In the morning reading a vivid reminder of details overlooked at times stood out with renewed clarity. As the book of Leviticus opens with instruction for sin and trespass offerings and oblations I was convicted with the details of the offerings for sin committed in ignorance. When these sacrifices are killed and slaughtered, certain parts are to be lain directly upon the wood for the fire of sacrifice and other parts placed in order upon the altar to be burned. Thus one part of the animal is considered fuel for the fire and the other to be consumed with fire.
Here is what struck me. When we are made to know of our sin before God our sacrifice of repentance from the activity of our old nature should be killed/mortified at our own hand to fuel the fire to make our new nature and its offerings of praise and obedience as a sweet savor to God. It is all of one individual who is now consumed in the submission of a new life in service to God and forgetting that of the past. It is the knowledge of the war within of the old man/sin nature being brought into submission by the new man/spirit nature to live through death to God's glory.
This is the lot and quest of the regenerate child of God. To overcome self to serve Christ. As Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 KJV
So may it be that in all we say and do that as one part of us fuels the fire of sacrifice, the other is raised as a sweet smell in the nostrils of Almighty God! Amen.
"Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold." Proverbs 9:10
As I ponder the thoughts of this today I am made to think of the use of these words by an apostle in two accounts from the record of New Testament circumstance.
Peter, a man who had asked what profit was there to have forsaken all, when faced with the request of the lame man of Acts 3:6 replied, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee:" and stated in 1 Peter 1:18 that we know that it was not "with corruptible things as silver and gold" that we were redeemed from the empty rituals of traditions taught us by our fathers. It has always made me to wonder then what it was he had to give and to consider the value of the blood of Christ.
In the Proverb we are reading the lessons being taught by "Wisdom" as she speaks of the value of the knowledge to be gained in comparison to the temporary things of this life. Thus, it makes me to think that to come to understand the finished work of Christ Jesus in my place and for my case is a treasure beyond price indeed!
For those that are hindered in life and bound in the past, for those overcome of self and ceremony of religion, those that have sat at the gate all their lives and never entered; what could possibly change their case? Could it be silver and gold, or some other prosperity message? I think not. Could the power and position, however fleeting they be, of our own past and tradition ever change us to the truth? I can attest to a negative here.
Then what more could it be than to come to the knowledge of grace and mercy in Christ and to by faith rise and walk in newness of life to follow Him and learn the wealth of wisdom day by day in our own personal experience? What riches indeed! What joy and peace! What freedom beyond description to learn that he, though he be a pauper in this world's goods, is the Lord's priest and king of all things. Wondrous thoughts indeed.
Been sitting and pondering, that's what I do in the dark, by the fire, with coffee.
I confess to reading religious periodicals and listening to media preachers at times. I do think it needful to be aware of what is being said and promoted. When looking to the welfare of our congregations as pastors we must be, to some extent, aware of what they are exposed to. I also confess that this produces thought to be addressed later, such as now.
When I look to scripture I find that God established the Church, as He would by the way, with a very simplistic manner of worship: singing, praying, and preaching. When I begin to examine what is viewed and accepted as "church/worship" today I find glaring contradictions.
I won't even begin with the blatant contradiction proposed by those that have 'forsaken assembling' and have solaced themselves with whatever. Then there is what has replaced singing with all out productions and performances that would rival Broadway and the Vegas strip. What prayers I hear are obvious routine and prepared for the purpose of pleasing and stirring men and not acknowledging God. There again not even to mention the thinking that regeneration is a simple decision and saying a few repetitious words and now, "Welcome to the family of God", please!
Yet what has begun to become vividly obvious is that what is presented as preaching today is nothing more than religious 'self help' theories and programs designed to attract those seeking to embrace a system that will motivate them to pick themselves up out of the mire of depression and circumstance to exercise mind and heart in their own efforts to in turn give them some false sense of hope of assurance they are a child of God because of what they are doing. "Oh, you can't save yourself or trust in men, but you need to accept what God is offering you today before it is forever too late." Thus, "TRUE" faith has become confidence in what we have understood and do instead of what Christ did and finished. Lord deliver us from ourselves!
