Saturday, December 31, 2011

Treasures of the Heart

Matthew 12:35 KJV
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

A couple of weeks ago my son, Caleb, brought a message out of the book of James on the tongue. He reminded us that James says the tongue can no man tame. Then he said that is because the tongue is merely a symptom of something deeper; the way to tame the tongue is to change the heart.

Our heart, what we love, is key to Christlikeness and spiritual growth. If a man never changes those things he loves he will never change at all. Our heart not only transforms our tongue but our very being. No wonder God deals so much with our heart.

And no wonder God urges us to guard our heart, watch over our heart and keep our heart. Those things we put into our heart will determine the affections of our heart so we must be ever vigilant to see that good things go in and not evil.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Commands

Matthew 11:1 KJV
And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.

Jesus commanded his twelve

We are such a fragile society today that the whole concept of being commanded can offensive to us we don't like being told what to do.
• We don't mind (sometimes) instructions
• We will sometimes accept suggestions and advice
• We would maybe be all right with a commission
But the very word, command, sounds like we have no options we either do or disobey.

And who would we believe has the right to call us disobedient?

But Jesus commanded His twelve. He placed upon them duties He expected them to perform.

And as shocking as it is to people in our society, that is exactly how we ought to view the instruction of God's Word. No, we do not have to obey to be saved. But we who are saved have to obey to be obedient.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why Dress Standards

Leviticus 16:4 KJV
He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.

God gave Aaron specific instructions concerning the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement; all the way down to the clothing he was to wear. It is significant that the Lord chose to set these instructions in the context of the death of Aaron's two sons who had offered strange incense in the tabernacle. God's instructions are to be meticulously carried out. We are not to be as casual with His Word as Christians have come to be in this day.

I want to take this opportunity to outline what I see to be the biblical precedence for Christians and clothing.

First, I see all Christians as priests today.
The pastor is not the only priest in the church, as some people seem to think. Every Christian should view themselves as a priest unto the Lord.

Second, the Old Testament priests were assigned not only duties but specific clothing they were to wear when going about those duties.
A Christian should view himself as a priest, responsible for some duty or ministry in the house of God and see that he dresses appropriately for that duty.

Third, culture may allow for some variations
But the idea of dressing casually in the presence and service of the Lord to make people more comfortable is definitely unbiblical. A person's attire as a priest ought to be fitting for his role. And a priest's attire while in service ought to be formally more so.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

If the Leprosy Be Healed

Leviticus 14:3 KJV
And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper;

If the plague of leprosy be healed

I cannot imagine the relief a person must have experienced if their leprosy healed. It was such a devastating illness, requiring complete separation from the camp.
• Your family
• Your friends
• Your livelihood Your companionship
All of it was gone.

The priest, who had no cure, could only diagnose the disease and condemn the victims of its grip to isolation for the remainder of their lives. He could afford them no mercy. Leprosy was too dangerous. He had to do the hard thing and make the diagnosis and demand the infected be removed outside of the camp and to constantly pronounce to those who might come near that he was unclean. And then, to discover one day that the leprosy is gone! It must have seemed to the victim to be the greatest of all miracles; God given indeed.

Leprosy is not handled in the same way today and is, as I understand it, a very manageable disease. But I can see why God's Word uses it as a type of sin and why God includes chapters thirteen and fourteen in the preserved Word of God; because this is the same type of relief and miracle those whose sins are forgiven in Christ should experience.

The worst of all afflictions is sin. The disease is spread so thoroughly that there is none righteous, no not one. It infects our loved ones, our friends and every person we meet. There is no cure on this earth, the best that anyone can do is pronounce the disease and condemn the afflicted. And we must not be gentle with sinners because sin, when it is finished, it bringeth forth death.

But many have been set free of their affliction.

Not because of any righteousness they have done, but by the goodness of God, Christ came into this world
• He paid the penalty of sin
• He met the righteous demands of God
• He offers healing to all who trust in Him

That is a miracle of God indeed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Proper Christian Practice

Leviticus 12:8 KJV
And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

The Lord gave the command of the sacrifice for the birthday of a child. But then the Lord made a provision for those who could not afford that sacrifice. Even in the Old Testament God made a way for grace.

