The Charge And Other Things

2 Timothy 4:1–2

I charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead – I charge you by his appearing and by his kingdom – herald forth the word; be urgent in season and out of season; convict, rebuke, exhort, and do it all with a patience and a teaching which never fail.

In the days of Timothy, people were surrounded by false teachers. We see that in our world today. There are those who will go to any length to find arguments that will justify or allow them to do anything they want to do. This behavior is not confined to only the church but is particularly damaging to the faith today. For the church it is a matter of those who tend to think less of sin, they are doing great damage to the church and society.

Paul continues this last chapter of Timothy with a charge and a challenge and shares three things about Jesus. Jesus will be the judge of the living and the dead and the day will come when Timothy’s work will be tested. Did he take the good news everywhere he could and did he do so in love and truth? We today are charged to do the very same thing. Christians should not concern themselves with the criticisms or judgements of others. I am sure Timothy as well as we today looked forward to hearing Well Done from our Lord and Savior. We must stay focused and allow the spirit to lead us in this very important calling. The spirit will enable us to not be distracted by the criticism; it will save us from our egos which in turn could make us self-centered and demanding thanks and praise for everything we do. It will save us from being hurt by others ridicule and ingratitude. Jesus will return in victory. As christians we are preparing the way so that all things will be ready whenever he appears. Christians should live their lives in such a way that at any moment they are ready for the coming of Christ.

Jesus is king. The day is coming when all the kingdoms of this world will on bended knee become the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Our work, Our lives and Our service must be such that it will stand the scrutiny of Christ and be a sign of the reality of our citizenship of the kingdom of God. As christians we must be persistent and carry the word every day to all peoples wasting no opportunity but remembering to be courteous and respectful in our duty to get the message out. We have to get back to making people aware of the sins of this world. The church must address sin and not excuse it to the new norm. People must be compelled to recognize it and see themselves as they really are. There was a day when the church was fearless in rebuking those behaviors that distracted from living a holy life. Not only did good things happen but many bad things were set aside and God had a place in the hearts of his people. All are sinners, there is a common guilt and we should not set ourselves up as moral judges but we have a duty to rebuke and warn, when a such words need to be spoken. In rebuking the sins of this world we should also take care to encourage things which support Godly behavior. Paul recognized that a message of constant rebuke would remove any hope and cause despair among the people. We as christians must have a tireless patience, avoid becoming irritated and never ever look at someone as being beyond salvation. We willingly encourage and enable another’s way to salvation because we have a resolute belief in the changing power of Christ.

I will wrap this weeks blog with things that were expected of Timothy and apply to us this very day.

-stay focused on our calling

-stay steady and not allow the craziness of the world to distract us

-there will be a price to be paid and we must accept it without complaining or regret

-we must remember we are the bringers of good news

-we should always be of service to God, to the Church and to other people

Paul also wrote in another book a good thought to end this day’s blog.

Philippians 4

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Life is Good

jk

The Road Ahead

2Timothy Chapter 3

16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

In the verses 10 through 13 Paul recounts persecutions and sufferings, that took place at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra. He points out to Timothy that the Lord rescued him from all of them and notes the fact that Timothy had been his disciple through it all. He reminds Timothy that those who wish to live a holy life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Timothy should however be aware that evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving themselves and deceiving others. Paul makes note of the conduct of others with their false messages and their continued efforts to harm the Church. Paul points out the service of his loyal disciple Timothy, the word itself cannot even began to express the depth of its meaning as a single English word. Here are just a few of the values that expand and add to the depth of this word.

