Friday, April 29, 2011

What You Say You Believe

Del Tackett in "The Truth Project" asks perhaps the most important question concerning your faith walk you will ever have to answer. That question is …

Do you really believe … that what you believe … is really real?

Now that's a question that makes you come to a stop. Think about what you just read. Do you believe … what you say you believe? Really? You really do?

Most people if they are really honest with themselves will tell you they only believe about half of what they say they believe in the Bible. At least that's how they act anyway … that half of it is all that matters. Are you so certain in what you say you believe that you would be willing to bet your life on it? You are you know. What about the life of your child?

Do you know that is exactly what you are doing when you raise your children to accept and believe what you say you believe? But what if you really don't truly believe what you say you believe. What then?

Whether you know it or not, your children watch your actions. If you tell them one thing and then you do something different … do they then have the right to question whether or not … you really believe what you say you believe?

Oh, they may not ask or confront you about it … what you say you believe … when your actions say something entirely different to them. But they are watching and they see your true belief in action.

I'm not just speaking of when your children are young, living under your roof. I have middle aged daughters with their own families, and guess what … all of them still see how my wife and I respond to problems in life … how we act or react to things around us. Do we act like we believe the words of Jesus? Do we respond like we really believe what we say we believe and totally trust God … even when we can't see anything except the problem in front of us?

You see … we are witnessing to others without speaking a single word of testimony. Talk is cheap. Actions do speak louder than words … always.

What do you believe? Have you ever put down on paper the things you have absolutely no doubt about; promises in the Word of God you really believe or think you believe. If you haven't made a list … have you at least thought about these things? Have you had an opportunity to test the things you think you believe? You will.

Let me start a short list for you off the top of my head. The Bible teaches that there is only one way to make Heaven … to repent and except Jesus as Saviour and Lord thru His death on the cross as full payment for sin. Do you really believe that is the only way to make Heaven? Are you sure of that?

Okay … what about healing? When someone tells you when you're sick … "By His stripes you are healed" … do you believe it? Really? Then why do we make excuses when we aren't healed every time?

What about the words of Jesus in Mark 11:24 … "I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

Do you say … well, "it must not be God's will" if we don't receive the desires of our heart.

How about when Peter said … "Cast all your care upon Him for He careth for you."

If we say we believe the Bible, why do we carry worry, fear and doubt around with us? Why don't we act like the New Testament is true? Just how far does our personal belief take us? Is the Bible too complicated for us to believe the whole thing?

I'm not trying to pick on you … I'm just trying to get you to consider exactly what you do believe. Have you forgotten the question?

Do you really believe … that what you believe … is really real?

I don't know what you believe. I ask this question for the single purpose to awaken you to the fact that some Christians really only … think they know … what they believe.

And guess what? Many times you won't find out until you are facing a crisis in your life and then you wonder … God where are you? I know … I've been there.

Get to know your God and what you believe He is. Is He truthful? Is He fair? Is He faithful?

Do you believe He loves you no matter what?

He does.

Comments welcome.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jesus and the Passover

This is a study to show that the Passover or the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and everything done during this time, was done to point all men to Jesus … the true Lamb of God.

Luke 22:1 … "Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover."

The name "Passover" was given to the feast because the Lord "passed over" the houses of the Israelites with the blood of the Lamb on them without slaying their first-born, while all Egyptians first-born were slain. Because of this, Pharaoh allowed Moses to lead God's people out of Egyptian bondage.

During this feast the Jews eat their bread without leaven, in commemoration of the haste in which they left Egypt; so quickly in fact, that they didn't have time to leaven their dough, so they took it and their kneading troughs as they left Egypt.

Exodus 12:34 … "And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders."

On the tenth day of the month Nisan, the head of a family separates a lamb or a goat of a year old from the flock, (Exodus 12:1-6) puts it in his house and watches it for 4 days to make sure it was without a blemish, which he then killed on the 14th day. The lamb was commonly believed to have been slain at about 3 p.m., the ninth hour of daylight.

The slain lamb was roasted whole, with two spits thrust through it - one lengthwise and one transversely - crossing each other near the forelegs, so that the animal was in a manner … crucified. Not a bone of the lamb was to be broken; again pointing to Jesus, the Passover Lamb slain for us, fulfilling (Psalm 34:20) according to John 19:36 … "For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken."