I can see someone figuring out the loophole and, though they could afford the full sacrifice, they gave the lesser so they could keep the greater for themselves. But God could see that far better than I can and He still chose a way of grace. There are always those who abuse grace but grace is still the rule of God. Old Testament or New, age of the law or this church age, the rule of God is grace.
• Of course there will be those who abuse it and
• Of course they that do so are outside of the blessing of God
But to practice precise faith for any motive other than love for God is contrary to the whole purpose of His plan for the ages.

Those churches who impose strict standards on their congratulations think they are doing God service but in reality they are breaking the very heart behind God's plan. If He had wanted people to obey Him and follow and worship Him out of coercion,
• He could have kept the serpent from the Garden
• He could have killed Adam and Eve and started over
• He could have stayed the Jews in the wilderness and begun again with Moses
God could have forced all men to bow and worship Him. He has elected instead to offer grace.

I am sure that the multitudes who take advantage of God's grace will come to a time when they regret it. Either they will find that they were never saved in the first place and the fact that they did not have the heart to obey the Lord out of sheer love for Him betrayed that truth. Or else they will stand before God saved, yet so as by fire and will suffer both loss and shame.

The proper Christian practice is grace. The right Christian attitude is always grace. There will be huge disappointments when exercising grace because people will fail. But giving them the choice between right and wrong is the only real way for them to know where their true spiritual heart lies. A church might be able to force or coerce them to behave as a Christian, but that in no way proves they are Christians.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Put Difference

Leviticus 10:10 KJV
And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;

Nadab and Abihu offered the strange incense and died. But Aaron and his other sons were busy in the ministry of the Lord. So Moses urged them to let others deal with the bodies and let the people mourn their deaths; but they were to remain faithful to the Lord. And they were to do so to teach the people the difference between holy and unholy, clean and unclean.

Whether I was taught it, or came to believe it instinctively, I am persuaded that the same thing is true in ministry today. While there are some exceptions, demonstrated near the end of this chapter, a preacher can't allow personal drama to draw him away from God's calling and duties. I can't let family or personal crises pull me away or prevent me from the ministry God has placed me in. Someone has to demonstrate to the world a sort of commitment to the things of the Lord that is unwavering and that sees the Lord and His work as above all else in the world.

Let that be me.

And let my children follow me.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Judgmentalism

Matthew 6:8 KJV
Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

One of the quickest criticisms people will have against Christians is that we judge those who are not like us. Sometimes they will point out that Jesus was not so judgmental but ate with sinners. The fact that He ate with them in no way implies that Christ was supportive of evil or sinful habits. Jesus taught the believers not to be like the Jews and their proud religion or the heathen and their vain religion. In either case Jesus had judged and in each case Jesus called for a separation.

It is impossible for a believer to see the world through the eyes of the Bible without making some judgment. We would never be able to follow Christ without seeing that which is opposed to Christ. But how do we reach those people for Christ who recognize we have judged their life and habits as sinful?

First, by clearly differentiating between there life and habits and their being.
We must truly love people.

Second by being honest.
We do judge particular habits and activities as well as certain opinions and worldviews.

Third by being certain that the basis of our judgment is the Word of God and not a mere opinion.
Our opinion, even if held by the majority of our same faith, is merely opinion unless it is the teaching of the Bible.

Fourth, by pointing out that God's ways are always higher and better than our own.
We must constantly point people to a way and a thought that is much higher than their ways and thoughts and even our ways and thoughts. If we are following God's ways and thinking God's thoughts, then it is not our opinion and we must help them see that.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rejoice

Matthew 5:12 KJV
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad….

• No matter what the circumstances
• No matter the suffering
• No matter the world issues

The Christian attitude is a rejoicing spirit.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Only Thing Satan Cares For

Matthew 4:9 KJV
And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Satan had but one concern with Christ; he wanted His worship.

He would have given Him all he had in this world
He would have abandoned His claim to
• Kingdoms
• Riches
• Authority
• Power
• Honor
• Masses of people

Satan's only concern was that he be worshiped.

He sought Christ's worship and having failed to receive it, we can be assured he seeks that worship of us. We can also be assured he will spare no expense and give us anything and everything we desire in order to receive it.