The Greek word parakolouthein, literally means to follow alongside. It means to follow someone physically through any and all difficulties. To mentally follow and  pay careful attention to that person’s teaching and fully to understand the meaning of what is being said. Simply put to be a disciple one must remain loyal at all times, a friend that understands what is being said and follows in complete obedience. There is much here between the lines and Paul shares a list of things in which Timothy as his disciple has been a part of. An apostle has duties, two of which are teaching and training. Real teaching comes out of real experience. Taking that teaching and training others in its value requires the fact that you have lived it. These two duties require that you know Christ and have striven to live in his way. You truly are training for life. Paul had an aim in life. From that moment on that road to the restoration of his sight he saw nothing but Christ on the cross and took the message of salvation to all he could. As members of the Christian community we should always have a goal, the focus of our aim so to speak. Is our goal Christ centered and faith driven or do we just bend which ever way the wind blows? We must have faith in our God and patience toward others allowing love to guide us to two major requirements of christian living. God forgives and cares and only God enables us to do that. Paul completes these verses by addressing the experiences of an apostle. First in his mind is endurance, not a passive endurance but one of spirit filled faith which faces evil in a way that some good will come out of it. It is not a spirit that takes things as they are but a spirit that through faith takes control of life. That kind of endurance is necessary if we are to conquer the persecutions that will come our way because of our Christian faith. Persecution and hardships will come. Paul is sure God will rescue those who put their faith in God. For those who believe there will always be a future but there is no future for those who refuse to accept the way of God.

These last three verses of chapter three Paul speaks to the value of scripture.

-Scriptures give the wisdom which will bring salvation.

-The Scriptures are of use in teaching.

The Scriptures are valuable for reproof.

The Scriptures are of use for correction.

The scriptures instill in us the burning desire to save others and equips us to do that which we have been called to do.

It was my intention to continue on through 2nd Timothy. After some study and thought I think it best to leave that final chapter to another time. If you have made it to this point I hope you take away with you something that will strengthen your faith and give you the endurance to defend the faith by living the faith each and every day.

Life is Good

jk

Big Warning From a Little Book

This week in the Pew I share with you from the second Book of Timothy, Chapter 3: 1-9 .The two letters to Timothy and the letter to Titus and a short letter to Philemon differ from the other Pauline Letters, in that they are private letters, written to individuals.

Although private in nature, their purpose is set down in 1st Timothy 3: 14-15. 14 I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, 15 so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

In time these two letters were referred to as the Pastoral Epistles. There are five points that Paul makes in these two letters to Timothy.

-care and organization of the flock of God

-how men and women are to behave within the household of God 

-instructions as to how God’s house should be administered

-what kind of people the leaders and pastors of the Church should  be   

-threats which endanger the purity of Christian faith and life should be dealt with. (WB DBS)

I intend to  focus on the last one.I am not given to doomsday essays that are based on the current condition of society. I do believe that the spiritual health of the church in an indicator that we are moving closer to The Day of The Lord. The early church believed that the time was short, they expected Christ to come at any moment. I believe that within scripture we can find the knowledge to recognize those changes that will lead us to the time that God will challenge all evil and the finial victory of God’s coming will be established.

I must start by telling you that I am 76 years old. The importance of this is that I believe I am qualified to speak to the current state of the church and world today as I have traveled some years to get here. You might say that in these verses Paul takes no prisoners. He sees some disturbing events happening in the church and the world that go beyond normal change and growth as would be expected in this new way. Paul paints a picture of what a Godless world would be like in verses 2-5 and it closely mirrors our world today. People are living a life that is centered in self, destroying divine and human relationships. They value their stuff and money more than they do their relationship to God. They become arrogant and boastful for personal gain and prosperity. A person who is boastful is not hard to spot but arrogance is a matter of the heart and is often mistaken for confidence. Here is an interesting thought. Boasting and arrogance leads to a false pride and the result most often is insults to other people and the church. The old Rabbis called it the sin of insult. This becomes an action of contempt and results in hurtful words or harmful actions toward others. That which comes from such behavior is ugly, hard to understand and hard to forgive. People will be disobedient to their parents. I won’t stay long with this but it is a sure sign of a decadent civilization when youth loses all respect for age and fails to recognize the place of respect it owes to those who gave them life. People will become thankless. They will refuse to recognize the debt they owe both God and others. People will refuse to recognize even the basic decencies of life. People will allow their passions to rule their lives will seek to gratify them in the most shameless ways. They will be without human affection and so centered on themselves that even the closest ties of family and friends will be nothing to them. They will be relentless in their hatred of others, unable to come to an agreement or to forgive. They will not remember the words of the Lord, ‘Father, forgive them.’ It just keeps getting worse…people will slander another’s good name and engage in unfounded gossip with no regard for what it will do to someone else. They will be unable to control their desires, they will behave savagely with no human sympathy for man or beast. They will no longer value the good things of life such as the joy in keeping good company. They will fill their minds and hearts with sordid literature losing the good things of life and corrupting their minds. They will be treacherous in  their actions toward others, rushing headlong into things driven by their conceit and contempt for all things contrary to their direction in life. Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. They will retain the outward form of Godliness but deny its power. They will turn from God and seek their own way. In the remaining verses 6-9 are disturbing patterns that are present in today’s church. There will be a time of seduction in the name of religion. There will be those who will gain an undue and unhealthy influence over others, especially with those who are easily impressed.  They will use the normal curiosity of people about new trends and changing moral and societal changes to ease moral resolve. People will turn from the day to day discipline of Christian life, lured into a desire to be a part of the newest fashionable movement or intellectual remake of the scripture, losing the battle to live a Christian life. These distractions will in time be defeated if we, God’s people remain strong in our resolve to pursue the more excellent way.