I also wonder if the Roman soldier that took a spear and stuck it into the side of Jesus while He was still hanging on the cross did so to represent the spits that were run through the Passover lamb. Can it also be said that after His death, the act of Jesus going down into Hell itself represented the fire that roasted the lamb in preparation for the Passover meal?

From the 14th to the 21st of the month Nisan, the people ate unleavened bread; hence the celebration was also called "the feast of unleavened bread." On the evening of the fourteenth day, (Passover) all the leaven (which represents sin) or yeast was removed from the home. This was a type or shadow to come, to represent what Jesus was going to do as our Sacrificial Lamb when He removed or took all the sin or leaven from our lives when He died during … "the feast of unleavened bread."

Passover was always observed on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan; which would have placed it on Wednesday this particular year that Jesus died. The Feast of Passover or unleavened bread was celebrated for seven days; from the evening of Passover thru the next seven days, from the 14th to the 21st of the month Nisan.

And now the time line

John 12:1-3 … "Jesus, six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair …"

Martha's sister Mary is always seen at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words, weeping at the graveside of her brother, or here anointing His feet. John confirms this act of love took place in Martha's home when he says … "It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick." (John 11:2)

Next Jesus leaves Bethany and goes to Jerusalem. Is it just a remarkable coincidence, that on this very day, the tenth of Nisan, four days before the Passover, Jesus made His entry into Jerusalem? Could this act represent Israel bringing their lamb, into their house for the four day inspection? Just as the Passover lamb was inspected for four days … so was Jesus. No blemishes were found on this lamb; He was perfect. Even Pilate said, "I find no fault in Him."

John 12:12-13 … "On the next day much people that were come to the feast, (for Passover) when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him …"

Matthew confirms in Chapters 24 & 25 that Jesus was in Jerusalem teaching after leaving Bethany a few days before Passover.

Matthew 26:1-2 … "And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, (His teachings) he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified."

After coming to Jerusalem, Jesus continued His normal teaching and also cleaned the leaven (sin) from the Temple, (His House) by driving the money changers away, and then two days before Passover, goes back to Bethany. Matthew 21:17 … "And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there." Here Jesus is anointed a second time, but not in Mary and Martha's house.

Matthew 26:6-7 … "Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat." The first anointing by Mary was on His feet six days before Passover; the second anointing was on His head by an unknown woman two days before Passover.

In this discourse about the Passover pointing to Jesus … I want to speak briefly about what took place in the courtyard at the end of the trial of Jesus. I am placing my remarks here because chronologically in the time line I am about to cover, there really isn't any place for my remarks to fit since I'm not covering the trial. But I feel a couple of points need to be made.

After the trial

John 18:38-40 … "Pilate … went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man (Jesus) … but Barabbas."

Matthew 27:25 states this … "Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children."

There was a custom that had been established to symbolically represent the scapegoat (with the sins of the nation placed on it, Leviticus 16:7-10) that was set free each year on the day of Passover. Pilate felt obligated to honor this custom which allowed a criminal, chosen by the people, to be set free from his sentence of death.

But this year things were slightly different … not in what they did, but in whom they chose … Barabbas. In Luke 23:18, the people … "cried out all at once, saying … release unto us Barabbas …" Without knowing, the people were in reality saying the following … "Release the Son of the Father." The name Barabbas, when you break it down is this … Bar means "son" and abbas means "father." They were asking for "the Son of the Father" to be released. And who is the Son of the Father? Jesus.

Again, even the cry of the people … points to Jesus.

There is also a phrase in Exodus Chapter 12 that we should take note of in the instruction God gives Moses concerning the death of the Passover lamb. It was this … "the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening."

How true this scripture turned out to be … it was as if the whole assembly of Israel did kill Jesus, God's Passover Lamb … and His blood was on them and their children from generation to generation.

By saying "let His blood be on us," they were in reality saying … "let us have the responsibility and suffer the punishment if we are wrong." What a fearful legacy to leave your children; what an awful inheritance to leave for them. Because of these words the history of the Jews from that day forward has been the darkest recorded in the annals of history.

Now going on … in looking at the time line, (the Last Supper, His arrest, trial and crucifixion) we have one of the most difficult questions of Scripture chronology … whether the Lord ate the Passover meal one day before the regular Jewish Passover, or at the usual time.

Many great authorities hold that He ate it the day preceding, and died on the day of Passover itself, at the same time all the Jewish Passover lambs were slain, the ninth hour, 3:00 p.m., at the same time of the blowing of the Shophar.

