A MOMENTOUS CROSSROADS!  WILL WE BELIEVE GOD AND STAND BY ISRAEL?

Or, will we “waffle” and give our sympathies to Israel’s enemies?  Having already turned our back on God in America, we are feeling the sharpness, the bite from His restorative judgments.  I know, GOD IS LOVE!  But He is also righteous and holy and a “jealous” God!! (Deut. 32:16, 21; 1 Kings 14:22; Psalm 78:58; 1 Cor. 10:22).

Yes, we still  have a form of religion, but we have lost the moral and spiritual power we once possessed.  Where we find ourselves today is in an unprovoked, worldwide WAR with militant Islamist terrorists and our homeland is vulnerable.

Yet, while our President has often remarked, to act against TERRORISTS and those who harbor them…at the same time pressed ISRAEL not to retaliate against the Palestinian terrorists.  And, the center of his Middle East policy is to divide the land of Israel and to create a terrorist-ruled, Islamist Palestine state in the center of the Promised Land.

GOD’s Word speaks to this issue (Joel 3:1-17).  And because there will be sobering consequences if we fail in disobedience to Him [*SEE Jer. 12:14-16; Zech. 2:7-13].

TWO ABSOLUTES IN OUR “STANDING” WITH THE JEWS CLAIM TO THE LAND:

GOD Himself gave THE TITLE DEED to the land of Israel to the Jewish people!  Unlike historic claims that other nations might have to their land, the Jews have an overriding, stronger claim.  “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”

Any human ownership of land is but a lease.

I remember one area of Orange County California I lived in, who established homeowners to LEASED the property their homes sat on,  for ninety-nine years.  Their thinking I suppose was, “Who would still be living on that property for 99 years?  God never stipulated in His promise in the TITLE DEED, that His covenant land was to be leased–that Israel would have to parcel up their right to ownership to any “squatters”.

GOD does the “establishing” and not man (Deut. 32:8-10; Num. 34:10-15; Josh. 11:16-22; 14; Acts 17:26).

Knowing the Promises of GOD…

HOW MUCH LAND DID GOD GIVE ISRAEL?

HOW MUCH LAND DID GOD GIVE ISRAEL?

Every Christian should know God’s PROMISES, what God says about the Jews and His Covenant land, especially in this day of decisions.

Each of us should be as the Bereans, SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES; NOT ALLOW OUR UNDERSTANDING TO BE CLOUDED by doctrines with strained and skewed conclusions, nullifying the plain PROMISES OF GOD (Acts 17:11-12; 1 Peter 1:19-21).

God’s Warning to the Nations…

“All who try to move [Jerusalem] will injure themselves.”

GOD PROMISES to punish the nations (people) who come against Israel:  “…and whoever curses you I will curse” ~ Genesis 12:3 b.

America, the Arabs, the European Union, Russia, China, all the nations, are in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14).  Every nation that presumes to interfere with God’s plan for Israel, including the U.S., STANDS NOT only against Israel, but against God Almighty!  GOD is rising to JUDGE THE NATIONS  (Ezek. 38:1-39; Zech. 2:8-9; 12:2-9).

“Why ISRAEL Has the Right to their Land and Others do not”–

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) gave an important speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on March 11, 2002:

 —  SEVEN REASONS WHY ISRAEL HAS THE RIGHT TO “THEIR LAND” –

Six of his reasons which are simple truths apply to common sense.  If you are interested in reading the entire document, it can be viewed on-line –(http://www.senate.gov/~inhofe/fl030402.html).

The seventh, his most important, is an appeal to FAITH IN GOD of the Bible and His covenant with the Jewish people.

We must support Israel’s right to the land because God’ said so!

In Genesis 13:14-17, the Bible says:

The Lord said to Abram, “Lift up now your eyes and look from the place where you are for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever…”

Only God Can solve the Middle East Crisis…

America must concentrate doing what is right.  I’m not saying we should give blind approval on anything Israel may do.  But Israels restraint toward its Palestinian enemies, so far, has been admirable–a model for all nations, and our pressure on Israel not to retaliate against a terrorist run state, to endure endless assaults against their own civilian population all in hopes of bolstering negotiations with terrorists leaders in Egypt, is foolish and immoral (Prov. 19:27; Ps. 1:1-2; 2:2-12; 33:10-22; Is. 1:16; Jer. 23:32).