There is much going on in the Christian community this day. There will always be those who will wish to debate what has been written, turn a scripture to fit a situation they favor or oppose and mixed in among them will be the false teachers who attack or seek to change the word as written to fit their desires. Next week we will continue in 2nd Timothy starting at verse 3:10 and go through to the final chapter, of this very important letter.

Thanks for stopping by the Pew, mark your bibles and return next week.

Life is Good

jk

The Bible….The Christian Dictionary

Last week my Pastor shared the fact that we, people of the faith are facing more and more attacks  and even the very structures we worship in are being destroyed or desecrated. Even more disturbing is the increased attacks on anything of moral value that might be advocated by the faith of an individual or religious organization. We have become rather docile to the current stream of written and verbal abuse of the faith. Anything that can marginalize our Lord, the church and now the use of open hostility toward God’s people is an accepted social norm. This trend has now evolved to the next step. Physical violence is an unfortunate reality in many parts of the world and here at home we are seeing an increase in such activity. What is the proper Christian response to those who demean, threaten and go as far as to destroy property and use physical violence as a way to intimidate those of the faith? Well, the “answer my friend” is not blowing in the wind, you will find it in the word. We will take that up at another time in the pew. One way the world comes against us is the use of words that are used to hurt or confuse the believers.

I want to look at one word that is often mistakenly associated with being a Christian. The word weak, has a totally different meaning when Godly attributes are applied to it. If we apply the secular definitions to this word it can be misleading to those outside the faith.

Dictionary Definition: weak – The primary sense of the root is to yield, fail, give way, recede, or to be soft.

I suggest you go to this link and read a very good accounting of the word Weak.   https://av1611.com/kjbp/kjv-dictionary/weak.htmlKJV

The biblical assessment is much different.

The point I wish to share today is simply that as Christians we are called out to be different and while it might be a stretch to get there, I used this reasoning to arrive at the thought that it might be we view the world and the words we use differently than some others. While the word weak, denotes a condition and position of negative meaning, in God’s eyes it is one of opportunity. In 2 Corinthians 12 we see this in verses 9 and 10.

2 Corinthians 12:9

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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (ESV)

Weakness comes in many shapes and forms but it brings with it to the Christian, the grace of God. To Paul came the promise and the reality of the all sufficient grace. For Paul it was…

It was sufficient for physical weariness.

It was sufficient for physical pain.

It was sufficient for opposition.

It made him able, as all this letter shows, to face slander.

(William Barclay, DBS, pg 307)

We are subject to the burdens of life, all of us, but just as Paul discovered there is this wondrous grace available to those of the faith. Our weakness is God’s opportunity. Please take the time to follow up on this weeks blog by going to the link below for a wonderful read of faith.

