Monday, February 28, 2011

THE GRINCH SPIRIT...CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?

Why do we celebrate our differences in America?  We have St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, and the entire month of February dedicated to the remembrance of contributions made by the African-American/black race.

What if I am not Irish?  Even if I participate for fun because I'm not Irish, I am alienated to some degree because of the difference.  What if I'm not Mexican?  Going to a Mexican restaurant  is about the extent of my involvement.  So, I feel a little dis-jointed again.  What if I'm not black?  I don't know of another race that has a whole month dedicated to their accomplishments.  This makes me somewhat uncomfortable.  Are not these all a source of division in our country?

Some would say the same toward all the religious holidays, Christian and non-Christian, that we celebrate.  Some people desire to take the opportunity of The Celebration of Differences to force those "differences" upon others instead of presenting them for anyone's consideration.  Business conventions are like this.  Ethnicities have been like this.  Unfortunately, religions have been like this too.

Why can't we celebrate our commonalities?  For starters we could begin with our humanity (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc..).  From there we can open a dialogue and communicate with each other discovering more common ground like interests and relationships we may hold.  Common denominators are strong factors in any equation.  A sure foundation.  A basis from which to go further and develop a bond, possibly a lasting one.

With differences, the choice is what we do with them.  Do we horde them over our fellow man?  Do we celebrate them with or without those that agree?  The great thing about America is that we have that freedom.  We have have both differences - the kind that compliment us and the kind which divide us.  If we want to be a nation, people, community, or individual that seeks unity we must learn to recognize our differences and stop accentuating the ones which cause division.  Notice I did not say, "We must accept our differences".  It is a matter of two steps at this point:  1) recognition and 2) stopping the behavior/actions of division.  It is not a matter of "it being o.k. for you to be different" - all of us, on this planet, are different - that is a given.  Just as no two snowflakes are alike so goes each person within humanity.  It is a matter of harmony, taking different parts and blending them together so that ALL benefit. 

In music, you do not want one part to stand out too much.  If any part does dominate, you would want the lead to showcase.  However, a good musical group sings so that at any given time the listener can recognize the different parts being sung and respect them.  Now, within the singing group, the people singing their respective parts can recognize the other parts being sung in order to stop singing too loudly over another part or the wrong note or incorrect dynamic.  The societal application should be to harmonize our differences so that no one ethnic group or any categorical entity "sings loudly over the other part" or dominates in it's role over another "team member".

"Christianity thinks of human individuals not as mere members of a group or items in a list, but as organs in a body - different from one another and each contributing what no other could.  When you find yourself wanting to turn your children, or pupils, or even your neighbors, into people exactly like yourself, remember that God probably never meant them to be that.  You and they are different organs, intended to do different things.  On the other hand, when you are tempted not to bother about someone else's troubles because they are 'no business of yours,' remember that though he is different from you he is part of the same organism as you.  If you forget that he belongs to the same organism as yourself you will become an Individualist.  If you forget that he is a different organ from you, if you want to suppress differences and make people all alike, you will become a Totalitarian.  But a Christian must not be either a Totalitarian or an Individualist." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

So, why do we celebrate our differences in America?  Because we can.  We have the freedom to do so and when we do it properly we can see the benefits we might pull from any given source.  At the same time we can observe and highlight our commonalities so that our relationships are strengthened.  If we can do all this in some consistently, positive fashion then we will be on our way to some semblance of harmony.

The likelihood of perfect harmony all the time, this side of heaven or the Millennium, is never.  This does not mean we should not aggressively pursue this goal while here on earth.  What the world needs now is a leader who will take us to this place of harmony.  The earth, the people, and the systems of them are in turmoil and all are crying out for harmony.  Biblical prophecies fortell of "a wolf in sheep's clothing" who will deceive the world into thinking he is the man with the answers to all the world's problems. Then, after a certain amount of time and certain agenda points achieved, he will seemingly turn his back on the world's leaders and take over the world as it's sole ruler (because he never had anybody in mind but himself). 