The Problem Goes Far Beyond the Palestinian People

The HEART of the Muslim faith and its opposition to Scripture begins with belief that the Land of Israel belongs to the Arabs through the lineages of Ishmael and Esau.  The Muslims reject the Bible record of God’s covenants with Isaac and Jacob, believing that Ishmael and Esau, the first-born sons of Abraham and Isaac, were the legitimate heirs.  THIS IS A LIE!

The problem can never be resolved apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and/or the return of Jesus, Himself!  God’s Word provides for law-abiding Arabs and other non-Jews who live in Israel (See Ezek. 47:22-23 – Christians and Muslim Arabs would enjoy for greater political and economic prosperity under Israel than under Muslim terrorist leaders).

But this doesn’t mean Israel should accept the immigration of millions of self-proclaimed refugees or to divide up Israel and Jerusalem, forever compromising Israel’s security.  God holds Israeli government responsible, as He does all governments, to protect its people to bring criminals to justice, especially those guilty of shedding innocent blood (Gen. 9:6; Dt. 19:11-13; Rom. 13:1-4).

That the world (U.N.) community interprets Israels use of military authority in self-defense (Romans 13) as morally inferior to Palestinian/Hamas suicide (homicide) bombers, rockets, and other terrorist acts, simply reveals the worlds ill will toward the Just and Righteous God of the Bible.

President Obama cannot both appease the nations and serve the God of the Bible.  AMERICA is in the valley of decision.  Will we simply do what’s right and just (as defined by God’s Word), or yield to the political circumstances and threats against us?

A Worldwide Resurgence of Anti-Semitism–

Psalm 35:19-20 NIV translation:

[19] Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.  [20] They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land.

The pleasure of savagery, Palestinian/Hamas rockets (3500+), against the Jewish civilian population has elicited sympathy and support for the Israelis in the U.S., but sleeping demons of anti-Semitism has raised its ugly head once more around the globe.

Pro-Palestinian propaganda, broadcast by the liberal media, has fueled an international resurgence of Anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, Russia and the Arab world.

Denunciations of Israel by the U.N. once more, many nations have fueled the fires of protests by tens of thousands, boycotts of Israeli goods, and other political efforts to punish Israel.

 The Church s Contribution–

Some Christians believe the natural Israel was permanently cast off by God and wholly replaced by the New Testament Church (Replacement Theology); that the rebirth of Israel as a nation today has no part in God’s plan for our spiritual well-being.

But they completely ignore or twist a lot of Bible promises to the contrary.

THE DESTINY OF NATIONS:

All Nations, not just America, are tied to their responses to God’s will as revealed in Scripture.  God holds NATIONS uniquely accountable to their actions for or…against the Jews and His covenant Land.

How will He deal with America, or your country, if we look away from the demonically inspired anti-Semitism that’s growing around us?  We cannot keep silent when forces are working day and night to turn our political leaders against Israel.

My son accidently poked his finger in my eye once. 

Who hasn’t had someone accidentally POKED you in the eye?  I sure have.  It was clearly accidental, but never-the-less, it didn’t hurt any less.

A POKE in the EYE

A POKE in the EYE

Your EYE is sensitive to touch and the center of your eye, your “iris”, the “pupil” of your eye–the APPLE, is the most sensitive part.

When my son accidentally poked me in the eye years ago, my first response was anger!  My aggravated, uncontrolled words in response to my pain…“You’ve got to be more careful with your fingers, it can ‘poke’ someone’s eye out!”  I don’t know what that meant to him at the time, but he replied to my outrage by saying, “I’m sorry dad. I didn’t mean to. It was an accident.”  And of course, I accepted his apology as any loving dad would because of his repentance.

But what if the POKE IN THE EYE had been on purpose with the intention of doing harm?

“For this is what the Lord Almighty says:  “After he has honored me and has sent me against the nnations that have plundered you–for whoever touches you touches the apple [the "iris"; the "pupil", the "center"] of My eye”  (Zech. 2:8 NIV). *NOTE: Bracketed words were inserted for emphasis.

American Christians must pray and act to be sure that AMERICA stands by Israel!

