Friday, April 27, 2012

STEP UP TO THE PLATE...MEN!

I am studying on the topic of love and came across several references for husbands to love their wives.  Paul starts us off by writing to the believers at the church in Ephesus about this subject.  Paul says for husbands to love their wives in three different ways within eight verses - pretty important.  Let's observe those verses now.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" - Ephesians 5:25

"In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." - Ephesians 5:28

"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself," - Ephesians 5:33

Christ loved the church by being an awesome teacher, counselor and friend through the Disciples/Apostles - even unto death.  Many of the Disciples, if not all, met a more than unpleasant ending to their life (beheadings, crucifixions, etc...)  This is the kind of love/life that God expects the husband to know they are signing to in the beginning and continue displaying through the marriage.  Not that you are going to be literally crucified or beheaded, but you need to know without the shadow of a doubt that you would take the bullet for her, jump in front of the vehicle coming at her - whatever analogy works for you.  Up until that point husbands, all of us married men need to daily find another facet of love to express to our wife - that is what Jesus did for the church and continues to do.  (Ephesians 5:25)


Most men try to take care of their bodies.  At first the health care might be fun because men are enjoying a sport they are involved in.  Then they might get physically active because they desire to look physically attractive to a possible mate.  Finally, there might be health issues that need addressing so men exercise.  The point is most men take care of their bodies pretty well, so as a starting point at least put that much energy into your marriage. (Ephesians 5:28)

Those men who have self-respect can attest to a healthy dose of "loving himself".  If a man has his head screwed on straight or works under the power of common sense and if a man lives by the grace of God, observing his life as God views it, then he is on the way to loving his wife in the proper manner.  A proper view of himself will bleed over into the proper view and care of his wife and others. (Ephesians 5:33)

Paul must have seen the same issue in the church at Colosse.  Look what he wrote.


"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them."  - Colossians 3:19

Sounds strikingly similar to the previous verses I just mentioned.  I like the inclusion of the word "harsh".  This word in the Greek is pikraino and it means to turn sour, make bitter; embittered.  I have heard too many cases where the husband, knowing the "buttons" of the wife, pushed those "buttons".  I have heard the reverse too, just to be fair.  However, men - be the gentleman and you begin first and get this out of your mindset and personality.  The second "harsh" or bitter words raises it's ugly head - crush it.  Find a healthier way to communicate your thoughts.

Ah!  Peter gets into the act.  Here is what he has to say.

"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." - 1 Peter 3:7   

Read this verse in REVERSE.  "So that nothing will hinder your prayers, husbands be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life."

Wow!  Anytime I see the words "so that" -  my attention level goes up a couple of notches.  Plus, if you place that phrase at the beginning of the sentence you really have an eye catcher.  I sure don't want anything to hinder my prayers.  According to this statement, there evidently are things that can hinder our prayers.  We see evidence of this in Daniel 10:12-13 also.  So, I don't know 'bout you fellas but I am going to strive to be more considerate and respectful toward my wife.  I desire my prayers to be answered and peace in my home.  I strongly encourage you to do the same!

I think a lot of the problems within marriages could be dealt with or at least made a dent in if the man would just be a man and make the first step toward the woman.  I hear too often of couples playing the waiting game after being in a disagreement.  Men, just respectfully get it resolved and do it before going to bed.  That spirit of tension and separation is not something you want hanging over you for any length of time.  Plus, if she observes you making the first real move or effort to coming together on an issue, then there could be some added benefits to that as well (wink, wink).  Warning!  It must be sincere!  Women's "fake-o-meter" was built by God, so don't try to "get one over on the Mrs."!

Just Love Her.




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

READ THE REST OF THE VERSE!


If I hear one more preacher, teacher or brother/sister in Christ NOT read OUT LOUD, at the least, the rest of the sentence in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (which is verse 10), I think I'm going to scream! What I really yearn for is for ALL of us to Believe the second part more than we seem to Know the first part.

The verse says, "However, as it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him'--but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit."

God has chosen to uncover, make known, what was previously unknown or hidden to us by the power of His Holy Spirit - what the eye has not seen yet, nor the ear has not heard yet, nor the mind had any idea about yet!

