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.

The Shame Game! Blessing And Cursing In The Family

 
The SHAME GAME

I was reading this morning in The Book of Jeremiah and ran across a verse that puzzled me at first.  I was  prompted by the Holy spirit to dig into God’s Word in finding some answers.  I also found in my library a small book by Craig Hill, that gave insight into the verse in Jeremiah regarding the blog’s topic: “The Shame Game! Blessing and Cursing In The Family”.

“Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads and look; and ask for the eternal paths, where the good, OLD WAY is; then walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it!”  (Jeremiah 6:16–Amplified).

GOD’S PURPOSE IN JESUS’ COMING

Reading in Genesis 12:1-3, about the Abrahamic Blessing, we can see God’s purpose in Jesus’ coming was to bless all the families of the earth. And if you’re wondering–you and I are part of the family of God. We haave THE BLESSING.

(3)  “And I will bless those who bless those who bless you [who confer prosperity or happiness upon you] and curse him who curses or uses insolent language toward you; in you will all the families and kindred of the earth be blessed [and by you they will bless themselves].”

AND…

“Know and understand that it is [really] the people [who live] by faith who are [the true] sons of Abraham”  (Galatians 3:7–Amplified).

Blessing is God’s primary mechanism of imparting His message of identity and destiny into your life. Therefore, it’s important to understand the meaning of the word “blessing”.

Smalley and Trent define the blessing that should come to us through parents as containing  the following five key elements:

“The family blessing” includes:

—  MEANINGFUL TOUCH

—  A SPOKEN MESSAGE

—  ATTACHING HIGH VALUE TO THE ONE BEING BLESSED

—  PICTURING A SPECIAL FUTURE FOR THE ONE BEING BLESSED

—  AN ACTIVE COMMITMENT TO FULFILL THE BLESSING

A BLESSING DEFINITION

If you are a grandparent like myself, this topic about the family doesn’t exclude you listening to the words given.  The Hebrew word for BLESS, BLESSED, BLESSING; according to Expository Dictionary of Bible Words is, BARACK: Inherent in the idea of blessing is the invocation of special favor on a person or object that is held in high esteem. The Hebrew verb to bless is “BARUCH”. So simply put, “to bless” means “To empower to prosper in every area of life”. A good definition of cursing would be “To disempower from prospering”.  What does “prosper” mean? In our culture the first thing that comes to mind is “money”.  But a better description of, “to prosper” is to thrive, succeed, or do well. In the Hebrew language, this word primarily means:  “To have a pleasant fulfilling journey”.

THE POWER OF BLESSING AND CURSING

Parents and grandparents, with their words, attitudes, and actions possess the ability to bless or curse the identities of their children and grandchildren.  One empowers the child to prosper, while the other cripples and disables.  “Blessing imparts God’s message of identity and destiny, while cursing imparts Satan’s message of the same.”

“JOSHUA AND THE HAMBURGER” a story by Craig Hill

Many times we inadvertently curse the identity of those who are the closest to us without ever realizing it.

Craig Hill’s story begins:

I sat in a restaurant with my family, attempting to get my four-year-old son to eat his hamburger.  Joshua and I had come to an irreconcilable stand-off regarding the hamburger.  We had gone to the restaurant after church on Sunday, and he had wanted a hamburger for lunch.  However, when the meal came, I noticed that the hamburger was much too big for Joshua to eat without it being cut.  So, I simply reached over with my knife and fork and cut his hamburger in half.  I then said, “There, now it will be much easier for you to eat it.”  Joshua looked at me with an anguished look of shock and disbelief.  With tears starting to roll out of his eyes, he said, “You ruined it!  I’m not going to eat it. Fix it, Daddy.”  “I can’t fix it, Josh,” I replied.  “What do you want me to do?  Get some super glue and glue it back together?”

Craig says he tried for several minutes to convince him that the hamburger would taste the same whether it was cut or not. But his ‘brow-beating’ wasn’t going to work this time. He even offered to get a new hamburger to no avail.  Since neither bribery nor threats seemed to motivate his son to stop crying and eat, it suddenly dawned on Craig to pray and ask the Lord how to solve the problem.  “How can I get Joshua to eat his hamburger?”

