The Tabernacle; JESUS and the CROSS

“You search and investigate and pore over the Scriptures diligently, because you suppose and trust that you have eternal life through them.  And these [very Scriptures] testify about me!”  (John 5:39 Amplified Bible).

REASONS FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG

50 Chapters of your bible mention The Tabernacle; (13-Ex., 18-Lev., 13-Num., 2-Deut., 4-Heb.).  Many other places in Scripture speak figurative language concerning the tabernacle.  Why then, is the subject I am about to dive into, so overlooked and even insignificant in Christian circles today?  So, I’ve decided it was time for the church to understand the pictorial of The Tabernacle; JESUS and the Cross.

‘TEARING OF THE VEIL’

God Himself thought so much of the importance of the type in His Word;

“And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit.  And at once the curtain of the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…”   (Matthew 27:50-51).

If we don’t understand the meaning in Scripture of the holy of holies and the curtain or veil, we will miss out completely concerning exactly what Jesus Christ’s death meant to sinful mankind.

THE TABERNACLE IS A TYPE OF CHRIST

“ALL Scripture is given by inspiration (God-breathed) of God…”    The Bible is completely God-breathed.  Each WORD is God-breathed.  It was the view of JESUS when it came to the Father’s Word, the view of the apostles; then it must be our view too.  This is the very Word of God; doesn’t just contain the Word of God, or point to religious experience.  THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD!  Is it any wonder that each and every detail and Word has spiritual significance about the TABERNACLE?

The structure itself, its unique pieces of redemptive furniture shows great symbolism and typology found in them.  Remember, everything was a finger-pointing to Messiah.  Dr. J. Vernon McGee puts it this way:  “The Tabernacle tells the story of God’s bared arm in action while creation tells out the account of His finger work.”  God sent a picture before He sent the person.

“For we are God’s (own) handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works, which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]”  (Ephesians 2:10 Amplified Bible).

The Greek word for “workmanship” is poiema; poem or masterpiece.  In the Old Testament, God’s masterpiece is the Tabernacle.  Both are dwelling places of God for the particular age to which each belongs.  Both reveal Christ; both are an adumbration, a foreshadow of His own glorious Person.

THE ALTAR OF BRASS:  “THE DOCTRINE OF SATISFACTION”

The American Dream of yesteryear is still the same today.  We all want to have our own dwelling place; a nice house to raise the family in.  The framework has to be established first and then we will move in the furniture later on.

But in God’s redemptive plans, the articles of furniture came first.  These articles were the pictorial of the Person and work of Christ in redemption. And yet, no article of furniture was a picture or image of Him.

The blueprints and patterns for the Tabernacle are given in the Book of Exodus chapters 25-40.  The instructions are not accidental in Exodus for it is called The Book of Redemption.  It opens in the gloom of slavery in Egypt and closes in the glory of the Tabernacle.

SACRIFICES

“FOR SINCE the Law has merely a rude outline (foreshadowing) of good things to come–instead of fully expressing those things–it can never by offering the same sacrifices continually year after year make perfect those who approach [its altars]”  (Hebrews 10:1  Amplified Bible).

The Mosaic system served as one of the highway markers in pointing to Christ Jesus, and His cross; a place where God completely and finally worked out in His sufficiency and suffering a way back to Himself for man.  Since the Tabernacle is but a shadow, a representation of the true Tabernacle in heaven (Revelation 15:5; 21:3).  However, the Tabernacle where God is residing in heaven, certain articles of furniture are not present.  Since Jesus is the once and for all sacrifice, the brazen altar would no longer be applicable.  Also the bronze laver, and the table of shewbread will be missing, which I will address in a future blog on the Tabernacle furniture.

“He went once for all into the [Holy of] Holies [of heaven], not by virtue of the blood of goats and calves [by which to make reconciliation between god and man], but His own blood, having found and secured a complete redemption (an everlasting release for us)”  (Hebrews 9:12–Amplified bible).

THE SEVEN ARTICLES OF FURNITURE:

1.  The ark.

2.  The mercy-seat.

3.  The altar of incense.

4.  The table of shewbread.

5.  The lampstand of gold.

6.  The laver of brass.

7.  The altar of brass.

These articles occupied the following respective places:

1.  (2) Articles in the Holy of Holies:  the ark and the mercy-seat.

2.  (3) Articles in the Holy place:  table of shewbread; lampstand of gold; altar of incense.

3.  (2) Articles in the outer court:  Altar of brass and the laver of brass.

The first plan among the articles of furniture that God gave Moses, the ark and mercy-seat belonged together; the very center of God’s divine plan.  When the ark was in its rightful place in Israel’s thinking there was a real blessing.  Relegated to a secondary place, the blessing was withheld.

The brazen altar was given last, together with the laver.  Why would I start this whole discussion, regarding the articles of furniture in the reverse order that God gave His detailed instructions to Moses?  God’s instructions were issued from His viewpoint while His habitation was in the Holy of Holies; looking out to the sinner on the outside.

What a contrast this is with the Laodicean condition in Revelation 3:14-18 and in the present-day church; where Christ is apparently out of the church, found standing at the spiritual heart doors and knocking for an entrance.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me”  (Revelation 3:20).

Under the Old Testament economy, the sinner had to make certain sacrifices; to get in to God, man did the knocking.  Now the Lord Jesus stands outside of individual hearts and knocks.  Then a sinner had to be brought to God.  Now, God comes to the sinner.