Ah! But I hear so many pastors and teachers say, "But there is just no possible way we can know this side of heaven all the marvels that await us in paradise" - or heaven or glory or whatever you want to call eternal bliss with God. And just Why Not?! First, that is not what Scripture says according to the above verse. Second, you are limiting the power of the Holy Spirit within each believer to do this work - the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead! And thirdly, look at where this verse and idea sit. This verse and idea are located in the middle of a section speaking on Wisdom From The Spirit.

Wisdom From the Spirit
6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"-- 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. - 2 Corinthians 5:6-16

Allow me to magnify some key points in the other verses to support my passion and challenge!

We have received "the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." I believe this verse pertains Not only to understanding the free gift of salvation provided by Christ Jesus through His death and resurrection, BUT ALSO to the abundance of wisdom we as believers can grasp through His Holy Spirit, right now, especially concerning things not seen or heard or still future.

Observe the next verse - "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." This verse describes how readers of the Bible can read over a passage of Scripture many times and each time receive a personal application or different facet that was not seen before because the Holy Spirit revealed it to you this way this time. The key is to be in The Word in the first place So That the Holy Spirit has a foundation to work with when He desires to reveal something to you.

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." This is true for some Christians. First you have Father God "enabling" someone to come to the knowledge and acceptance of Jesus as their Savior (John 6:65). Then after you are "born again" or become a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) we still need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit - we need a baptism of His Holy Spirit. Pentecost, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, for the Disciples came after the resurrection and after they believed in Jesus as truly the Son of God. As the verse above states, we need the Spirit of God residing and acting within us to help us accept the things of God and discern the the things of God. Some believers just stop at salvation. That is sad to me because the man/woman with the Holy Spirit leading and guiding them in their lives has a great foundation, a wonderful foothold, an excellent filter to rely on for everything - "The spiritual man makes judgments about all things,".

"But we have the mind of Christ." If the Holy Spirit makes His home within us and we have accepted His power as our governing force in our lives then we can definitely claim "we have the mind of Christ"!
Having the Holy Spirit dwell within us and empower us as believers in Christ Jesus grants us many things, but among them are - the mind of Christ, spiritual discernment, spiritual enlightenment of The Word and REVELATION of the previously hidden things of God!

Assuming you have studied and/or researched the cloaked things of God (good books would be Daniel and Revelation) - the next time you hear someone quote - "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him--" - You Can Say Confidently, "BUT GOD HAS REVEALED IT TO US BY HIS SPIRIT." Then you are prepared to tell anyone the findings of your research.

If you have NOT studied the wonders and mysteries of God - past, present, and future - in the Bible, then I encourage you to do so. This will be a highly rewarding experience. To get you started in the right direction, if the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense seek no other sense (Golden Rule of Interpretation). When you do encounter symbolism or anything else that you do not understand, cross-reference it in the Bible and seek other commentary about that topic and pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance. Just think as you research, God is Revealing His hidden wonders to you by His Holy Spirit as you go!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

GOD'S TROPHIES

In some form or fashion, all who have come to the saving knowledge and acceptance of Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life can testify to God working in their life.  Individuals that have seen healing(s) or miracles are people who can attest to His work or His power and might.  One could say that all the individuals Jesus healed, during His first visit, were trophies meant to showcase God's power and might.  However, the following instances stood out to me. 

Jesus heals a man born blind.
"As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"  "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." - John 9:1-3

The death of Lazarus. 
"Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.  So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick."  When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."  - John 11:1-4
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days." - John 4:17

The Resurrection of Jesus. 
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.  There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.  The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."  So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.  Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." - Matthew 28:1-10

"He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?"  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." - Luke 24:25-27 

In the first two accounts you have some sort of phrase that deems the situation special.  In the last example it is implied.  The phrase in the first quote (John 9:1-3) that assumes speciality is "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."  Then, in the second illustration (John 11:1-4), the phrase that makes the difference is - "...it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."  The Resurrection of Jesus completed the thought that Jesus brought forth in John 3:16-17 about Father God's plan for the salvation of humanity - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

 In all of the above cases a life was affected.  The first man had been blind since birth.  The second was a very dear friend of Jesus and to those around him.  To the man himself, his sickness ended in death, but only for four days (until he died again later on in his life).  The third was the Son of God Himself, who told us the plan of salvation and then executed it flawlessly by suffering, dying, and rising from death three days later. These men were meant to display God's work.  They were meant to bring God alone glory.  And they did.