 

 

FOOTNOTE (s):  

[i] Title Deed – Dictionary.com

PHOTOS:  

Map of Israel – Files From Toni: How Much Land Did God Give Israel? at filesfromtoni.blogspot.com/how-much-land-did-god-give-israel-html

Photo Pin

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS: 

NIV Translation

Amplified Bible

 

 

“Latter Rains” Are Great! But A Flood?

A Southern California Lifestyle…

Living in California for over 38 years, one of my pleasures during the year was taking road trips to the desert--Borrego Hot Springs State Park.

Borrego Hot Springs After The RAINS

Borrego Hot Springs After The RAINS

My folks liked to go right after the winter rains, when the desert was in full, or almost in full of  cactus bloom.

And our going always depended on the RAIN.  No rain, no desert floor flowers!   On the 1st of March, without latter winter rains in any given year, my plea, my cry, was always… “LET IT RAIN!”

“LATTER RAINS” – [See Footnotes – [i] ]

RAIN in the Middle East varies greatly from thirty inches per year in the hill country of Palestine-Syria, to zero to four inches in the southern part of Palestine, the modern Negev Sinai peninsula and Egypt and in the desert area east of the Jordan Rift, south of Syria.

THE HEAVY RAINS come in late November to early March.  Before and after this period come usually lighter rains.  The former coming in October-November and the LATTER RAINS–March-April.

The Absence of Rain in the Bible…

Lack of RAIN always produced famine in a country so completely dependant upon it and its withholding by GOD was terrible punishment (Deuteronomy 28:22-24).

Could the ABSENCE OF RAIN in many areas of our own country be more than just “Global Warming”?  What can we do, if anything?

Crying Out in Fervent, Earnest, Prayer for God to Open the FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN!

“The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send RAIN on your land in season and to bless all the works of your hands”  (Deuteronomy 28 :12 NIV).

In PREPARATION for God’s Glory…

Every Sunday morning before leaving the house for worship and praise in the fellowship, I put a CD in the player of worship and praise music.  It sets a spiritual tone for me while doing my everyday morning activities [Walk & Feed the dog, put the coffee on, check the computer for messages, etc.].

A Plea from God…

Last Sunday was no exception; but with a twist.   My wife decided to change things up a little by picking out something  to hear from the past.  If you haven’t guessed already, her chosen CD was recorded by Michael W. Smith – See Footnote [ii].

We want to see Your Glory, God!

Do you want to see His Glory?

Lift your voices, lift your hands!

Let it rain, let it rain.

Open the floodgates of Heaven.

[Repeat]

Do we really want to see a FLOOD of  God’s GLORY–for Him to send a Spiritual Rain onto this world in which we live?

OPEN THE "FLOODGATES"

OPEN THE “FLOODGATES”

“The effective prayer [the earnest--heartfelt, continued-AMP] of a righteous man can accomplish much.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on earth for three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:16-18 NAS).

WHAT IS “GLORY” ?

Religious people very often have a vocabulary that is intermingled in society that has meaning to some, but little understanding by most.  So at this point in my blog, I decided to go to some old notes I’ve kept from a spiritual mentor of mine.  Dr. Creflo A. Dollar:  [See Footnotes [iii]] 

THE GLORY OF GOD is simply the manifestation of His Word.  It is the thing you have desired, confessed and prayed.

THE GLORY is like a fruit tree that originated from a SEED.  Ex.: When you plant an apple seed, the “glory” of that apple tree is the apple.

THE WORD OF GOD is a seed that, when planted in your heart [soul and spirit] will produce visible results, or GLORY in your life.

** [I hope this might give you something to think about while reading the rest of my investigation].

Natural Rains provide…

RAIN brings satisfaction of quenching of thirst for plants and animals.  It’s a necessity for life to exist on earth.  When the rain comes to a desert, it gives life in that desert; an opportunity provided to quench their thirst by the life-giving water in a dry and barren land and…the GLORY is revealed.

Spiritual Rain provides…

We know the importance of the natural RAIN.

Now living in the American Northwest, the State of Washington, I’m very familiar of the importance of the rain.  Washington wouldn’t have the nickname, The Evergreen State, if not for the natural rain.  I’ve  certainly have become aware of the effects on the life of a resident.  “It is what it is!”