My suggestion is that it is the first thing we must deny him.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Old Fashioned Pastoring

Matthew 3:3 KJV
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

I read the other day another writer calling for some "old fashioned" pastors. The author did not give much of a definition of what that would be except to say we needed them and it might mean something different to different people. Being "old fashioned" is not necessarily positive.
• Some "old fashioned" pastors were holy rollers
• Some were little better than purveyors of snake oil
• Some "old fashioned" pastors led their people to persecute those who disagreed with them
Old fashioned is not a virtue. Back to the Bible is.

And we can't get back to being an old fashioned Bible preacher any more than being a John the Baptist preacher. Some, even in the Baptist schools, have swallowed the Protestant view that John the Baptist is in spiritual limbo; neither a full fledged Old Testament prophet nor a legitimate New Testament preacher. I disagree. Mark chapter one says, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.... John did baptize… and preach." The New Testament gospel begins with the preacher John. Therefore John becomes the example of old fashioned preaching.

And all four gospels quote this Old Testament prophecy as applicable to the preaching of John the Baptist. The "old fashioned" preacher I am looking for calls for people to prepare and make straight the way of the Lord. The work the Lord does in a life is His own. No man can make himself fit for Christ. But a man can prepare himself for the work Christ does.
• Through the cultivation of the Holy Spirit
• Through the preaching of the Word of God
• Through the humility of the heart
a man may prepare for the Lord's work in his soul.

There is too much haughtiness among men. There are too few preachers who will confront the worldliness and self love of people today. There are too few preachers who will make hell hot and right at our toes. Too much preaching caters to the self love among people. It appeals to and feeds the human nature. Granted, it might gather a group, but they become no true congregation; they are all about self.

I am all for some old fashioned preaching and pastoring but I believe we need to define that and I believe it is best defined by the example of John the Baptist.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Wonder What He Said

Matthew 2:16 KJV
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

The evidence of the text indicates that the wise men did not come to the stable the night of Christ's birth but much later. By the time they got there
• Jesus was a child, not a babe
• Jesus was in a house
• Herod had inquired of the wise men what time the star appeared to them and, when they did not return to tell him where Jesus was, he killed all the children of Bethlehem two years old and under, according to the time the wise men said they had seen the star.

So Jesus was likely two years old. And since a child begins to speak at about one year old, Jesus could very likely speak by the time the wise men arrived.

One of the men of the church I pastor remarked to me just last Sunday, "I wonder what Jesus said to them?"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Greatest Sin a Preacher Can Commit

Leviticus 4:35 KJV
And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.

The priest of the Old Testament was as prone to sin as any man in the congregation and therefore provision was made for a sacrifice for his sins.

How much different it is from our Lord who, though a priest, became our sacrifice rather than having to have His own sacrifice. And what a shame it is when men become so wrapped up in a religion that they only see the minister, who is always a sinner, rather than the Lord, who is the forgiver of sin.
• Sometimes it is the congregation who elevates the preacher much too highly.
• Sometimes, too often, it is the preacher who sees himself as the intermediary between Christ and man.

The responsibility over the flock is not the same as ownership of the flock. Stewardship is not the same as mastery. God's people must be free to see Christ. The preacher's task is to bring his charge; the congregation of the Lord, to green pastures and then get out of the way so the congregation may be fed of Christ.

Perhaps the greatest sin a preacher can commit is to place himself between the Lord and His sheep.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Water

Revelation 22:1 KJV
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

The Bible both begins and ends with some description of a river or rivers.
• Rivers flowed through and framed the garden
• A river divided the Promised Land from the people of God and was parted for Joshua
• Naaman was told to dip seven times in the Jordan River.
• Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan
• Jesus offered the woman at the well and river of life and
• Revelation 22 says there is a pure river flowing from God's throne.

Water is, as much as any part of our being, the foundation of life.
• Our bodies are made mostly of water
• Water is still a major form of transportation
• Battle are still fought on the water and
• Water still has the power to destroy cities, has done so several times in the last few years.

God has sovereign control over this life giving commodity both now and it eternity.

And it leads me to trust in and look toward Him alone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reflectors

Revelation 21:18 KJV
And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

Not too many months ago my wife and I took the tour of the Seattle underground. To be honest I wasn't that impressed. It is dirty, musty and the guides felt a need to behave just a little bit seedy because that, they say, is the historical persona of Seattle. But history is always interesting and there were some interesting lessons learned

At one point in the tour we were under the sidewalks of the city and the guide points out these pieces of colored glass with built in reflectors. There was a time when what happened under those sidewalks was as active as what happened on the sidewalks. Having no electricity, the colored glass pieces embedded in the sidewalk, and coupled with the reflectors provided the lighting for the underground life.