The brazen altar was sometimes called the table of the Lord or the altar of burnt offering.  It stood at the very entrance of the Tabernacle [Exodus 40:29].  Specifications of constructing the brazen altar are found in Exodus 27.

Every lamb that was sacrificed during the interval of the Tabernacle as a substitute for a sinner Israelite or sinning Israel was offered on the brazen altar; it was a place of substitution for Israel.  The brazen altar was a figure of the cross of Jesus.  A good analogy here would be to compare Leviticus 1:9 and Ephesians 5:2:

“And the priest shall burn all of it [a slain lamb] on the altar for a burnt offering, an offering by fire, a sweet and satisfying odor to the Lord”  (Lev. 1:9).

“And walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance”  (Eph. 5:2).

The offering of Christ of Himself in His glorious Person on the cross is called a “sweet fragrance” unto God.  The brazen altar finds perfect fulfillment in the work of Jesus on the cross.

In my next blog I will continue on with THE LAVER OF BRASS:  THE DOCTRINE OF SANCTIFICATION as we move forward to the furniture in the Holy of Holies; the Ark and the Mercy Seat.

 

PRIDE Can Cause A “Stiff Neck”

Unteachable

BUT UNDERSTAND this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear]”  (II Timothy 3:1).

Turn on the television tonight and watch the world, our country, and local news and you will see and hear nothing but BAD NEWS!  In the economy, in wars and rebellion, natural disasters; are we living in “the last days”, in “perilous times” bringing “stress and trouble”?  If your answer is, YES or MAYBE, continue reading the next verse in 2  Timothy:

For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, PROUD and ARROGANT and CONTEMPTUOUS BOASTERS.  They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane”  (II Timothy 3:2).

“PROUD, ARROGANT, CONTEMPTUOUS BOASTERS…”  Do you know anyone who might be exhibiting these traits and symptoms of the classic “Stiff-Neck Syndrome“? Perhaps your neck is becoming somewhat stiff from reading this.

BEING FULL OF PRIDE

Like a lot of things in life, there can be a positive and a negative outcome.  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary deals with the positive and negative meanings of PRIDE:  In the positive sense, The noun in the Hebrew, ga’ on signifies “excellence” or “majesty”.  God’s majesty was expressed in Israel’s deliverance through the Red Sea (Exod. 15:7).”

The majority of the uses of ga’on are negative in that they connote human “pride” as an antonym for humility.  The negative meaning always leads to a “Stiff Neck”.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a [“stiff neck”] fall”  (Proverbs 16:18).

Many people who have degrees in business, psychology, engineering, or medicine trust God in the “religious” areas of their life, that is, in going to church on Sundays, making moral decisions about lying or cheating, or even tithing their money.  But when it comes to their own speciality – business, psychology, engineering, or medicine – PRIDE begins to give them a stiff neck and causes them to reject God’s guidance.

WE’RE NOT ROBOTS

God never expected us to be robots.  His guidance almost always depends upon our thinking.  He longs for us to mature to the place that we can use our “sanctified intellect” and “understanding” to make the right decisions in following His guidance.  With “stiff necks”, our ‘I want too’s’ become blocked in our thinker; our body, soul and spirit.  God knows infinitely more than we do about any given subject in which we may consider ourselves experts.  His desire for us is that we acknowledge Him a sovereign God and recognize our own need for Him.

Ordinarily we think that the more we learn of God’s ways, the more we will be able to move with self-assurance and certainty.  But in reality, the more we understand, the more dependent upon God we become.

“O Lord [pleads Jeremiah in the name of the people], I know that [the determination of] the way of a man is not in himself; it is not in man [even in a strong man or in a , man at his best] to direct his [own] steps”  (Jeremiah 10:23).

Jeremiah had come to recognize his own need, and this is a primary condition for direct guidance.  A person with a ‘stiff neck’ caused by PRIDE is not willing to be taught.  Only the meek and humble can learn.  Psalm 25:9 says, “He leads the humble in what is right, and the humble He teaches [His] way.”

ARE YOU A “RUGGED INDIVIDUALIST?

I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.  Be not like the horse or the mule, which lack understanding, which must have their mouths hed firm with bit and bridle, or else they will not come with you”  (Psalm 32:8, 9).

A hardened neck; a stiff neck is a “blessing blocker”; a hindrance to guidance and “The Blessing of the Lord” (Proverbs 10:22).  There are many Christians who know what God wants of them but they simply refuse to obey.  I feel a stiff neck coming on! 

I started out with The Hardness of Stubbornness–A “Stiff-Necked People” and I want to conclude there as well.  Chances are there is a stubborn streak hidden somewhere which prevents you from doing what you ought to do right now!  Stubbornness can prevent us from even seeking the will, through His Word, of God.  If you are reading this right now in front of your computer and thinking, “I’m NOT STUBBORN.  I am a rugged individualist”.  Stiff-necked people who are stubborn individuals say,  “I like my plans the way they are, I don’t want God to interfere.”  There is a place for individuality; but in our relationship to God our Father, we must be yielded in prevention of that dreaded “stiff neck”!

DON’T BE A STIFF NECK “FOOL”

“A [self-confident] fool has no delight in understanding but only in revealing his personal opinions and himself”  (Proverbs 18:2).

“Through skillful and godly Wisdom is a house (a life, a home, a family) built, and by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation]”  (Proverbs 24:3 Amplified).