Where is the pure gospel of Jesus Christ declared? Where is Christ alone taught and believed? Where are the hymns of praise sung to a sovereign God who works and none can hinder? Where are prayers poured out of the hearts and souls of men that need God? Where is the assembly, yes the congregation, that is met for the purpose of hearing from God? Where is it that tears flow from the eyes and down the cheeks of those heart broken because of sin and grief of self and not because of laughter at some jester that mocks God and truth? Are we a post-Church society that has totally pushed God and truth from our lives to accept the religious clamor of empty men? The answers are too close to home. What is your vision for worship????
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:6-9 KJV
Where do you stand? Where do you take a knee? Considering this passage of inspired scripture it would seem that there is only ONE gospel, not many. It would appear that Paul believed in only ONE God and ONE Lord. It convicts me to think that there are some in ministry that deliberately alter the facts to promote their agendas and their popularity. It condemns me to know that I have participated in the past of defending tradition thinking I was preaching the gospel.
The conclusion of this matter appears as well that we are to reject completely the ideas and support of any that would present any other teaching than that of the finished work of Jesus Christ. Regardless of the person or position, even from heaven (as we might suppose), the separation from such is to be complete and definite. Accursed is a very serious term.
Indeed, do we seek to please men or God? And that would include, SELF! Do you know the truth well enough to reject heresy? Are you ready to defend the gospel and contend for the faith once delivered? There is but ONE. Amen.
Just a few passing thoughts this morning: The Galatian letter is one of, shall we say, 'coming of age' as children of God. It is not addressed to individuals for the purpose of making children, but encouraging children to be who they are.The traditions of men and religion were pressing upon these folks to conform to their standards and rules or be considered outside of the blessings of God. Like most modern day teachings of assurance by performance, this is a bondage rather than freedom.
The Apostle Paul is reminding God's people here that they were taught better and now should act better and reject such foolish notions of men. There was a time when law/religion held a place in our lives to control us in right and wrong. But, when that time to be set at liberty has come, it is time to embrace what is ours by inheritance and honor our Father.
The simple truth of this of self evaluation is, are we serving God and others out of fear or by faith? Do we do what we do because we love God or think we have to? The system that demands of us certain things to be in line with men is bondage. The truth that sets us free is that Christ paid all our debt and we are no longer servants, but sons.
Embrace your inheritance. Lay hold of eternal life. Make your calling and election sure. All these are for now and by such we inherit the kingdom of God in our time and life. It is the grand difference of loving the house of your Master and because of love staying and/or bowing in submission because you fear the consequences or living for payday. For your consideration.
Several years ago I suddenly heard my self attempting to answer a religious question. It wasn't that I not being sincere, in fact I was very adamant concerning my position of the subject. However, suddenly that was the problem. I realized my position was based on what I had been told, rather than what I had learned from study of the word of God.
I wonder how many more do the same thing? Why do we do what we do? Why don't we do different? Have we been noble enough to not only consider the truth, but to prove it by personal study? I truly believe such people are rare indeed. Instead of being satisfied for the status quo or tradition, study the inspired word of God and pray for understanding. When God grants the truth to find a home in your heart, then find the congregation that teaches and practices that truth. Join yourself to them and worship and serve God according to His pattern. That is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. See you there.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I like John Wayne western movies. If you are a fellow fan of such you can relate to the exchange of favorite clips and quotes from specific movies. And you enjoy seeing them, regardless of how many times before. They can even take you back in memories and dreams of better times and hopes of better days.
God help us if that is what we have reduced the worship services to on Sunday mornings. Nothing more than repeats of our favorite texts and quotations, fond memories of a bygone era or dreams of what could be. Knowing that lunch is coming and the concession stand will be open then, or maybe you have become one that sits during preaching sipping coffee or cool water and even snacks as your favorite preacher/performer entertains you one more time.
