Is the Evidence of GENUINENESS in Christianity Really There?

A BIBLE STUDY IN 1 JOHN 3:4-10

As the WORD DETECTIVE, as we all should be, and looking at the evidence in this passage, I’ve found VERSE 9 to be one of the most difficult passages in the Bible to understand and explain.  It is often quoted to teach a child of God that once you become a “born again believer,” you will never sin.  And many honest and sincere people believe this, devoting themselves to the attainment of what is commonly called, “sinless perfection.”

1 John 3:9 (NIV) –

[9] No one who is born of God will continue to sin because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God.

But is this doctrine really taught in the Bible?

The ANSWER is “no” for two reasons:

#1.  There is clear teaching in the Bible.

When you come to a difficult passage to understand and explain the meaning to others, we should seek to interpret it in context with clearer teachings offered in Scripture.  To say this passage teaches a Christian never commits SIN contradicts clear teaching in this same book of the Bible:

#2.  There is the common testimony of the Bible.

In the Bible, we are told of the great Saints, all of whom were imperfect!  The Word of God doesn’t cover up their faults.  It’s made very clear in Scripture that there’s only One spoken of who is SINLESS–Jesus Christ.

For these TWO REASONS, we should say that the Bible doesn’t teach sinless perfection.  But if that is the case, what’s the deal with the words given in 1 John 3:9 mean then?

As a “Word detective” I, of course, wanted to look at this verse in an effort to find the answer to the questions that can and will arise.

GOD’S PROVISION – vs. 4-5 (Amplified Bible)

[4] Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect–being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and will).

[5]  You know that He appeared in visible form and became Man to take away [upon Himself] sins, and in Him, there is no sin [essentially and forever].

I love to use different Bible translations in studying Scripture, helping me answer questions that can arise.  And it goes without saying, Holy Spirit always clarifies the answer.

When Jesus came into the world, He made a perfect provision for our salvation which makes it possible our DELIVERANCE from SIN’S PENALTY…SIN’S POWER, and eventually, SIN’S PRESENCE.

Therefore, Jesus’ SACRIFICE provided us with daily VICTORY over SIN in our life.

The Necessity of His Provision (v. 4).

HUMAN SIN made the CROSS necessary.

God is a JUST God, along with being a LOVING Heavenly Father.  God wanted a restored relationship of His Creation that was lost in the Garden (Genesis Chapter 3).

But He also needed to see the JUSTICE carried out with respect to the violation of His law.  How could these TWO attributes be satisfied simultaneously?

THE CROSS.  It had to be!

God took on flesh in the person of Christ Jesus to do for mankind what we could never do for ourselves–pay the PENALTY for our SIN in such a way to make possible a personal relationship with Himself.  NOW THAT’S REAL LOVE!

In searching the Scriptures, the PENALTY of our sin is so great, that left to pay it on our own, requires an eternity’s worth of suffering, meaning that we would never be able to be set free from sin’s penalty and have a RELATIONSHIP with Abba, Father.

God took on FLESH in the person of Jesus and lived a SINLESS life in order to QUALIFY and represent human race and pay the PENALTY of OUR SIN.  And because He was God in the flesh, He could pay that infinite PENALTY in a finite period of time on the Cross.

He provided FORGIVENESS to the entire human race and proved that sin’s penalty was fully PAID by being raised from the dead, ascending back to heaven leaving an offering of the Holy Spirit to bind the relationship with Himself to all who choose to receive His GIFT of eternal life.

Romans 6:23 (Easy-to-read Version -ERV)

[23] When people sin, they earn what sin pays–death.  But God gives his people a free gift–eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Nature of His Provision (vs. 5, 8) –

  • He came to provide us VICTORY over sin (vs. 5).
  • He came to provide us VICTORY over Satan (vs. 8).

ILLUSTRATION: The Dallas Texans, Not the Cowboys *[See Footnote [i] ]

The first NFL franchise in the state was in 1952–The Dallas Texans.

The Texans had a brief history and existing for only one year, posting a win/loss record of 1-11.  A former member of the team, before he was cut, recalls a story of the team’s equipment manager, Willie Garcia, who had never seen a football game in his life.  “Willie had one wooden leg.  When they kicked the ball into the high grass during practice, no one wanted to go after it because of SNAKES.  Willie would volunteer and said, ‘I’ve got a 50-50 chance the SNAKE will go for the wrong leg.'”

On our own, there’s always a chance of getting “bit” by the devil.  But because of the CROSS, the FEAR of him should no longer be.

By the PROVISION of the Savior, our lives need not be dominated by SIN and SATAN!

The PRACTICE of the SAVED (vs. 6-7) –

 

John doesn’t say a SAVED PERSON won’t sin.  What he does say is a Christian won’t “keep on sinning.”

The Amplified Bible reads “[deliberately, knowing, and habitually]” commits SIN.

So truly SAVED people DON’T live to do what God says is wrong!

They DO practice RIGHTEOUSNESS (Vs. 7) –

A truly Saved Person, a genuine Christian, lives to do what is right in God’s eyes and not their own.  John says those who are born again DON’T PRACTICE SIN but practice RIGHTEOUSNESS.

SIN in the life of a true believer should be the exception and not the rule.  If you are genuine in your belief, you don’t practice SIN.

So what does the word “PRACTICE” mean? 

The English Oxford Dictionary, Item #3 reads  “a Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.”  

SAVED people occasionally do wrong, just as the LOST occasionally do right.

The FACT that the SAVED occasionally does what is wrong doesn’t make him any less saved than the FACT that a LOST person who occasionally is found doing something right makes him any less lost.

In Matthew 7:17, Jesus says that a corrupt tree brings forth corrupt fruit and a good tree brings forth good fruit.  Occasionally you might find a good apple off a bad tree, and occasionally you might get a bad apple off a good tree, but normally, the FRUIT of a good tree will be good.

So it is in the life of a child of God.

That’s what John is saying here.  He’s not saying you will never sin if you’re a child of God.  He’s saying that the direction you take should be pointed toward God–doing the things that please Him.

The POWER OF SALVATION (Vs. 9-10) –

[9] Those who are children of God do not continue to sin, for God’s very nature is in them; and because God is their Father, they cannot continue to sin.

[10] Here is the clear difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children; those who do not do what is right or do not love others are not God’s children.  Good News Translation (GNT)

When one is BORN AGAIN…born of the Spirit (1 John 3:6-7)the Holy Spirit takes up residence in his/her life (Romans 8:16; Ephesians 1:13-14).

As a result of the Spirit’s presence, we should have…

A NEW DESIRE (V. 9 b ).

The phrase, “they cannot continue to sin” speaks of the NEW DESIRE on the part of those who are BORN AGAIN.

The apostle Paul put it this way in Romans 7:22 (AMP): 

For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature].

The Bible says that when a person is SAVED…BORN AGAIN, “God writes His law on their heart” (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10).

The CHILD OF GOD has the DESIRE to do what God says is right.  That doesn’t mean we always succeed, but it does mean that is what we want to do!

A Methodist Evangelist named Dr. Morrison taught the Doctrine of Holiness and it was said that he came closer to practicing it than most people do.  Someone once asked Dr. Morrison jokingly, “Dr. Morrison, have you gotten to a place where you cannot sin?”  Dr. Morrison answered, “No, my brother, I have not yet gotten to where I cannot sin, but I have gotten to where I cannot sin and enjoy it.”