However, there will come a time, called the Millennium, when a perfectly righteous ruler will sit on the world's throne - His name is Jesus.  Talk about utilizing our differences!  We will all have a common goal - to glorify The Lord and I believe we will not fall short of ways we will be able to display His worth.

As I have stated in the title to this blog, The Grinch Spirit (understatement) is at work in the world now.  We are challenged to just get along as it is today.  All we need is Love (sounds like a song).  Jesus is also known by this name - love.  With Him as our Leader all differences will harmonize as they should and I can't wait - MARANATHA!

Monday, February 21, 2011

MIND ON THINGS ABOVE

Heaven, is it a good idea, an actual place, or spiritualization of many peoples hopes and beliefs?

Heaven, the heavens, and the heavenlies are all words describing the physical realm.  The first heaven being earth's atmosphere.  The second pair of heaven words being used to depict the celestial universe.  However, there is a "third heaven" that is spoken of by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2.

"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.  Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know - God knows."

The "third heaven" is considered the dwelling place of God and His Glory.  Even though God is omnipresent, everywhere, He seems to have a highest heaven reserved for His immediate presence/glory (1 Ki. 8:27).  Many have made the mistake of worshiping the created place or space instead of the Creator Himself and Romans 1:25 warns us to this point.

"They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen."

Even with His immediate presence manifested in this highest heaven, all other heavens should not be worshipped but Christ alone whom God the Father seated above the heavens (Hebrews 7:26; Philippians 2:9-11).

Not only is heaven a space which is beheld, flown in, and unfortunately polluted - there is also a heaven that is an actual place to which many desire to spend eternity.  "Those claiming a heavenly inheritance are required to bring the earthly and the heavenly into alignment.  Jesus linked entrance into the kingdom of heaven to repentance (Matt. 4:17), humility (5:3; 18:1-4), witness (5:10,16;10:32; 16:19), obedience (5:19), righteousness (5:20), compassion (18:10, 14; 23:13) and stewardship (19:23).  Proactively, believers store up treasures (6:20) by being prudent managers of the little and perishable on earth in order to insure the abundant and enduring in heaven (Luke 16:1-13)."  (Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

Heaven has a kingdom?  The phrase Kingdom of Heaven is only found in Matthew and is usually equated with the phrase Kingdom of God because of the reservation of the Jews to speak the name of God.  This Kingdom of Heaven is not only considered a place, but a lifestyle, shared by fellow believers in Christ, lived out on earth until the destination can be reached and the lifestyle perfected.  "Paul stresses the believer's solidarity with Christ.  Since a believer is 'in Christ' and since Christ is in heaven, the believer is 'in the heavenlies'.  Accordingly, God has blessed the believer 'in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ' (Eph. 1:3).  God does not merely apply the ministry of Christ to believers.  He sees believers with Christ wherever he is - and he is now in heaven.  Believers are commanded to adopt an earthly lifestyle of dying to sin and living to righteousness (Rom 6:4), and to set their minds on the heavenly reality that will soon be revealed in Christ (Col. 4:1-4).  In other words, believers should live consistently with who, and where, they really are." (Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

Wow!  Believers are seated with Christ right now in heavenly places and are blessed with every spiritual blessing!  Why would God desire to bless us so?  Said another way - why would God want to equip us so?
Because the heavens also contain spiritual powers.  Paul speaks to this when he names some of them - "rulers", authorities", and "spiritual forces" (Ephesians 3:10; 6:12).  "...believers are called upon to practice an eschatological lifestyle, equipped with heavenly weaponry wielded by those who are 'strong in the LORD' (Eph. 6:10).  The battles of life are won on earth with heavenly weapons, not earthly ones."  (B.E.D.B.T.)  We should be heavenly minded so we can be and do earthly good!

As believers in Christ are living this heavenly lifestyle out here on earth - being sensitive to how God desires to use us and our heavenly/spiritual abilities, the unseen heaven becomes more intriguing and closer to directly experience than ever before. 