The thought is enough to make me sick and probably, if we consider what the Lord said to one church, to make the Lord spew us out. The concept of casual service, theater seating, repeated shows of the same message back to back smacks of industrialized showmanship.
I can hardly get the picture of someone pulling up a folding chair and a glass of their favorite beverage to watch the show at Mt. Sinai. Or bringing popcorn to the mount of transfiguration, or how about smores at the ascension from the Mount of Olives?
My Lord how much has Hollywood warped our minds even in the service of God? Mercy.
"And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62
Now, let me tell you about a verse of scripture that I know about and am experienced in enough to tell you what NOT to do.
Jesus addresses himself here to an individual that had expressed a desire to follow him and go with him wherever he went. Right off I can say that this sounds too familiar. How many times have I said/expressed the same? Too many to count, shamefully. Yet, at the time I am sure the person's expression was sincere. And I marvel at the Lord's grace in not calling him on it, as he surely could have.
Several had just been called on to do the same, but had given excuses why they could not from telling someone farewell, to burying a parent. The Lord's response was, simply, let the past go and move ahead. All of us/me have our excuses/reasons why we can't do that just at this minute. We know we should and know we ought to, but just didn't know that it was meant to be done NOW!
The example that Jesus gave is one of a man plowing in a field looking over his shoulder. Can you imagine the results of his plowing? I can, having spent many hours in a field. Not only will the results be terrible, think of the wasted efforts and energy spent doing something that will have to be done over. God help me I know too much about wasted time.
Yet what is in view is not being "fit for the kingdom". You are not the kind of person that deserves to be there. Do we/I get the message that Jesus doesn't want us wasting time in the kingdom? Not that we don't have energy or potential for labor, but you can not be productive looking back all the time. Mercy, as I said, I can tell you volumes of what NOT to do,
You see I have been a "have been" in lots of things. I have labored in many fields of secular trade. I was somewhat good and successful for a time in those, I have been involved in several hobbies and past times of enjoyment. I have always had a weakness for many things. I still carry the baggage of the memories of many of these things. But, the worst of it all is that I waste so much time of the present looking back. I destroy the future in fear of not being able to do what I once did or praying that doesn't happen again. The present is lost in looking back. No wonder my rows are crooked and my harvest is so spotted and poor. I have come to the present condition of being unfit, useless.
May I encourage you all to not be like me, constantly looking back?! Would you pray for me that I would be able to put the past down and look ahead in hope of what is, not what was or could be? May God help us all to exercise ourselves unto godliness and be truly fit for the kingdom and above all not to end up as Lot's wife, not even named but a memorial of the bitterness of a wasted life. God help!
Strange Children: Psalms 144:11-15
The writer here expresses his frustration and desire to see change in his world. Much as our day the problems he was facing included a generation that spoke lies and dealt in deceit. In the wording strange children there is implied that what we deal with is the result of those before us being expressed in the lives of their/our children. What continues in this request is to see the future changed and bettered by those that come of us; our sons and daughters.
What he longs to see is sons that mature early and daughters that are polished to join the walls of our homes together. In short, he longs to see young men that have been taught to grow up and produce and young ladies that are worthy of acknowledgement because they have been fitted to be strong in their place of union, a cornerstone, that establishes and bids. What is being envisioned is strong families, committed marriages, God honoring individuals that will build and defend in days to come.
What follows is the results of the places of store being overrunning, the increase of those that attend and go forth, a strong and encouraged ministry, no divisions, those that stick and stay, and the complaining to stop. Wow! What a thought. But, such is the happiness of such a people that trust and serve God!
Want to change the world? Want to see better days? Want to see churches grow and our world bettered? Invest in your children now! Bring them up by example and word to trust God and put Him first in all they do. That starts at home with us as parents and grows from there. It is not only "what I say", but also, "what I do". God will be honored and we will be happy. So may it be. Let's start today.