It was only recently that I was made aware that nearly all of the materials used in the New Jerusalem reflect light. The gems, the gold, the pearls and the glass are all enhanced as they react to light. The Lamb of God is the light of the city, and that will be unbelievably glorious but as the city itself reflects His light, how glorious this place must be.

How I long to be there.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Moses Did Look

Exodus 39:43 KJV
And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.

When they had finished the work Moses looked at it.

First, Moses had to know the Word of God.
His duty was not to build the pieces to be used in worship; others were gifted of God to do that work. His duty was to know what God had said.

Second Moses had to inspect the work of men.
I notice that even though he didn't know how to do the work and even though others were gifted of God he still authoritative inspected their work.

Finally Moses judged the product according to the pattern of God.
His task was not to please the workers but to ensure that the work was pleasing and in compliance to God's Word

So is the duty of the preacher today. His is not to do all of the work or even to know how to do all of the work. His job is to thoroughly know the Word of God. And then his duty is to keep an eye on the work of the church he is to oversee. The assignment is not to make everyone enjoy their work or even to let them feel they are in charge of the piece of the work they are gifted in. His assignment is to carefully look at the work and see that it is in allegiance to the Holy Word of God.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Amen; Alleluia

Revelation 19:4 KJV
And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.

The celebratory nature of this chapter cannot be overlooked, but what is often overlooked is the reason for the celebration. Of course there is the word about the marriage of the Lamb and that His bride having made herself ready. But we must not ignore that the celebration is also because God had judged "the great whore" and that Jesus would return to "judge and make war."

• Who but God knows (and I know He knows) how many souls are judged as a part of that massive religious institution that has, throughout these several thousands of years, persecuted those who have worshipped God in spirit and in truth?
• Who but God knows (and I know He knows) how many souls are to perish as Christ makes war on that political system that torments the believers in the Great Tribulation and refuses to bow to the Kingship of Jesus Christ?

Souls die and will perish forever in the lake of fire and brimstone and yet heaven is shouting "Amen; Alleluia!"

The matter is about the glory of God. And when He is glorified, whether through some miracle of His grace or some demonstration of His holiness, the saints of God rejoice.

The Word of God is plain on this subject;
• No one loves the souls of those who perish in hell more than God
• No one grieves their loss more than does God
But heaven rejects the notion that the loss of those who reject God is reason to refuse God His due worship. That those who reject Christ are judged is reason in itself to celebrate; not in their judgment but in God's righteousness in judging.

I am convinced that even those in hell bow down and glorify God as they see God is glorified in their judgment.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's About the Heart

Exodus 35:35 KJV
Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.

Over the years in the ministry I have met many skilled people. Some those skills cover the gamut:
• Carpentry
• Decoration and design
• Teaching
• Maintenance
• Art
• Computer skills and
• Etc.

But there is a difference between having a skill a person may use for income or recreation and having a gift a person may use for the Lord. That difference is heart. Exodus thirty five is all about the work of the Lord and it is all about those skills necessary to accomplish that work. But throughout the chapter it is more so all about the heart. Bezaleel, Aholiab and the women who sewed were given more than a skill; they were given the heart to use that skill for the Lord.

And God make their tribe increase.

We need more today whose heart is to see their skills used in the work of the Lord.

Some will do what needs to be done,
• If they are asked and
• If they have time and
• If they see no way around it

Some will
• See what needs to be done
• Make the time to do it and
• Can't be talked out of it
Because it is in their heart.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

They Put Off Their Ornaments

Exodus 33:4 KJV
And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.

• Having heard that God would not go with them
• Having learned that they would be on their own
• Having heard such evil tidings
the people put off their ornaments, yea God commanded them to do so.

There are times in life that being dressed up and decked out is absolutely inappropriate. There are times when the circumstances dictate not only humility of heart but of appearance and demeanor. Learning that we have lost the presence of the Lord would be chief among them.

We live in such a smug time: people have no fear of God; denying the existence of God or what might be worse, denying that, if He does exist, He has any right to authority in their lives. Satan surely looks like he has gained the upper hand. These are days when believers ought to put off our ornaments and pray.