The answer that came back from prayer was, “Repent and ask your son’s forgiveness”.  And Craig Hill’s response to the answer is much like we respond when we are told “you are wrong in your thinking”. 

“Why should I repent? I am right. I can’t repent, if I’m the one who’s right. He should eat his hamburger, and I was right to cut it, because it was too big for him to handle.” — Oh, oh…sound like selfishness to me.

Then the Holy Spirit reminded Mr. Hill, as He reminds you and I of a well-known scripture when Jesus told his disciples,

“Do you not yet discern or understand? Are your hearts in [a settled state] of hardness?  Having eyes, do you not see [with them], and having ears, do you not hear and perceive and understand the sense of what is said?”  (Mark 8:17, 18).

The Lord then spoke to Craig’s spirit right there in the restaurant.  “You are just like these disciples.  You think you’re talking about a hamburger, but that is not the issue.  When your son said to you, ‘You ruined it,’ he wasn’t talking about the hamburger. He was talking about his value to you as your son. His identity was cursed by you, and his value as a person, in general, and as your son, in specific, is what was ruined, not the hamburger. However, you have had no eyes to see or ears to hear the real issue.”  BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, BOUGHT THE TEE SHIRT!

Craig was beginning to see something here but needed more clarification.  The Holy Spirit continued speaking into his spirit,  “When you reached over and cut the food on Joshua’s plate, you didn’t extend to him the courtesy of communicating with him your intentions before just treating his plate as your own. Then when you reacted, you continued to treat him as if he were the one with an attitude problem and didn’t acknowledge his feeling on the matter at all. You treated him as if he had no feelings or as if his feelings didn’t matter. How would you like it if someone uninvited reached over to your plate and began to tinker with your food?”

Craig got the message loud and clear, and as I look back as a father on the raising of my children, I get the message too. ‘Better late than never’.

“Joshua, have I made you feel as though you’re not very important to me?”  He answered, “Yes.”  “Did you feel that Daddy got in your space without asking first?”  “Yes” Joshua exclaimed.  Then Craig said,  “Joshua, I’m sorry. I can now see that I was very wrong to treat you that way. I should have talked to you before I cut your food. Will you forgive me?”  He replied, “Yes, Daddy.” He offered to get Joshua another hamburger but Josh agreed with his Daddy that the burger WAS to big to eat it without being cut. Besides, it would taste the same either way.

Craig Hill’s story about his four-year-old son is just a beginning conversation. The idea and basis of the story can be applied to not only your children and grandchildren but to your wife, your husband, your boss, a friend, a church member.

Discussing next in PART II, the results of hardness of heart and ‘The Shame Game’.

Proverbs 28:14 tells us that “he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity“.

 

 

 

 

How Confession Begins–With “Old Camel Knees”!

How Confession Begins

“OLD CAMEL KNEES”

In an article by Jon Peterson, “Writing in the 4th Century by Jerome records that ‘James, the half-brother of Jesus…prayed in behalf of the people, insomuch that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camel’s knees’.”  Thus, the nickname stuck!  Therefore, what better place to begin the blog on confession through prayer but The Letter of James.

THE THREE QUESTIONS

“Is anyone among you afflicted? He should pray. Is anyone glad at heart? He should sing praise (to God). Is anyone among you sick?”  (James 5:13, 14).

1.  WHO’S AFFLICTED?

2.  WHO’S MERRY; GLAD AT HEART?

3.  WHO’S SICK?

AFFLICTION

“Affliction” doesn’t refer to a sickness or illness; that topic is referred to in verse 14.  The word means “to be attacked or persecuted for the sake of the gospel. A by-product would be poor choices we’ve made that go against the Word of God. A Scriptural example can be found in The Book of Romans, where Paul says;

“Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)?”  (Rom. 6:16).

That’s “reaping what we’ve sown”.  Remember, “Words Determine Your Thinking”; that’s right words and wrong words.  In Creflo Dollar’s “8 Steps to Your Destination”, he starts the conversation by, YOU determine your words that you say. Either God’s words or the worlds.  “Your words then, determine your thinking; your thinking determines your emotions; your emotions determine your decisions or choices”.  WRONG choices will lead to “affliction”.