To me there seems to be four stages of heavenly existence:  (1) the Intermediate stage, (2) Marriage of the Lamb stage, (3) Millennial Reign of Christ Stage, and (4) the New Stage.

If you are in heaven in the Intermediate stage then you have died a "natural death" here on earth.  As a believer in Christ you are with the LORD in Paradise, according to Luke 23:43.  "None of this tells us what the interim body is like, but it does tell us that a conscious existence, morally continuous with this life awaits us - Paradise..." (B.E.D.B.T.)  Paradise is a Persian word meaning "an area enclosed by a wall" or "a garden".  We see examples of this usage in Neh. 2:8, Eccl. 2:5, and Sol. 4:13.  The Greek version, Paradeisos, is translated as "the garden of God" and is exemplified in Isa. 51:3 and Eze. 28:13.  "In Luke 23:43 Jesus promises the penitent thief: 'Today you will be with me in paradise.'  The intermediate state was transformed by Jesus' emphasis on being with him 'today'.  No longer is paradise just an anticipatory condition awaiting the messianic presence at the end of the age.  Those who die in faith will 'be with Christ' (Php. 1:23).  The dead in Christ will not experience life diminished, but life enhanced, as Jesus' words to Martha in John 11:23-26 imply." (B.E.D.B.T.)  What once was Paradise lost is now Paradise gained/restored - all because of Jesus.

Next the Marriage of the Lamb occurs, but first the groom has to go get the bride - the church - and that is what many in Christendom call The Rapture.  It is at this event that Jesus raises the dead in Christ, joining their souls that have been in Paradise with their new resurrected bodies, then those who are alive and remain are caught up with them to meet the LORD in the air and go back to His house to be wed.  Before the wedding though the bride must be arrayed perfectly and that is what the Bema Seat or Judgment Seat of Christ is all about - judgment of all believers works as Christians while on planet earth.  After this purification/beautification the wedding is on and seven years are spent here.

After seven years the Millennial Reign of Christ is begun by the Second Coming of Christ and ended by the Great White Throne Judgment, of course a thousand years later.  This time of existence consists of those who made it through the Tribulation Period on the earth, the church who come back with Christ, and the Tribulation Saints and Old Testament Saints which Christ will raise at the beginning of the Millennial Reign.
"There, according to Ezekiel, will be built the millennial temple.  The Lord Himself will be there and during that time, David, apparently will be raised from the dead to be the King of Israel again.  Offerings will be established and offered again in this temple for sin.  This is a picture of conditions on earth during the millennium when Christ shall rule, according to the Scriptures, with a rod of iron.  'He shall rule the nations with a rod of iron'.  Second Psalm says that righteousness shall be the dominant theme of earth.  Sin and crime will still be present but subdued and not visible, quickly judged.  Death will occur, but it is limited and life will be greatly prolonged.  Apparently there will exist together a strange combination of living persons of flesh of blood who, like ourselves, will have been born through the natural process of birth, human beings, mingled with them will be redeemed resurrected creatures from the saints of the church, plus the Lord Himself, and as I have already suggested, Old Testament saints, including David and others."  (The New Earth, Ray C. Stedman, 1983)
"Nevertheless, there will be children born in that period who will still inherit Adam's fallen nature.  They will not be able to express it very much.  As they grow there will be evil desires that will be immediately prevented from being expressed.  It is exactly the reverse of what we find today.  Here we find righteousness put down, oppressed, opposed and evil allowed to reign triumphant in many ways.  Then it will be evil that is oppressed and put down and has to live sub rosa, underground as it were.  Righteousness will be allowed public and full expression." (The New Earth, Ray C. Stedman, 1983)
Other characteristics of the Millennium to distinguish it from other periods are - (1) the animal kingdom is changed - diet and temperament (Isa. 11), (2) the landscape of the earth will be changed, especially where concerning the Mount of the Lord (Isa. 2; Zech. 14:9), (3) we will have a perfectly run world government (Isa. 2:1; 4:2) (4) infant death eliminated (Isa. 65:18), (5) God's chosen - "enjoy the work of their hands"/"shall not bear children for calamity"/"will answer them before they call"/"will hear while they are yet speaking", (6)there will be an interesting, tasteful land (Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13),and (7) a Millennial Temple is present with some kind of offering system re-instated (Eze. 40-48).
I don't know what kind of celebrations we will have in heaven or during the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth, but I would like to think that one of them might be the celebration of the Day of the Rapture.  There are many significant Jewish days that might be celebrated during the Millennium, so maybe other days special to the rest of us will be observed.