That’s to be the testimony of every truly born again child of God.

Learning How To Live In GENUINENESS By Yielding to the Spirit –

“Yielding to” in Vine’s Greek New Testament Dictionary uses the Greek word “Peitho”; to PERSUADE BY, in contrast to “yielding” to one’s own SINFUL NATURE, something Paul had to grow to learn and as something every ‘GENUINE CHRISTIAN’ likewise needs to grow and learn.

2 Peter 1:3-4

 

An unbeliever has one nature, received a birth; a sinful nature.

But when we TRUST CHRIST, receiving a NEW nature with the Spirit’s presence in our life, a new power is provided for us.  No longer do we need to surrender to our sinful nature, give into temptation and live for sin.  Our DESIRE should be to surrender to the leading of Holy Spirit, resisting temptation and living for God!  That my friends is GENUINENESS!!

A NEW BELIEVER asked a church small group how they were doing in their Christian walk, especially around others.  They replied that it felt like they had a black dog and a white dog inside of them, constantly fighting with each other.  They were asked which dog was winning.  And their REPLY?  “The one I feed the most.”

Looking at your lifestyle right now.  Which one are you feeding the most?

___________________________________________________________________________   

FOOTNOTES & CREDITS –

Footnote [i] :  Story printed in the Los Angeles Times, December 18, 1992.

Dictionary used:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Words.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, using Bible verses as a reference.

Bible Translations:  Noted in the text.

 

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Living Our Lives With The “Two Minute Warning” In Play

SCRIPTURE:  1 Peter 4:1-11 (NIV)

In football, the manner of play I’ve noticed over the years changes when the “TWO MINUTE WARNING” has sounded.  And in VERSE 7 in our study together, Peter says “The end of all things is now.”

I think that thought gives meaning to the whole passage as the Holy Spirit is saying through the Apostle that we should live our lives on earth as if Life’s TWO MINUTE WARNING has sounded.

The question becomes…we should ask ourselves while investigating this passage of Scripture, the same one Peter asks his readers (2 Peter 3:11)–“What kind of people ought you to be?”

So with that in mind, let’s look for ANSWERS to that question:

First, as Christians living in a lost world at the end of time, we should be ARMED with an ATTITUDE.  By the way, I didn’t steal that idea from Dr. Laura–it comes right out of this passage of Scripture (1 Peter 4:1-2).

Peter is giving us a picture of putting on our ATTITUDE as part of a suit of armor.  Very similar to the passage Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesian church–“Putting on the whole ARMOR of GOD” (Ephesians 6).

So What is ATTITUDE?

The English Oxford Dictionary:  “A settled way of thinking or feeling about something.”

Referring to “ATTITUDE”, Peter is saying it’s the same one that Christ took towards suffering–ARMED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE that He once had, completing the task, never again to wrestle with sin or temptation–that would all be over with, “It is finished!”

What it’s not saying is that if you suffer once, you’ll never suffer again.  It’s saying that we should “understand” suffering for what is right and it sometimes part of life in the body.

BIG PICTURE…as a result, you won’t live your life as if you must satisfy your earthly appetites–your desires, your pleasures, for a little suffering here.  It can’t be compared with an eternity FREE from SIN & SUFFERING.

ILLUSTRATION:

The ATTITUDE we should arm ourselves with is like that of a quarterback in the Superbowl who gets injured in the 4th Quarter of the game and the TWO MINUTE WARNING begins.  He would be willing to play through a great deal of pain for the sake of that victor’s ring because he know’s everything is at stake and the end is in sight.

We who are Christians, who stands on the edge of history should arm ourselves with the ATTITUDE that says, I can see the goal line and it’s worth any price to obtain it!

That’s the ATTITUDE that free’s us to do God’s will in our lives.

That’s NOT the Way We Used to Live, however.

VERSES 3-4

VERSE 3 actually is a direct contrast to Verse 2,  It literally says enough time has been spent doing the will of nations (worldliness) in CONTRAST to our NEW ATTITUDE which frees us to do the “will of God”–we used to live our lives to PLEASE the World and ourselves; not anymore.

And now the World doesn’t understand this new attitude of ours; why we don’t plunge into a life of SENSUAL PLEASURE–drunkenness, sensual immorality, worshipping money and fame.  The will of the WORLD summed up in the phrase “If it feels good, do it!”

Secondly, as Christians living at the end of times, we should have…AN AWARENESS OF ACCOUNTING.

To live as followers of Christ we need to understand that AN END IS COMING!

Coaches begin to watch the clock very carefully inside the TWO MINUTE WARNING.  It’s important to know where they stand in the time they have left.

Peter says that we need to understand the end is near and living in this time requires clear headedness, self-control, allowing us to keep in communication with the Coach.

It is important as well that we understand what “the end” means–that it means there will be an ACCOUNTING…whether we are LIVING when that time arrives, OR…whether we have already passed on, that we’ll give an account to our lives.

Even those who have gone before us will be judged and this is why they needed the GOSPEL too–it’s not just for those who will be living when the ACCOUNTING comes.  And when those who have gone before us put their TRUST in Christ Jesus, thought by human standards being judged GUILTY, in the spirit, they live everlasting because of the work of Christ.

As we sit on the edge of history’s end, we must be aware that Christ will judge the living and the dead.  We then must consider how we will be judged on that day.  Our DEEDS will be laid before Him.

Woe unto us on that day if our SINS are not covered by the BLOOD of Jesus.

Those who trust the SAVING GRACE of Jesus whose BLOOD was shed on Cross, understanding that only HIS BLOOD can cleanse them; that nothing we could ever do or say will make us worthy.

Those who have put their TRUST in Him alone…ALSO, commit their lives to Him–to live for Him, not to earn His affection, but to demonstrate our affection–because we have been ARMED with the ATTITUDE of Christ.

And because we are aware of an ACCOUNTING…

Third, as Christians living during the “TWO MINUTE WARNING” we should be…

ABOVE ALL AFFECTIONATE (Verses 8-9)

[8] Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  [9] Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  (NIV)

More important than anything else is LOVE.  

JESUS’ top TWO LIST was this:  Love God, Love your neighbor–everything else, He said, All of the Scripture is tied up in those TWO!

Church tradition says that when the Apostle John, the beloved disciple, became too old to even walk, used to ask to be carried to the local church meetings, go before the assembly of believers and say only this:  “Little children, love one another.”  Well, that sounds sweet enough but after a while, it started to get on people’s nerves.  Finally, the elders of the church went to John and asked him why do you keep saying that?  His reply was short and to the point:  “Because it is our Lord’s command and because it’s enough!”

LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS.

The Lord knows as well as my wife, I have a multitude of sins.  That said, my wife also knows that I LOVE her.  Sometimes I hurt her feelings and I’ll demonstrate that LOVE in a tangible way–in an exercise that some have said is a “suck up gift”.  But that “suck up gift” works NOT because I spend money, but because she knows that I genuinely care deeply about her!

But it works the other way too.  Our LOVE for others covers a multitude of OUR sins toward them but our SIN should also cover a multitude of THEIR sins.  About 70 times seven I’d say.

There’s one last thing I want to mention that we should do as Christians while living at the end of time.  That’s ADMINISTERING GOD’S ANOINTING (vs. 10-11 a).