One last thought to leave with you from Proverbs.  I call ‘Seven things God Hates’:

1.  A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimates others].

2.  A lying tongue.

3.  Hands that shed innocent blood.

4.  A heart that manufactures wicked thoughts and plans.

5.  Feet that are swift in running to evil.

6.  A false witness who breathes out lies [even under oath].

7.  He who sows discord among his brethren [amongst Christians and the church].

All seven things listed in Proverbs 6:16-19 are things that lead to ‘stiff-necked people’; and God hates them all!

God’s Guidance In Preventing “STIFF-NECK” Syndrome

Preventions For STIFF NECKS

LEARNING HOW TO RELEASE UNDUE TENSION

IN OUR NECKS
 
What would keep God from making good His promise of “guiding us continually” (Isaiah 58:10-11)?  God says there are certain conditions man must meet before he can receive specific guidance.
 
SELFISHNESS PREVENTION
 
actions such as giving ourselves to the hungry and satisfying the desires of the afflicted are some of these conditions.  SELFISHNESS is a hindrance to divine guidance in preventing “stiff-necked people“.  Selfishness produces a hardness in us which the Lord is constantly warning us about.  For example, suppose the Holy Spirit urges us to give ten dollars to our unemployed friend.
 
“Not me, Lord.  The kids need new shoes before school starts and I might be laid off at work next.”  The point is not the ten dollars.  God could provide our friend with ten dollars from some other source. I believe there might be a “stiff neck” coming on; a dangerous hardness developing in our spirit when we resist the leading of God.
 
Therefore the remedy would be compassion which should be essential in our lives.
 
DISOBEDIENCE PREVENTION
 
Disobedience, that is, “knowing unmistakably what God wants you to do, but refusing to do it will lead” to “STIFF NECKS”; hinders God’s guidance.  This is a dangerous business, and the bible is full of examples of what happened to men and women who deliberately hardened their “necks” and “hearts” and set themselves to go against God’s orders.  The list is long and includes both the “enemies” of God as well as God’s own people.
 
Lets begin with, In the Beginning, with the first family on earth.  Sin came into the world through a deliberate act of DISOBEDIENCE.  Moses disobeyed when he smote the rock for water in the desert of Zin.   The Israelites disobeyed the command to go in and possess the land; God had called them a “stiff-necked people”.  Samson disobeyed and lost not only his strength, but his life.  Saul disobeyed by consulting a witch, and the anointing of God was replaced with a curse.  David deliberately committed adultery, then murder, and lost his joy as well as the presence of the Holy Spirit.  If you have ever had a serious stiff neck, your joy will definitely be absent.  The list goes on and on, and the results of being “stiffnecked“; and the result of deliberate disobedience is always the same – the loss of God’s continual guidance.
 
THE REMEDY TO DISOBEDIENCE
 
When God says, “Don’t,” we had better not.  When He says, “Do,” we had better.  We have no one to blame about our “stiff neck” except ourselves.  It’s that simple!  You don’t have to ask for the generic equivalent or be concerned with the pronunciation and understanding on the back of the bottle.
 
INSINCERITY CAN CAUSE “STIFF NECKS”
 
There are people who pray loudly, “O God, I want to do your will. Just tell me Lord, and I will do it.”  But internally they have their own agenda and a personal preset course with no intention of taking God’s advice.  Oh, Oh!  I see a “stiff neck” coming on! 
 
Jeremiah 42 records the incident of the remnant of Judah coming to the Prophet and begging him to seek the Lord for guidance.
 
The Lord has said to you, O remnant of Judah,  Do not go to Egypt. Know for a certainty that I [Jeremiah] have warned and testified to you this day.    Now therefore know for a certainty that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place [Egypt] where you desire to go to dwell temporarily”  (Jeremiah 42:19, 22).
 
Did the leaders of Judah rejoice in the Lord for His guidance?  I see a “stiff neck” coming on!  No, they turned against Jeremiah and said, “You’re liar.  That’s not what God said. We will go to Egypt regardless of what you say!”  Because of them being “stiff-necked people”, they never intended to change their minds.  They were determined to go to Egypt and sent Jeremiah to seek God’s Word.  They wanted His approval to do what they had already decided to do.
 
How many times have we done the same thing.  We have decided what we want to do, and we want to bolster our decision by getting the approval of other Christians or the pastor.  We search the Bible for verses that will support our decision.  We pray, “O Lord, show us the way,” and then we seek the wise counsel of others.  If we run against disapproval we say, “They are just not spiritual enough to understand God’s will in this.”  We take only the opinion and advice that agrees with our pre-set decision.  That is INSINCERITY which comes from the “hardness of the neck.”  We did not mean it when we asked our Christian friends, we did not mean it when we prayed.  Our insincerity has become a wall between us and guidance from God.
 
IMPATIENCE COMES FROM A “HARD- NECK” SYNDROME
 
Habakkuk 2:3 deals with this problem:
 
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tary, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.”
 
Again and again in the Bible we are told that waiting on God is a necessity, a virtue, a source of strength.  Yet, because of a “stiff-neck” syndrome, impatience is probably the failure which occurs most often.
 
We pray about a new job, the salvation of someone we love, the solution to a problem, and God gives us a wonderful promise of peace and assurance in His Word.  We know our prayers are being answered.  We have perfect peace – for an hour – but then the neck begins to get hard and we start nagging, “Lord, You promised. Why aren’t You doing it?”  And as our necks become stiff, our thinking becomes impaired, we lose a sense of balance perhaps; our response is to busy ourselves arranging circumstances and manipulating people.  “If You don’t do something about it, we will just go ahead and have a revival in our church anyway.”
 