But I have read the end of the book. I know that all of this is in the plan of God and that Satan ends up loser. I will put off my ornaments for now, but I am keeping hold of them because I expect a great day of celebration when Jesus comes again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

From the Mountain Top to the Ground Below

Exodus 31:18 KJV
And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Exodus 32:1 KJV
And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

What an amazing contrast between the last verse of chapter thirty and the first of chapter thirty one. We travel
• From the top of the Mountain to the ground below
• From one man meeting with God to the crowd of men blaspheming Him
• From Moses receiving the Ten Commandments to Israel breaking them

And how often is that same chasm of contrast an illustration of our own spiritual experience! We who are the children of God so often betray the basest elements of humanity.

May God grant us to live more consistently what it is God has done in our souls.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Phony Smell

Exodus 30:37 KJV
And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD.

After God had given instruction concerning the perfume to be used in the tabernacle He then warned that no one was to create a similar perfume for other uses. God said that the one who did should be cut off.

The worship of the Lord is a sacred and holy thing. It is not to be toyed with and recreated and made to fit the way we feel. It is not to be copied and imitated.

And those who choose to make for themselves their own place and style of worship, even if it looks and "smells" like the real thing, are to be cut off; we have no fellowship with them.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

See and Hear

Revelation 14:6 KJV
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,

This chapter is about sights and sounds. Christians are to be an aware people. We are to see and hear the things God is doing in the earth.

In the midst of the chapter are three angels, messengers, which seem to be separated from the rest.

• The first bears the message of the Gospel.
• The second bears the message of victory Babylon pictures worldliness.
• The third bears the message of separation.

Christians look and act differently than others. When a Christian has heard and responded to these three messages he can then see that God's plan for mankind is wrapping up. He is spared from the sickle of God's wrath and is gathered to God in the sickle of His harvest.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Standing On The Sand

Revelation 13:1 KJV
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

All of the writers are quick to note that the sea is representative of the troubled masses of people. It seems to be used that way throughout the Bible. During the Tribulation that sea will be most troubled. And so the beast that rises out of it should be viewed as a man who, though in the midst of the mass of humanity, rises to be seen by all in the masses.

I don't have any trouble with that. Very frequently and most recently, a particular man whose name was nearly obscure and was certainly unknown to me, rose out of the sea of American politics to become President Barak Obama. That he won the election was astonishing to me because he came out of nowhere to become the leader of the free world.

Back to the text.
While the sea is troubled and the beast rises from it, John said he stood on the sand of the sea observing. His was of course a vision but it represents a safe place in the troubles of this world. The Christian is unique in this world in that, though we are still in the world we are not of the world. Though we may be in some manner impacted by the world, as the sea impacts the sand, we are not of the sea any longer. We are observers of the sea. We stand in a safe place in Jesus Christ and watch the events of the world unfold.

And we pray

And we work to rescue some from the sea onto this safe place.

Sand is unstable in its own right, though not as much as the season. But we who stand on the sand the sea are assured that underneath there is a Rock. And on this Rock we shall never be moved.

Friday, December 09, 2011

War In Heaven?

Revelation 12:7 KJV
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

Things are never as simple as we tend to try to make them. Here stands what is in our minds a huge contradiction - war in heaven. Neither can we reason this away as something other than heaven as the throne of God. Michael does not as some have suggested, represent the church and the dragon and his angels represent ancient Roman oppression and persecution. The war is in heaven and between Satan and his angels versus the angels of God in heaven. Conflict invades that place of perfect peace.

This is not to say that God is not sovereign and could not have prevented it. Surely He could have prevented the conflict as easily as He prevailed in the conflict. This is a demonstration of the lengths God will go to develop man into that creature who worships him in spirit and in truth. Nothing is so "sacred" to God that He will protect it against saving His people; He gave His Son for our salvation, His throne would then be a small thing to give so that His saints be protected from Satan's spoiling work. God allowed for Satan. God allowed Satan to violate the sanctity of His throne so that His eternal plan for mankind could be carried out.

Not to worry though. In the eternal state where there is no more sun, moon, sea, death, neither will there be war.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

No Mention

Exodus 23:13 KJV
And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

God commanded the Israelites not to be circumspect concerning his commandments and to not even mention the names of the gods of the pagan.

Concerning circumspect
The idea is meticulous attention to the details. It is outright obedience. The Jews were never to be casual concerning obedience but specific and formal.