GOD’S SPIRITUAL RAIN:

The rains of heaven promise to quench our thirst if we drink them in.  When we drink from the RAIN of Heaven, we quench our thirst for that missing spiritual water.

The Rain of Heaven, when its being poured out, softens the soil of individuals hearts, so they are moldable to have the ability to plant seeds of eternal life in their lives.

The RAIN helps prepare the soil, but it also is instrumental in getting SEEDS to bud; break open with new life.  Moisture and the sun help this process to blossom and it births new life starting the process of growth and eventually the fruit–THE GLORY.

Cry of the Heart…

In this weeks investigation of the WORD DETECTIVE, I ran across the poem from one person:  [See Footnote iv]

Let it Rain!

Rainbow visions, reflected, refractive…

As I gaze out my window.

Bright skies, only a pane away.

Inside, only pain.

I wish it would rain, and was the iridescence from the streaked, and cracked glass that holds me prisoner.

Here inside my world, of self-induced pain…

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

DO YOU HEAR THE CRY OF THIS HEART?

“Here inside my world of self-induced pain, let it rain.”

She is crying out for the hurt to be washed away.  She wants to be cleansed and to be filled with joy.  She doesn’t want the HURT and PAIN.

LET IT RAIN!

The person here is crying for the type of rain that HEALS PAIN, BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS, and the hurts of life.

GOD’S RAIN is able to accomplish this task!

The “Importance of GOD’S RAIN”:

1 Kings 18:41-46 (NIV):

THE RAINS COME!

And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.”  Do Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant.  And he went up and looked.

“There is nothing there,” he said.

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”

So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”

Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.  The power of the Lord came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

1.  The area is being cleansed with the HEAVY RAIN.

2.  The soil for plenty is being soften up.

3.  The RAIN comes–and there is refreshment in the air.

4.  There is NEW LIFE being produced.

5.  The old sinful way of drought is being swept away in the FLOOD of God’s rain (1 Kings Chapters 21-22).

The “Latter Rains”…

“So rejoice, O sons of Zion.  And be glad in the Lord your God.  For He has given you the early rain for your vindication and He has poured down for you the rain, the early and latter rain as before”  (Joel 2:23 NAS).

The literal rains were symbolic of a greater truth.  They symbolized times of a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Different versions of the Bible differ in their translation of the phrase,  “He has given you the early rain for your vindication” (NAS).  This is because some Hebrew manuscripts use the words “moreh sedaqah” here, and others use “yoreh sedaqah.”

As I dug deeper, I discovered an interesting point.

“Yoreh” is the word for early rain.  While “Moreh” is the word for teacher.

So the phrase could be referencing to the “former rains”, or… referencing to the “teacher of righteousness–the Holy spirit.”

I don’t think there is unclearness presented here as an accident.  The symbolic meaning becomes even clearer in Joel Chapter 2:

[28] “And afterward I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.

[29] Even upon the manservants and upon the maidservants in those days will I pour out My Spirit.

[30] And I will show signs and wonders in the heavens, and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.

[31] The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood BEFORE the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.  [Revelation 6:12-17].

[32] And whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered and saved, for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the remnant [of survivors] shall be those whom the Lord calls.”

~Joel 2:28-32 Amplified Bible~

Crying Out in a Parched and Dry Land…

“And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD…”

We are asking… the LORD to pour out His spirit on our lives.

We are praying…to the LORD to send His cleansing RAIN, His refreshing RAIN, His life-giving RAIN into our lives and the lives around us.

WE NEED THE RAIN!  A special outpouring of the Holy spirit.

I think we need more than a ‘light sprinkling‘ of God’s Spirit; more than a few “April Showers”–

It’s time for the FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN TO OPEN in our lives–

–  A cleansing touch of the Lord…all 

–  A refreshing touch of the spirit in our souls…

–  A preparation of our hearts and other hearts in planting of eternal seeds…

–  The birth of eternal seeds in our hearts…

–  The growth of the fruit of the Spirit…

–  The ability to experience Abundant New Life…

–  The blessing of having a fruitful life filled with JOY…

In OBEDIENCE to Our Lord and Savior, as Stewards of His Blessings, God Promises Us Even More:

See if I will not throw open the FLOODGATES of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it”               (Malachi 3:10 b. NIV Bible).