https://www.learnreligions.com/power-perfected-in-weakness-day-15-701656

Stay safe and God Bless

Life is Good

jk

God Bless This Mess..and My Methodist Friends

We are warned, through scripture, that in the last days people will not endure sound doctrine, but seek teachers who tell them what they want to hear… a ‘feel good’ or ‘prosperity’ gospel without true repentance or the power of His words to sanctify and guide us to life eternal by transforming our hearts, minds and lives to do the will of God. We are living in a time that defies sound doctrine, we, the church, have set aside sound doctrine in our rush to be remain relevant in the changes taking place in our culture and society.  I have heard people give many different reasons for this mess the church finds itself in. One phrase that sticks in my mind is one I hear often, those people. I have found an interesting anomaly in this term. I have found that those people without question think that it is those people who’re the problem. Confused, read the next sentence. I have found that those people, all those people, believe in God and believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. If those people are truly believers we have a whole other problem to deal with. You see if they were non-believers it would be so much easier to push them aside with the old southern phrase “bless your heart” but in this case they are as good as family, well they are family. After last weeks blog I got to thinking that maybe this mess is not about those people, yes including all those people. It just might be about us. We, after all have always been told, we are the church. We might be known for “Open Minds, Hearts and Doors” but is it possible somehow our minds are shut to meaningful study and discussion. We need to put aside this blame game, word play and the disgraceful lack of leadership in the defense of the written word and get back to what we are called to be doing.  Please read the following statement from the Methodist Church.

Wesleyan Quadrilateral

The phrase which has relatively recently come into use to describe the principal factors that John Wesley believed illuminate the core of the Christian faith for the believer. Wesley did not formulate the succinct statement now commonly referred to as the Wesley Quadrilateral. Building on the Anglican theological tradition, Wesley added a fourth emphasis, experience. The resulting four components or “sides” of the quadrilateral are (1) Scripture, (2) tradition, (3) reason, and (4) experience. For United Methodists, Scripture is considered the primary source and standard for Christian doctrine. Tradition is experience and the witness of development and growth of the faith through the past centuries and in many nations and cultures. Experience is the individual’s understanding and appropriating of the faith in the light of his or her own life. Through reason the individual Christian brings to bear on the Christian faith discerning and cogent thought. These four elements taken together bring the individual Christian to a mature and fulfilling understanding of the Christian faith and the required response of worship and service.

http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/wesleyan-quadrilateral

Consider…There are  611 commandments which Moses passed down to the Jewish people. Those along with the first two of the Ten Commandments, which were the only ones heard directly from God, adds up to 613. Now understand that I am not a theologian, just a layman trying to write a blog. These 613 laws, can be found in Old Testament books and the Jewish Torah.

Torah refers to the five books of Moses which are known in Hebrew as Chameesha Choomshey Torah. These are: Bresheit (Genesis), Shemot (Exodus), Vayicra (Leviticus), Bamidbar (Numbers), and Devarim (Deuteronomy). Jesus was a Jew and scripture shows us he went to the synagogue as all good Jews of that day did for worship and instruction. We must note that each and every teaching of Jesus is found within the Torah, Psalms and Prophets. We would do well to remember this and put aside the notion He did away with what He was taught and what He taught. He clearly said it is His word that will judge us on that day and that His word could by no means pass away. What about today? There are 1,050 commands in the New Testament for Christians to obey. It might be too many of us are living under the false impression that because that we go to church, accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, and have been baptized we are good to go. None of us will ever  be without sin, a common condition of our mortal status. The link listed here will list all of these sins and bible verses associated with them. It is long but an interesting read.

https://www.abc.net.au/reslib/201407/r1308729_17984331.pdf

So to all my Methodist friends, do not flee the church as I did. Stay and demand that those of leadership within explain why the very first of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral ….. For United Methodists, Scripture is considered the primary source and standard for Christian doctrine”, is not being considered in this mess.  The covenant within the resurrection, the promise of life eternal requires acceptance of Christ and doing our very best to live a Holy Life and that requires repentance of our sins.  We are  all guilty of sin in God’s eyes and sin, all sin, is just that in God’s eyes. There is no wiggle room in God’s word, so what do you believe? How did you arrive at that belief? Was prayer and a sincere desire to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit what led you  to it? Even as laypeople we are called to go on to perfection which leads me to this question. The big part of this mess concerns a life-style the church finds objectionable based on scriptural content and God’s word and yes they are different. As Christians we are called, set apart to live a life that allows others to see Christ in us. How is that working for you? I left the Methodist Church because I truly believe that the content of the scripture should be the basis for living a Christian life-style and the establishing of church doctrine. We are to love not to condemn or judge but we should take seriously before we condone a life-style that is contrary to scriptural content and intent. We miss our calling when by doing this we encourage people to commit to that which is viewed unfavorably in God’s eye. There are 613 + 1050 sins we know of and none are seen favorably in God’s eye.