So let's look at this problem

Mark 14:12 … "And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, (Wednesday the 14th) his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?"

Both Mark and Matthew say that it was the day of the Passover, (Wednesday the 14th) when His disciples first enquired about preparing for the Passover meal.

Matthew 26:17-20 … "Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread (Passover) the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?
And he said, Go into the city
(Jerusalem, for as yet, they were in Bethany) to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with my disciples.
And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover.
Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve."

This could not be … it could not have been the first day of the feast … because Jesus having already eaten His Passover meal with His Disciples, was betrayed, arrested, tried and beaten late on Tuesday night thru early Wednesday morning. He was then crucified around noon (the sixth hour) and died at 3 p.m. (the ninth hour) and was placed in the tomb on Wednesday evening, the 14th … the day of Passover itself.

With the clarification of the time of the trial in John 19:14 that … "it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour …" meaning around noon, the time in which they were in the process of preparing to kill the paschal lamb later during the ninth hour; as well as Pilate proclaiming to the Jews during the trial of Jesus, "Behold your King!" … with these statements, we have positive proof that the Lord's Last Supper had to have been eaten the night before the Passover.

The opinion that the Lord was already betrayed, tried, condemned and crucified before the evening of the Passover itself seems positively accurate.

After Jesus eats the Passover meal on Tuesday evening … He goes to the Garden of Gethsemane and is betrayed, arrested, tried, crucified and is quickly placed in the tomb on Wednesday evening, the 14th … Passover itself.

This is a fact … Jesus would had to have died on Passover Wednesday in order to lay three days in the grave … Thursday, Friday and Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath) and then to rise and leave the tomb by Sunday morning … the first day of the week.

I'm not really too concerned about any problems or questions some people may have about the timing of events chronologically leading up to the death of Jesus; nor evidently is God since He allowed it to be written as it is in the Gospels.

I found it interesting as to how all the things done, the symbolism and the timing; it all does indeed … point to Jesus. The words of John the Baptist still ring true … "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."

Comments welcome …

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

As Often as Needed

From time to time my thoughts return to part of a verse of scripture that came from the heart of Jesus. I only need this one partial phrase to start me thinking about how we forget about the complete loving care the Lord gives us each and every day.

Jesus was speaking about how most of us worry about our daily needs too much. And then He said these words in Matthew 6:28 … "Consider the lilies of the field …"

If God takes care of the wild flowers He plants on the mountain sides and in the valleys by giving them both sunshine and rain in due season, shouldn’t we, just as the flowers do, lift our heads and look to Him for the things we have need of instead of worrying about things that we cannot control anyway?

Jesus goes on and says … "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Many people when worried or confronted about things in life turn to what is considered the best known scripture in the entire Bible …

Psalm 23:1 … "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."

The Hebrew word LORD used here is Jehovah, meaning the … "self existent, eternal one." We as Christians extend that to now mean … Jesus, who is the express image of God in the flesh, who is also called the Good Shepherd.

Psalm 23:2 … "He maketh me to lie down …" Notice the word "maketh" in this phrase, which by implication means … cause to, make to lie down, make to rest.

A shepherd, who corrals his sheep in a pen or a pasture for food and rest after wandering, presents us with the illustration of the Lord, as our shepherd … making us lie down and rest from the worries and cares of our life's journey.

What is the main purpose for leading us to a place of rest?

Psalm 23:3 … "He restoreth my soul …"

In Hebrew, the word restore means … "to refresh you, to rescue and to recover for you what you have lost, and to retrieve and cause it to return again."

It could be something you’ve lost or used up; something life has stolen from you like your peace, joy, faith or trust.

There is one more meaning for "He restoreth my soul" … "to get ones self back again," meaning literally … "He causes my life to return."

The word "soul" here means the life or spirit of man, and not the eternal soul in the strict sense in which the term is now used today. It refers to the human spirit, the heart of man when it is exhausted, weary, troubled, anxious, and worn down with the cares and toils of life. The meaning here is, that God refreshes and stirs it to new life. It’s as if God "breathes" new life back into you.

Because of this restoration you can now say as in …

Psalm 23:5 … "My cup runneth over." The word cup or container as used here comes from an old unused Hebrew word meaning … "to hold together." I take that to mean that whatever God uses to restore your soul will be rock solid and hold you together.