The New Stage deals with, if I may borrow a line from Toy Story, "to infinity and beyond" [with Christ].  The New Heavens, New Earth, and New Jerusalem and more are all involved in this phase.  The New Heavens and New Earth are not the same as the Millennial Earth.  All the events that transpire with Jesus as the Ruler of all the governments of the world for a thousand years do not match up to the eventual descriptions of the New Heavens and New Earth with it's lack of sea and God-made city, New Jerusalem.  Even though major topographical changes will have occurred during the Tribulation Period due to all the judgments (Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls) and during the Millennium itself, especially in the beginning by the LORD Himself - these changes do not equate to the New Earth and New Heaven to come, which is suppose to be burnt up by fire along with the other elements (2 Peter 3:10-12) and after the Great White Throne Judgment.  "At the final consummation, God will make 'new heavens and a new earth' (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; Rev. 22:1).  It is 'new' in kind, not merely in time.  One may wonder why a new heaven is necessary.  One possibility is that the heavens (the plural is employed in Hag. 2:6; Heb. 12:6; see also Heb. 1:10; 2 Peter 3:7, 10, 12) have been affected by sin inasmuch as they are the place of the activity of evil angels and forces (Matt. 24:29; Eph. 6:12).  The 'new heavens and earth' follow the judgment of Satan (Rev. 20:7-10) and the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15), both of which take place in heaven and will never be repeated.  Also, the 'new Jerusalem' that John saw 'coming down out of heaven from God' (Rev. 21:2, 10) is a new characteristic of heaven, perfectly suited to extend God's glory (Rev. 21:11)."  Want a good look at the New City?  Now this is not a restored Jerusalem during the Millennium.  This is a splendid New Jerusalem that comes down and out from God in the New Heavens!  Then check out Revelation 21 and 22:1-6.

I do not know exactly what God has in store for me in the restored universe, but whatever it is I know God will bless my socks off and enable me too bless and glorify Him in return.  Could I rule a city?  Sure, with God's help I can and will do many great and marevelous things, for apart from Him I can do nothing.  He has been, is, and always will be -  the creator of my journey, sustainer of my life, and source of everything good and pure. 

I get tired when I think about dwelling in eternity. Today my bones and/or flesh feel the brunt of The Curse and the restrictions of time and space.  To think about my body, even though restored/renewed, going on forever does not give me a sense of rest and peace.  Yet I know God will take care of that when He resurrects our bodies.

MARANATHA!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

BACK IN THE DAY

In the beginning GOD called a lot of things "good".  GOD called "day and night"/"light" good (Gen. 1:4).  He called "land and sea" good (Gen. 1:10).  "Vegetation" was called good (Gen. 1:11-12).  GOD called the "sun, moon, and stars" good (Gen. 1:14-18).  He called  "water creatures and birds" good (Gen. 1:20-21).  "Land creatures" were called good (Gen. 1:24-25).  GOD called humans, fruit trees, seed-bearing plants, every green plant, and dominion/rulership over His creatures" good (Gen. 1:26-31).

Then there was "rest".  Not only was "rest" good but GOD blessed the seventh day and made it holy or separated apart from the other days. [There is a lesson unto itself here, so learn it quickly, I'm moving on.]