Be in prayer for me for I have fallen short of my calling. I stood up when I should have been on my knees and I ran when I should have stood. You have always been good friends and I do miss each of you. Stay the course, stand your ground, defend the faith and always serve and seek his will.

Life is Good

jk

The Methodist Church…..The Scripture Dilemma

For many years I sat in the pew, comfortably surrounded by those of faith and safely ensconced in the word, the good way as inscribed in scripture. The scripture, the fundamental teachings and written record of God’s will and relationship with those of his creation or as I prefer to say, the inspired word of  God. We know it as the bible, to theologians a treasure trove of information for those who are experts in the field of theology. Theology is the study of the nature of God and religious beliefs. That brings us to ‘laymen’ a non-ordained member of a church, a person without professional or specialized knowledge in a particular subject…. That would be me. It seems that the turmoil within the United Methodist Church is not in any way ready to go away. To me the greater concern is the marginalizing of God’s word in order to meet a social and cultural agenda. The attack on this denominations scriptural integrity is not a new thing. This is a decades long endeavor by people who are driven by their social or cultural belief to obtain what they believe is necessary to bolster the many causes of social justice. Forgive me if I sound harsh but at times this movement seems to take on an all about me attitude. As to the matter of hurt, we all have been hurt by this decades old process that has been forced upon the Methodist Church. The greatest victim in all this is the word, the scripture that has been ignored or marginalized by these events.

It is important that I make you aware that after well over thirty years in the Methodist Church, three years ago I left. People change churches all the time for a number of reasons and worst case being they just quit church altogether. My reason was not the church as much as it was my inability to control an obsession I had with the direction the church was moving. My decision to leave was not an overnight thing but a three year process of prayer, talking with other members and following closely the directional signs one can see in decisions made by governing bodies of the church. If you have read this far I hope you will stay with me, as I have been wanting to write this one for a while now. I have written other blogs in the past about this subject, then would put it aside awhile but it always seems to pop up at a later date. I consider this to be a distraction and an embarrassing weakness in my ability to stay focused on that which is important to my serving God and growing in the faith. The number of articles, blogs, comments and denominational news letters about this cancer that has been attacking the faith always draws me back. I strongly feel that the issue now on the table is destroying the Methodist Church and is part of a social justice agenda that has grown into a motivating factor in redefining our culture identity and practices. I have come to favor the term same-sex issues. The discomfort they cause on both sides of the aisle truly hinder any attempt to approach the issue from any point other than that of a debate as to the understanding of our differences. When you engage in a debate someone has to lose. To that point, I don’t believe that this is an issue that belongs in the church, any church. This is a social issue that needs to be addressed within the social and cultural expectations of society at large. On the human rights side to this, any discrimination that lessens a person’s rights or self esteem is of course everyone’s concern anywhere it occurs. 

The real issue within the faith is the disturbing lack of scriptural support that lends itself to their (same-sex advocates) position that this is acceptable behavior in living a Holy Life as we have been called to do. On my side of the aisle is the astounding lack of knowledge as to the Methodist Church and its position governing whom is acceptable and who is not. Let’s start here. The Methodist Church is open to all persons and no one is to be turned away from the Communion Table. Let’s be honest about this. Not all Methodists or Methodist Churches practice this. There is always an element within that just can’t accept people as they are, even though Christ did and even preached the need to love all people. Now to be fair we must go a step farther. The entire Christian Community is guilty of this. The issue is that this debate is about a social and cultural change that has been taking place for some time now and it has become a part of redefining the church as we know it. There was a time when the church changed society and culture but today it has flipped. The church is now being changed by society and culture and to its detriment, in order to make this change the very foundation of its soul, the scripture, the written word of God is being re-defined in order to meet the demands of this changing world we live in. In my research to prepare for this blog I discovered The Free Methodist Church and their position on the issue of same-sex and the place of  scriptural authority in decisions which affect church positions on this matter. The following is from one of their positional papers…

The biblical understanding and evaluation of homosexuality stand at the center of the Church’s response. This centrality of the Bible in the current discussion stems from two considerations. First, the Christian Church in general and the Free Methodist Church in particular hold the Bible to be the ultimate authority in all matters pertaining to faith and conduct. Indeed, the refusal to accept homosexuality in the Christian tradition throughout history derives from the biblical witness. Second, the Bible’s consistent negative appraisal of homosexuality is the primary obstacle to the acceptance of homosexuality by the majority of contemporary Christians and Christian bodies.