Each one of us should use whatever GIFT he/she has received from the Holy Spirit to SERVE others, faithfully administrating God’s GRACE in its various forms (verse 11).

Here is this passage of Scripture, Peter urges us to be “faithful stewards” of the GIFTS God has given to each one of us.  And as ADMINISTRATORS (Stewards) of God’s GRACE in various forms, that is of the gifts that God has given YOU (put your name in place of the word “you”), NOT for your pleasure but for His, to SERVE OTHERS.

And notice also that emphasis is given here as it has in the passages found in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, to the fact that these Spiritual Gifts are exercised not in our own strength BUT in the strength of the Lord.  And this is the part that makes it important for us who live in History’s TWO MINUTE WARNING…to OPERATE in the GRACE (the FAVOR) God gives to us through SPIRITUAL GIFTS.

So as the BUZZER, the whistle approaches (or actually, as the TRUMPET sounds),  we must work in God’s strength, FAITHFULLY ADMINISTERING as good stewards, God’s Anointing in its various forms.

Conclusion:

ARMED with an ATTITUDE that says I have my eyes on a prize above and I can’t be distracted by the pleasures below.

AWARE of the ACCOUNTING–keeping our focus and ready for that day!

Above all AFFECTIONATE–because it’s the Lord’s command and because it’s enough!

And ADMINISTERING faithfully God’s Anointing that through HIS STRENGTH we might accomplish ALL that He has for each one of us as the day approaches!

__________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

VINE’S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY of Old and New Testament Words.

PHOTOS:  Advance Settings–Gooogle Image Search.

Bible Translations:  The New International Version (NIV), EXCEPT WHERE NOTED.

 

 

 

When Things Seem Insurmountable, Always Remember the Three “C”‘s

BIBLE TEXT:  1 Peter 1:2; Romans 5:1-11

The Apostle Peter’s letter was addressed to the followers of Christ who lived in the area we know today as Turkey.  Peter was writing to Christians scattered far from home, some because of persecution and others because of circumstance.  It included words of encouragement to people who were lonely, afraid and discouraged in their doing.

Have you ever been in this state?  Of course, you have.  We all have.

The words that Peter wrote so long ago are an encouragement to us today.  Look closely at these words in 1 Peter 1:2 (NLT) –

There are THREE THINGS I hope you can see, as I saw in Peter’s words:

#1.  God the Father CHOSE you.

#2.  God the Holy Spirit CHANGES you.

#3.  God the Son CLEANSES you.

Let me take each of the above, one at a time.

GOD THE FATHER CHOSE YOU!

Ephesians 1:4 tells us,  “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight”  (NIV).

That’s an amazing verse:  We’ve been chosen, You’ve been chosen, and I have been chosen.  Chosen because of God’s LOVE for us!

Even before He made the WORLD, God LOVED us and chose us in Christ Jesus to be HOLY without fault in His eyes.

The FIRST “C”:  God has CHOSEN us!

We are special to Him…

We belong to His family…

We are children of the living God.

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago – The GREEK WORD used here is eklektos (ek-lek-tos’), meaning set apart, chosen before, elect, selected.  [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary]

God is ETERNAL.  He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between.

He knew you from the start of time as we understand time, and loved you and chose you to be His.

God CHOSE those whom He knew would believe and trust in Him.  God has given us all FREEWILL, yet He knew who would willingly REPENT and turn to Him.

In ALL THINGS, especially in SALVATION, God is sovereign!

He KNEW who would believe.

He KNEW who would know their need of a Saviour.

He KNEW who would turn to Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.

God the Father knew everything and everyone even before He spoke the universe into existence.

You and I, and all who have FAITH in the one TRUE GOD are LOVED & CHOSEN to be the people of God.

2 Timothy 2:19 REMINDS US,

If you are a Christian, if you have repented of your sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, then you have been LOVED AND CHOSEN by God.

The SECOND “C”:  God the Holy Spirit CHANGED You!

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago and His Spirit made you holy.  The NIV Bible says “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit”.

The Oxford dictionary defines sanctified as “Set apart”, “declared holy”, “consecrated”, “Freed from sin” or “purified”.

As disciples of Christ, we are “set apart” for God’s purposes in this world.

At the moment we give our lives to Christ we are SAVED,  BUT…there’s an ongoing process of CHANGE and SANCTIFICATION that continues in our lives until God calls us to step into eternity.

The Holy Spirit works IN US to be His holy people.  In fact, His command, not His suggestion to us in 1 Peter 1:16 is “You MUST be holy because I AM holy”.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me, sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.”

The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Be Obedient to Our Heavenly Father.

HOLY SPIRIT works in us…

  • He helps us FOCUS on God’s plans and purposes for us.
  • He reminds us we are LOVED.
  • He reminds us we BELONG to God.
  • He reminds us we are CHOSEN by God.

The Holy Spirit can CHANGE & TRANSFORM our lives.

Here’s a QUESTION for you to ponder:

Do you allow Holy Spirit to change you?  I mean really change you, your thoughts, your actions, your words.

Do you ever make CHOICES based on what you want rather than what you know God expects of you?

Do you allow God SOME control or FULL control of your life?

The Holy Spirit makes us Holy.  His presence IN us is meant to CHANGE us; to reflect the character and holiness of God to those around us.

In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul encourages us to let our bodies be a living and holy SACRIFICE to God.  I heard someone once say, that “A SACRIFICE is something given that comes with a cost.”  So if it doesn’t “cost” you something, then it’s not a sacrifice.  Deductive reasoning on my part I guess.

The NLT Bible says it this way:  “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think [even when things seem insurmountable].  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  — (I added the brackets in the verse.)

The “FULLNESS” of God’s Spirit Operating, HELPING, GUIDING, TRANSFORMING, EMPOWERING You in ALL Areas–Each of us needs the Holy Spirit, to daily bring about CHANGE in our lives, to make us holy.

Try squeezing a full aluminium can of soda and then an empty can.  Which is the easier to CRUSH?  The empty can, of course.  Being FILLED with the Spirit of the living God works the same.  Our lives are easily CRUSHED when we are empty, yet when FILLED with the Holy Spirit, we are not “cramped or crushed”.

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 says it this way:

[7] But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 

[8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not destroyed.

The THIRD “C”:  God the Son CLEANSES you.

God the Father knew you and CHOSE you long ago and His Spirit has made you Holy.  As a result, you have OBEYED Him and made CLEAN by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

Peter tells us so because we have been SET APART by our OBEDIENCE, living our lives as children of God, DISCIPLES of Jesus.

You might be thinking, “Well, not exactly living my life in TOTAL obedience.”

Remember, “Transformation” isn’t a one-time event that happens when you are SAVED.  It’s an ongoing process enacted by the Holy Spirit.

Casual, convenient Christianity isn’t OBEDIENCE to God.  God wants us to be FAITHFUL…NOT FAITHLESS!  It’s about commitment.

So our “OBEDIENCE demands something from us–that we give it without regard to circumstances or results” (quote by Chuck Colson).

You have OBEYED Him and have been CLEANSED by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

In Old Testament times, people were sprinkled with some blood from an animal sacrifice to remind them of their vows to God and God’s great promises to them.  It was a COVENANT relationship, an agreement that was SEALED with BLOOD.