Here are some other lives and sometimes deaths that were meant to display God's work - a little dead girl, John the Baptist, Nathanael, a Samaritan woman at the well, Peter, and another example with Jesus.


In Luke 8:41-56 a dead girl is raised to life.  Her story here is similar to Lazarus.  The little girl was sick (so was Lazarus), Jesus is delayed (Jesus purposely waited), the little girl died (so did Lazarus), Jesus makes it to the little girls house (Jesus also arrives at the Lazarus' house after Lazarus had died), Jesus resurrects the little girl (Jesus also resurrects Lazarus).  People just don't come back from the grave, so this was definitely a display of God's power and plan through His Son Jesus.

Another life that God used powerfully was John the Baptist.  Here was a man with the great responsibility of "preparing the way of the Lord" (Matthew 3:3).  His role and/or purpose in life was paid the highest compliment-
"I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." - Matthew 11:11
John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin, was so dear to him that at the news of John's death Jesus needed some alone time.
"When Jesus heard what had happened [the death of John the Baptist], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place." - Matthew 14:13  A man of significance in the service of God - John the Baptist.

Nathanael is not someone in Scripture I hear many pastors preach about yet Jesus had this to say concerning him -  "When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." - John 1:47  What if you were in Nathanael's shoes, knowing what we know now, can you imagine The Word of God in flesh, Jesus, saying that about you?  Of course Nathanael was slightly (sarcasm included) on a learning curve when it came to the identity of Jesus.  However, this man's life warranted this kind of comment from Jesus, out loud - wow!  A man of true integrity!  

Here, at the end of the story of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:39-42), we learn that her life makes a great impact to the glory of God.   "Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him [Jesus] because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did."  So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.  And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world." The back story to this ending is found in John 4:4-26.  Because of this woman's encounter with Jesus she received hope for life and a purpose for life - evangelizing!  She was responsible for a good quantity and then good quality of people coming to believe Jesus is "the Savor of the world".  First, "many" came to believe in Jesus because of this woman's testimony.  But after others got a taste for themselves, the "well woman's" evangelizing was confirmed and they believed not only because of what she said, but also because they heard God's love straight from His Son!  What a great kick-off to a evangelistic ministry!

Peter and his future were tied to Jesus.  Peter was meant to display God's power and might in his life.  Satan had an inkling about this - "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." - Luke 22:31-32  After the Resurrection, Jesus continues to speak about the importance of Peter's life to Peter and says, 
 "I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" - John 21:18-19  Many scholars believe this passage to be referring to the way in which Peter would glorify God with his death - crucifixion.  Peter actually was crucified, but thought it unworthy to be crucified like his Lord in an upright fashion, so he was crucified upside down.  If Peter had ANY idea of what Jesus was talking about, then the next words from Christ are very interesting - "Follow me!"  God is going to be with Peter and work all kinds of wonders through him the rest of his life but Peter is going to die on a cross similar to his Lord.  Is he willing to go through with "Following Jesus"?  We know he did.  Would you be willing?  I believe the same calling is on each believer's life.  The idea is not that we would be used exactly like Peter and then be crucified, but that we would make ourselves available to be used as a mighty weapon or tool in God's hand to His glory, even if it means death.  "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)  And guess what God calls us and we should call Him?  "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." - John 15:15  Friend.

Finally, we get to another example of Jesus taking advantage of an opportunity to gain God glory.  The account is found in Matthew 15:32-38 and the first words that Jesus speaks is a good indication that He is up to All-Good - "Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 'I have compassion for these people;".  And now the rest of the story (nod to Paul Harvey) - "they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way."  His disciples answered, "Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?"  "How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked. "Seven," they replied, "and a few small fish."  He told the crowd to sit down on the ground.  Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people.  They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  The number of those who ate was four thousand, besides women and children." Of course, the main thrust of Jesus' life was He and His Father's goal of the salvation of humanity.  However, along the way, His life displayed even more to those then and us now as He showed Father God's love through miraculous provision of food (shown above), miraculous healing(s), miraculous raising(s) of the dead, and His marvelous teachings.