THE REMEDY

It always starts with your prayer life; that doesn’t necessarily mean to petition God. Prayer is the “vehicle” of our relationship with God; asking for wisdom, studying/reading His word; enjoying quiet time with Him without saying a word. All of those thoughts are prayer (fellowship). Relief of affliction comes through your relationship with God.

“Relationships last a lifetime!”

I heard a pastor one morning, start his sermon with this quotation: “I don’t want to KNOW ABOUT God.  I want to KNOW God”.  

It’s personal and it ALL starts with a loving relationship with Jesus. 

“And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend”. 

With social networks, smart phones, computer email, it seems we are never involved in a face to face relationship anymore. We are even finding a future spouse via on-line dating. What has happen to the relationships in our lives?

“MERRY” OR “GLAD OF HEART”

When was the last time you could say to yourself, “Boy, I am sure feeling “merry”; “glad of heart” lately?  Scripture says we should be making “a joyful noise unto the Lord”  (Psalm 66:1; Psalm 81:1; Psalm 95:1-12; Psalm 98:4-6; Psalm 100:1). 

I sang with a worship team on Sundays for about two years.  I looked at some of the faces singing and it was hard seeing people who were singing without “joyful noises”, without “thanksgiving”, without expressions of praise in their singing.

Looking back now at the experiences, knowing I wasn’t aware of what they might be going through, perhaps a time of experiencing  affliction as they stood singing. 

James is telling us in verse 13, no matter what our affliction might be, we are to be “glad at heart” IN… our affliction.

“I CAN’T BE HAPPY WHILE I AM GOING THROUGH ‘STUFF’…”

Paul and Silas clothes were torn off, beaten with rods, struck with many blows to the face and thrown into jail with their feet fastened in the stocks (Acts 16:22-24). Now that’s affliction!

“But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God”  (Acts 16:25).

If you have thought it was hard for you to sing praises in YOUR affliction on Sunday mornings, remind yourself of Paul’s and Silas’ circumstances and sing as loud as you can in gladness the next time. “Sing praise to God”. It becomes your intent to please Him; not to please yourself and looking like ‘road kill’ while trying to please God in your affliction.

IS ANYONE SICK?

Scripture teaches other means by which healing is brought to a person. 

In James 5:14,  any sick person should call the elders of the church; assuming the elders BELIEVE in the laying on of hands to heal any sickness and praying over the sick person of the anointing with oil. 

Verse 15 says you must have “the prayer [that is] of faith will save him who is sick”.  In other words, if you ask someone in the church who doesn’t believe that prayer can heal, your are not going to see results. 

A GOOD definition of FAITH is, “A practical expression of the confidence in God and His Word”.  And FAITH continues in HOPE’s definition: “is a heartfelt expectation of a thing with an out-stretched neck”.

If you call upon someone to pray for your sickness that doesn’t exhibit the “prayer of faith”, your sickness won’t go away. That’s not the WORD detective telling you, it’s God’s Word giving you the remedy. The prayer of faith shall save the sick! NO FAITH, NO HEALING!

THE “ELDERS”

The word “Elders” isn’t necessarily referring to the position within a local body; although it is likely during the years of the early church when everyone believed in healing this would be so. I’ll leave it at that.

Most churches that I know don’t make a regular practice of laying on hands to heal the sick. They simply refer people to a doctor they know of that you can seek out.

An “elder” was translated in the Greek language, “prosbuteros“; translated to English the word is “presbyter” or senior member of the church.  NOTE the fact, that a person is an elder, that fits the requirement; it’s whether they know how to pray the “prayer of faith”.

“THE PRAYER OF FAITH” AS TAUGHT BY JESUS

“And Jesus, replying, said to them [His disciples],  Have faith in God [constantly].  Truly I tell you, whoever says to the mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it wilL be done for him.  For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]”  (Mark 11:22-24 Amplified).

SPEAKING TO THE MOUNTAIN

If sickness is the mountain, command it to be removed (healed); in the Name (Authority), using the word “SHALL” or “IT WILL” gives absolute certainty to what you’re asking for.  “I believe that I receive that I possess it, I confess it” That simple confession is the root of all prayer.

If a person isn’t healed, 1 or 2 things occurred and neither have to do with God or His will:

1.  Didn’t call the elders in faith but by religious practice.

2.  The request of others who were believing, or the elders present, didn’t make “the prayer of faith”.

DEALING WITH RELATIONSHIPS; Confessing your faults to one another:

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed”  (James 5:16 in King James).

