Saturday, November 18, 2017

Justification


What is justification? It is the declared purpose of God to regard and treat sinners who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as if they had not sinned, on the ground of the merits of the Saviour. 

It is not mere pardon. Pardon is a free forgiveness of past offenses. The offenses are still on your record … just pardoned. 

Justification needs pardon first but also respects the sinner in regard to his past conduct and to God’s future dealings with him … as though he had never sinned. God now looks at the believer through the filter of Jesus. 

A Saviour was provided … before sin was committed … and the method of man's redemption was settled even before his creation without any regard to any works or merits of men. Man's redemption is wholly owing to the sovereign will and   grace of God

God alone has saved us. God all by Himself took on the responsibility of man's salvation. 

None has said it better than the writer of The Book of Hebrews when he wrote about the finished work of Jesus as our High Priest … 

Hebrews 9:26 … "But as it now is, He has once for all … appeared to put away and abolish sin by His sacrifice of Himself. And having been offered … once and once for all …"  (Amplified Bible) 

Never again will another offering, sacrifice or even "good works" be needed or accepted by God. "It is finished." 

Do you know … you displease God … if you are trying to make your salvation more secure by good works? 

An example is given in the O.T. to show the importance of the completed work of Christ on the cross. Moses when bringing forth water in the wilderness was unaware of what his actions meant but he had to pay just the same. 

In Exodus 17:6, God told Moses to strike this one rock with his rod and water would flow freely out of it. 

Paul stated in 1st Corinthians 10:4 … "The Rock was Christ" … meaning the rock that followed Israel through the desert for forty years and gave all of Israel water to drink. 
After traveling to another camp, the rock that followed them needed its water to start flowing again for the people. God gives Moses a new command … 

Numbers 20:8 … "Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock …" 

Numbers 20:11-12 … "And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." 

Why wasn't Moses allowed to enter the Promised Land with Israel? 

The Rock … Christ … once smitten did not need to be struck again, meaning to be crucified again.  Moses was just to speak to the rock and it, Christ, would give His life giving water. 

To smite the rock twice was to imply that Christ's death on the cross… was not effectual or sufficient … more had to be done. 

Even though Moses was not aware of the significance of what he had been ordered to do, nevertheless God held him responsible for not obeying His command. Because of striking the rock twice, Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land with the rest of his people. 

Obedience to God's will is important and must be followed, whether or not we understand His purpose. 

I would be doing the Word of God injustice, if I were to conclude from both Paul's teaching as well as this lesson with Moses, that Christ's death on the cross was not sufficient; that God the Father sent Jesus to only go part of the way; that Jesus didn't pay the full price for sin; that just a little more is required; that we must somehow work, earn or add to whatever is needed to complete our salvation.

When believers in Christ somehow feel the need to do something more than just simply believe that Jesus paid the price … they are doing exactly what Moses did; and that is … to imply that Christ's death on the cross … was not effectual or  sufficient … more has to be done. 


That action kept Moses from the Promised Land. Remember, the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 5:4 that believers can … "fall from grace" by going back under "the covenant of works." 
I guess my question would be … "If you are fallen from grace, will that keep you out of our promised land, Heaven?" 

Jesus said … "It is finished."  Nothing more can be added or should be added to what Jesus did on the cross. God wouldn't accept it anyway. 

It has never been about us, what we do … it's always been about "Jesus" and what He has already done

Hebrews 8:6-8 … "He (Jesus) is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second … "  

All believers should have "good works" in their lives. But these actions or works, should be "automatic" … they should just happen; the love of God in us should birth them in our lives. 

Do we do them automatically out of love; or do we do them … "to make our salvation more secure?" 

Nicholas Herman, the seventeenth century Carmelite monk from French Lorraine, known as Brother Lawrence once said … "God judges not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed." 


Finally … all of us need to judge the "motive" behind why we work for the Lord. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Normal Behavior



Have you noticed that normal behavior for the natural man is to fulfill the desires of the flesh.  The base human nature, seemingly right from birth, wants whatever our fleshly body needs to feel good.

We are completely fallen creatures, and without a spiritual rebirth you will be controlled by the appetites of the unregenerate soul and flesh of your natural man. 