Concerning the other gods
Gill suggests that they were to regard the gods of the land with detestation and abhorrence. It was greater than merely ignoring them; the concept of idolatry was to be despised.

We live in a different era and the details of the Law have been nailed to the cross with Christ. Still there is a message here for the Christian faith is taken much too casually these days. Too little attention is paid to the finer details of the faith. We spend too little time carefully considering our faith and Christ's place in our lives.

As to the idols, American Christianity now embraces just about anything that is religious. We no longer believe it is appropriate to detest false gods, so much so that we welcome false doctrine and practice into our midst with zeal. I am not suggesting we attack or abuse or in any way express hatred for people who are involved in idolatry and false doctrine, but I do suggest we man up enough to fight the false doctrine and at least express our disgust for it by having nothing to do with it. Isn't that the message of 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 KJV?
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Again

Revelation 10:11 KJV
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

The Apostle John's days upon this earth were drawing to a close. He would not be physically present to preach the Word too many more days. This then gives rise to the view that this next prophecy of John would be of a different sort. And since the chapter speaks of the little book which John ate, it is not difficult to deduce this next prophecy would be through his written revelation.

A preacher may preach the Word of God and have an impact. But he may extend his ministry to many others and into generations to come through the written word. In this day, with the World Wide Web and the availability of the Internet nearly globally, a huge, even missionary impact is possible through a different soft of "prophecy"; the written word. Preachers of years past used their written word to evangelize and instruct. For a time it seemed that few preachers saw the need to record what the Lord had taught them and thus preach again to a different congregation. I personally lament the shortage of writing of Baptist pastors of the last century or two. Today, a new venue has given rise to a resurgence of writing which, should the Lord not return in our generation, means we have preached again to the generation that follows.

We must step forward and use it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

We ARE That Treasure

Exodus 19:5 KJV
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Though this verse speaks of Israel and gives them the condition of obedience, the same truth is applied to the Christian on condition of faith in Christ.

A man might have in his possession any number of valuable assets. They could be tools, they could be mementos or they could be keepsakes. But among all of his possessions there might be one valuable that, for whatever reason he has, is his most cherished treasure.

God owns all that is by virtue of creation. Though some may deny His possession and resist it, still it is His. Even Satan is the possession of the Lord and will be done with as it pleases God. But then God has a peculiar treasure among His treasures; in the Old Testament God laid upon Israel a condition; "If ye will obey". The New Testament does away with the condition and declares as a fact that the believer is a peculiar treasure to the Lord.
• We are that treasure because we are in Christ
• We are that treasure because of our love for the One God loves
But we ARE that treasure.

God so loved the world but even more so loves the saved.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Then We Trust The Lord

Exodus 17:8 KJV
Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.

So much happened to Israel so soon. Long before they reached Mt Sinai they faced the attack of Amalek. They had no instruction in an army yet. There were
• No generals
• No captains
• No soldiers; volunteer or otherwise
They weren't even altogether behind Moses as their leader. There were just people in need of protection.

The devil is out to attack those who follow the Lord and his plan is to get them as soon as he can before they get established and strengthened in the faith. Moses and Israel faced
• Internal strife (about the water) then
• External strife (with Amalek) and then
• A more subtle destruction
as Moses' father in law recommended that Moses couldn't lead God's people alone.

Ours is to trust the Lord through all of Satan's devices.
• When people chide us for lack, trust the Lord
• When enemies attack God's work, trust the Lord
• When someone proposes a better way than God's direction, then we trust the Lord.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Tree God Showed Him

Exodus 15:25 KJV
And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

In our day salesmen and others search for those magic plants God gave Israel in the wilderness; the manna - just about anything has been called the manna. Salesmen know claims of that nature will sell a product; naturalists would love to benefit from its qualities. The tree here has been claimed as everything from sweet berry known to be in the region to a bitter bush of which is known the same. The key, I think, is that the Lord showed him. This is not natural. This is not something that the natives had common access to or we may be assured that they would have taken advantage of its quality to this very day.

That bitter waters could be made sweet through the addition of a tree, and that it would sweeten so much water as to meet the needs of this multitude and their flocks, can only be supernatural.

The Lord showed him a tree.
It becomes reminiscent of the tree upon which our Saviour hung.

There was no tree before or after like it
Though there have been many trees, and many who died upon them, none were like that tree.