We are to confess our sins to God but our faults one to another.  If I have injured you, then I should confess that to you.  BUT I will not confess my sins to you, and I don’t want you confessing your sins to me. You are to confess that to the Lord.

“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]”  (I John 1:9).

I cannot forgive sins; neither can any clergyman forgive sins–only God can do that.

Confessing your faults to one another doesn’t mean to grab a stranger next Sunday in church and start telling them your deficiencies, your character make-up; “I’m always late” or “I can’t thank God for anything anymore.”  It starts by developing a relationship first.

Also, a clergyman shouldn’t ask someone in the fellowship to come up to the platform and admit their faults; to make them feel better; getting rid of their burden.  You should know the “one another” before spilling your guts about what a critical person you are.  Remember, confession isn’t an apology; “I am sorry for the way I am”.  Repentance goes with confession; turning 180 degrees from where you’ve been. If you choose the wrong person to confess your faults too, that’s how gossip starts in churches.

CONFESSING YOUR FAULTS:

It means you confess or “I admit it,” what you did wrong.  Leave the other person’s mistake or fault to them–For THEM to confess.  Too often, we confess the other persons faults instead of our own.

“Old Camel Knees” says,  “confess your faults” and pray for each other “that you to be healed”. 

James isn’t referring to sickness, he has already dealt with illness in verse 14.  Rather, this “HEALING” refers to the reconciliation of relationships and healing any conflict among people.

I have covered but a few aspects of an effectual prayer life.  It all starts with our relationship with Our heavenly Father; for He is love.  And believers in His Son, we are the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Confessing that Jesus is your Saviour and Lord, is admitting who He is and by faith your ‘are sticking with it’.

 

“MANIPULATION” From God’s Point of View

It’s Magic

QUOTATIONS ON MANIPULATION

 
I thought I would list but a few quotations regarding “manipulation” and how applicable they seem to be in our society today.
 
1.  “The basic tool for the reality is the use of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control people who must use the words”  (Quote by–Philip K. Dick).
 
2. “Politicians, no matter who they are, shouldn’t be able to manipulate the public on a single issue and then call an election at the height of support–that’s a little bit of a democracy”  (Quote by Jim Bolger).
 
“Pharmakia” (Greek)
 
You probably know where we get the English word Pharmacy from; pharmakia.  It literally means, “the use or administrating of drugs”.  But a deeper look into the definition, we also find the use of ‘witchcraft’.
 
Anything that is altering your way of thinking is “witchcraft“; anger, quilt, manipulation.  If you have to make someone to feel guilty to do what you want them to…it’s manipulation or witchcraft.  A willing heart must be birthed.  If you manipulate out of guilt, the intention will be lost.
 
WEBSTER’S DEFINITION
 
1.  To manage or influence skillfully, esp. in an unfair manner; to manipulate people’s feelings.  With Webster’s definition, lets keep that meaning in our thinking and open up your Bible.
 
 
 
SAMSON AND DELILAH  (Judges 16:1-18)
 
Emotional love can often be rooted in, a need to control or manipulate another person. 
 
“And the lords of the Philistines came to her [Delilah] and said to her, Entice him [manipulate him] and see in what his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him that we may bind him to subdue him.  And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver”  (Judges 16:5).
 
Samson sees through Delilah’s manipulation and charm; for a while, but his emotions change his way of thinking.
 
“And she said to him, HOW CAN YOU SAY, I LOVE YOU, WHEN YOUR HEART IS NOT WITH ME?   And she pressed him day after day with her words and urge him, he was vexed to death”  (Judges 16:15, 16).
 
Have you ever said or thought how charming that particular person is around groups of people? Delilah was definitely “charming” to Samson.
 
“Charm isa way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question”  (Quote by Albert Camus).  A “charming man” ladies, is not an admirable trait. It’s a form of “witchcraft“, “sorcery“, “magical“; MANIPULATION!
 
HERODIAS’ DAUGHTER ‘CHARMS’ THE KING  (Mark 6:17-28)
 
“And Herodias was angry (enraged) with [John the Baptist] and held a grudge against him and wanted to kill him; but she could not”  (Mark 6:19).
 