That spiritual rebirth used to be called being Born Again … hopefully in most churches it still is.  If you are normal (whatever that is) then you know that this planet and all life on earth didn’t just happen … everything that is … was created by God.  Including you.

The problem with the natural man without this spiritual rebirth is something called "Sin" … resulting from our base normal behavior.  Like … "If it feels good do it."  

Have you heard of the "Jesus Story?"  That’s where after creating man and knowing how he would live by following after only the sinful desires of the flesh instead of obeying God’s rules for life, like the Ten Commandments for example … and being the loving God that He is, sent Jesus to bring that spiritual rebirth called being Born Again. 

When God created man, He gave him a body of flesh and placed within that body a living spirit.  The joining of the flesh and spirit together as one, produces what is called … our soul.

There is a misconception that the soul is just another name for your human spirit … the part of you that lives forever.  It's not the same thing.

We are a spirit and we live in a body made of flesh.  Some say the soul is your mind and thoughts … which is partly right.  I like to think of the soul as a compartment, or a battleground inside where the flesh and the human spirit fight over which one gets its way, including the control over your actions.

I’ll get back to the Jesus story in a moment, but first … here is the on going problem as I see it.

From my observations of life in general, as well as what I have experienced in my own life … the soul is tied more closely to the flesh … which includes the mind and the reasoning process than it is to the spirit of man.  It's in the soul where your thoughts, desires and appetites of the flesh, if allowed will grow and develop in strength to the point where they can win the battle and defeat what your spirit, heart and will wants to do.  And so your body yields to sin.

Your free will … that’s another part of our make-up that God has given us.  Let me just say quickly here, your will is free to make choices of the heart as to follow after things of the spirit or the natural man and the desires of the flesh.     

Now back to what Jesus does for us.

That spiritual rebirth I spoke about, is allowing Jesus into your life.  Really it’s allowing His Holy Spirit to contact your human spirit and start the new birth process.

Being born again is really an awakening of your human spirit within your being that was controlled by the appetites of the unregenerate soul and flesh of your natural man.  This body of flesh is never born again.  It is only trained to live a new lifestyle by your newly awakened human spirit.  The new birth is a spiritual rebirth so to speak, an awakening to spiritual things that only affects the heart of your will not your flesh.

Normal behavior for the natural man is to fulfill the desires of the flesh; but after being born again and making Jesus the Lord of your life, the Holy Spirit strengthens your will to follow after God's ways and you learn to start saying no to the sinful desires of the flesh … with the Lord's help.

I want to touch on one more point … concerning our new found Christian walk following Jesus.  

Right in the middle of Hebrews 12:1, the writer says, "... let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us ..."

The first thing we are instructed to do is to ... "lay aside every weight" ... which means any burden you carry or anything that becomes a hindrance to you.  Whatever it may be, we are exhorted to lay it aside.  

Next it says to also lay aside ... "the sin which doth so easily beset us."  

Notice it doesn't say, if you have sin.  The author of Hebrews is being honest with you.  Be honest with yourself.  We sin.  And some sins, beset us easier than others.

There is something born naturally in our flesh, some natural tendency or propensity, a disposition to behave in a certain way, a strong inherent inclination to yield to whatever personal temptation you were born with. 

By ... "the sin which doth so easily beset us" ... we need to understand that sin to be, the one to which we are most prone, or to which we are most exposed, from habit or circumstances.  And it may be more than one. 

So, we know there are two things to be cast off ... every weight or burden that would occupy our heart causing us to take our eyes off Jesus.  

And then there's the sin problem.  

Every man has one or more weak points in his character where he is exposed to sin.  Each one of us have certain problems, things, or should I just say it ... sins ... that we struggle with.  Repented of and prayed over … yes ... and yet there they still are. 

Nicholas Herman, the seventeenth century Carmelite monk from French Lorraine said 400 years ago … "We should seek to learn the sins that do most easily beset us and the times and occasions, when we do most often fall."

Know who you are and what you are.  A sinner saved by grace.

So do as Solomon said in Proverbs 4:23 …


"Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life."  (Amplified Bible)

Friday, August 25, 2017

In the Midst of the Storm


A brief miracle was going to take place on this dark and stormy night when Jesus sent His disciples to sea knowing He was sending them … out into the storm.  And as far as I know, it never happened again.