[If you have any situations where you might have felt this way, I would love to hear from you in the comments at the end of this blog].
 
God operates on split-second timing and He is never late.  When the conditions are right and God’s appointed time is here, God moves.  By turning ahead of Him with a stiff neck, we can seriously harm ourselves and others.
 
MOST DANGEROUS HINDRANCE TO GOD’S GUIDANCE
 
Self-Sufficiency, by nature we say, “Show me and I will believe.”  God says, “Believe and you will see!”  Proverbs 3:5-7 gives us this piece of advice on preventing the “STIFF-NECK” Syndrome:
 
Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.    In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.    Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil”  (Proverbs 3:5-7  Amplified version).
 
One of God’s greatest hindrances in His servants is self-sufficiency.  When Dianne and I were raising our three children, we tried to train them to be self-sufficient as they grew older.  However, when that time approach, we really wanted them to depend more on their parents, for as long as they lived at home anyway.  What a dichotomy!
 
Much of God’s dealing with us is to destroy “Self-Sufficiency”.  It often manifests itself in this way:  “You show me the first time, Lord, and I will take it from there.”  Bob Mumford mentioned, an associate of his who knew the life of dependency upon God needed twelve hundred dollars.  After much prayer, the money was remarkably supplied. He gave a heavy sigh of relief to which God responded, “Is this a sigh of relief because the money has been supplied – or because you no longer have to trust Me?”  It was a rebuke well needed.
 
One last hindrance to God’s guidance. In regarding the “Stiff-Neck” Syndrome in the next blog, I believe it will be the quickest way to getting a stiffneck than anything else I have unveiled to you.  It is PRIDE!
 
 
 

The Hardness of Stubbornness—Stiff-Necked People

The Hardness of Stubbornness

Do you remember when you were a child, and out of defiance to authority, or not getting your way, you stood with your back against a wall with your arms folded as the above picture displays?  NO?  How about as an adult; have you reacted to a circumstance at work, with your spouse, with the church you have been attending with this stubborn posture?

I have been reading in the Old Testament, the Book of Exodus for sometime now.  I came across a word that I decided to investigate its meaning.  I uncovered it in Exodus 33:3, 5 and the word is “STIFF-NECKED”.

“Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, lest I destroy you on the way”  (Verse 3).

“For the Lord had said to Moses, Say to the Israelites, You are a stiff-necked people! If I should come among you for one moment, I would consume and destroy you”  (Verse 5).

Because of the Israelites rebellion, their disobedience and their stubbornness, God was referring to them as “stiff-necked people”.  This is not the last time we hear about the stubbornness; “stiff-necked people” in Scripture but it is a good place to start from.

STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE  “For I know your rebellion and stubbornness”  (Deuteronomy 31:27).

STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE  “He who, being often reproved, hardens his neck shall suddenly be destroyed–and that without remedy”  (Proverbs 29:1).

STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE  “You stubborn and stiff-necked people, still heathen and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always actively resisting the Holy Spirit.  As your forefathers [were], so you [are and so you do]!”  (Acts 7:51)

THE ORIGIN OF THE WORD “STIFF-NECKED”

Stif’ – nekt (gesheh ‘oreph, literally means, “hard of neck”).  The words are used figuratively, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament; meaning “stubborn”, “untractable”, “not to be led”.

This idea was completely familiar to the Jews.  The ox was the most useful and common of domestic animals.  It was especially used for such agricultural purposes as harrowing and plowing (Judges 14:18; 1 Corinthians 9:9).  A plow was drawn by two oxen and the plowman only needed one hand to guide the plow.  The other hand carried an “ox-goad”.  An “ox-goad” was a light pole, shod with an iron spike on the end.  The plowman would prick the oxen upon the hind legs to increase their speed.  He would use it on their necks to turn, or keep a straight course when deviating direction.

If an ox was hard to control or stubborn in the doing, it was deemed to be “hard of neck” or stiff-necked (gesheh ‘oreph).  Thus the term was used by God’s description in Scripture to express the stubborn, untractable spirit of people not responsive to the guidance of their God.  They refused to stay on His course and deviated from His guidance.

In the New Testament, ‘sklerotrachelus’ is the Greek word so translated in Acts 7:51 and Romans 2:5-6.

“But by your callous stubbornness and impenitent of heart you are storing up wrath and indignation for yourself on the day of wrath and indignation, when God’s righteous judgement (just doom) will be revealed.   For He will render to every man according to his works [justly, as his deeds deserve]”  (Rom. 2:5, 6).

WHY DID GOD USE THE PHRASE “STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE”?

He didn’t say, ‘stiff-shouldered people’, or ‘stiff-armed’, or ‘stiff-legged people’.  Take a moment and think where your neck is located and what function it plays in your life.

Your neck is the vital connecting corridor between the most important parts; your head and torso.  The neck is necessary for you to survive as a living human being.

A surgeon will tell you that here are distinct structures in your neck as in the rest of your body; air, food, nerve pathways, life-sustaining fluids like, blood, lymph.  All have to pass through this narrow region of your body.  Because the structures of your neck are packed close together, it requires an absolute minimum of excess tension to function at their best.

Thus, it’s important for your general well-being and the neck freely allows what might be called, efficient “biological connections” between the head and torso.  Your neck has a huge impact on the “mechanics” of your functioning; your posture, your coordination, your ability to move efficiently.