Being Filled with JOY

Being Filled with JOY

Some of you who are reading all of this NEED it to RAIN in your personal lives.  Now is the time to CRY OUT…“LET IT RAIN GOD!”

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]  Young’s Bible Dictionary – G. Douglas Young, PhD Institute of Holy Land Studies, Jerusalem.  [ii] Study Notes from “The Word, The Blessing and The Glory” –  [iii] Michael W. Smith Lyrics with Writers: Carolyn Mitchell, Michael W. Smith, Deborah Smith – Copyright: Sony/ATV Milene Music, Peach Pie Music, WB Music Corp.  [iv] Copyright…Teresa Bess.

PHOTO CREDITS:

Photo Pin and… “Anza-Borrego Desert State Park” at http://desertusa.com/wildflo/ca.absap/html 

 

 

“Consider this an Invitation”

Revelation 19:6-9:

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like a roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns

Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!  For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.

Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)

Then the angel said to me,  

“Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'”

And he added,

“These are the true words of God.”

 

R.S.V.P.

R.S.V.P.

 

How Important Are Relationships of the “bride-to-be” and  the “Husband-to-be” Before Marriage?

In this passage of Scripture, Revelation 16:6-9, we can picture the RELATIONSHIP of JESUS with His Church, the Bride.

The Bride and Groom…

There is the theme/idea repeated in several places in the Bible, particularly in the N. Testament with Jesus portrayed as the coming groom, and the church as His expectant bride  [Ref:  Matthew 25:1-13].

In the Old Testament, the relationship between the shepherd/king and the Shulamite maiden in Song of Solomon as an allegory; portrays the love relationship between God and Israel.

THE BANQUETING HOUSE – (See Footnotes [i])

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love [Song 2:4].

In this story of the Shulamite girl whose heart was won by a shepherd who later came as King Solomon to claim her and who took her back to the palace in Jerusalem.  Now he takes her to the “banqueting house.”

In this there is a beautiful picture of the church which will be the bride of Christ.  It also reveals the personal relationship which is possible between the Lord Jesus Christ and each individual believer.

Believer’s Anticipation

One day in an event described as the “RAPTURE”…the taking up of the church, Jesus Christ (the Bridegroom) will return for the church (His bride).

In that given moment, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17,  “…the dead in Christ shall rise first and then we which are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

THE GREAT EVENT!!!

The “CATCHING UP,” or the “RAPTURE” will be followed at some point, with the event we just look at together in Revelation 19, called “The Wedding Supper of the Lamb.”

It’s an “Invitation Only” Event…

…but you’ve all received an INVITATION!  “Blessed are those who are invited”

Unfortunately, many who have been invited, received the WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT, will not be in attendance.  That’s right, the WEDDING is quickly approaching, the arrangements have been made, the guest list is almost finalized, and the Bridegroom is coming soon!

Preparations Made

Preparations Made

PROPOSITION:

Many people who consider themselves part of the “BRIDE OF CHRIST” are not ready for JESUS the Bridegroom to come.

A QUESTIONING SENTENCE:

How do I know that a lot of people are going to miss out on God’s great “WEDDING RECEPTION” in heaven?

Allow me, if I may, to now serve as your “Wedding Coordinator.”  I have briefly prepared a “CHECKLIST” to help the prospective bride prepare for her wedding day.

I know,  “Why is a guy preparing a “checklist” for the ‘big day’?”

I was BLESSED with two daughters who went through all the wedding day preparations.  But to refresh my memory, I decided to ask some general questions to the ladies on my Facebook account about WEDDING PREPARATIONS:

THE QUESTION:  “How does a BRIDE prepare herself before the wedding?  How did you prepare personally for your wedding day, or, did you even prepare?”

I’d like to SHARE some comments:

“Pre-marriage counseling with our pastor”

“Spent time together as a couple discussing the vows, decorations, guest list…relaxed and took a bath.”

“We knew each other for only 1 month, 2 days.  Didn’t have much time to prepare for anything. And then after 14 days of marriage together, the Lord took him home.”

“Sent out R.S.V.P. cards so we knew how much food we needed and the table settings.”

THREE ESSENTIAL ITEMS you must pay attention to if you are going to be prepared: 

These THREE THINGS will keep you out of God’s Eternal Wedding Party in Heaven– So please, for your sake, don’t be unprepared!