So, GOD has created and naturally all He has created is good.  However, there is an order to things, because my GOD is not the god of chaos.

Genesis 2:5-17 speaks to this order.  First on the earth - "no shrub and no plant" was found and man was not around.  Then GOD made man.  Next GOD made/planted a garden in the east.  East of what, I wonder?  That eastern locale was called Eden.  It is here that GOD placed Adam and the next event to occur was for trees to start popping up out of the ground everywhere in the garden of all varieties.  The river system of Eden and the surrounding area is mentioned next.  Then the commission to be the garden's steward is issued by GOD to Adam.  Following the commission were instructions about what can be eaten and what cannot be eaten within the garden.

In the next passage of Scripture, Genesis 2:22-25, notice a different creation - GOD makes woman, brings her to the man, and Adam calls her "woman".  They are married by God because she is considered his wife, Adam names her "Eve" (Gen. 3:20), and both are naked without any shame.  So, at this time there is a perfect husband-wife-GOD relationship (before the fall).  Who knows how long the time frame between Genesis 2:25 and Genesis 3:1-7 was but we know sin perverted what GOD intended for good.

Here's another wonderment - Did Adam and Eve have children before "the fall"?  Genesis 3:16 states, "I will greatly increase your pain in childbearing."  This was a result of Eve's disobedience.  If GOD "will greatly increase your pain" in having children then that means there must have been some degree of pain associated with other pregnancies before "the fall".  Right? 

In addition, here are some items that also got out of order when sin entered the picture.  "The woman will have a desire for her husband" is what Genesis 3:16 says, implying that the desire of woman was something different pre-fall.  The second part of that verse says, "and he [the husband] will rule over you", implying that it was not like that at one point.  In fact, as mentioned before, there was a time when a perfect, harmonious relationship existed between all.

Adam.......should have known better.  His consequences?  "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it...".  Remember, Adam was given the responsibility of tending the garden so everything under his care is now effected by his mistake.  This also implies that caring for the garden before hand was easy and a blessing.  And all this was a result of Adam listening to his wife (Gen. 3:17) or better put - not falling back on the Word(s) of the LORD.

The world, humanity and all of creation was not suppose to be like this.  Or was it?

Jesus, GOD's only Son, paid the price to redeem it all and restore it all to it's former glory and beyond with His own life, death, and resurrection.  No other "messiah" has come to us and gifted us so.  All other pretenders have attempted to attain redemption by working for it in this life.  But we all have fallen too far and too hard.  Plus those gods are in no comparison to the One True God, creator and sustainer of it all, my GOD - Jesus Christ, His Father and His Holy Spirit.  The full manifestation of this redeemed/restored state has not occured YET, but will be revealed at the LORD's second coming to rule the earth during the Millenium and forever more.

GOD deals in the incredible!  He had a plan from the beginning which included all that has happened, is happening, and will happen.  It is our inference on His plan - that something went wrong - that enters a flaw into His design.  Because we have been told what has happened and is going to happen, especially what we see as mistakes, we associate those mishaps in the scheme of things with either a God who doesn't exist or one who does exist but keeps changing His plan to adapt to our behavior.  Neither is correct!

My GOD considered it ALL before creating anything or speaking anything into existence - spiritual or physical (1 Peter 1:19-20; Hebrews 4:3).  He counted the cost and deemed the entire plan worthy of execution - exactly as it has been and will be played out.  That's how marvelous, that's how wonderful, that's how incredible my GOD is.

Imagine the future.  Imagine a redeemed, restored future from a past that we will possibly look back at and recall the price Jesus paid for us to spend eternity with Him.  For this is the basis of our relationship with Him as believers - through his death, burial, and resurrection.  I don't see us ever forgetting His sacrifice.

Imagine creation and all it's relationships, pre-fall, to GOD - they were perfect.  Imagine the "glory days" and how it must have been before sin, disobedience, or rebellion.  Imagine Back In The Day.