THE HEAD

Your head is lightly balance on top of your neck (medical experts say the head weighs between 10-12 pounds).  Very little muscular effort is needed to keep it there.  If that balance is compromised; having to hold it up with a lot of muscular effort, stiffen your neck to keep it from falling forward or to one side, tightness will cause “compensatory tightening” throughout the rest of your body.  It will harm your ability to:

1.  Move freely and efficiently.

2.  Restrict your breathing.

3.  Pressure on your internal organs.

Think for a moment of people you know that have had or have stiff necks.  Watch how they sit, stand and move; they move comparatively ‘stiffly’ and ‘awkwardly’.  Also, think of how they adjust to changing circumstances in general, how flexible they are in their thinking.  In my observation, I’ve noticed a certain mental rigidity which mirrors their physical stiffness.

Often the word “stiff-necked” is translated in the Bible as “stubbornness”.  Here are some verses in Scripture that I found in gathering evidence:

Exodus 32:9  “a stiff-necked people”

Deuteronomy 9:6  “…you are a hard and stubborn people”

II Chronicles 36:13  “He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who made him swear by God.  He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord, the God of Israel”.

Jeremiah 17:23  “Yet they [todays churches at times from my observation], would not listen and obey or incline their ears; but they stiffened their necks, that they might not hear and might not receive instruction”.

GOD’S GUIDANCE:  “TRUSTING AND OBEYING” IN DIFFICULT CHOICES

We need to learn how to release undue tension in our necks.  One of the best things we can do is to improve our overall functioning; how we respond to God’s guidance and direction in these “last days“.  Remember God is watching how we respond to difficult choices.  And non-believers are also observing our posture, our coordination, our physical ‘stiffness’ toward others and our own stubbornness.

My wife Dianne, has reoccurring stiff necks and I have asked her in the past what she thinks might be the cause.  She says it might be a “pinched nerve” in her neck.  Maybe the way she was sleeping the night before or a cold draft settled in the muscles of her neck.  Now a doctor might tell her not to sit or lie near an open window.  Maybe certain muscle relaxers or sedatives might even bring some relief. Then again, our stubbornness might be the cause; not seeking medical treatment; “Oh, I will just have to deal with it. It is what it is! I’m NOT going to the doctor!”

In Bob Mumford’s book, “Take Another Look At Guidance,” he gives some good advice in regards to God’s guidance in difficult choices and circumstances.

There is what he calls a “conditional guidance” and is described in Isaiah 58:10-11:  “And if you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday.  And the Lord WILL CONTINUALLY GUIDE YOU, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”  Now you can ignore His guidance being “stiff-necked” and not trust and obey or pay heed to God’s prevention remedy. Or…

In PART II of “The Hardness of Stubbornness—Stiff-Necked People” I’ll focus on the causes and the guidance remedies that God has given us in His Word.

“True Christian Sacrifice”– (Part 2)

SHARING THE JOY OF THE EXPERIENCE IN PRAISE

TEXT is Hebrews 13:15, 16, “A sacrifice of praise and good deeds”

“Peace, peace, to him who is far off [both Jew and Gentile] and to him who is near! says the Lord; I create the FRUIT OF HIS LIPS, and I will heal him [make his lips blossom anew with speech in thankful praise]”  (Isaiah 57:19 Amplified version).

THROUGH CHRIST WE SHOULD OFFER TO GOD CONTINUAL SACRIFICES

GOOD DEEDS–“kindness and good”  (Hebrews 13:16)

“Kindness and good” is a general term for all kinds of practical ministry to others.  The New International Version and the New American Standard versions of the bible use the word “sharing” (Greek=Koinonia).  It means sharing the essentials of life with those who are lacking them; unable to work to obtain them.  2 Thessalonians 3:10 takes it one step further:

 

“For while we were yet with you, we gave you this rule and charge:  If anyone will not work, neither let him eat.”

The Bible is clear, that religion that is only God-ward, does not extend in practical ways to others is PHONY!

External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this:  to visit and help and care for orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world”  (James 1:27). 

And James goes on to say,

“If a brother or sister is poorly clad and lacks food for each day,  And one of you says to him, Good-bye! Keep [yourself] warm and well fed, without giving him the necessities for the body, what good does that do?”  (James 2:15, 16). 

And then the thought is carried forth in the Gospel of John,

“Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity)”  (1 John 3:16-18).

“SUCH SACRIFICES” ARE PLEASING TO GOD

A sacrifice is, “something given that comes with a cost”.  If what ever you are doing at the time, doesn’t cost you something, then by definition it isn’t a sacrifice.  Things might be real tough in your finances right now.  But you are ‘blessed to be a blessing’ and it might cost you something.  If it doesn’t, it’s not a sacrifice.

If we offer “such sacrifices” apart from Jesus, we then are sacrificing in vain; an offensive attempt to commend ourselves to God.  When we offer them through Jesus Christ–“such sacrifices are pleasing to God”  (Hebrews 13:16).

My aim in life while writing The WORD Detective blog is to please God out of love for Him.  Do I receive a benefit from blogging?  ABSOLUTELY!  I am blessed through writing thoughts down and publishing them for all to read.  The Apostle Paul prayed for the Colossians this way:

“That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition]”  (Colossians 1:10).

One day we will stand before Him; we should live so we will hear Him say to us,

Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant!  You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy…”  (Matthew 25:23).