#1.  TURNING DOWN THE PROPOSAL…THE INVITATION.

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”  And let him who hears say, “Come!”  ~ Revelation 22:17 NIV

A Public Proposal…

I love it when a guy makes one of those bold public marriage proposals on YouTube; in the middle of a crowded restaurant, at half-time of a big game.

One guy took his girl up in a hot air balloon to see what he had written on the field below:  “WILL YOU MARRY ME?”  It was all caught on camera.  I would hope a guy is pretty sure of himself before taking that kind of risk   (Can you imagine getting turned down on national TV? – “Nah! Not interested” or “Could I have some time to think about it?”).

JESUS’ PROPOSAL TO YOU AND ME WAS A PUBLIC SPECTACLE–

He fell to his knees several different times…on the way to the place where He proposed.

He nailed His LOVE for you and me to the CROSS, signing His intentions with His own blood, spread His arms out wide and said,

“I want you for my own.

I want you all!

Whosoever will may come.”

This official PROPOSAL reads like this,

“For God so greatly LOVED and dearly prized the world

that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son,

so that whoever believes in

(trusts in, clings to, relies on)

Him shall not perish 

(come to destruction, be lost)

but have eternal (everlasting) life.”

-John 3:16-

You can trust me on this:  YOU’LL NOT RECEIVE A BETTER OFFER!

The world will try to sell you the idea that something better will come along; “You can reject God’s offer and still get into heaven your own way.”

That you can SUBMIT YOU OWN PROPOSAL:

…based on good deeds,

…church attendance,

…by giving to charities…etc.

BUT…you can’t BUY your way into heaven!  JESUS already paid the price.  The PROPOSAL is on the table.  He’s already “popped the question!”

WHAT THEN IS YOUR ANSWER TO HIS PROPOSAL?

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him”  [John 3:35-36 NIV].

#2.  THE SECOND THING THAT WILL KEEP YOU OUT OF GOD’S ETERNAL WEDDING PARTY IS…

Being TARDY for the CEREMONY–

You hear all kinds of crazy stories of people who were late at their own wedding (usually the groom).  They got lost trying to find the church; they overslept; they missed their flight, etc.

READ Matthew 25:1-13: “THEN THE kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom” (verse 1).

“FIVE WERE FOOLISH…FIVE WERE WISE…”

THE “FOOLISH” — “…when the foolish took their lamps (nighttime wedding), they did not take any [extra] oil with them” [verse 3];  “While the bridegroom lingered and was slow in coming, they ALL began nodding their heads, and they fell asleep” [verse 5].

THE “WISE” — “…took flasks of oil along with them [also] with their lamps” [verse 4].

The girls we read about, the “foolish” girls, missed the “ultimate” WEDDING BANQUET because the procrastinated.  They were like so many people in the world who think there is “plenty of time” to get things right with God when they’re ready.

So, they keep putting off their INVITATION, keep asking for an EXTENDED R.S.V.P. DATE.

THERE’S ONE LAST THING…

There is one last thing that will keep you out of god’s ETERNAL WEDDING PARTY:

#3.  Two-timing the “GROOM” (II Corinthians 11:2).

For I am zealous for you with godly eagerness and 

a divine jealousy,  for I have betrothed you

to one Husband, to present you as

a chaste virgin t Christ.

Here’s a thought that just might scare some to death:

JESUS CHRIST, the Savior of your eternal soul.  THE ONE who suffered and bled and died for you.  THE ONE you pledged your life to serve. THE HOLY SON of the living GOD…could come for His Bride at any moment…and many of you are off living on “Temptation Island.”

You once made the commitment to Him and said, “no other gods”, and “you’re the only one Jesus!”, and yet, you’ve been caught on camera with other lovers.

The WEDDING DATE is closer than you think and you’re out “two-timing” Jesus.

SIN might get you a “first date” with JESUS, but once you accepted His proposal, you agreed to keep yourself pure until the wedding.  You’ve been FLIRTING with lust; FOOLING AROUND with compromise; COURTING OTHER LOVERS behind His back.

The only way you and I can stand SPOTLESS before the Bridegroom…

Is being washed in the sinless blood of the Lamb and dressed in His righteousness.

“SCOTCHGARD” won’t work.

Scotch-garding or...WON'T WORK!

Scotch-garding or…WON’T WORK!