Peter walked on water.

You remember the story in Matthew 14:22-33 … Peter sees Jesus walking past them on the water, right in the middle of the storm, where He sent them, and Peter asks Jesus if he can do the same thing.     
 
Is there a life lesson here?  Yes, there is … one most people don't want to hear about.
  
It's that God also arranges for us to encounter the storms in life just as His disciples did.  And when we are out on that stormy sea, if we start to sink and cry out to Jesus as Peter did … "Lord save me" … you may hear the very same thing Peter heard.

"O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" 

The word doubt used here is "distazo" and it means … to duplicate or think twice, to waver mentally.

Peter was walking on the water just fine until he started looking around.  "But when he saw the wind …" 

How did Peter see the wind?  He didn't.  The word saw is "blep'o" and means "to become aware" … in this case, aware of the waves the wind was making; which by the way had nothing to do with being able to walk on water.  They were not giving him buoyancy; they were not holding him up. 

They were in fact a distraction that caused him to take his eyes off Jesus … where the miracle power really came from.  The power came from God, but the faith or lack of it was all Peter's … proven by the fact that Jesus didn't sink, Peter did.

What if the storm was but a test, (as it is many times with us) a life lesson to show Peter how much real faith he had.  Peter had real faith or he couldn't have walked on water.  

It was Peter's trust in Jesus that allowed him to believe that if his Lord told him, "Come, step out of the boat and … do what I'm doing … walking on water," he believed he could.  Peter believed Jesus would never tell him to do something he couldn't do, so without thinking twice, he just went for it by faith.   

Stepping out of the boat was not what got him in trouble.  It was simply this … after receiving the Word from the Lord, "Come, walk with me," and after acting on it, Peter had a "distazo" moment.  He wavered mentally and thought twice about where he was and what he was doing … but only after he was walking on water. 

So what if it was contrary to the laws of nature.  Was he not doing what his Lord had given him permission to accomplish?  Did you notice the words Jesus later used to describe Peter?  "O you of little faith."

The two words little faith is "oligopistos" meaning incredulous … something you are not naturally disposed to.  This word oligopistos comes from the Greek word "oligos" meaning … puny or brief.

This life lesson is not about "great faith."  It's about … "puny, brief faith."  And isn't it true that he had enough of this puny, brief faith to walk on water. 

If the Greek rendering of "little faith" is right, it also says that we are not naturally disposed to even this puny faith.  I'm not speaking of doubt and unbelief which is opposite of faith.  The word doubt in the question Jesus asked Peter is really not the right translation of the word.  As I stated earlier, it is "distazo" meaning to think twice, to waver mentally.

When you ask something of the Lord … the first word you receive will be from the Lord.  The second word or thought that makes you "think twice" will be Satan trying to take away the word of God that was sown in your heart and replace it with a lie or half truth.  Satan is a master at manipulating your thoughts. 
     
So how does he do it?  With a "distazo" moment … he causes you to "think twice" and you waver.  Satan wants you to take your eyes off Jesus and see only the storm around you exactly as Peter did.  If Satan can just get you to look around, "to become aware" of the distractions that usually come with the storm, then your faith will be brief  … and you will give up.


I have found that most miracles happen in the midst of the storm.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Second Greatest Sin Ever Committed



As man, we tend to rank sin.  I don’t believe God does.  Missing the mark, breaking God’s laws, big sin, little sin … it doesn’t matter … sin is sin.

But even so, I’ve been thinking about what I believe may have been the two greatest sins ever committed by man.  I’m not sure how to rank them as first and second.

So I’m going to say that the sin committed by Eve, while  she was still in the Garden of Eden … by virtue of being the first sin which resulted in the fall of man spiritually, gets to claim that honor or dishonor as it may be.

Also, another outgrowth from that original sin, gave Satan … as Eve’s tempter … the power to become, "the god of this world." 

Looking next for the second worst or second greatest sin ever committed by man is a relatively easy choice at least for me.  He’s the one person that Jesus said in Matthew 26:24 … "it would have been better for this man had he never been born." 

This man is … Judas.

Part of the Judas story of betrayal is found in John 13:2-30 … "And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him ..."