After performing a mini-study on the phrase "work of God" I found that it means - a way of life that God calls you to and helps you to execute, as a believer in Christ.  The Scripture verses I gleaned this from were - Exodus 32:16 (God's written way of life), Ecclesiastes 11:5 (by our own means we cannot understand the higher plan/work of God), John 6:29 (it is spelled out here - the work of God is... "to believe in the one He has sent"), John 9:3 (the work of God here is His plan and power would be seen), Romans 14:20 ("Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food."  Strikes me as "don't through the baby out with the bathwater".  Don't throw away what you have spoken into or aided in someone's life by annulling it with a "stumbling block".) 

All of this way of life, this "work of God" is for one purpose - for God's glory!  This phrase, "for God's glory" and one like it - "for the glory of God" takes all the spotlight off of us and appropriately places it on God.  As for us and our lives and the marrying of the two phrases - "work of God" and "for God's glory" - 1 Corinthians 10:31 says it best,  "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."  

I am sure many who will read this have had a challenging life.  I don't know if you are going through a demanding time right now, but God knows.  The great thing about my Lord is that He still uses cracked pots!  "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9 
 
I hear a lot of testimonies of situations where the negative comes first then the positive.  Sometimes the negative cannot be avoided because of our fallen bodies.  One thing I do believe wholeheartedly is you do not have to be starving, injured, sick, dying, or dead to display God's work - God's power and might in your life.  It is true that we must humble ourselves.  I must remind myself to empty out all in me that is not usable by God so that The Holy Spirit showcases His personality in my life - "see if there is any offensive way in me [gut it out of me please] and lead me in the way everlasting." - Psalm 139:24.  However, with God's help, I believe my life could have a whole lot more meaning and make a whole lot more impact for God and His kingdom WHEN I CONFESS what Jesus says about me in His Word - His victorious promises and His awesome perspective.  This is a whole other topic that I could get carried away with, but allow me to give you just one reference - "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." - Romans 8:37  Right now, before any challenges come my way, I choose to make myself available for God's works to be displayed and/or manifested in my life and claim all the wonderful promises and perspectives God has made over my life.  Now you do the same! 
  

 

 



 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

BONUS TIME

I have a passage of Scripture for you to examine - Luke 17:11-19.  Here is what is says,

Ten Healed of Leprosy 
"Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.  As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"  When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.  One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan.  Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"  Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

My knee-jerk interpretation of this verse boiled down to - we should return to God with thunderous praise ("praising God in a loud voice"), fall at Jesus' feet in prayer ("He threw himself at Jesus' feet") and thank Him ("and thanked him") whenever God blesses us in our life, which is every breath, but especially with a healing.  However, while this may be an accurate spiritual application for today this healing in Luke seems to be loaded with extra meaning all around.

Something everyone needs to know going into this passage is the proper cleansing from infectious skin diseases according to the Old Testament method given by God through Moses.  It is documented in Leviticus 14:1-32.  So, here are the details.