If through Christ Jesus, we “constantly, continually and at ALL TIMES offer up to God a sacrifice of praise”, and not to “forget or neglect to do kindness and good, to be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy” of the church, as proof of fellowship–we will rejoice someday to hear those words repeated from His own lips.  BUT IT WILL COST YOU SOMETHING!  If it doesn’t, it’s NOT a sacrifice.

FINAL THOUGHTS

God created you for a purpose:

—Glorify Him by enjoying Him forever.  How do I do that?

—By living in a manner pleasing to Him.  How do I do that?

—By coming to faith in Jesus and His shed blood.  It’s the only way to be reconciled or submitted to the holy God.

—Trusting in Jesus.  You please God by daily offering your life to Him; as a living sacrifice of praise and good deeds.

Some practical ways:

1.  Steep yourselves in the Psalms.  Turn them into praises as you pray them back to God with your lips.

2.  Sing Praise Songs and hymns of faith. If you don’t know the words or the tunes, get a CD and play them back. Even Jesus and the disciples sang after communion; the Passover Seder; the Last Supper as some know it.

“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives”  (Matthew 26:30).

3.  Look for opportunities to serve, rather than expecting to be served.

“For even the Son of Man came not to have service rendered to Him, but to serve”  (Mark 10:45).

4.  As with George Muller, make it your first business of every day to find delight and joy in God.  As the picture in today’s blog of Ziggy says, “Go God!!”.  Your chief end is to glorify Him by enjoying His presence.

 

 

“True Christian Sacrifice” — (PART 1)

A God-pleasing Sacrifice

 “Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.”

“Do not forget or neglect to do kindness and do kindness and good, to be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy [of the church as embodiment and proof of fellowship], for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”  (Hebrews 13:15, 16  Amplified version).

One of the most profound sentences ever written is the answer to the question:  “What is the chief end of man?”  

ANSWER IS:  “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever” OR “Man’s chief end is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever” by John Piper.

   

In other words, the only way that you can truly glorify God is by “enjoying Him”.  If you are a joyless, grim Christian, gritting your teeth as you endure till the end–that is not good advertisement of how good God is!

C.S. Lewis says, that as he was beginning to believe in God, a great stumbling block was the presence of demands scattered throughout the Psalms that we should praise God,  He did not see the point in all this; besides, it seemed to picture God as craving ‘for our worship like a vain woman who wants compliments’.  He goes on to show why he was wrong in his thinking in “Reflections On The Psalms”. 

“But the most obvious fact about praise–whether of God or anything–had strangely escaped me.  I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor.  All the enjoyment spontaneously overflowing to praise.  I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.” 

The “enjoyment” might be at a beautiful spot in God’s creation, where you don’t know anyone else is there.  It reminds me of the cartoon character, “ZIGGY”.  He is sitting on top of a hill, with is back turned to the readers, viewing a beautiful sunset. His exclamation of the awesomeness of God is, “GO GOD!”  Ziggy’s praise completes his enjoyment without anyone elses input. 

CHRISTIAN LIVING SHOULD BE IN THE “OVERFLOW”

“…I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:10).

Moving to a monastery, where we cut ourselves off from others and praise God 24/7, falls short of what pleases God. Also, neglecting doing good and sharing is another aspect of isolation from outside distractions.  In other words, we glorify God both by a life that continually spills over in praise to God and by practical good deeds.  That truly is living in the “overflow” that Jesus was speaking about in John 10:10.

The writer of Hebrews, very likely addressed his letter to Jewish Christians in Palestine or in Rome, converts who were being tempted to revert to Judaism or to Judaize the Gospel.  They had a lot of old facts, but they were without understanding to the new truth.

“Do not be carried about by different and varied and alien teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established and ennobled and strengthened by means of grace and not by foods, which bring no [spiritual] benefit or profit to those who observe them”  (Hebrews 13:9).

JOYLESS BELIEVERS

An objection was raised by the Jews regarding “rules of diet” and “ritualistic meals” that were being set aside by believing Jews in Christ.

“We have an altar from which those who serve and worship in the tabernacle have no right to eat”  (Hebrews 13:10).

The author of the text counters the objection in telling them that they DO have an altar; the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our once-for-all offering for sin.  We need no other sacrifice for atonement, but we do offer sacrifices to God.  Not to gain forgiveness of sins, because we possess forgiveness in Christ Jesus.  Our sacrifices are THANK OFFERINGS; not just occasional but continual.  We offer sacrifices of praise and good deeds and these sacrifices please Father God.

HEBREWS 13:15-16 MAKES FOUR POINTS!

#1.  EVERYTHING WE DO IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS THROUGH CHRIST

“Through Him, therefore”

The emphatic in the Greek text must be pointed out.  The only way that we can approach the holy God, is THROUGH the shed blood of Jesus.  To offer our good works to God apart from Christ is as “filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6).  When the women of old in the bible would go through their monthly ovarian cycle, current ‘feminine protection’ was unheard of. They would use cloth rags instead. So when you read,  “For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially], and all our righteousness (our best deeds) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment” , you perhaps can see what the writer of Hebrews is talking about.

It is clear that Jesus fulfilled in His death what the Old Testament sacrificial system could only point to (Hebrews 10:1-4).  The only sacrifices we can now offer are ‘spiritual sacrifices of praise and good deeds; and only offered “through Him”.