In the New Covenant, God has established with us, the PERFECT SACRIFICE, Jesus: We are CLEANSED, SET APART and PLEDGED to OBEDIENCE.

When we turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, when we REPENT… turn completely in a different direction from our sinful life and ask God to forgive us, and because of our FAITH in Jesus, WE ARE SAVED!

Our SINS, past, present and future are FORGIVEN because Christ shed His blood for us on the Cross.  Jesus has washed away the PENALTY for our sins by His BLOOD.  We have been purchased, bought and paid for with a price and our lives are not our own, God has SAVED us and the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us.

READ the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-11

ENDURANCE Provided When Things Appear to be Insurmountable.

The verses here in Romans tells us to “REJOICE in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Rom. 5:3).

The KEY to pick up here is to find JOY “IN” our trials, our problems, our sufferings and not “for” them!

This is where ENDURANCE comes from (Rom. 5:4).  It produces HOPE, the strength of character; and CHARACTER strengthens our confident HOPE OF SALVATION.  And this HOPE will not lead to disappointment for we know how dearly God loves us, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our innermost being with His love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ Jesus came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the CLEANSING BLOOD of Christ, He will certainly SAVE US from God’s condemnation.

God loved you then, loves you now and will continue to love you!

Despite your faults, despite your imperfections, and Lord knows, we all have plenty, God knows you and He loves you.

  • God CHOSE you.
  • God has CALLED you.
  • God has SELECTED you.
  • God has a PLAN for you.

God wants you to DISCOVER this plan, your destiny He has ordained for you.

The Holy Spirit lives IN you.

He has CHANGED you, is changing you while I write this POST, and will continue to work IN you and THROUGH you.

JESUS DIED for you and me.

JESUS SAVED you.

JESUS CLEANSED you.

The SACRIFICE Jesus made on the Cross was made on our account and set us free from the penalty of your SIN.

May God help us to become the people He has called us to be!

“Chosen, Changed, Cleansed” and committed to discovering our destiny!

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CREDITS HONORED –

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings: Advance search.

Dictionary:  Oxford Dictionary.

Sermon Notes:  Dean Courtier, Pastor at Estuary Elim Church Group.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.

 

It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood…So Get Off the Donkey!

BIBLE SCRIPTURE:  Luke 10:30-32

[30]  In reply Jesus said:  “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits.  They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.”

[31]  “By chance a priest came along.  But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.  [32]  A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.”  (New Living Translation – NLT)

The story Jesus told is something that could really happen.  In fact, it does really happen all the time.  When we read or hear the story of the Good Samaritan in our bibles, we tend to look down on the Priest and Levite being so heartless and selfish in their thought process.

But in taking a deeper look and asking:  “Is there ever a legitimate reason to stay on your donkey and pass on by?”

My wife and I have had requests over the years from several churches we’ve been a part of for taking a meal or two in helping someone who was in need–sickness, death in the family or financial assistance, to someone going through cancer treatments and their insurance company, through work, didn’t cover all of the costs.  And to be really honest here, my enthusiasm wavered at times (not my wife’s) in helping.  I had become cynical in my doing from past experiences of ingratitude by those we helped.  I had to let it be known, I would go ahead and help this time, but in doing so, complained as I drove over to their homes.

I didn’t want to get off my donkey one bit.

Maybe that’s how the Priest and the Levite were in the story Jesus told.  I’m sure they must have had some logical reason to pass on by when they saw the man bleeding and naked lying on the side of the road.

HERE ARE BUT A FEW OF THE POSSIBLE REASONS –

#1.  DEFILEMENT:  

One of the reasons may have been that they have disqualified themselves from temple service by handling blood or a dead body.  “YUCK”!  For a Priest or Levite, Temple Work is a career job.  Helping the injured man would have made them “ceremonially unclean”.  They had places to go and ministry to perform…for God no less!  Surely that was more important than helping some stranger by the road they didn’t even know.

#2.  DANGER:

Another likely reason they passed on by was that on that stretch of road it was dangerous for travelers.  This was a road people avoided if they could because it was a hilly, wandering road out in the middle of nowhere!

They knew about the thieves and robbers who hid out along this stretch of road.  If the Priest and Levite had more time, more money, they would have avoided the road altogether.  No doubt, they had heard of gangs setting traps by placing a seemingly injured person, who was actually part of the gang, by the side of the road.  The Priest and Levite were too savvy to fall for that kind of trick.  No way were they going to allow themselves to be unsuspecting travelers, stopping to give aid while the rest of the gang, hiding in the bushes, pounced upon the helpless rescuer.

#3.  DELAY:

It’s just possible that the reason these two passed on by was a simple matter as time restraints.  They were on a schedule.  Maybe they were running late.  Frequently we find ourselves held captive by tight schedules:  Work, our kid’s sports activities, church meetings…you know what I’m talking about.  At times, we feel like we’re racing through our days and can’t ever catch up!  We’ve got our poor old donkeys running full speed ahead.  We don’t have time to even notice the guy by the side of the road, much less stop and give a helping hand.

It’s easy to see the Priest and Levite had at least 3 logical reasons to walk on by.

As many times as we have heard pastor’s sermons regarding the Good Samaritan, we’ve blasted them, for their CHOICES.  I know I can’t say “yes” to everyone who asks me for a helping hand.  I can’t do everything anyone asks me to do.  None of us can!

The fact is that everything you say “yes” to… is something else you had to say “no” to.

So, Who Is Your Neighbor–Who’s MY Neighbor?

The LAWYER in Luke 10 finds himself ‘questioning’ Jesus, not asking questions to clarify his understanding.  There’s a big difference.  [See htttp://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/asking-or-questi…re-a-difference/ ]

In Marvin Vincent’s Word Studies, the words directed to Jesus in verse 27 is responding to loving his neighbor: “And he, determined to account himself of reproach, said to Jesus…AND WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?”

WHO WERE THE SAMARITAN NEIGHBORS?

ISRAEL’S next door neighbors occupied the country formerly belonging to the tribe of Ephraim and the half-tribe of Manasseh.  The capital of the country was Samaria.  When the ten tribes were carried away to Assyria, the king of Assyria sent people from the surrounding conquered countries to inhabit Samaria (2 Kings 17:24; Ezra 4:2-11).  These foreigners intermarried with the Israelite population that was still in and around Samaria.  These “Samaritans” at first, worshipped the idols of their own nations, but being troubled with lions, supposed it was because they had not honored the God of that territory.  So a Jewish priest was therefore sent to them from Assyria to instruct them in the Jewish religion.  They were instructed from the 5 Books of Moses but still retained many of their idolatrous customs.  The SAMARITAN neighbors had embraced a RELIGION of a mixture of Judaism and idolatry (2 Kings 17:26-28).  Since the Israelite inhabitants of Samaria had intermarried with the foreigners and adopted their idolatrous religion, SAMARITANS were generally considered “half-breeds” and were universally DESPISED by the Jews [See Footnote [i] ].

If We Are “Neighbors,” then What Kind of Neighbors Are We?

A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING.

Earlier this month, my wife had extensive surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.  This facility is over 100 miles in each direction from our home and as you near the surgery center, the traffic conditions can stress out even the calmest person.

Because of the distance, we had been planning out the details for some time ahead of the scheduled surgery; thinking about lodging for me while she stayed overnight in the hospital.  My son and his wife live about 45 minutes away from the Surgery Center, making my stay comfortable.