Some Christians act like their wedding clothes were treated.  They say they love JESUS but… keep rolling around on the couch (or chair) with sin pretending like they’re protected from any stain on them.

The STAIN of sin was removed at a great cost!  So don’t try to sew yourself up in a holy “cover up.”

JESUS is coming for a HOLY BRIDE.  If the WEDDING were held at 1:00 PM, or at Midnight, would you be ready?  You HOPE so or you KNOW so!  

I HOPE it’s the latter!

bride4christ

 

 

Footnotes and References:

[i]  “Banqueting House” – Thru the Bible Commentary Series; Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, pg. 137, by J. Vernon McGee.

Bible References:

Amplified Bible; New International Version.

Photo Credits:

“Scotch-garding” – Getting Prepared @ http://www.travelblog.org/ 

Invitation Photo by Photo Pin.

 

 

 

 

 

JESUS Loving the Unlovable

REVELATION 3:19:

JESUS is talking to a church and saying,

“Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them].  So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]”  ~ Amplified Bible.

I seldom hear about the CHASTISEMENT OF THE LORD from today’s pulpits.  In fact, I don’t remember ever hearing about God’s discipline for people in the church.  But it is an issue that all Christians should learn about, and sooner or later, most of us will probably discover what it is to be chastened of the Lord.

The Purpose for Chastening is…?  

“The Lord has chastened me sorely, but He has not given me over to death”  (Psalm 118:18).

The PURPOSE is not to destroy but to LEAD to repentance.

“…You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke; bring me back, that I may be restored, for You are the Lord my God.  Surely after I was turned [from You], I repented; and after I was instructed, I penitently smote my thigh.  I was ashamed, yes, even confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth [as a nation]”  (Jeremiah 31:18-19).

And to RESTORE God’s blessing.

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct,  O Lord, and teach out of Your law (Word)”  (Psalm 94:12).

I must admit, I’ve never been fond of the idea of spanking–on the receiving end, or the giving end.  Probably because as a kid I received quite a few spankings.  And by the way, hiding under my parents bed to escape punishment never worked [It doesn't work for God either.].

Mom would have an ever-present tree switch nearby, and would shout to me in my hiding,  “If you don’t come out right now, the punishment will be much worse!”

Looking back now, I recognize that the discipline of my parents was necessary in keeping me out of trouble–and in many cases to spare me from greater pain and suffering.  Of course back in those days, because of my immaturity, that reasoning wouldn’t make sense to a youngster.

Furthermore, I realize now what my parents went through during those years.  I too experienced the same in the raising our three children– the ordeals of correcting–not because my parents dislike us, but because they love us.  I don’t think my children understood that reasoning either while growing up, but its application was the same never-the-less.

That realization reminded me of God’s word in The Letter to the Hebrews– 12:9-11:

[9]    Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we yielded [to them] and respected [them for training us]. Shall we not much more cheerfully submit to the Father of spirits and so [truly] live?

[10] For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for only a short period of time and chastised us as seemed proper and good to them; but He disciplines us for our certain good, that we may become sharers in His own holiness.

[11] For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness--in conformity to God's will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God]. 

God’s Word Exposes the Church’s Hypocrisy…

 “I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold or hot. Would that your were cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing, and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked”  (Revelation 3:15-17).

Though JESUS has just exposed church hypocrisy, and has implied that many are pretending to know Him, yet don’t, His reasons are not because He hates them for falling in such a state but because He deeply loves them; He wants to come into their lives.

He reminds the church that He is impartial, always consistent while confronting and discipline.  That is the way GOD treats everyone He loves when they get off course, and believe me…I have certainly gotten ‘off course’ during my 42 years of Christian Life.

Proverbs 3:11, 12:

My son, do not despise or shrink from the chastising of the Lord  [His correction by punishment or by subjection to suffering or trial]; neither be weary of or impatient about or loathe or abhor His reproof.

For whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

[Other Scripture to meditate on:  Hebrews 12:5-11; Job 5:17; Psalm 39:11; Proverbs 15:10]

JESUS’ Harsh Assessment…Revelation 3:19.

His harsh assessment of this particular church wasn’t for the purpose of driving them away from Him, but rather serve to put them on notice–YOU MUST BE ZEALOUS–they must be “HOT” (verse 16) and “REPENT” [changing your mind and attitude].