The two words runneth over means … "satisfaction."

It is not merely … "full" … it runs over continually. This indicates an abundance of "satisfaction." And from the abundance of the blessings from God, the psalmist infers that God will always provide for him, and that He would never leave him wanting.

How did this Psalm begin? "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want."

The word "want" in the Hebrew means … to lack, by implication … to fail or want.

Why shall I not want? Because … "He restoreth my soul" … as often as needed.

Comments welcome.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Whose Will Is It

2nd Timothy 2:26 … "And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."

At first when you read this verse, it seems as though the Apostle Paul is saying that Satan has taken men captive … "at his will." At least that is the translation rendered in the King James Version.

To that I say … "Really?"

I didn't know God gave the devil that much power. Think about that for just a moment. If this was true, wouldn't Satan take everyone captive? Isn't it "his will" to steal, kill and destroy lives; to make all mankind slaves to sin?

The way this sentence is structured, has left it open for two different interpretations of the last three words … "at his will." So, let's look at just "whose will it is" really … Satan's will or God's will.

John Gill's Bible commentary broke this verse down this way …

"'And that they may recover themselves' … or 'awake' and come to themselves, to be sober, and in their right mind. The metaphor is taken from drunken men, who are not in their senses, and being stupefied fall asleep; who when their minds are enlightened, repent of them, come to themselves, and acknowledge the truth, and so escape …

'out of the snare of the devil' … for as carnal lusts and pleasures are the snares and nets, in which Satan, who may be compared to a fowler, catches some; so also errors and heresies are those with which he ensnares others … 'who are taken captive' or 'alive' …

'by him at his will' … taken in his nets and snares and they are held fast, become his captives, his slaves, to do his will, being led by him to whatsoever he pleases … and they readily comply with him, and obey his lusts.

Some understand this phrase, 'at his will,' not to be … of the will of the devil … but of the will of God.

The sense is … that such persons are held captive by Satan, as long as it is the will of God, and no longer; then the prey is taken from the fowler and the lawful captive is then delivered.

This scripture is given as an encouragement to Timothy to go on in instructing, hoping this may be the case.

Others connect this phrase, 'at his will' or 'according to his will' as they differently render it, with the word, 'recover' … meaning, that such, repenting of their errors, might escape out of the snare of Satan, in which they were taken alive; that so they might do the will of God … believing that their repentance, recovery and escape out of Satan's snare and captivity are according to the sovereign will and good pleasure of God."

The Amplified Bible must agree with this second interpretation John Gill speaks about as it reads …

2nd Timothy 2:26 … "And that they may come to their senses [and] escape out of the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him, [henceforth] to do His [God's] will."

Can Satan take people captive … "at his will?"

No, I don't think so.

Man has been given a "free will" to choose for themselves. It's obvious, and history proves that Satan has taken or has been given control of some men's lives. But it must always be through choice. Because man's soul has "free will"… it must possess this power of choice.

And because it is free will, it is impossible to force it to sin. Even Satan himself cannot do this; and before he can get it to sin, he must gain its consent. This is the only reason for the (spirit vs. flesh) battle within your soul … the control of your "will."

God will not violate this principle or spiritual law, nor will He allow Satan to take away your "choice" and remove … "your" … free will, otherwise it wouldn't be "yours."

What Satan is allowed to do though, is to … solicit or persuade … the "will" through the temptation of the flesh until it consents to sin and then he can snare and take captive over time a willing participant, at least willing in the flesh. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is proof of this.

The flesh falls first … the heart follows later.

Therefore … "Keep and guard your heart …" Proverbs 4:23 (Amplified)

Comments welcome.

Friday, April 1, 2011

He Is Not Material

Today I am asking you to take God out of the mental box most of us keep Him in. Many will not see Him any different; but for some, you might see Him in a slightly different form … not that you have been wrong in your perception of who He is … I just want to explore and perhaps open up a new image for you to consider.

There is a God. He is the cause of all things; pervading all things, governing all things, and upholding all things by His power.

Jesus said in John 4:24 … "God is a Spirit" (a spiritual Being) … this is one of the first and greatest truths of the Bible.

Being a "Spirit" … God is therefore without a body. He is not material or composed of parts or dimensions. He is invisible, filling the heavens and the earth, and He is eternal … for He is an infinite "Spirit."