CONTINUAL SACRIFICE

PRAISE to God is not ‘a nice thing to do once in awhile’; when you feel like it.  The Psalms are filled with the command:  “PRAISE THE LORD”.  It is NOT a suggestion; something you might try when you don’t have anything else to do.  It’s a command to permeate EVERYTHING I do!  “Let us constantly [or continually] and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise”  (Hebrews 13:15).  We are to be so captivated and filled with the greatness and goodness and grace, and majesty of God that our lives should be in the “overflow” of praises.

TRUE PRAISE

True praise always comes from the heart.  The command implies and demands our hearts are right before Him.

“And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do”  (Hebrews 4:13).

God sees our hearts and the attitudes of our hearts before we go to church on Sundays.  Putting on ‘happy faces’, singing out praises with wrong hearts–we become hypocrites. We have to deal with our ‘heart attitudes’ before we can bring a true sacrifice of praise to God.  It takes a preparation before your sacrifice.  For years, I have put Christian music recordings on, after getting out of bed on Sunday mornings.  I try to read a chapter or maybe a Psalm while eating my breakfast.  I also insert a CD of music in the car driving to church, all in preparation to offer a sacrifice of praise.

John Piper, in a sermon on Hebrews 13:15-16 writes about our number one priority:

PRIORITY #1.   Cultivation of hearts by standing in awe of God.

We believe in MISSIONS, EVANGELISM, NURTURE AND EDUCATION in the church but it is all weariness of the flesh if it is not preceded and carried by a sense of wonder; at the glory of God.  “WORK FOR GOD that is not sustained by wonder of God is weariness of the flesh”.

CONFESSION–What does to “confess God’s name” mean?

To openly proclaim and to submit to god’s attributes, His grace toward us in Jesus Christ.

“For it is written,  As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God [acknowledge Him to His honor and to His praise]”  (Romans 14:11).

AT THE JUDGEMENT SEAT OF CHRIST, there will be no choice!  BUT now, by God’s grace we can willingly offer a sacrifice of praise to God; bowing our hearts before Him, reveling in who He is as revealed in His Word (NOT in “however you conceive Him to be”).

PRAISE SHOULD FLOW FROM YOUR HEART

Your “HEART” is who you are; body, soul, and spirit.  Your ‘being’ has to be brought into submission to God and His Word.

“[For it is He] Who delivered and saved us and called us with a calling in itself holy and leading to holiness [to a life of consecration, a vocation of holiness]; [He did it] not because of anything of merit that we have done, but because of and to further His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began”  (1 Tim.1:9).

We cannot help but to praise Him!  Let us work at casting off every thought of grumbling or discontent; become a people like in Ephesians 1:6 and 1 Peter 2:9:

“[So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6).

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”  (1 Peter 2:9).

Hardness of Heart Results and”The Shame Game” Begins (Part 2)

BATTERY CABLE CORROSION

GOD IS LIKE A BATTERY

Many people who I have talked to over the years have said that God just wasn’t a factor in their lives.  I would follow-up their statement with a question; “Why do you feel that way?”  Their response would be,  “He never seems to pay much attention to them, and nothing ever changes”.  Although, it might appear to be the situation, we know that God is not the problem.  God is like a battery, continually sending out power in life.  The devil knows he can’t stop the power, so he does the next best thing.  He corrodes the battery-cable connection.  You and I are like battery cables.  If you have ever looked under the hood of your car, you can see that there is a little metal ring attached to the battery cable which must fit down over the battery terminal.  If the inside of this cable ring becomes coated with corrosion, it doesn’t matter how much power is stored in the battery; none of it will be able to flow to the starter connection.  You can sit there in the car and continue to turn the key in the ignition out of frustration, but no power can reach the starter.  Your conclusion is most likely to be, “the battery is dead”.

God really loves you!  In fact the bible says God is LOVE (1 John 4:16). He wants to send you love, power, and help. BUT, if the enemy has been able to establish his message of identity and destiny within you, then the resulting internal images begin to insulate you from God’s love, just as the corrosion on a battery cable ring separates the starter from the battery power.  God is NOT withholding His love and help from you.  He wants to expose you to the corrosion that is preventing the close contact; experiencing His love and help in your life.

BUILDING WALLS

When cursing of identity comes, it can deeply wound your heart, causing you to erect a wall to block further pain.  Unfortunately, that same wall can also prevent the love of others from entering your heart.  Craig Hill, in his book, The Ancient Paths says,  “Love can be received only when a risk of being hurt is taken, and the protective wall toward another individual is pulled down.” 

PULLING DOWN THE WALLS

The primary force that prevents the breaking down walls is FEAR.  The fear of being hurt again.  1 John 4:18 speaks to that circumstance:

“There is NO FEAR IN LOVE, but full-grown (complete and perfect) love turns out fear out-of-doors and expels every trace of terror! For FEAR brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached maturity of love”.

Healing of the heart comes through the taking of what can seem like an extreme risk.  This extravagant action, to the pulling down the wall and opening the heart to people in a safe environment.  The deep FEAR that Satan uses to keep us from taking the next step is the terrifying prospect of rejection, public exposure, and ridicule.  Actually, when done the right way, with the anointing of the Lord, the opposite is true.  I found in the Letter of James, some direction in this circumstance:

“Confess to one another therefore your faults and pray also for one another, that you may be healed, and restored”  (James 5:16).

Usually, if there is no confession to others, there is no healing.  Why?  Because the wall standing, because of FEAR of being rejected and hurt still is intact, blocking you from receiving the love of people and God.