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "These are the regulations for the diseased person at the time of his ceremonial cleansing, when he is brought to the priest: 3 The priest is to go outside the camp and examine him.
[Notice that the priest has to go outside the camp.  Skin diseases, especially leprosy, was a sentence of excommunication, a social outcast as well as hurting and in need of healing.] 
If the person has been healed of his infectious skin disease,
[Observe how the Scripture gives room for the possibility of healing and that the healing of that person is the first major step in acceptance back into the camp]
4 the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the one to be cleansed. 5 Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot. 6 He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. 7 Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the infectious disease and pronounce him clean. Then he is to release the live bird in the open fields.
[So, it is the priest who acts first.  Sprinkling of a bird dipped in another bird's blood on the healed person seems disease-prone to me, but those are the rules.] 
8 "The person to be cleansed must wash his clothes, shave off all his hair and bathe with water; then he will be ceremonially clean. After this he may come into the camp, but he must stay outside his tent for seven days. 9 On the seventh day he must shave off all his hair; he must shave his head, his beard, his eyebrows and the rest of his hair. He must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water, and he will be clean. 10 "On the eighth day he must bring two male lambs and one ewe lamb a year old, each without defect, along with three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and one log of oil.
[Now, it is the turn of the one who was healed and who is financially secure to make himself/herself ritually clean. What he brings to the table -  the sacrifices, flour, and oil -  is what Christ refers to in Matthew 8:4.] 
11 The priest who pronounces him clean shall present both the one to be cleansed and his offerings before the LORD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 12 "Then the priest is to take one of the male lambs and offer it as a guilt offering, along with the log of oil; he shall wave them before the LORD as a wave offering. 13 He is to slaughter the lamb in the holy place where the sin offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered. Like the sin offering, the guilt offering belongs to the priest; it is most holy. 14 The priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 15 The priest shall then take some of the log of oil, pour it in the palm of his own left hand, 16 dip his right forefinger into the oil in his palm, and with his finger sprinkle some of it before the LORD seven times. 17 The priest is to put some of the oil remaining in his palm on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering. 18 The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed and make atonement for him before the LORD. 19 "Then the priest is to sacrifice the sin offering and make atonement for the one to be cleansed from his uncleanness. After that, the priest shall slaughter the burnt offering 20 and offer it on the altar, together with the grain offering, and make atonement for him, and he will be clean.
[Here, it is the priest's turn once again.  He accepts the ceremonial cleansing gift and appropriately deals with it according to Moses' Law.  How these people did not get some other disease from the blood of animals and water and oil and such being mixed and sprinkled or tossed or placed back on the healed body I might never know. If most survived it would have to be God's protection for obedience.] 
21 "If, however, he is poor and cannot afford these, he must take one male lamb as a guilt offering to be waved to make atonement for him, together with a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, a log of oil, 22 and two doves or two young pigeons, which he can afford, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. 23 "On the eighth day he must bring them for his cleansing to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, before the LORD.
[It was so thoughtful of God to make a provision in The Law for the financially challenged.]
24 The priest is to take the lamb for the guilt offering, together with the log of oil, and wave them before the LORD as a wave offering. 25 He shall slaughter the lamb for the guilt offering and take some of its blood and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 26 The priest is to pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand, 27 and with his right forefinger sprinkle some of the oil from his palm seven times before the LORD. 28 Some of the oil in his palm he is to put on the same places he put the blood of the guilt offering--on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 29 The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed, to make atonement for him before the LORD. 30 Then he shall sacrifice the doves or the young pigeons, which the person can afford, 31 one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, together with the grain offering. In this way the priest will make atonement before the LORD on behalf of the one to be cleansed."
[The priest once again performs his duty.  This time he acts in accordance with Law for the poor.]
32 These are the regulations for anyone who has an infectious skin disease and who cannot afford the regular offerings for his cleansing.

So, with this background information in mind let us go forward with Luke 17:11-19 (The Ten Healed of Leprosy).

Jesus is headed to Jerusalem.  He enters a "border village".  A village on the border of Samaria and Judah that would include citizens of both cultures - Jews and Samaritans.  Because of their physical and social condition of leprosy, the ten men stood at a distance from the approaching Jesus and cried out to Him for help.  Jesus' reputation preceded Him for they "called out in a loud voice, 'Jesus, Master, have pity on us!'"  Jesus did have pity on them.  However, Jesus did not touch them like He touched the leper of Matthew 8:1-4.  No, here it says, "When he saw them, he said...".  No touching involved.  It was not necessary for this encounter.

Jesus' instructions of "Go, show yourselves to the priests." suggests to me that the priests were possibly familiar with these individuals and therefore would not be able to discount the miracle in any way.  It would be a display of God's power to the ten men and to the "religious men" of Israel.  In addition, this showing of themselves to the priests was the first part of ceremonial cleansing described in the Law of Moses for someone with a skin disease -  Leviticus 14:1-32 (passage above). 