"Having now put betrayal into the heart of Judas"  The meaning of this passage is that Satan "inclined" the mind of Judas to do this, made him feel willing or favorably disposed to sell Him out ... Satan tempted him to betray the Lord.

Satan can tempt no one unless there is some inclination of the mind, some natural tendency or propensity; a disposition to behave in a certain way, something naturally born in our flesh that he can make use of.  Satan can present temptations of all types fitted to the propensity that he already knows about in each individual's soul, which is tied closer to the flesh than to the spirit; and because he is already under the influence of a strong inherent inclination to do so … then man yields to this personal temptation.  

In the case of Judas this propensity was … the love of money … and it was necessary only to present to him the possibility of obtaining money, and it found him ready and willing to "betray" Jesus.

Satan's end game in this temptation was to work upon Judas "to betray" Christ into the hands of His enemies, in order to put Him to death.  All of this was known by Jesus, which He prophesied to His disciples that one of them would betray Him; yet it was an action which one would think, could never have entered into the heart of Judas … had not the devil put it there.
  
Judas was an apostle of Christ's; and from this we should all learn even the highest office, and greatest gifts, cannot keep men from the temptations of Satan.  The manner in which he tempted him was this … Satan "put" which means "cast" a fiery dart into his very heart (thoughts or mind); which shows the access Satan has into, and the influence he has upon … the minds of men. 

Wasn't this temptation of Judas just about the same as Satan's temptation of Eve in the Garden 4,000 years earlier?  With both, he planted new thoughts and lies in their minds.  Satan’s game plan hasn’t changed in 6,000 years.  He is still temping man in the very same way today as then. 

When men can sin, knowing that God sees it all, it shows that the heart is fully set in them to do evil, and there is nothing that will restrain them from sin.  God will not interfere with a man's choice, with a man's free will.  This is why there is so much evil in the world today, just as then.  

Judas was "free" to do his evil deed ... and he did.






Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Conversation With God



It was a normal Sunday morning worship service with music and singing.  But for me, about half way through the singing and praise portion that usually starts the service, I found myself no longer listening to the worship team leading us in worship.  In fact I wasn’t singing or even entering in any worship at all.  

I will confess that I was there physically, but spiritually, in my soul, there wasn’t much going on.  I’m not sure how to describe my feelings or my attitude.  I suppose I could attribute who I was that morning and how I felt on the fact that I sometimes feel somewhat melancholy ... not really sad or pensive ... perhaps a little depressed, but if I was down for some reason, I don’t remember why.

Sometimes people just feel blaaaah.  That’s more then just blah.  So that was me that day.  Feeling blah.

I heard the music and the singing ... but then I heard these words deep in my soul.  The words were softly spoken, but very clear as they cut through the music and singing.  

I knew instantly who was speaking to me.  The same voice had spoken to me before.  It was the Holy Spirit.  May I go so far and say ...  it was the heart and soul of the “Spirit of Christ” speaking directly unto my spirit and soul.

But this was a first for me.  Not just hearing His voice ... this was the first and only time that the Lord’s Spirit and my spirit actually held a conversation together.

My mouth didn’t form my answers to His questions verbally ... I wasn’t speaking out loud ... but rather I heard my own voice as I talked to Him from within my spirit and soul, the very same place, from which I heard His voice.

The dialog went something like this …


“Carl, what’s wrong?”

Nothing.

“Why aren't you raising your hands like you usually do?”

I don’t feel like it I guess.

“Why don’t you feel like it?”

I don’t know.

“Do you know why you should raise your hands when you worship?”

No, not really.

“Because you can!”
   


The answer as to why we should raise our hands really hit home to me.  I have the physical ability to do just that.  I know a man who can’t physically raise his arms or even move his hands anymore.  He can’t walk either.

He used to be a strong and healthy man fifteen or twenty years ago.  But over time through an unknown type of nerve disease, he slowly lost all ability to move any of his limbs.

Because you can!”  

Enough said.  Those three words have never left me.

It's ... hands raised and arms wide open for me now.

What is the old saying?  

"But for the Grace of God ... there go I."

   

Comments are welcome.
   


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Something Happened



It looks to me, that very slowly with each generation further away from Jesus ... there seems to be fewer and fewer observed miracles.