Now imagine a future better than "as it should have been", because my GOD, is BIGGER THAN THAT!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

MOUNTAINS IN SCRIPTURE

A Place Of:

Dwelling - Gen. 12:8
Worship - Gen. 12:8; John 4:20
Refuge - Gen. 14:10
Sacrifice - Gen. 31:54
Gifting - Gen. 48:22

Service - Ex. 3:12
Meeting - Ex. 4:27
Planting - Ex. 15:17
Encampment - Ex. 18:5
Calling - Ex. 19:3
Specialness - Ex. 19:12
God's Dwelling - Ex. 19:20
Instruction - Ex. 24:12
Planning - Ex. 26:30

Holiness - Eze. 43:12

Temptation - Matt. 4:8
Trouble - Matt. 17:20
Prayer - Matt. 14:23
Rest - Matt. 15:29
Revelation - Matt. 17:1

Solitude - John 6:15

A Place To:

Visit - Deut. 1:6; 2:3
Hear from God - Deut. 5:4
Get Cleansed - Deut. 9:21
Gain Perspective - Deut. 32:49
Die In The LORD - Deut. 32:50
Attack From - 2 Kings 6:17
Be (in the Millenium) - Isaiah
Inherit - Isaiah 57:13


Monday, February 7, 2011

IMHO - February 7th 2011 EDITION

The Tarheels since the Virginia game...

The very next game Carolina had to play yet another VA team, this time of the Tech variety.  They played it close but eeked it out in the end.

The following game, against Georgia Tech, UNC got behind and never could catch up.  Why always to this team I'll never know, but the Heels always have trouble in Atlanta.  This is a game they should have won but didn't - turnovers and lack of point making, it'll kill ya.

The previous loss lead into the matchup against an opponent which Carolina has never lost to AT HOME - Clemson.  The streak continued.  But why we had to spot them double digit points to begin with I'll never know.  The VT game was that way.  The GT game was that way.  The next game was that way.

So, UNC vs Miami was a game of hot and cold on the part of both teams.  The Heels were cold in the first half, Miami was hot.  The Tarheels finally got it together in the second half and Miami went cold, just enough for Carolina to pull of a 74-71 victory.  If you are going to have it any way I guess it is this way that you would want it, as a Tarheel fan, of course.

The games against NCSU, Boston College, and FSU were all wonderful games.  The game against the Wolfpack was the game that gave Carolina it's confidence and shooting skills back, so thanks Wolfie's.  The game against BC was one of the most well-rounded, well executed games I've seen at another ACC opponent's court in a while.  UNC dropped 106 points on this team - WOW! 

Then there was FSU, the supposed defensive team of the league.  They did have more blocked shots than the Tarheels, but not more baskets by the end of the game.  And look UNC had all that success in the FSU game without defensive player of the past two out of four games - Larry Drew.  I loved what Marshall did on the court for us in this game.  He took control and made himself General.  I also loved what he said about the Drew situation - "We just wanted to come out here with a swagger," Marshall said, "with an edge to us and basically show that we're still North Carolina, that one player doesn't make our program."  Something had to be done back at the GT game because of all the turnovers we were experiencing with Drew at the helm.  ESPN says it like this - "Marshall had taken over the starting job from Drew after an ugly 20-point loss at Georgia Tech, and the Tar Heels hadn't lost since."  The Drew Show was an ugly, tacky, unsportsmanlike display of lack of character.  This act was a planned, spiteful event, meant to hurt the team, because Drew wasn't getting his way (poor baby).  So, what does he do?  He's not even man enough to tell his teammates, nor coach, to their faces about his desires to transfer.  He gets daddy to do it.  Spineless puppet.  The father puppeteer act strikes again (i.e. Ware brothers).
See ya Drew.  Don't let the door hit yer but on the way out!  Never liked you anyway, as anybody who knows me - knew.  I don't care for Watts either.

Carolina still has to go to Tallahassee and that one has me worried, because you know they will be waiting and wanting - revenge.