There has always been a broad consensus throughout history as to the interpretation of biblical passages dealing with homosexuality. This consensus is now being challenged by a few revisionist voices. From these few a vast amount of writings have emerged that challenge past interpretations.  It is my thought that the real issue is how do we as a church view scriptural integrity? If we believe it to be the inspired word of God are we to also believe it is subject to revisions crafted to meet the pressures of societal and cultural changes of the current day? Without going into great detail, we will just deal with intent. What was God’s intent in the creation of this world? Genesis from the very beginning sets forth the fundamental framework for human sexuality.

The whole of Gen. 1-3 functions as a “foundational narrative,” whose purpose is to set forth not only the origins of the cosmos and more specifically of the human race, but also the divine purpose and design for humanity. (David R. Bauer)   

I do not believe consensus of any kind can be reached amid the level of animosity that prevails concerning this issue. Read carefully this insert: “Paul would object most strongly to heterosexual Christians assuming an attitude of moral superiority and condemnation towards homosexuals. Homosexuality is a sin; but it is one sin among many. And all persons, “Both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin” ( Romans 3:9). It is thus imperative for Christians to embrace a proper perspective regarding homosexuality in relation to the sinfulness of all humanity, and to adopt an attitude that acknowledges and indeed emphasizes their own sinfulness outside of the grace of God rather than delighting in excoriating the sins of others.”(David R. Bauer) 

There are so many sides to this issue that many of us struggle to understand but to me the real motivator is God’s intent and his superiority over his creation. The fact that God created humankind “male and female” means that human beings are meant to be heterosexual. The bible, both Old and New Testaments suggests that  legitimacy of the heterosexual intent and in both books of the Bible the total denunciation of same-sex practices is consistent. This consistency is not subject to specific times or places but applies to all people, in all places and at all times, up to and including now. Until the Methodist Church deals with the issue of sin as determined by biblical definition and ignores the pressure of those who consider social and cultural change the dominant factor, there will be no peace in the church. The real issue is scriptural integrity.

Thanks for being in the pew this week, come back and join us next week.

Life is Good

jk

The Christian Masada

Looking back a few years to a post that somehow transcends time. Back next week with a very special blog. jk

From The Pew

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After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the Romans turned their attention to stamping out the last of the rebels holding out at the fortresses of Herodium and Machaerus as well as in the “Forest of Jardes” (which has not yet been identified). The last remaining site occupied by the Jewish rebels was at Herod’s desert fortress-palace on the cliff-top of Masada. Led by Roman general Flavius Silva, the Legio X Fretensis—a veteran military unit—began the siege operation against the rebels in 72 or 73 C.E.

The spiritual heart of the Jewish nation was being destroyed and many of their leaders were dead. Those Jews left in positions of authority or leadership were either appointed by the Romans or influenced by the need to comply in order to survive. Only  five survived and they were women and children. The Jews at Masada had chosen to kill themselves rather than surrender…

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What about Jesus…..After The Cross?

Picking up from where we were last week, let’s go through these verses from Hebrews 10:19-25

Jesus is the living way to the presence of God.  In front of the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle hung the veil to screen off the presence of God. Jesus on the cross, the blood and torn flesh of our savior tore that veil apart. We are able to see the love of God for us by his giving his son so that the sins of this world might be forgiven. We also can see the full greatness and love of Christ for the Father and for us, all God’s people, lost in sin.

It was when the flesh of Christ was torn upon the cross that people really saw God. All his life showed God; but it was on the cross that God’s love really was revealed. As the tearing of the tabernacle veil opened the way to the presence of God, so the tearing of that flesh of Christ revealed the full greatness of his love and opened up the way to him.