God … is an immaterial, invisible, incorruptible, intelligent, immortal, willing and active being, an immense and infinite Spirit; but differs from all other created spirits, in that He was not created, but is an eternal one, with no beginning or end.

I want to consider the thought that … God is without a body; that He is not material or composed of parts or dimensions. (In this discourse for clarity only, when I am speaking of "God," I will be speaking of God the Father in His spirit form only … not the Trinity.)

In the Old Testament when Moses and others heard a voice or witnessed the cloud and the fire which were the symbols of God's presence; it was without question the second person of the Godhead who appeared in a "physical manifestation" since God Himself is a "Spirit Being" without a physical body … therefore invisible to man in the natural realm. God Himself "never assumed" any visible form.

John 1:18 … "No man hath seen God at any time" … meaning God the Father.

The meaning of the phrase … "No man hath seen God at any time …" is this: God has never been seen in His fullness, in all His glory with the natural human eye. This verse is not saying that men have not seen or witnessed "manifestations" of God, or that His voice was never heard, or His shape never seen.

In Exodus 33:18-23, Moses is asking God to allow him to see His glory. But God says … "No man shall see Me and live. But there is a place beside Me, and you shall stand upon the rock, and while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away My hand and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen."

Even this manifestation must be understood to have been the second person of the Godhead, sometimes called "the Angel of the Lord" who appeared many times to the Old Testament saints, being manifested in human form. God, as a Spirit, is invisible and cannot be seen with the natural eye. God the Father is said to be invisible, only because He did not appear to Old Testament saints.

I am of the opinion … whenever any voice was heard, or shape seen, it was always the second person of the Godhead that appeared … Jesus the Son of God … before He became flesh; of whom it is later said to be God's "image," the exact likeness, "the visible representation."

Colossians 1:15 … "He is the exact likeness of the unseen God, the visible representation of the invisible …"

The image that is seen is that of the Son of God. He is the perfect and complete eternal image of His Father; more than a shadow or a representation, more than just a visible likeness; this "image" includes the same nature and perfections as the Father, but in His own personality and distinction as the Son.

Hebrews 1:3 … "He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and the very image of [God's] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power."

I want to put a stake down right here and key in on the word "sole" expression of God.

Sole means … "the only one … no others … singular … by Himself." It tells me, if you want to see or know"Who God Is" … then "LOOK AT JESUS" who is the visible face of Jehovah God, the Father. He is the very image and nature of the invisible God, the express image of His person, and is such a likeness that it can be said that … "He who has seen the one has seen the other."

The Bible has established the fact that "God is a Spirit" … therefore God Himself as a Spirit, cannot be seen, handled, or touched. Because of this fact, God had to make a way for physical man, made of material stuff, to be able to fellowship with Him, to rub shoulders so to speak, with God. But how is that possible since God is a Spirit?

The first way God made to fulfill this need was for the "Second Person" of the Trinity, sometimes called "the Angel of the Lord" (that we previously spoke about) to manifest Himself to man. The first place we see this manifestation take place is in the Garden of Eden when God walked with Adam in the cool of the evening.

You may ask … "How did God, as a Spirit, become a material being that would allow Adam to see and talk with Him, or later when Jacob wrestled with Him?" I don't know. But I do know what Jesus said in Matthew 19:26 … "With men this is impossible; but all things are possible with God."

I also question things like, how did Jesus become "the rock" that followed them for 40 years and gave water in the wilderness? (1st Corinthians 10:4, Paul said that Rock was Christ.) Why does it say in the Book of Daniel that the forth man in the fiery furnace looked like the Son of God? I don't know … but I believe it … because Daniel and Moses were eye witnesses to these facts and wrote about them as a record for all time.

So, even though I do not fully understand what I know about God and His body, or the lack of one, (if God can lack anything) I must believe this to be true because it's in the Word of God.

I am also of the opinion that God the Father … always deals with man through His Son Jesus … and has from the beginning of creation and will to the end of time.

The facts as I see them are … God had no beginning, (He is eternal) the universe can not contain the Spirit of God, (it's not large enough) God is not material, (He is a Spirit) God Himself does not have a body, (but He can and did manifest Himself in one) that God did become flesh in the form of a man, (Jesus born of Mary) that God cannot die, (but Jesus did) and this man called Jesus, will be a Man forever, proven by the fact that He is resurrected (as a man) and is now seated at the right hand of God, His Father.

All scripture … Amplified Bible

Comments welcome.