Next on the schedule is the Big One - Duke @ Duke, 9 PM, Wednesday, Feb. 9th.

GO HEELS!

Friday, February 4, 2011

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Back when I was growing up and my mom or dad had to call me into the house or into their presence for something, I either got my nickname, first full-name, first full-name and middle name, or the whole thing from beginning to end.  It depended on the situation as to which one of these I heard and the tone in which I heard it spoken.  I did not want to hear my entire name followed by an exclamation point.  Things never went well for me after this and who wants to go into the wrathful presence of a parent or parents after a summon like that?  Still I had to go or it would be even worse the next time I appeared because the charge of "not coming when I called you the first time" would be levied upon me on top of whatever I did to warrant the original thunder call.  This was normal for me and my brother in my household.  It was normal for my parents when they were growing up.  I've heard it was normal behavior for other families as well.  However, there is one name, that takes many forms, that has no business being misused.

Do you consider God holy?  What does a holy God mean to you?  Do you include God's name or the many names He goes by as holy

Yes, I consider God Holy.
My definition of a Holy God is - a God who is so perfect in every way that He is unapproachable except for by the grace and love He has shown us through Christ Jesus the LORD.
Yes, I consider God's name and the many other titles He goes by as Holy.

Let us take a look at some key verses in Scripture that stress the Holiness of His Name.

“…ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.”  1 Chronicles 16:29

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”  Psalm 8:1

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”  Psalm 20:7

“Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name.”  Psalm 30:4

“The nations will fear the name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.”  Psalm 102:15
“Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.”  Psalm 103:1

“Praise the LORD. Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.”  Psalm 113:1

“Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore.”  Psalm 113:2

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.”  Psalm 113:3

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”  Psalm 115:1

“Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  Psalm 124:8

“My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name forever and ever.”  Psalm 145:21

“Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.”  Psalm 148:5

“Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”  Psalm 148:13

“Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; exalt the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea.”  Isaiah 24:15

“…your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”  Isaiah 26:8


Then there is Scripture that speaks to what we can find in His name - like salvation, safety and healing.
 "And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved"  Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”  Proverbs 18:10 

Then there are verses about what His name actually is.

“…the LORD Almighty is his name”  Isaiah 47:4; 48:2; 54:5; Jeremiah 10:16; 32:18; 51:19

“…the LORD God Almighty, the LORD is his name of renown!”  Hosea 12:5; Amos 4:13

But the real kicker is how we should treat His name.  The Hebrews profaned the Name of the LORD many times throughout their history and God called them out on it.

“But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name with your gifts and idols.”  Ezekiel 20:39

"Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.”  Ezekiel 36:22

As for us, we should take heed and revere His name.  Honor His presence in our lives by speaking His name in the awesome respect He deserves.

"You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." Exodus 20:7

" 'Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.”  Leviticus 19:12

“They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because they present the offerings made to the LORD…”  Leviticus 21:6

“…anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.”  Leviticus 24:16

"You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” Deuteronomy 5:11

"If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name--the LORD your God--  the LORD will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses.”  Deuteronomy  28:58-59

 
If this is not plain enough for you then I don't know what will help, but I will try.  I see believers give lip service to the original consideration a lot.  They declare His Holiness then disrespect Him and themselves as Christians by misusing His name.  If you are using phrases like "Good Lord!" or "God Almighty! or "Good God!" or any variation thereof or other combinations of words that would include a title or name of God at the end of your sentences, especially as Exclamations - STOP IT!  If you can't do it for the honor of the Word of God and your relationship with Christ then please don't say those kinds of things when you are around me.

As an ambassador for Christ I can no longer take the misuse of my Lord's name!  I am filled with zeal for His name!  I am hearing believers profane His name in the workplace and loosely exclaim it at the end of sentences at church functions.  If Christians are a new creature in Christ then how can they take the LORD thy God's name in vain?  And this does not mean soley crying out "Jesus Christ" as I've noted above.