The disciples of Jesus, the ones who walked closest to Him during the three and a half years of His public ministry, seem to have displayed a greater power and spiritual authority than the average believer has today.  Miracles of healing were seen as almost common place to them as they proclaimed their faith in, and the authority given them through the name of Jesus.  

Could it be that walking with Jesus during this time had a special effect on them that we today can't receive since we were not in physical contact with Him as they were?  Did something rub off on them?  According to John 20:22, He even breathed on the disciples to receive the Holy Spirit the evening of His resurrection as they were gathered together in fear of the Jews behind closed doors.    

But the disciples didn't receive the Holy Spirit until 50 days later on the day of Pentecost ...  or did they?  Could it be the disciples were filled when He breathed on them, and the other 120 followers of Jesus were then filled later in the upper room.  If you read Acts 2:1-14, you will notice that the disciples are not mentioned until Peter stands to speak about what is happening.

The breath of Jesus.  I'm pausing here a moment thinking, what would it be like to have Jesus ... breath on me?  Would I be different?    

As the creator, He also breathed on Adam and he became a living soul.  We should not ever forget that our breath is from Him and it's just on loan to us.  Oh, and when God chooses to take it back, we will have to relinquish it back to Him, won't we?  We won't have a say in the matter either.    

Could it be ... that the disciples, walking with Jesus daily, hearing His words, feeling His touch, eating their meals with Him, as well as His breathing on them ... did any of these things contribute to their boldness and authority in proclaiming the name of Jesus as they started the first century church.

 Something happened to these men by being with Jesus ... and miracles were the results.

In my August 12th, 2011 post, I wrote about the Disciple John ... as I saw him in my mind's eye, "Covered in Blood" as he helped take the body of Jesus down from the cross.  In it I asked this question; because of having the physical blood of Jesus smeared upon John's back and shoulder as he carried the body of Jesus, could it be that is the reason he lived to be an old man?  He was the only disciple that died a natural death around A.D. 100 and was most likely in his late nineties when he died. 

It seems to me that John was different then the others, closer to Jesus, taken under His wing so to speak.  Jesus even gave the care of His mother to him.  He's the only disciple who didn't run away from the crucifixion of Jesus.  Oh well ... these are just my random thoughts.  Pay no mind to them.  I don't either some times.

We know that the disciples of Jesus had many miracles in their ministries within the 1st century; John being the last of the twelve to die.  History also records that men like Polycarp (A.D.65-155) who was a friend, student, and disciple of John, also had many miracles in his ministry as did his contemporaries like Clement and Ignatius.  

The label, "Apostolic Fathers" has been applied to them to indicate they were the generation that had personal contact with the twelve disciples.  They provide a link between the disciples ... who had personal contact with Jesus ... and the later generations of Christians who came after the 1st century.

So what am I getting at?  From what I have read about miracles in church history, it reads something like this.  Jesus had hundreds, even thousands of miracles during His ministry.  Each of the disciples, those who had personal contact with Jesus, had perhaps hundreds of miracles themselves.  No one kept count.  

The Apostolic Fathers, those who had personal contact with the disciples, (the ones who had personal contact with Jesus) also had many miracles ... but fewer than the disciples of Jesus had.  Notice the downward progression ... from thousands to hundreds to many fewer today.

Could it be ... Jesus gave a special anointing to His disciples, that over time, from generation to generation seemed to dissipate and disappear from believers?

Could it be ... the anointing faded like it did with Moses?  The Apostle Paul explains in 2nd Corinthians 3:13 the reason why Moses, after receiving the Law and then coming down from the mountain placed a vail over his face.  After being in the presence of God, the face of Moses shone with the glory of God still upon it.  (Exodus 34:29-35)  The vail prevented the children of Israel from observing the glory fading slowly from his face.  

So I ask, why couldn't the glory, the anointing, and the power of Jesus ... given to the disciples and church fathers likewise have faded slowly away.  

Many so called spiritual giants of the church over the past 800 years or so have suggested the same thing.  I certainly don't know ... but it looks as though that might explain what has happened to the church.

If one were to look at what John was instructed to write in the Book of Revelation in Chapters II and III concerning the seven churches ... which alludes to seven different periods of church history ... we read the words of Jesus as He begins telling the first church, "you have left your first love."  And then it goes downhill from there as He addresses all seven.