My wife also planned out some meals for us when we returned home with a stocked pantry, and things seemed to be in place.  So when we finally returned home (very uncomfortable car ride for over two hours), we picked up our dog at the kennel and tried to settle in.

WHO’S YOUR NEIGHBOR?

The next morning, my wife received a call from a neighbor that lives behind our home:  “Hi Dianne.  I noticed when you got home yesterday that you were in some pain and discomfort.  Is there a problem?”  She explained the details of her surgery.

Our neighbor responded with concern, “We would like to furnish you both with meals for a few days and walk your dog twice during the day as well.”   My wife was surprised at the offer from a neighbor we knew in passing only, saying “Thank you.  You are so kind in your offer.  But my husband is really a good cook, so we should be just fine!”

The conversation didn’t end here with our neighbor:

“We think your husband needs a break while looking after you.  Do you guys have any dietary restrictions?”  “No”, my wife answered, and the next two days we had home prepared hot meals and our feisty little dog had his daily two walks…in the RAIN…without a complaint from our neighbor.  What a blessing.

Now you might be thinking at this point what was the great SPIRITUAL AWAKENING and, what does your neighbor and the Good Samaritan have in common?

Luke 10:33 –  “when he saw him, he was moved…”

The Samaritan noticed the man in need alongside the road.  He could have remained on his donkey and said, “Is there anything you’re in need of?  No?  When I get to my town, I’ll ask the church to pray for you.  Don’t forget, let us know if you need anything.  God bless!”

Now don’t get me wrong here.  I’m not saying that asking if you can help one in need and praying for that person isn’t necessary.  What I’m saying is, putting your FAITH into action speaks much louder than words only.  With over 40 years of sales experience, I learned a valuable lesson:  Don’t ASK questions that a person can answer “NO” to:  “Do you need anything?”  Our questions should begin with the letter “W”:  “When do you folks eat dinner, 5, 6 in the evening?”  I think you get the idea!

Verse 34 –  The Samaritan got off the donkey!

“He went to him and dressed his wounds, pouring on [them] oil and wine.  Then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him”  (Amplified Bible).

BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!!

Verse 35 –  Good Neighbors go beyond what’s asked for!

“And the next day he took out two denarii [two day’s wages] and gave [them] to the innkeeper, saying,  Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I [myself] will repay you when I return.”

Most of us when in need, whether from ill-health, financial distress, death in the family, when asked by others if they can help in a particular way will answer “No, thank you.  We’re fine.”  So the inquirer responds in kind while still sitting on the donkey,  “Okay, but if you need anything, call us,” and it ends there.

So who are my “Samaritan Neighbors”?  Did I really know who they were?

Our two loving neighbors are openly Lesbians.  As a Christian and lover of God’s Word, homosexuality IS CONDEMNED!  [Romans 1:26-28; Jude 1:7; 1 Tim. 1:10-11; Mark 19:6-9; 1 Cor. 7:2; 1 Cor. 6:9; Lev. 18:22, 20:13].

But as BELIEVERS, we should hate ALL SIN…but LOVE the SINNER, as hard as that might be to swallow at times!

I made calls to our church the moment we returned from the hospital to say we wouldn’t be in church for a while because of my wife’s surgery and didn’t want them to worry that we had left the church for some reason.

PASTOR’S RESPONSE:  “Thanks for letting us know.  If you need anything, let us know!”

It’s been over two weeks now, and not one phone call, not one visit from the assembly and one more thing…not a phone call from our own children since their mother’s hospital stay!

I’m not angry, I’m sad and disappointed that the”religious”…the priest and the Levite…have remained seated on the donkey as I have been over the past years.  I have held out my hands with this and giving it to the Lord in forgiveness.  NO MORE, LORD!

God’s Spirit has clearly spoken to my wife and I, through all this.  The next time you know of someone in need in the community, LOVE them through Christ Jesus and get down from the donkey and put your FAITH into ACTION; preparing meals without asking, dropping by their house and giving them support, even if it’s just holding their hand and saying nothing (Job 2:13).  If they reject your LOVE, that’s okay.  For God will say to you, “You are not doing this just for them.  You are doing this because I first loved you!”

MATTHEW 25:35-40

verse 40:  And the King will reply to them, “Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me.

 

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i] :  GotQuestions.org  “Who were the Samaritans?”

Music/Video:  YouTube – “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood” – Mr. Rogers Television Show for kids.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are “Sanctuary Cities” Supported By the Bible?

TEXT:  THE BOOK OF NUMBERS 35:2, 6, 11-29, 31-34; Joshua 20

By now, I think most of us are familiar with the term “Sanctuary Cities”, in communities which openly pledged a place where undocumented immigrants may be safe without fear of apprehension and deportation by federal officers.  There are even “Sanctuary Churches” that have been established in our communities.

I’ve listened to Christians and non-Christians alike, who claim that they were inspired by or heard from others that the ancient “cities of refuge” found in the Bible substantiate their support.  Supporters argue biblical precedent for sanctuary cities.  As Vogue magazine puts it, “Now approximately 300 American cities are carrying the torch first lit by those sacred altars.”

So are today’s “sanctuary cities” a modern biblical expression of the Bible’s “cities of refuge?”  No, not even close!

HISTORY (Numbers 35)

Just before Israel entered the land of Canaan, God told Moses to choose 48 cities for the Levites’ priestly tribe (Num. 35:7), since they would have no land while all the other tribes did have land, but each of the tribes would supply a place for them.

Though the TEMPLE be in Jerusalem only, the LEVITES would be everywhere to minister the Word of God to the people.

SIX OF THOSE DESIGNATED CITIES would be CITIES of REFUGE.  Three on the east side of the Jordan River and three on the west side of the Jordan River.  They were designed for the people who accidentally MURDERED someone–to save them from being killed by kin of the murdered victim.  They would then live in the city of refuge until the trial where they would stand and be judged.  If a man intentionally killed another, he then could reside in the city, but at trial be charged “GUILTY” and worthy of death by the avenger.

But if a man unintentionally killed a person, after the trial, when he was proclaimed innocent, the man could live in the city of refuge and remain there.  If he went out of the city of refuge, he would risk being killed by the avenger.  The avenger wouldn’t be judged because the “murderer”, though innocent, should have stayed in the city of refuge.  And he would have to live in that city of refuge until the High Priest died.  When the High Priest died, he was free to leave the city and was free of his GUILT.  The AVENGER had to respect the fact that the man was innocent of all that he committed.

REASONING FOR LAW – BLOOD defiles the land.

The KILLER, even though innocent, couldn’t return to his land UNLESS the DEBT of Murder was paid even though it was a mistake that the DEATH occurred.  There could be no “satisfaction”, or ransom money paid from some kind of ‘trust fund’, to free the man from guilt.  The only thing that could free the man from GUILT was the death of the murderer.  The BLOOD of the murderer alone cleansed the land of the BLOOD of the victim.  But when the High Priest died, the man could return to the land.

The DEATH of the High Priest REDEEMED  a man from guilt, freed him from the debt to pay for by his own blood.

The Picture of the High Priest Dying is Significant –

Instead of the unintentional murderer, a perfect picture of JESUS, the Great High Priest dying on the Cross instead of us.