HARDNESS OF HEART RESULTS

Because of the refusal of continuing to walk in God’s “eternal paths, where the good old way is“, for two generations now in our society, “hardness of the heart” has prevailed.  “We will not walk in it!”  (Jeremiah 6:16).  Our culture has exchanged the value of SELF-SACRIFICIAL LIVING for the value of SELFISHNESS.  Even some Christians have adopted the latter value.  The goal in life today for many people is simply “pain avoidance”.  Most people spend much of their time and energy trying to avoid further pain and to find something or someone to make them happy.

The following data I dug up reveals the consequences of having allowed God’s protective walls to be torn down in our culture:

ONE DAY IN THE LIVES OF AMERICA’S CHILDREN 

Every day in the United States:

    2,795  teenage girls get pregnant

    1,106  teenage girls have abortions

    372  teenage girls has miscarriages

    689   babies are born to women who have had inadequate prenatal care

    67      babies die before one month of life

    105    babies die before their first birthday

    27     children die from poverty

    10     children are killed by guns

    30    children are wounded by guns

    6    teenagers commit suicide

    135,000 children bring guns to school

    7,742 teenagers become sexually active

    437 children are arrested for drinking or drunken driving

    1849 children are abused and neglected

    3,288 children run away from home

    2,989 children see their parents divorced

Keep in mind as you read through this data that these are DAILY, not weekly or monthly statistics.  The data came from The Almanac of the Christian World  (c) 1990.  So even these staggering numbers have probably changed upward significantly.

“THE SHAME GAME” — IDENTITY CURSING

Many of America’s parents have lost and failed to teach God’s message of identity and destiny to their children.  God’s purpose in life is to impart His Glory to your and your family through BLESSING.  Satan’s purpose is to SHAME you and your family through CURSING.

GLORY can be defined as “a feeling of dignity, great value of being, acceptability and legitimacy”.  Dr. Creflo Dollar says,  “Glory means ‘heavy with weight’; manifestation of God’s Word seed. The glory of the healing is in the word seed.  The actual healing is the glory.  The Bible contains the ‘word seed’, and when the seed bears fruit…That’s GLORY”.

On the other hand, cursing of identity delivers the opposite of Glory — SHAME.  Shame can be defined as “a feeling of lack of dignity, worthlessness of being, unacceptability, and illegitimacy.  Shame, as opposed to guilt, is a deep feeling of wrongness of action.  “GUILT says, ‘I MADE a mistake.’  Shame says, ‘I AM a mistake.”  If I make a mistake, there is hope. I can repent and be forgiven by the blood of Christ.  However, if I am a mistake, there is no hope for me.  I can change what I do, but I can’t change what I am.  Many people try to rid themselves of the feeling of shame through doing things that they hope will help.  They then become “HUMAN DOINGS instead of HUMAN BEINGS.

SHAME is a deep feeling of contamination, uncleanness, and of being flawed. It causes you to feel incapable, different, and isolated from others.  “I don’t have what it takes to be a success,”  or “I don’t belong; I’m not supposed to be here.”  When SHAME is behind your built up walls, you often time feel like you have to work twice as hard as others to accomplish half as much.

HOW DOES SHAME COME?

Shame often comes through perverted family “rules”.  Every family has unwritten “rules” that are communicated to the children at a very early age.  I wrongly tried to instill the… ‘if you don’t eat that, you can eat in the morning for breakfast’ rule.  I know, I was terrible and many times my oldest daughter will remind me today how terrible the rule was.  During that time, in my early life as a parent, the rules I set  before my kids weren’t godly. They didn’t set boundaries of blessing, releasing God’s glory into the family.  In other families, the rules are made to cover the SHAME of the parents and to make sure that their in abilities are not exposed.

In the last example of shame in the family, the most wounding time for children is when they are the neediest.  That is when parents who are filled with shame get angry, curse the identity of their children, and hold them accountable for the circumstance beyond their control.

SHAME “CLOAKS” THE GOSPEL

“We have renounced disgraceful ways (secret thoughts, feelings, desires and underhandedness, the methods and arts that men hide through SHAME)…   BUT even if our Gospel also may be hidden [only] to those who are perishing and obscured to those who are spiritually dying and veiled [only] to those who are lost.    For the god of this world has blinded unbelievers’ minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the Image and Likeness of God”  (2 Corinthians 4:2-4).

SHAME causes intense focus on ‘self’.  Paul tells us in the above verses that we are to renounce the things hidden because of shame.

LIES THAT NOURISH SHAME

Once SHAME is referred to through the ‘cursing of your identity’, the feeling of SHAME is carried on to adulthood through lies that you believe.  Some of the lies which nourish this SHAME might be:

1.  What I feel is wrong; (anger, hurt, loneliness, sadness, etc.).

2.  It is selfish and wrong to have a need or ask a favor.

3.  It is wrong to express a contrary opinion.

4.  I should never allow myself to make a mistake.

5.  I can’t go out of the house without looking just right.

6.  Compulsive sin or addictive habit.

7.  Need to succeed in order to be accepted.

We can see that God ‘”programmed” man to walk in His “eternal paths, where the good, old way is”; which were meant to be protective wall to us.  These walls are ceremonies, customs, habits, and laws which God established in society. Those walls were for our benefits; God’s message of identity and destiny through parental blessing at special pivot points in our young families.  Over the past few generations, these protective walls, or “old ways” have been torn down and abandoned in our culture. 

If you need to dig into this subject of “eternal paths” further, pick up Craig Hill’s book The Ancient Paths. I used a lot of his information and statistics in the writing of this blog and added personal examples for emphasis.