To the last church (or dispensation of time in church history ... perhaps ours) Jesus says, "because you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth." 

What happened? 

Could it be ... that the Church the disciples started in the first century has fallen so far away from what the church was intended to be, that the same power and anointing of the Holy Spirit has very few places or people to work with anymore?  Is that why it seems as though God doesn't work miracles as often in this present church age?

Have we, including myself ... lost our first love and become lukewarm?  

Something happened.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What About Easter



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 or yeast (which represents sin) 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 …

Saturday, January 21, 2017

In the Midst of the Storm



Through the years I've tried to understand why Jesus wept and even groaned in His spirit just before He raised His friend Lazarus from the dead.  I think I know and understand why now.  He hurt just like most of us do when death comes close to us.  Jesus felt what we feel … death hurts.  Death seems so final on this side of the grave.

No one died the evening Jesus sent His disciples to sea knowing He was sending them … out into the storm.  A brief miracle was going to take place on this dark and stormy night.  And as far as I know, it never happened again.

Peter walked on water

You remember the story in Matthew 14:22-33 … Peter sees Jesus walking past them on the water, right in the middle of the storm, where He sent them, and Peter asks Jesus if he can do the same thing.    
   
Is there a life lesson here?  Yes, there is … one most people don't want to hear about.
 
It's that God also arranges for us to encounter the storms in life just as His disciples did.  And when we are out on that stormy sea, if we start to sink and cry out to Jesus as Peter did … "Lord save me" … you may hear the very same thing Peter heard.

"O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"

The word doubt used here is "distazo" and it means … to duplicate or think twice, to waver mentally.

Peter was walking on the water just fine until he started looking around.  "But when he saw the wind …"

How did Peter see the wind?  He didn't.  The word saw is "blep'o" and means "to become aware" … in this case, aware of the waves the wind was making; which by the way had nothing to do with being able to walk on water.  They were not giving him buoyancy; they were not holding him up.

They were in fact a distraction that caused him to take his eyes off Jesus … where the miracle power really came from.  The power came from God, but the faith or lack of it was all Peter's … proven by the fact that Jesus didn't sink, Peter did.

What if the storm was but a test, (as it is many times with us) a life lesson to show Peter how much real faith he had.  Peter had real faith or he couldn't have walked on water. 

It was Peter's trust in Jesus that allowed him to believe that if his Lord told him, "Come, step out of the boat and … do what I'm doing … walking on water," he believed he could.  Peter believed Jesus would never tell him to do something he couldn't do, so without thinking twice, he just went for it by faith.  

Stepping out of the boat was not what got him in trouble.  It was simply this … after receiving the Word from the Lord, "Come, walk with me," and after acting on it, Peter had a "distazo" moment.  He wavered mentally and thought twice about where he was and what he was doing … but only after he was walking on water.

So what if it was contrary to the laws of nature.  Was he not doing what his Lord had given him permission to accomplish?  Did you notice the words Jesus later used to describe Peter?  "O you of little faith."

The two words little faith is "oligopistos" meaning incredulous … something you are not naturally disposed to.  This word oligopistos comes from the Greek word "oligos" meaning … puny or brief.

This life lesson is not about "great faith."  It's about … "puny, brief faith."  And isn't it true that he had enough of this puny, brief faith to walk on water?

If the Greek rendering of "little faith" is right, it also says that we are not naturally disposed to even this puny faith.  I'm not speaking of doubt and unbelief which is opposed to faith.  The word doubt in the question Jesus asked Peter is really not the right translation of the word.  It is "distazo" meaning to think twice, to waver.

When you ask something of the Lord … the first word you receive will be from the Lord.  The second word or thought that makes you "think twice" will be Satan trying to take away the word of God that was sown in your heart and replace it with a lie or half truth.  Satan is a master at manipulating your thoughts.
    
So how does he do it?  With a "distazo" moment … he causes you to "think twice" and you waver.  Satan wants you to take your eyes off Jesus and see only the storm around you exactly as Peter did.  If Satan can just get you to look around, "to become aware" of the distractions that usually come with the storm, then your faith will be brief  … and you will give up.

I have found that most miracles happenin the midst of the storm.


Comments welcome.