That one act could save so many
Six hundred thousand men besides wives and children were all satisfied with one tree. So the souls of all men have been redeemed (though not all souls have taken delivery of salvation) through that one great act, as Christ suffered for the sins of all men.

Bitterness turned sweet through the tree.
Truly this world can seem a bitter place without Jesus Christ. The bitterness of opportunities disappointed
• The bitterness of oppression and battle
• The bitterness of consequences for sin
• The bitterness of eventual death
Are all sweetened in the promise of sins forgiven, heaven awaiting, rewards for serving and oppression avenged

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Day and Night

Revelation 7:15 KJV
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

I read this passage in my daily visit with the Lord today and the first thing that came to my mind is that we Christians have an enormous blessing awaiting us in the future. That the One who sit on the throne shall dwell among us is grace beyond.
• That we, who were created by Him should serve Him day and night is a blessing beyond fathom.
• That He, who has created us, should condescend to dwell among us; that is glorious grace.

But as I pondered further, and meditated, I remembered another passage,
Revelation 14:11 KJV
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

While the believer serve and dwells with God and night, those who never professed Christ will be in torments those same days and nights.

People put too little thought into eternal things. The average Christian today tends to think of Christianity to answer questions about family, friends and work relationships. The largest congregation in the country has a pastor who openly professes to not have either much knowledge or interest in eternal things. But the real purpose of Christian faith has to do with heaven and hell; an eternity in the presence of God, or an eternity suffering without rest.

I would suggest that the way to turn this around would be to get Christians to talk more about eternal things. I would further suggest that the way to get Christians to talk more about eternal things is to get them to think more about eternal things.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Under Orders

Exodus 13:8 KJV
And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.

While Israel left Egypt a free people, they also left a "harnessed" people.

The word can mean that they left armed for war
Which is very unlikely especially since the preceding verse clearly says God took them toward the Red Sea because they were not prepared for war.

The word can also mean by fives
This definition gets us more closely to the concept The Lord has for us. It implies orderliness. Israel did not leave in a panic, fleeing, but under leadership and with guidance in an orderly fashion. One old writer estimated that if they went in literal racks. Of five - five abreast - the column would have been at least sixty miles long. What a sight!

The word most certainly has to do with the fact that they left under orders
God led them the long way. They were led. Though they were free from Egypt they were not free to go heater skelter. God had a direction for them. God had a plan for them. And God intended them to go in company.

Too much of today's Christianity looks more like a fleeing mob than an organized company. Christians, even so called churches, do as they please. They find the shortest routes to their own destinations. We have professing Christians who see no purpose in organized religion, and it is no wonder since we have professing churches who see no purpose in following God's Word. What a sight it would be should all those who profess the name of Christ accept His harness, His yoke; if we all headed the same direction under orders of God.

Though I will try, I might not convince the multitudes of wild eyed professors to come under orders, but this one thing I can do: I can take His "harness" myself.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Lamb a House

Exodus 12:3 KJV
Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:

Over the years I have wondered about the various passages where a lamb or a kid is eaten by a family. I know enough about slaughter and butchering animals to know that preparing an animal from the field can be done quickly. (My wife and I have cut and wrapped a deer on our own kitchen table.)

Until this year.

July of this year the nanny goat I purchased to give milk had kids. My intention has been that the males be butchered so we could get value from the goats in that way as well as milk. Reading up on the process of butchering these goats, I learned that it is common to butcher them as early as newborn and to prepare and cook them similar to a rabbit. It is recommended that that goat be butchered before one year. My plan is to butcher at seven months. The point is this; the animal a family picked might be younger or older depending upon need; the younger the animal the smaller portion of meat, thus, for a smaller family. Also the younger the animal the more quickly it could be prepared. For me personally the problem with butchering the kids is that the younger the age the more difficult it is emotionally to kill it. One of my sons has helped skin and clean several deer taken this hunting season. He said he thought he could do it right now because he is in the "hunting mode." But otherwise not many have wanted to take part in shooting, bleeding and then butchering these animals.

And all of that brings me to Christ who was crucified at the very young age of thirty three. He was tender and innocent and completely undeserving of his death. Pilate certainly did not want to do it. The mobs had to be worked into a frenzy in order for them to demand His death.

What grace is ours that Christ, who knew no sin, should be made sin for us.