“But an opportune time came [for Herodias]…”  (Mark 6:21).
 
In verses 19 and 21, the stage is set “to manipulate people’s [her husband; King Herod] feelings”.  Ladies, have you ever wanted something so bad, and you have it in your mind; your husband’s answer will be NO, so you began to plan, to maneuver how you could change his mind?  That would be “manipulation”. That method can be experienced in the church as well.
 
“For when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased and fascinated Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, Ask me for whatever you desire, and I will give it to you”  (Mark 6:22).
 
Herodias and her daughter became manipulators; they had the opportunity placed in front of them to manage the results.  Mom got her way with the head of John on a platter.
 
Manipulation is used to sway others in the manipulator’s favor. In cases where you find a higher ranking individual in ministry using manipulation, you better believe you are in the assembly of the dead. In fact, God does not manipulate and He does not sit in the congregation of the unrighteous.  God said we must worship Him in spirit and in truth.  Satan has a forked tongue and his craft of choice is lying and manipulation.
 
A RED FLAG IS RAISED
 
You should raise an eyebrow when there are many words when few are needed. An example would be:  You are having trouble with your vehicle.  You take it to a mechanic and after reviewing it, he begins to shift thousands of words and mechanic terminology at you.  He continues on and on talking about why his fee for this particular job is so high, and like a game of checkers, you sit in place waiting for a moment to be moved to another place.  Chances are, he is attempting to perform witchcraft on you through manipulationEcclesiastes 5:7 reads:  “For in a multitude of dreams there is futility and worthlessness, and ruin in a flood of words. But [reverently] fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is].”
Add it together and you get a multitude or over abundance of useless words.
 
YOUR KEY IN THE GODLY REALM
 
Once you leave the Godly realm of simply “stating your case and trusting God, you have entered the presence of evil.”
Sure, in our lives, we are faced with many situations where we feel that, through the use of ‘brilliant speech,’ we could dig our way out of.  When I was looking for a new job, I would go by a potential place of employment and drop off my resume.  When I got home at the end of the day, I would tell my wife, “If I can only get a personal interview, see the owner face to face, my words of knowledge will unlock the door to getting hired”.
 
But, God wants to be your key to get to get you through each and every door that you may come to.  When you begin trusting in yourself, you have idolized yourself.  KEY:  You have made yourself an idol. You either trust God or you don’t. There is no mid-way.  Proverbs 3:5 teaches us:
 
“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”  (Amplified).
 
When you trust in the Lord to lead you and to clear your path, the use of manipulation would and should not be considered.
 
MANIPULATION’S FIRST COUSIN
 
A well-known story of a manipulation attempt: Satan tried to manipulate Christ in the wilderness, however, Jesus ran him away with the Word. The bible says that Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. TEMPTATION and MANIPULATION are first cousins.  (Read account in Matthew 4).  Men and women of God, it’s a cycle. Satan manipulates you into thinking that manipulating someone else will bring about results that you want, when God instituted a “fireproof system” —FAITH.  You ask, you believe and you receive.  Manipulation is a short cut attempt to get to the blessings without going the Godly route. “Come on church!”
 
TELLING THE TRUTH
 
Matthew 5:37 states, “Let your YES be simply YES, and your NO be simply NO; anything more than that comes from the evil one”.  These instructions are simple enough.  Using terminology such as, “I promise,” or “I swear,” is not of God and they are used to manipulate and convince others to believe what you are saying when your word should be sufficient enough. Such terms lay way for lying and demean God’s way of simply telling the truth. You will never find an account where Jesus swore or tried to convince anyone of who He is.  He stated His case and left it at that. If you believe Him, great…welcome to the Kingdom, if not, Satan and his angels are awaiting you, as well.
 
PRAYER AND DELIVERANCE
 
If you have found in reading this blog, that manipulation is your choice tactic to take advantage of others or a situation, it’s time to go before God in repentance and ask Him to remove that witchcraft spirit from you. If you realize that someone who is in your life right now, has been using or attempting to use manipulation on you, it’s time again for prayer and deliverance. You need to be delivered from associating with that individual, however, pray that they are delivered from the palms of Satan.  Manipulation; idolatry, sorcercy… are the doings (practices) of the flesh. They are not the fruit of the Holy spirit (Galatians 5:19-23).  Amen and Amen!