What will it take for some to honor the LORD's name?  In the scenario below, the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor because true believers were associated with the power of the Holy Spirit that worked through them.  And I'm sure along with that was honor and respect of the name they were using to work in the power of - Jesus. 

“[One day] the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?"  Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.  When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.” Acts 19:15-17

There is great power and responsibility in the name of the Jesus.  And our actions and speech must reflect this at all times.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Colossians 3:17

Do you do all things - words/deeds - in the name of the LORD Jesus, being sure to give thanks to the Father through Him?

In the Narnia collection of stories by C.S. Lewis, just the mention of the name of ASLAN (the lion) ilicits a positive response physically (i.e. one's whole countenance is uplifted) from the other characters.  That is how I feel when the name of Jesus is mentioned or any other name that my Lord or God goes by in Holy Scripture.  The opposite can be said too.  Whenever someone, especially a supposed believer, straight out takes the Lord's Name in vain or misuses it in any other way (just being careless and flippent with His name like mentioned above), I feel violated, dirty, sad, and angry - all in one emotion.

It's high time we strive to be a Whole Christian and not just in part.  In thoughts, in actions, in words - let us always bring honor and praise to His Name.  What is in a name?  Everything is in His name and He deserves every bit of this discipline.

 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SLAVERY

Since The Fall of Humanity, mankind has had slavery.  Greed and Laziness are slavery's parents.  If these two spirits jump on a man or woman with power, influence, and/or money - look out, slavery is in the making.  Another human may be the object of the enslavement or a group of people may be the object of enslavement. Also, an idea or technology could be considered an enslavement.  "...for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." - 2 Peter 2:19  No matter what poison your slavery chooses to manifest itself, slavery is bad for everyone.  For the enslaver he/she is really part of the slavery "gig".  They are bound to the service that their slaves produce.  Also the enslaver has a ticking time-bomb waiting to "explode" or rebel via the slaves.

I know we have been slave to sin almost from the word "go".  "Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin." - John 8:34  "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," - Romans 3:23.  However, can we not treat our fellow man better than enslavement to our whims and desires?  It seems not.

It was a little perplexing, to half of me at least, to observe how after being enslaved themselves - the Hebrews had slaves (Jeremiah 34:9-11). 
"Everyone was to free his Hebrew slaves, both male and female; no one was to hold a fellow Jew in bondage.  So all the officials and people who entered into this covenant agreed that they would free their male and female slaves and no longer hold them in bondage. They agreed, and set them free.  But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again."

Sometimes in Scripture we actually got a reason for why there were slaves in Jewish history.
"All the people left from the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites (these peoples were not Israelites), that is, their descendants remaining in the land, whom the Israelites could not exterminate--these Solomon conscripted for his slave labor force, as it is to this day." 1 Kings 9:20-21

We even get prophecy in Scripture that there will continue to be slavery well into the future, especially in the Tribulation Period of the world's history.
"He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead," (Revelation13:16)

For the Hebrews, with all the miracles that God gave them in delivering them out of Egypt and then throughout their history as a nation from various enemies - how do they justify slaves?  Especially, after being slaves themselves.  Was it because the people doing the enslaving were not the same generation and therefore had a different mindset about things?  They still had the Law and stories about the LORD.

Fast-forward to today.  We are no better.  We are probably worse.  We have more to be enslaved by now-a-days.  Here is a perfect time to go introspective and take inventory of what we might be a slave to at this time in our lives and deal with it.  Because if Christ is not at the center of our lives, if we are not living and moving and breathing "in Him" then we need a change. 

I don't know when Galatians 3:26-28 will fully manifest itself but I really look forward to that time -
"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

To experience life in Christ as not a Jew, not a Greek, not a Gentile, not a slave, not a freeman, not a male, not a female - just a spirit with a perfected body in harmony with Christ Jesus and His fellow believers.  Perfect relationship.  I can't wait, bring it on!  The end of slavery!  Maranatha!