The Luke account states, "And as they went, they were cleansed."  The New Testament Greek word used here for "cleansed" is Katharizo, it means ceremonially clean or purified.  The Old Testament Hebrew word used for "cleansed" came in two varieties.  One word used in the Hebrew was Tohorah (from Tohar).  It always occurred in the context of ritual purity.  It was the general word used of the process that was about to take place for the re-admittance of an individual back into society.  The second Hebrew word used was Taher.  It meant clean , pure, innocent, and righteous.  This was the more specific goal that was being acknowledged by both the priest and the healed in the ceremony.  When Jesus said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests.", all that the ten needed for ritual purity (described in the Law above) was granted them in that instant that they obeyed Christ Jesus.  My Bible explains the purpose of the purity ritual was to teach Israel Holiness of God and Righteous Living (Exodus 19:10; Leviticus 16:30; Numbers 8:15).  "External ritual does not guarantee purity (Isaiah 66:17; Malachi 1:7-11) and one cannot declare himself pure (Job 4:17; Proverbs 30:12), only God can cleanse sinful man (Jeremiah 33:8)."  And it was these last points that got through to one man in particular - the man that returned to Jesus.

The ten men were given what they requested and needed to rid them of their physical disease and social shame.  But only one man out of the ten realized the source of that blessing and realized that only God Himself could grant that request.  Scripture does not state the cultural ratio of the group of ten men (Jews to Samaritans) but coming from a "border village" the likelihood of Jews and Samaritans being included in the number of ten lepors was probably good.  So, this man returns praising God loudly, falling at Jesus' feet, and thanking Him. 

First, after this kind of deliverance who would not make this kind of scene.  If you have ever seen or heard the horrors of leprosy, then you know how powerful the joy was when he was healed.  Second, this man acknowledged who Jesus was by falling at His feet and worshiping Him.  This was quite a scene because the people that were supposed to be at Jesus' feet recognizing their Healer and Savior, the Jews, were not there.  Instead, at Jesus' feet praising and worshiping Him for the source of this marvelous turnabout in his life was a Samaratin.  Finally, this man thanked Jesus.  Wow - at the list of things this man thanked Jesus for while at Jesus' feet.  This man was sick with leprosy, shamefully outcast because of the disease, and had always been frowned upon because he was a Samaritan (a minority, among the minorities).  That's probably just the start of the list. 

And then Jesus' response. 
Paraphrased - Did I not answer their request? (emphasis on I)  Because He said,  "Were not all ten cleansed?"
Paraphrased - I don't like these stats!  Because He said,  "Where are the other nine?"
Paraphrased - Of all the people to have returned and given praise it should have been mine, the Jews.  Because He said,  "Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 
Sozo is the Greek word word for "well".  It means to be made whole from physical disease or infirmity.
Paraphrase - You may get up and leave; your choice to believe who healed you and your choice to believe who I Am has granted you a bonus, it has made your body complete or whole.  Because He said,  "Rise and go; your faith has made you well." 

This event on Jesus' way to Jerusalem was just one of many that fulfilled Scriptures like Matthew 21:42 - Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: " 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes' ?  Acts 13:27 says it best, "The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath."  Yes, this Scripture passage in context is about the Jewish people, the nation Israel, missing the first visitation of their Priest, Prophet, and King - their Messiah.  However, Jesus' offering of everything transferred over to the rest of the world at that rejection.  "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." - Romans 1:16   It seems that everywhere there was a rejection of Jesus there was also a favorable response to Jesus as well.  And although in this case the Jews were at fault because of their rejection of Him, I feel good that there were some Jews that chose to believe in Jesus as their Messiah.  The nation as a whole (the nine lepers) rejected Jesus.  The Samaritan (representing the Gentiles or rest of the world) was the one who responded correctly. 

We should keep responding to Him correctly.  Whether it be to return to Jesus to show the world, Jews included, that Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life OR whether it be to return to Him with praise, fall at His feet, and thank Him for a miracle/healing in our lives - we should Return!  He is deserving of the recognition and His benefits He bestows are mind boggling.