God Wants What Is Best For Us–

He wants us to have SPIRITUAL LIFE, not death.  All this language, the language of LOVE;

-  it’s the treatment of LOVE

- it’s LOVE rebuking, chastising, and exhorting.

JESUS wants to see you restored.

For this very reason, He will discipline us who persist in sin; will even deal out correction if we show signs of APATHY or SPIRITUAL INDIFFERENCE.

“Spiritual Indifference”:

Indifference robs a church of its MAXIMUM WORSHIP POTENTIAL-

It shows itself through…

…NEGLECTED ATTENDANCE…PREPARATION…PARTICIPATION…

Enthusiasm to Worship King of kings, Lord of lords, the Almighty living God will be missing (Psalm 122:1).  Violation of God’s Word will rob the brethren and yourself of EDIFICATION in the body of Christ (Hebrews 5:11-12).

Our interest must increase for our worship to be a blessing– “I don’t get anything out of worship.” — Are you putting anything in?!

AGAIN, Revelation 3:19, [The New Living Bible]:

“I continually discipline and punish everyone I love, so I must punish you unless you turn from your indifference and become enthusiastic about the things of God.”

“I Hear You Knocking…”

Picture of Door by Sarah Langova

Picture of Door by Sarah Langova

Since I’m a product of the 50’s, and  remembering listening to the music of the day on my old Silvertone Radio, the Fats Domino song rang out in my ear.  Although the rest of the lyrics certainly don’t fit the topic, the title certainly does.

“I hear you knocking but you can’t come in”

Revelation 3:20:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and be [will eat] with Me.

JESUS IS THE DOOR! – John 10:7.

Restoration is Made…

What a telling image Jesus gives.  JESUS pictures Himself standing outside the DOOR of the repentive heart.

So often this famous verse is used to invite UNBELIEVERS to accept Jesus into their lives.  And of course, that is the message.  BUT the fact that He needs to ask to be let into the hearts of supposed Christians found in the church of Laodicea is a horrible assessment of their condition.

They, like the unbelievers around them, need to repent and welcome Him to come in and take control of their lives–to RESTORE the relationship they once demonstrated

Proverbs 15:10 says,  “The HEART knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.”

Psalm 39:11:  “When with rebukes You correct and chasten man for sin, You waste his beauty like a moth and what is dear to him consumes away; surely every man is a mere breath.”

Indifference Robs A Church!

Robs it of what?  Of its MAXIMUM WORSHIP  POTENTIAL.

It shows itself through neglected attendance, preparation and participation.  My ENTHUSIASM to worship will be missing (Psalm 122:1):

“I WAS glad when they said to me,  Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

Violation of God’s Word will always ROB the brethren and yourself of EDIFICATION: The meaning “edification” in the sense of “being built up, strengthened in one’s faith” [Expository Dictionary of Bible Words].

Our interest must increase for our WORSHIP to be a blessing;

“I don’t get anything out of worship.” — Are you putting anything in?!   [ [i] Referenced].

While Christ is Knocking at Our Door…(3:20)

He is directing some of us to knock at Him; “knock and it shall be opened.”

He will certainly hear our voice and open the door to us.  He will not be DEAF to our voice, nor bar the door, nor keep us standing in the hallway, nor send us empty away.

Christ’s Church When He Comes…

The body (the church) will be found in different circumstances then, as well as now, and with many kinds of knocking; yet in all, it’s the same earnest desire on His part to be let in.  He will not force the door; but still wants to be let in.

Don’t find yourselves repeating the lyrics to a song that was popular in the 50’s: “I hear you knocking, but You can’t come in!” How much you will lose out on!

In His Absence…

–  NO outward prosperity,

–  NO riches,

–  NOR numbers can compensate…

IF HE IS KEPT OUT–all is sadness, and leanness, and poverty.

IF He is admitted, ALL IS WELL…

–  HAPPY is the church where Christ is daily feasting…

–  HAPPY the soul in which He has come to live…and who, is in daily communion by Faith and ENJOY the TASTES the Bridegroom’s LOVE!.

“I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.”

 

 

 

 Reference:  [i]  www.bibleanswer.com/indiffrn.htm

Bible Translation Used: Amplified except where noted.