The wonderful thing is all of this is that our own High Priest died and then rose again from the dead.  And the unintentional murderer could return to the land where his home is.

And the Bible said that this land where his home was, is also the land where the LORD dwelt.  [Come on!]

Notice the idea presented here of returning to the place of home, or his possession – Numbers 35:28 (AMP)

[28] Because the manslayer should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest.  But after the high priest’s death, the manslayer shall return to the land of his possession.

God gave the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis for the land of our possession.  But our SIN drove out, and the only thing that would pay for the crime is our own blood.  That meant our own deaths.

No other means would PAY for our SIN other than our own blood.  But what good would that do for us?  We couldn’t enjoy the land again for we would be dead!

Numbers 35:31 (AMP)

[31] Moreover, you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer guilty of death; but he shall surely be put to death.

Numbers 35:33 (NIV)

[33] “Do not pollute the land where you are.  Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on  which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it.”

No other “satisfaction” (KJV) or ransom money or ransom payment of any kind would do.  The only other recourse was death by the high priest (Numbers 35:22).  That meant if no other payment besides his death could remove the GUILT OF BLOOD IN THE LAND, and…the high priest’s death accomplished the same thing, then the BLOOD of the high priest was as good as the BLOOD of the slayer.

A Time for Notable Comparisons–

The Cities of Refuge references in our Bible, first of all, were LEGAL–Sanctuary Cities are not!  

Cities of Refuge were authorized under the Mosaic code to serve as part of Israel’s justice system–Sanctuary Cities, in contrast, are ILLEGAL and outside the justice system altogether and do not exist to protect due process.  They exist to enable the GUILTY to escape punishment altogether.  The mere presence of an illegal alien on American soil is an illegal, criminal act subject to proper law enforcement.

Those, no matter how well-meaning they are, who help others avoiding the LEGAL consequences of criminal conduct, are subverting the system of justice by not cooperating with it.

  • A City of Refuge worked with law enforcement.
  • A Sanctuary City works against it.
  • A City of Refuge served to guarantee that a man had his day in court.
  • A Sanctuary City works to prevent the accused from ever facing a day in court.
  • A City of Refuge existed to ensure that every man received a fair trial.
  • A Sanctuary City exists to enable a man to avoid a fair trial altogether.

As you can clearly see by the above comparison there is no similarity supported by the Bible.

BIBLE APPLICATION:  Hebrews 6:18-20 (ESV)

HEBREWS 6, in the New Testament, mentions the fleeing for refuge, which brings us back into the picture the LAW of the City of Refuge has for the manslayer. 

But it mentions something else–the elements from a totally separate LAW in the above verses (Heb. 6:18-20).

The Law of Atonement and the Law of the Cities of Refuge.

ASPECT OF THE VEIL (“curtain”)

The Day of Atonement had a High Priest enter the holiest; the VEIL, where God’s presence dwelt, so long as he had the BLOOD of a spotless LAMB.

Now putting both aspects together, you have a man out of his home where God dwells, but meeting DEATH should he try due to his SIN not having been paid for.  And the only way he can return is when the high priest dies removing his SIN and cleanses the land.

And we have THE HIGH PRIEST, carrying BLOOD past the VEIL into the holiest where God dwells, removing SIN.

Put the two together and you have a picture of returning to the Garden of Eden where Man and God dwelt together in the Garden.

But Man’s sin DEFILED the land and he was driven out (Genesis 3:24).

So the Garden Story brings together the elements of the CITY OF REFUGE LAW AND THE VEIL ASPECT OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT.

  • MAN became a prisoner outside of his true home, and one who is confined from his home is a PRISONER.

BUT GOD HAD A PLAN!

And that PLAN provided MAN, not just any prisoner, but a prisoner of HOPE!

A man couldn’t return, for he would have died to try.  There standing at the entrance to the Garden was a flaming sword.  Just like the avenger of blood, the flaming sword was there to kill him should he return home.

But one day, in the future, since Adam was driven from home, there was going to be a High Priest that was to die.  And that DEATH allows the SINNER to return to home.

ADAM=MAN

So ADAM waited as a PRISONER OF HOPE for centuries, UNTIL…THE HIGH PRIEST JESUS CHRIST CAME AND DIED…AND MAN COULD RETURN HOME AGAIN.

EDEN means PARADISE or HEAVEN in English.

The Apostle John saw HEAVEN opened and he saw what occurs in Heaven, the true Holiest of Holies:

Revelation 5:6 (KJV) –

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a LAMB as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Revelation 5:8-9 (KJV) –

[8] And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.

[9] And they sang a new song, saying,  Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

THE LAMB is the HIGH PRIEST, as well.  His death REDEEMED us ALL to God.

Why Are Two Old Testament Stories Involved In This Story?

The only flaw I see with the Old Testament picture of the HIGH PRIEST was that you couldn’t find a man who could be killed and bring his BLOOD into the Holiest of Holies showing that the SINNER’S BLOOD could be paid for by the High Priest’s own blood.

And in another picture, the DEATH of the High Priest allows the slayer to return home.

Put them together, the High Priest, JESUS, dies, and takes His own BLOOD into Heaven to pay for our SIN, and allows us to go to our eternal home into HEAVEN, behind Him.

And that’s what Hebrews 6 said.

Isn’t it wonderful when all is said and done, God looks at us as PRISONERS away from home, but not only PRISONERS BUT PRISONERS OF HOPE!

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CREDITS & SOURCES –

The American Family Radio (AFA);  “Sanctuary Cities…Cities of Refuge” – March 27, 2017.

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings, Advance search…

Bible Translations used:  Amplified Bible (AMP); English Standard Version (ESV); New International Version (NIV); King James Bible (KJV).

Bible Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

 

Christmas In October, Really?

Scripture Study – NUMBERS 24:17

Okay, it may be a bit early for a blog-POST about A “STAR” at Christmas, especially since I’ve been reading and studying in the Book of Numbers in the OT of the Bible.  I don’t believe in ‘happenstance,’ so before venturing down a dead-end road I prayed and asked God for some answers to the timing of this POST.  Why had God’s Spirit given me this particular verse at this particular time?

Here is how He answered my questions:

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV Bible)

[8] “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  [9] “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

So after meditating on God’s answer from His Word, I began to consider our Saviors birth and the details knowing that Jesus’ birth is amazing at any time of the year and not just during the Christmas holidays.

CONSIDERING THE DETAILS OF JESUS’ BIRTH…

Would we have planned it that way?  None of us would choose to lay our newborn in a trough where animals had fed.  I wouldn’t have.

BUT THAT WAS GOD’S WAY FOR HIS SON!

Maybe we would have thought, “Yea!  Let’s send some angels!”

Would we have sent them to no-name shepherds, out in the country where no one else could see them?  I wouldn’t!

GOD’S WAY IS NOT OUR WAY!!

But God’s Way Does Not Fail!

That’s something for us to take heart to, especially when tragedies in the world recently make us want to cry out,  “Why God, why this way?  It’s too hard for me to understand!”  But His Way doesn’t fail!

With that thought in mind, look closely now at this PROPHESY from NUMBERS 24.  I think you’ve heard this Prophesy many times before and you know how it’s fulfilled in JESUS.

But after looking at the CONTEXT of the verse, God’s Way becomes all the more AMAZING!

His Way Amazes!