Jesus is the high priest over God’s house in the heavens. Just as it was the function of the High Priests of old to be a bridge between the people and God, we now have a High Priest who not only guides us but takes us into the very presence of God. 

Jesus is the one person who can really cleanse. The Priests had their way of blood sacrifice and then washing their hands in a brass basin of clear water, but only Jesus can clean us completely. He cleans our innermost thoughts and desires and makes us a much better person, new in his grace and forgiveness of our sins.

And What About Us……After the Cross?

For us there is an after the cross also. What are our responsibilities to this new covenant? How do we move beyond the words to living as one who is committed to the precepts of this new salvation?

Let us approach the presence of God. There are those things of the eternal world and then those things of this world. We must learn to put aside the things of this world and make time to enter into God’s presence, in worship, prayer and living our faith so others might see what we have and want it also.

Let us hold fast to our creed. There will be those who will tempt us with the material things of this life, those who will attack our faith in an attempt to cause doubt or uncertainty, there will be events in this life that will shake our faith. We must never allow these things to marginalize what we believe.

Let us put our minds to having a genuine concern for others. While our personal salvation is of course important we must not forget our calling to bring people to repentance and salvation through the good news of Jesus Christ.

We must encourage each other to set a good example by living a Holy Life. We can do that by keeping to our traditions and responsibilities, never putting them aside for an easier way. We must encourage others to do good they must see Christ in us. We must Do all the good we can, whenever we can, wherever we can.

We must work to remove the barriers that encourage others to seek a kind of Christian Isolation. This habit of no longer worshiping with God’s people, in God’s house on God’s day. Moffatt gives us three reasons why this might be happening.

They may not go to church because of fear. Simply put there may be friends or family or people they work with that don’t go to church and tend to laugh at those who do. They may be trying to avoid their criticism and contempt and in doing so they become silent or secret disciples. They may be trying to hide where their loyalty lies. Truth is it won’t work. True Disciples can’t hide. God’s love will always shine through by the way we live and treat others.

-For some people it is a matter of being uncomfortable around others that are not like them. I might add as a personal observation that some churches can seem like a club and as Moffatt wrote “There may be congregations where a form of social snobbery is practiced.” Christ died for all and there is no such thing as a socially acceptable class of people. In the eyes of God there are no common people. Christ died for all people.

-They may not go because of conceit. There are many people who feel they do not need the church and even worse is the idea that they are intellectually beyond the standard of preaching there. You can not live a christian life and neglect the fellowship of the church. We must remember that while it is true we go to church to receive, it is also important to give of ourselves in worship and praise. Being in God’s house with his people is not a matter of intellect but one of obedience and respect.

-We must encourage one another. The early church lived in the expectation that Christ would soon return. One thing we must realize is that we are in the position of not knowing when the call will come, for us each day is one of expectation.We must never cease to encourage others with a smile, a kind word, prayers of support and as was written earlier it is our duty to do all the good we can to all the people we can in all the ways we can.

Thanks for coming by the Pew this week.

jk

Life is Good

The Bunny, The Egg and Christ…Not Necessarily In That Order

Here is Friday, Good Friday to be exact. There has been much written about this day, “Good Friday” and the heartrending events of it. The brutality, the pain, the single-minded purpose of the Jewish leaders and even the Roman government’s representatives who tried to avoid this crucifixion of Jesus.  The endless speculations, brought forth in commentaries as to who and how many were present at the cross. The intriguing debate about  if  there were three women or four there and of course John, the beloved disciple and Jesus’ calling out to him. Another aspect that is sometimes overlooked is the fact that the soldiers Jesus was turned over to at the cross were more that just ordinary soldiers, they were hired killers and given the abuse to Jesus prior to the crucifixion and what we know of  Jesus being put on the cross, they had to be men of little remorse and no empathy for others. Good Friday, followed by a day of silence and then the glory of the risen Christ. Hope renewed, victory over death and the salvation of the resurrection.  He is Risen!!

I would like to look at Hebrews 10: 11-18. In these verses the writer to Hebrews points out some things we should be mindful of this resurrection day. He points to the achievement of Jesus. The priest’s sacrifices are made over and over again and yet they seem to not be effective.