Thursday, April 19, 2012

WHEN GOD REPEATS HIMSELF

You know if God repeats Himself it is important.  If, in Scripture, you happen to discern a keyword or key-phrase repeated three times then some would equate that to “knocking you over the head” with an idea.  Hopefully by then you would have received the message.  However, how do you process a topic emphasized five times over?  For the topic at hand, God, through John, wrote five times within three chapters about what Jesus had to say concerning the coming of the “Counselor” – The Holy Spirit”.  This demands our attention!

REASONS THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS SENT
·         John 14:16-17 – Spirit of Truth
·         John 14:26 – Bring Scripture to Mind
·         John 15:26-27 – Help Us Testify
·         John 16:7-8 – Convictor of Sin in our Lives
·         John 16:13-14 – “Guide you into all truth” + “Tell you what is yet to come”

My chart I supply above is a quick “cliff notes” or what I call “headliners” of the Scripture beside it.  Below is a more detailed look at the verses.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” – John 14:16-17

The first verse and reason the Holy Spirit was sent was to provide us with “another counselor”.  Jesus was our first counselor, but now we receive “the Spirit of Truth” to live within us and counsel us!
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“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14:26

Three things need magnification here.  The first point is that there is no other name under heaven by which humanity can be saved (Acts 4:12).  Therefore, there is only one name that the Holy Spirit can be sent by, under, and through – Jesus Christ (“whom the Father will send in my name”).  Secondly, the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things”.  If you, as a believer in Christ, allow yourself to be controlled daily by the Holy Spirit and submit to God’s plan for your life, then as some say, “Katie bar the door!” – The Holy Spirit promises to teach you “ALL things”.  Last time I checked, all meant all.  Finally, the Holy Spirit will remind us of what Jesus said in Scripture.  There are so many situations and circumstances we face in life that we truly can answer the question – What Would Jesus Do?  Just read The Word!  As a bonus, if you are in The Word daily or put another way - reading The Bible regularly - then you have an awesome foundation upon which The Holy Spirit has to draw from when you need a word on the spot.  So, get in The Word today and stay there, it’s healthy and wise!
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"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.  And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” – John 15:26-27

Jesus is speaking here and says some of the first things we hear in the previous verse - John 14:26.  However, look at “he will testify about me.  And you also must testify…”  Knowing now that The Holy Spirit lives within each believer, Jesus said “he [The Holy Spirit] will testify about me”.  How will this come about?  And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." – Mark 16:17-18 (By the way, allow your God given common sense to prevail and don’t go looking for a snake to pick up or looking for poison to drink in order to prove this verse!)  The verse also says, “And you also must testify”.  Here is where we, as believers, get to tell our story – our journey to salvation – what our life was like before we knew Jesus as our personal Savior and what life is like now with Him as Savior and Friend.
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“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:” – John 16:7-8

Number one, if Jesus says that something is “good” then I’m all ears.  In addition, He said “It is for your good [my/our good] that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come; but if I go, I will send him to you.”  Again, with Jesus saying it, I’m like “alright Jesus, well if you gotta go, you gotta go, don’t let a cloud hit you on the way up!” (A little holy humor)  Number two, “when he [The Holy Spirit] comes” He will be the convictor of sin in our lives.  I have been praying a prayer lately everyday that goes something like this –Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.   See if there is any offensive way in me, [gut it out of me] and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24
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“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” – John 16:13-14

Everything you ever wanted to know the truth about just ask The Holy Spirit to guide you in that regard for “he will guide you into all truth”.  The Holy Spirit also acts as The Revelator – “he will tell you what is yet to come” AND “making it known to you” the things that are God’s which are evidently still hidden in Him.  Wow!  Just think, the uncertainty some have concerning the books of prophecy in the Bible - The Holy Spirit will "guide you into all truth" concerning those and "tell you what is yet to come" and make it "known to you" the meaning.
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I know the Holy Spirit loves us more than how I have described He loves us in the above ways.  However, for Jesus to mention The Holy Spirit and His purposes so many times (5x) and in between brief reading distances (within 3 chapters), I thought it imperative that I extract what God, through John had to say were the Reasons the Holy Spirit Was Sent.