This PROPHECY didn’t come about in the usual way.  It wasn’t spoken directly by the LORD when He promised the Savior to Adam and Eve or to Abraham.  The words weren’t unspoken by a BELIEVING PROPHET of Israel–Isaiah or Micah.  It was spoken by someone whom we would call a Sorcerer.  His name was Balaam, son of Beor.

As the story begins, the LORD had brought ISRAEL out of Egypt about 40 years earlier.  And now was the time to enter the Promised Land.

On the east side of the Jordan River, Israel’s armies had defeated Sihon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan.  So when the people of Moab saw this, they became terrified!  Can you imagine over 601,000 combat-ready troops approaching the city where you live?

Then king Balak, son of Zippor took action.  If the Amorites couldn’t stand against Israel, he figured he couldn’t either, so he tried another tactic.  He sent an envoy to Balaam, son of Beor in Pethor.  He wanted to employ Balaam to CURSE Israel.  If they were CURSED, perhaps the outcome of the battle would be to their favor.

That night the LORD told Balaam not to go and he sends the envoy back to king Balak the next day.  But Balak was persistent and sent more princes who were more distinguished and promised Balaam with even greater rewards.

That night the LORD allowed him to go, IF, and only IF, he did exactly what the LORD would tell him.  As Balaam sets out, he apparently had decided in his heart, not to do what the LORD would tell him.  You know, the old crossed fingers behind the back tradition.

The angel of the LORD stood in his way and would have killed him on the spot, except Balaam’s donkey saw the angel and went off the path around him.  Since Balaam couldn’t see the angel, he became angry with his donkey.  Finally, for the third time, there was no room for the donkey to go around and it sat down and Balaam beat the poor animal.

AND THEN THE DONKEY SPOKE:

“Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day?  Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”  (Numbers 22:29 NIV)

And the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes to see the angel, agreeing to speak ONLY what the LORD told him.

Now King Balak readied seven altars with sacrifices in preparation for Balaam to curse Israel.  But instead of a CURSE, Balaam spoke a BLESSING instead since those were the words of the LORD.

King Balak had Balaam try again at another place and again he blessed Israel.

They tried a third time and instead of resorting to SORCERY as he had on previous occasions, Balaam continued to BLESS Israel as the LORD had told him.  By now, King Balak was furious!  But before he left, Balaam spoke some more words with a BLESSING and PROPHECY, including the Text for this BLOG-POST in Numbers 24:17 (NIV) – 

“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near.  A STAR will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.  He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth.”

His Way Brings Hope!

People have looked to the STARS for hope throughout the ages past.  Ancient astrologers tried to predict the future from the Stars.  Modern science looks to the Stars to find new planets, a new hope when the earth is dried up.

Then we have celebrities, movie stars, and people look to them for hope and inspiration.  But how they disappoint!  All those different kinds of STARS are FALSE Hope.

But these words in Numbers 24:17 are spoken from such an unlikely source, these words were spoken almost three and a half millenniums ago, these words are THINGS spoken that don’t disappoint.

For God’s Ways Do Not Fail!

That STAR did come at the right time and was laid in a manger.

 

How many years had passed for God’s way to work out according to His schedule of GRACE, not our schedule of instant gratification.

“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not now”

Numbers 24:17 (NIV).

Almost 1500 years after these words were spoken before THAT STAR came.

But He did come!  The LORD keeps His Word!  And that should bring us all HOPE.  Hope doesn’t disappoint or prove false.

For the LORD keeps His Promises.

In Moments of the Darkness of Sin…what does the Hope of the Star Bring?

How dark the night can be!  But even in pitch-blackness of night, doesn’t even compare to the DARKNESS of Sin… the shroud of DEATH.  And since everyone is born into this DARKNESS [Romans 3:23; 5:12; Genesis 6:5; Psalm 51:5], our natural self-thinks that it’s normal.

But God didn’t make us be creatures of the night; rather, He wants us to be His children of the Light.  Now, this goes against our inherited nature.  We don’t want to be seen by others as naked; our hearts laid bare, our secret sins exposed, our self-imagined goodness.  We cling to artificial lights to make us feel good by our own efforts, running from the TRUE LIGHT.

BUT DARKNESS AND SELF-IMAGINED LIGHT….end in Death and Hell.  NO HOPE, NO JOY.  Only the weeping and gritting (gnashing) of teeth [Matthew 13:42].

BUT LOOK!  A STAR HAS RISEN!

And this STAR shines into the DARKNESS…THE TRUE LIGHT!

This Star has worked a marvelous change in you and me–that worked a NEW BIRTH in us– A REBIRTH!  We who had been born children of darkness, we were reborn:

John 1:13 (The MESSAGE Bible)

“The Life-Light was the real thing.  Every person entering Life, he brings into Light.  He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice.  He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him.  But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.  These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten.”

SO THIS STAR brings you and me HOPE!

He has shattered the DARKNESS OF SIN, bring the LIGHT of forgiveness.  Thar was God’s Way to save you and me, namely to send His Son into our DARKNESS, so that He took our guilt upon Himself and died in our place as the SACRIFICE for our sin, and so ransomed us with His blood.

How far above our ways!  God’s Way doesn’t fail!

His Way Prevails!

COMFORT comes with this Prophecy when it talks about the SCEPTOR.

God’s Way will not fail, for that STAR who shines into the darkness to SAVE US, is the SCEPTOR.  He, JESUS, is the KING who has redeemed us to be His people.

HE IS YOUR KING…for He ransomed YOU with His blood!

He carries the SCEPTOR, for He has conquered SIN, Satan, and Death for you, risen from the grave in Victory and Glory for you.

He carries the SCEPTOR, for He is the Almighty God and He reigns over all at the Father’s right hand.

I thought about that for a minute.  Think of it when said and done.  When a foreign King. a pagan Sorcerer plotted to undermine God’s plan for His people, the LORD used a dumb donkey to set things right.  GOD’S WAY DOESN’T FAIL!

He even used that pagan sorcerer to speak a wonderful promise of the Savior.  A PROMISE that stirs HOPE in our hearts still today…each and every day of the year.

So whatever you are facing right now, whatever the circumstance you find yourself in, look to the STAR in the manger. see His Scepter, follow Him in HOPE!

“The peace of God that surpasses all understanding

keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Amen.

Philippians 4:7

 

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You might enjoy this Music Video at the end of this Blog-Post from YouTube:  A STAR IS BORN!  “Mary Did You Know?”

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CREDITS –

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings, Advance search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), unless stated in the text.

Is Finding the “Ashes of the Red Heifer” A Big Deal?

Numbers 19:2 (NIV Bible)

“This is a requirement of the law that the LORD has commanded:  Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under the yoke.”

How many of you have ever heard of the ASHES OF THE RED HEIFER”?  Usually, not many have.  I could only find 2 mentions in Scripture – Numbers 19 and Hebrews 9.

In my last Blog-Post in the Book of Numbers, https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/dont-let-your-ashes-put-out-the-fire/, was about disposing of the ashes.  But here in Numbers 19, the ASHES were to be a “Perpetual Statute” to the nation of ISRAEL.

The Purpose Of The Ashes – NUMBERS 19:9

[9]  “A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp.  They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin.”