Every day, as long as the Temple stood, the following sacrifices had to be carried out (Numbers 28:3–8). There was a burnt offering, along with it a food offering and there was also a drink offering. Also added to these was an incense offering. Added to all that was the daily food offering of the high priest. It was a treadmill of required practices that had to be kept up day in and day out. There was no end to this process.

Jesus made a sacrifice that never could or would be needed to be repeated. Jesus’s life was a perfect example of obedience, even to the cross. We miss the point if we do not realize that the only sacrifice God desires is obedience. Jesus was not a martyr, his life and death exalts him above all others. While the priests stood and presented offerings, and act of servitude, Christ sits on the right hand of God, a position of a monarch and awaits the finial triumph over his enemies. Of course there is the power of God, but the writer of Hebrews leaves us to see that it is the love of God that will conquer in the end. We are left with a quote from Jeremiah 31:34

“…..For I will forgive their wickedness

    and will remember their sins no more.”

“Because of Jesus, the barrier of sin is taken away forever.” (Quoted from DBS, William Barclay)

Easter Sunday, a day of celebration and hope, He is alive, the Risen Christ. No more needs to be said……..

jk

Next week join me here in the pew as we return to Hebrews 10:19-25.

You Can’t Be All Things To Everybody……. ……..Or Can You?

The Apostle Paul might take issue with that statement. His extraordinary ability to adapt without marginalizing his faith or mission can be found in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. As if sewing a design in a motif of life, to win people to Christ becomes a recurring pattern at least five times in these verses and is the growing focus of his life in response to his call. He writes to have freely chosen to enslave himself to all people and that means to accommodate all people just as they are and where he finds them. In Paul’s day there were those who lived under the law and Paul became one of them but did not consider himself as living under the law. To those outside the law he became one of them, not free of God’s law but under Christ’s law. Paul continues on to write I became to the weak as a weak person, so that I might win the weak. Some commentaries say the meaning here refers to Paul’s calling to win them to Christ. Paul strove to find common ground with the believers in Corinth and did not conform to their beliefs to gain acceptance. He preached a gospel of transforming power. He recognized that there were those in all these diverse groups that do not have the knowledge that idols have no real permanence and there is only one true God. Because of his claim to Apostleship he believes people will recognize that it makes him even more determined and strengthens his call to bring all people to Christ. They must hear the good news! If no one shares the good news, how will they ever know? There is much the church this day can learn from this man humbled by God, raised up by Christ to serve and his indomitable spirit fortified by the Holy Spirit. Paul was a free man. Paul (Saul) was both a Jew and a citizen of Rome. We, the church today, are struggling to remain true to the good news and find ways to reach those “under the law, living outside the law as well as those weak and burdened by life’s demands to the point they have forgotten or never heard of Christ and the forgiveness that is theirs. There are also those who miss-construe  the scripture so as to fall prey to the sins of this day.”

We have embraced words such as tolerance, inclusiveness and need to reach out, to open our doors, our minds and our hearts, to cite just a few. All have value and worth and are introduced with the best of intentions. Paul in these verses introduces us to a new word and a new way…….Accommodation…. Paul’s ministry can teach us the value of accommodating other people. Being kind, helpful, obliging, or just being considerate of all people and their place in life at the moment you meet them or in Paul’s case, go among them. All of this hangs on understanding Paul’s conception of being accommodating to people. As Christians we have free will but we are also slaves to God, he who has renewed our minds body and souls. What does this mean? We have the freedom to chose not to do those things that are a hindrance  to the gospel, or harm anyone whom Christ died for. At this point you might want to ask who did Christ die for? If you answered for everyone, for all sinners, you are halfway there. If you are wondering what the other half is, well you have to live and treat others like you believe that. So, let’s wrap this up. Paul was able to adapt and accommodate because he believed that the gospel, the power of God always encounters and engages people where they are, where they live and within their social and cultural environments. The gospel has the power to move them and change them wherever they are and at whatever point they are in their lives. Preach the gospel without condemnation and let God do the rest.

Life is Good

jk

Reference Material NIB