This God-given statute was during the time of wandering in the wilderness for 40 years–approximately 600,000 Israelites (not counting women and children) died of their failure to TRUST God and enter into the Promised Land–Canaan–(about 40 people per day) over the age of 20 years.  During this time, there was the serious ceremonial defilement of Israel who had to bury the dead.

In the Mosaic Law, there are 613 laws that were given at Mt. Sinai; 248 Mandatory Laws and 365 Prohibitionary Laws.  There were 18 Mandatory Laws alone that dealt with “Ritual Purity.”

This brings us to Numbers 19:14-16 – “touching the corpse of a dead person, or even their bones or on the grave”  CAUSED DEFILEMENT.  

This DEFILEMENT lasted 7 days:  Numbers 19:2-9 gives instructions to the Priests and the children of God in the process of PURIFICATION OF SIN which involved the use of the “Ashes of the Red Heifer.”

Jewish History of the Red Heifer (Talmud Histories) –

The Talmud is a Jewish History written by former Rabbis:

  1. Heifer was chosen and sacrificed/burned.
  2. Ashes collected and put into a crock-pot (2-3 gallons).
  3. The priest would take a hyssop, place in fresh, running water, take a pinch of ashes, place on the hyssop, sprinkle the sprig of hyssop upon the “unclean person” seven times, on the 3rd and 7th day.
  4. On the 7th day, the ceremonially unclean person was declared clean.
  5. When the “Ashes” were nearly consumed, another Red Heifer was sacrificed, burned, and its ashes “added to” the ashes of the previous heifer or heifers (perpetual statute).

From Numbers 19 until AD 69, there have been 9 such HEIFERS sacrificed.  [See Footnote [i] ]

IN AD 70, Titus of Rome destroyed Jerusalem’s Temple and looted the city.  Many of the furnishings of the Temple were removed, including the Ark of the Covenant and…the Ashes of the Red Heifer.

The Archaeology Findings of 1947

A young Arab boy found the Dead Sea Scrolls in a cave, including a “copper scroll.”  The scroll gave directions of a cave between Jericho and Saccachar.

Vendel Jones, an American archaeologist, found the cave, and after three digs and the beginning of the fourth dig, uncovered many artifacts.  Then for a second time, the money ran out and the permit to continue was refused.

The Significance of the Findings –

Temple worship cannot be established without the ASHES OF THE RED HEIFER being used to cleanse the priesthood of unrighteousness.

Today, in ISRAEL, a school is already in the process of training men named Cohen, Levy, and Levi from the Tribe of Levi.  The Chief Priest, the holiest man in Judaism, can ritually PURIFY himself, then the students into the PRIESTHOOD as soon as they find the “Ashes of the Red Cow”.  Why is the such a “BIG DEAL” when this happens?

The Church will be gone!  RAPTURED!

TYPOLOGY OF THE RED HEIFER – Old Testament/New Testament Comparisons.

  1.  Numbers 19:2 infers that the HEIFER came from among the people.  Christ came from among the people (John 1:11).
  2.  HEIFER brought as a SACRIFICE for others.  JESUS came as a SACRIFICE for others (John 3:16, 17; ! Timothy 1:15).
  3.  HEIFER was to be without spot or blemish (Numbers 19:2).  JESUS was also!  (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
  4.  HEIFER knew no yoke of bondage– a symbol of sin (vs. 2).  Christ knew no BONDAGE of sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  5.  HEIFER was a “Female” – the price for a female slave was 30 pieces of silver, male slaves were sold for 50 pieces of silver.  Christ was sold (betrayed) for 30 pieces of silver.
  6.  HEIFER was given to the Priest, Eliezer (Numbers 19:3).  JESUS was arrested and taken to Caiaphas, the High Priest.
  7.  HEIFER was taken outside the camp for SACRIFICE.  JESUS was also taken to Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod, then back to Pilate, then outside the camp (gates) of Jerusalem to Calvary.
  8.  HEIFER was slain BEFORE the Priest, but not by the Priest (Num. 19:4).  Christ was SLAIN before the Priest at the Cross.
  9.  HEIFER’S neck was “double jointed”.  One swift blow could kill.  JESUS too died in only 6 hours – He died at will swiftly.

While researching and looking up Scripture references this past week, Holy Spirit gave me a revelation from The Death, Crucifixion, and Burial of Jesus Christ.  And in that revelation, 2 men entered the conversation–

THE NICODEMUS & JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA DILEMMA – John 19:38-42

These two men came from two theological directions, totally opposed to each other.

JOSEPH had believed in salvation by good politics where Nicodemus had taught obedience from 613 rules which the Pharisee’s thoughts summed up the Old Testament Law of Moses.  But coming from two opposite directions, both came to believe JESUS was the MESSIAH!

So when they heard Jesus was going to be CRUCIFIED…they knew something would have to be done for decent disposal of His body.  If nothing was done, the Roman soldiers would leave the corpse to rot on the Cross.  And time was short because the PASSOVER celebrations would begin at sundown.

So the two men who were opposed to each other in doctrine together carried the body into a garden tomb laying the body not just in any tomb, but in Joseph of Arimathea’s recently carved out family tomb.  Previously, Joseph went boldly into the palace of Pilate the Roman Governor, asking permission to remove Jesus’ body from the Cross.

With Numbers 19 in mind, I believe Joseph of Arimathea must have sent his family a message that he would be defiled by touching a dead body and that the Passover Seder celebration would have to be delayed a month (according to my study on the rule given (Numbers 9:6-11).

Since of the importance, the Gospels give to these two men, an assumption can be made that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea must have joined the Christian community.  As the Holy Spirit began teaching them they soon discovered that Jesus’ Resurrection made nonsense of the Sadducee explanation that death of the body was the end.  JESUS’ SACRIFICE on the Cross replaced the cleansing of the Ashes of the Red Heifer once and for all!  Therefore, the significance of being cleansed by the “Ashes of the Red Heifer” was doctrinally important in the Jewish Law of Moses, but Jesus Himself had said, “I’ve come to fulfill the Law” (Matthew 5:17)

HIS BLOOD SACRIFICE FULFILLED THE LAW!

The Ashes of the Red Heifer – Numbers 19

In the Old Testament, the Priest sprinkled the “Blood of the Heifer” before the entrance of the presence of God (Numbers 19:4).

If you’re reading this POST and you’re not sure of your SALVATION…KNOW THIS:  If you would come to Christ, it will only be by the BLOOD of the Son of God, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:22).

CONNECTING THE SACRIFICE OF THE HEIFER WITH CHRIST (Numbers 19:7, 8-9).

In these verses, we find that a person was “Unclean until made clean”.  So like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, how can we, who are born in sinful uncleanness (Romans 3:23), become CLEAN or RIGHTEOUS before God?

The ANSWER is found in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

 

And what happened to those who refused Cleansing?

Numbers 19:20 (AMP)

[20] But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord…

Those who refused CLEANSING were “cut off” – separated from God.

What about YOU?  Have YOU ever come for a “cleansing”, not from the “Ashes of the Red Heifer”, but from the BLOOD of the Lamb, Jesus Christ that He shed at Calvary?

Why not come today and be cleansed while there is still time in the last days.

 

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i] :  Encyclopedia-Judacia: Red Heifer – Jewish Virtual Library.

Commentary:  Robert Brow – John 19:38-42, JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA AND NICODEMUS.  

Photos:  Google Image Search, Advanced Settings.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV)