“Don’t Mess With My Sacred Cows!”

Is Expediency Permissible?

“Nothing is more curious than the self-satisfied dogmatism with which mankind at each period of its history cherishes the delusion of the finality of its existing modes of knowledge” ~ The Philosophy of John Dewy.

As I get older in life, I have found myself getting more dogmatic about what I am seeing in a lot of churches.  Although I am now in a church environment that feels…more comfortable.  I have lived in this part of Washington State now for 10 years and have been associated with five different backgrounds of doctrine; I am definitely not complaining but stating my desire for  ‘a better way of doing things’ philosophy.  I really hate change, so changing churches really isn’t part of my make-up.  So what is the problem here?

Some people are terrified of change. 

Any deviation from “the way it has always been” rocks the foundations of their own world and mine also at times.  The change removes us from our comfort zones or as I like to call them, “ruts.”  It propels us into the great unknown and becomes more than we can handle.  It’s a preference of “safety”; the status quo; THEIR status quo of course.  Do you know anyone like that?  Might it even be yourself?

We might hear those who resist change say when cornered, “there may, in fact, be nothing biblically wrong with the proposed changes, but why to take the risk, let’s play it safe; stick to the old paths.”  TRANSLATION: “We don’t like it and we’ll work against it.”  Come on Pastors, do I hear an AMEN?

An observable, verifiable fact:

The most resistant to change is the very ones most resistant to any challenge; on the basis of their resistance.  And then a barrage of stones, sticks, and dirt are tossed up from the depths of a well-dug rut.  Do we dare to ask someone why they are down there in the first place; opposed to coming out!

Challenging a legalist to provide a reasoned basis for their position (to even state their position or pattern), you will quickly witness a vicious assault.  Maybe not at first notice, but possibly later on; when you least expect it. OUCH!

One reason for the militancy against those who dare to challenge them or their theology can’t withstand close scrutiny and will collapse under examination.  The religious leaders even will shelter their followers from anyone who dares to challenge them to think; flee from responsible dialogue rather than make a defense.

“Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully”  (1 Peter 3:15).

For those so determined to follow the exact pattern of Scripture often displays a great reluctance to follow the instructions of this passage.  Most of their theology is pick and choose.

There’s A Need For Loopholes:

When the basis of your salvation, even your fellowship with others is preciseness of practice regarding a perceived biblical pattern, there has to be some provision in place for the ‘legalist patternist’.  They avoid those aspects of the pattern that are not comfortable; to adopt extra-pattern practices when its convenient for them.

The Pharisees were experts.

They were experts at binding heavy loads on others and then finding ways to avoid such burden themselves.  One of the ‘loopholes’ for today’s Pharisees is “The Law of Expediency.”  The patternist squeezes themselves through this loophole at every opportunity, yet denies its use to all others outside the narrow parameters.  The exclusivity of expediency becomes a great earmark.  If they engage in some practice beyond the specific patterns, then the practice is declared “expedient.”  However, when anyone else engages in some practice beyond the specifics of “the pattern”, their variance is deemed “unauthorized innovation” at best.  More likely “godless apostasy.”

What is an “expedient” and is it a biblical concept?

Webster’s New World Dictionary; an “expedient” is anything that is “useful for effecting the desired result.”  Does the Word of God ever speak of expediencies?  The answer, of course, is Yes.

The Greek word is sumphero, meaning “that which is advantageous, profitable, expedient.”  Notice a few examples:

Jesus is telling His disciples that because everyone is doing it and it’s legal, doesn’t mean its okay; He speaking to them about divorce in the society:  “The disciples said to Him, If the case of a man with his wife is like this, it is neither profitable [sumphero] nor advisable to marry “But He said to them,  Not all men can accept this saying, but it is for those to whom [the capacity to receive] it has been given”  (Matthew 19:8-11).

Jesus on the night of His arrest told His disciples, “it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away” John 16:7 AMP.

Our Lords imminent departure from His disciples in returning to the Father, while leaving them behind in the world, was certainly not something these men initially thought about with a degree of joy.  Yet there was a great benefit (profit, advantage) in His departure:

“Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you]”  John 16:7 AMP.

His going away was expedient.

The apostle Paul told the church in Corinth:

“Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things)” ~ Corinthians 6:12 AMP.

Again the Greek word sumphero is used.  The apostle Paul clearly recognized the legitimacy of expediency.  However, he also understood expediency is not a license to do as one pleases.  There are additional factors to be considered before an expedient is hired (see also 1 Cor. 10:23).

New Covenant Writings Are NOT Unfamiliar With The Concept of Expediency:

The concept of expediency is biblically sound!  How we employ an expedient often is not.  There lies the major problem that, and what various disciples of Jesus perceived to be “authorized” valid expedient.  “The precise identification of what is, what is not ‘expedient’ remains a point of contention among many congregations” [The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement; page 325].

An expedient, however, properly understood does allow for a significant degree of freedom among even today’s disciples to choose for themselves what they believe as the most profitable method or means effecting the desired result.

Again in The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, this concept is defined better than I could explain:

“Procedures or practices that, while not explicitly enjoined by the biblical text are nonetheless not explicitly prohibited because they are instrumental (or ‘expedient’) to the execution of some other biblical command” [pg. 325].

What does all that really mean?  I was searching the web yesterday and as a good detective might do, ran across this email question by a man living in the U.S., regarding expediencies:

“In studying expediencies I have thought of something that no one has been able to answer thus far–maybe you can share your thoughts with me on this.  Brethren typically justify the use of a church building on the basis of it being an ‘expediency.’  And yet, according to the ‘rules of expediency’ (I realized these are man-made rules), an expediency cannot be specified, then how can we specify how an expediency can or cannot be used?”

Here was the answer was given to this man’s question:  “A kitchen in a church building is sinful.”  Really?  Church buildings are never even mentioned in the NT Scriptures.  So, by what ‘authority’ declares a room in such a structure is ‘sinful’?”

Our various choices in the church; what is or is not “expedient” (and we all make them), have become a source for squabbling and schisms among spiritual siblings.  Why?  Because human nature being what it is, we have the tendency to regard our own choices the most profitable.  Thus we regard the choices of others being less so.  In time, it moves beyond mere profitability or lacks thereof.  It moves to ‘absolute necessity’ for fellowship, salvation even;  AGREE with ME or perish!  When we become this legalistic employing mere expediencies, the satanic spirit of sectarianism captures, enslaves their hearts and minds causing the destruction of oneness in the family of God. They can’t stand in AGREEMENT; ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’

How does one then determine when something is truly expedient?  Has the Bible offered any assistance?

IT MUST BE BIBLICALLY CONSISTENT– In 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:13, Paul regards expedients as falling under the umbrella of “lawful”.

“Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its control” [6:12].

I’ve heard of several stories of young people coming under the influence of the satanic; joining in a satanic cult, then coming out of the influence and giving a testimony of the “lies” they were told; ‘it’s okay to sacrifice a chicken on Satan’s altar. Nobody will even know you did it except those around you and they all believe the same thing.’

Since then, I have not commemorated “Halloween” after hearing about the subtleties of dressing up in “harmless” costumes and calling it something else other than Halloween (see my blog post: HALLOWEEN “Just Harmless Fun, Right?“).  Is that choosing Biblically Consistent or is it ‘My Sacred Cow’?  Should my attitude be more expedient toward such church observations even if they call it by another name?  “A Rose is a rose…”  I’ll address that point later.

IT MUST BE BIBLICALLY UNSPECIFIED— When God specifies something in His Word for or against, we are obligated to obey.  When God speaks we listen and comply.

Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.”  It’s not optional for the Lord Jesus to become “the Author and source of eternal salvation to all those who give heed and obey Him”  (Hebrews 5:9).  Therefore, if something is clearly specified in Scripture, it can’t rightly fall in the realm of expediency.  It must be biblically consistent and biblically unspecified.

IT MUST BE EDIFYING— My choices; your choices must build up and if not…it’s not truly an expedient.

When we demand something resulting in harm to the One Body (the church), we’re not behaving responsibly to the blood-bought church.  Our expediencies must ‘edify’ our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

IT MUST NOT CAUSE STUMBLINGOverriding principles of the New Covenant must exercise our liberty in a responsible way; with consideration for our brothers/sisters less settled in their faith.  Harvest Festivals; HALLOWEEN might seem expedient to most but if it causes ‘stumbling’ to a new babe in Christ, it is not the responsible action.  If my choices good and right as they may cause a brother or sister to stumble and fall in their walk with Jesus, then I have not truly exercised my liberty in a godly and responsible manner.

Romans 14:1-15:2 and 1 Corinthians 8 stresses this principle time and again:  “Do not let yourselves be [hindrances by giving] an offense to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:32.  This would apply to any area of liberty including our choice of what may be perceived to be expedient in accomplishing God’s will.

Expedients are employed by us ALL…on a daily basis.

Let’s cease demanding uniformity as a requirement and more accepting of and forbearing with one another in areas of choice; let us begin promoting unity instead; applying these principles of course.  I believe such a new attitude and course of action will be more expedient in nature.

Is There A FAMINE Coming to The Land?

“THUS THE Lord God showed to me, and behold, a basket of summer fruit”  ~ Amos 8:1

There was a popular Gospel tune by the Imperials – No Shortage in the late 70 s.  I was singing with The Fischermen Trio back then with three of my best friends in southern California.  We sang at any place that would ask us to sing at; churches, men and women’s retreats, anywhere!  One of the most popular songs we were asked to sing, was our rendition of “No Shortage”.  Here are a few lyrics to drink in:

“There’s a shortage on friendship,

There’s a shortage on smiles.  There’s a shortage on neighbors,though there’s millions for miles.

Thank heaven for one thing that there’s no shortage of.  There’s no shortage on God’s Mercy 

There’s no shortage on God’s Love.”

The words to that song was in the minds of everyone then; Christians were no exception.  Shortages of gasoline; long gas lines; food shortages around the world that are still in effect today.  Do we really understand what is means to be in want in America?  Is there a FAMINE about to occur in America?

WHAT DOES “FAMINE” MEAN?

Famine means: starvation, deprivation, a shortage, in need and want.  It means lack, insufficiency, hardship, distress; the opposite of abundance.  In The Book of Amos in the Bible, God shows Amos a basket of fruit which represented the people of Israel.  They were ripe for punishment.  God was tired;  merchants were keeping all the religious festivals and the Sabbaths but not in spirit.  They couldn’t wait for the holy days to be over so they could go back to making money.  Their hearts were not in worship and yet… they put on a religious front for others.

When my children were small, getting ready to go to church on Sundays was chore, to say the least.  For my wife to get them all dressed, hair combed, breakfast eaten and both our efforts of getting all three kids in the car, at the same time…well by the time we got into the Sanctuary to worship, our hearts were far from God.  I often took mental vacations during Pastor’s messages, all because of the mornings events.  My wife knew my heart condition while observing the veins sticking out on the back of my neck in stress.  But I always kept a good religious front for others around me; tried to smile, said, “God bless you” occasionally and on and on.  Yep, I know what you’re thinking:  HYPOCRISY!  I think we’re ALL guilty of hypocrisy on Sunday mornings at different times in our lives.  I just hope, because of our busy lives today, we haven’t lost our appetites for God’s Word as the people of Amos‘ time had done.  They were about to enter a period of FAMINE in the land.

Famines and Droughts in the Bible.

"Behold, the days are coming"

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but [a famine] for hearing the words of God” ~ Amos 8:11.

In this particular Scripture in Amos, the famine spoken of is the absence of God’s Word; an absence, a shortage, a time of hunger and thirst for the Word of God.

“And [the people] shall wonder”, seeking and searching for the Word and not finding it; running “from sea to sea and from the north to the east; they shall run to and fro…but shall not find it.” ~ Amos 8:12.

Can you imagine what the world would be like in a spiritual famine? 

If the Word was not available…and people who were searching but couldn’t find it…if people were searching and seeking the Truth and found nothing…what would the world be like?

The Probables of that day:

The mentally ill would be walking the streets; prisons would be filling up; drug addicts going in and out of rehab without a change and without Christ.  AIDS spreading; new diseases; parents killing their children; children killing their parents; children killing children; same-sex marriages; people shacking up; terrorist attacks; losing jobs; senior citizens unable to buy their medicine.  If there were a spiritual famine in this land, then men would be lovers of themselves; men would be lovers of money; people would be proud, unholy, unloving, unforgiving.  I know what you are thinking…Gee it sounds a lot like the world we live in today; like America today.

“But it Can’t Be…”

We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine in America…not with all the churches on every corner.  I live in a small town Washington State, south of the Canadian border named Lynden.  At one time, Lynden held the world record for the most churches per square mile and per capita.

We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine in America, not with all the Christians walking around.  In 1990, the demographics for Christianity in America was 86%, but according to the American Religious Identification Survey of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.; March 2009, the number was reduced to 75%.  In another study, church planting in Seattle, Washington was the hardest to succeed since only 4% of the population was identified as evangelical Christians.

We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine in America…not with all the professing witnesses; ambassadors of Christ.

We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine because it can only happen if no people are hearing from God and we know people are hearing.  They are saying, ‘God told them to tell you how to get a new house or a new car.  You can have the best of everything because your Father is rich and owns everything.’  We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine in the land.

“I know what it looks like…”  An absence of God’s Word and a shortage of God’s Word in your city:

for the LOST;

for the HURTING;

for the OPPRESSED;

for the DEPRESSED;

for the ADDICTED;

for the UNSAVED;

for the BACKSLIDDEN;

for the CONFUSED and ABUSED;

It looks like those who are looking for hope can’t find it and those who say they have hope won’t share it.

FALSE WORSHIP and a REAL FAST! – Isaiah 58:6-12:

In Isaiah 58, God was addressing the children of Israel as they went to church [the Temple] everyday; making a show of coming to God and asking Him to take action on their behalf.

They told the Lord‘We have fasted before you; why aren’t you impressed?’

And the Lord told them, ‘because while you were fasting, you are still fighting and quarreling; you are still oppressing your workers; you go through the motions, and outwardly you look like you are right, but you ain’t!’

God said, if you really want to please Me, have a real fast that causes change in you and in the world around you.  The fast that the Lord is calling for is to share your bread with the hungry; natural and spiritual bread.  JESUS is the bread of life.  He says, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’  Jesus lets us know the need for natural bread but without the spiritual bread; without Him; without the Word, we have no life: ‘He is the way, the truth and the life.’

We are experiencing spiritual famine in the land…covering the naked.

V.7 …when you see the naked, that you cover him”

Covering him with both natural and spiritual; giving them clothing if needed… but also sharing God’s Word; knowing the Word exposes our sinfulness, our nakedness.  By reaching out, we show the love of Christ, for love covers a multitude of sins; the Word cleanses and delivers us.  Then we will call on the Lord and He will hear us.

God says what we should be doing while FASTING:

– reaching out to others.

– sharing God’s Word.

– sharing God’s love.

– sharing God’s compassion.

– being doers of the Word and not only hearers.

This will bless the land; this is true worship.

Then HE will water our lives when we are dry…we will be blessed, our children will be blessed and they will rebuild the deserted cities.  God isn’t looking for fake worship.  He is looking for people to worship Him in Spirit and truth.  Then He can heal our land.

BUT, there is a spiritual famine in the land…

Either we share the Word, or the rest of the world will experience the famine.  Why?  Jesus said, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed?  Is it not to be set on a lamp stand?If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Our lighthouse has a  purpose.

Our light helps direct people to Christ because they are in darkness; as a lighthouses’  purpose is to guide ships at sea away from sinking during a storm in the pitch of darkness.  However if we do not use what we’ve learned and heard for the kingdom of God, we will lose what we have:

“And [said Jesus,] I tell you to everyone who gets and has will more be given, but from the man who does not get and does not have, even what he has will be taken away”  (Luke 19:26 AMP).

But if we give and apply the Word, we will receive more (with the same measure we use, it will be measured to us).  There is a famine in the land.

Famine comes as a result of resources running out.

Not because there is not water and food available but because we’re not taking the water and food to those who are hungry and thirsty,  A spiritual famine is experienced by those who don’t know Jesus or turned away from Him; become lukewarm or cold Christians; they are empty, experiencing a void and don’t know how to fill it.  They try all types of the world’s remedies; hobbies, new relationships, alcohol, drug addiction and others…but nothing seems to work.  They are still hungry, still thirsty, still void.

Sharing with others what God has given to us.

He wants us to share with the rest of the land; with those in our neighborhoods; with those who we work with; with those people we come in contact with everyday.  If the land is in a spiritual famine, it affects all of us.  If the world is in shambles, though we are not of this world, we’re surely in the world.  We can either make a difference; shed our light; share the Word of God to the hungry, thirsty and hurting land or, we can watch the spiritual famine take place while God watches us and wonders:

…where are My intercessors;

…where are My witnesses;

…where are My watchmen;

where are My people,

There’s a famine in the land.  God is calling for His people today…

He says in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14:

“If I shut up heaven so no rain falls, or if I command locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people,    If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

It seems to me that God is telling us in the church, we have something to do with there being a spiritual famine in the land.  God wants to know who will take a stand for Jesus; who will be a vessel used to supply food in the famine; who will make a commitment to be a doer of the Word and not just a listener only.

God is calling for His people today to make a difference; where He has planted you and I.  To glorify Him.  To stand in the gap and stand on His Word.  Someone who will believe; someone who knows of sharing His Word with others; change their direction, their course, their path.  He is looking for someone who believes:

…sharing His Word with others will save, rescue, recover, revive lives who are starving and dying in a famine of the land.

God says, ‘Who shall I send, and who will go for us?’  Will you answer, ‘here am I Lord send me’, or will you say, ‘send the Pastor’, or ‘send the evangelist’, or ‘send anybody but…ME!’  

IS THERE A FAMINE IN THE LAND; IN YOUR COMMUNITY?  Jesus is calling America!  How are we going to respond?

“Blessing Blockers” Revisited

This past Sunday after church, a  young man said to me as I left my seat, “God bless you.”  In fact, every time he sees me, in greeting or in departure he repeats the same sentence and his intentions are true.

Should we as believers use the word “bless” as a greeting; when someone ‘sneezes’; at meal times or when we sing a patriotic song at a gathering?  Are we all blessed because we live in America?  In my questioning I decided to revisit a past blog of The Word, the Glory, and The Blessing, originally inspired by notes that I took from Dr. Creflo Dollar.  I decided to get a fresh look at the word BLESSING, especially during the economic restraints placed on the family plaguing society and the church today.

The Blessing of God is upon us:

“May blessing be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm”  (Ephesians 1:3).

Say out loud where you sit (no one is listening to you):  “I am Blessed!”  With every spiritual blessing; not with ‘some‘ spiritual blessings but every spiritual blessing.  And there is more!

[13]  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”  [14]  He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.  [29]  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs [of the “blessing”] according to the promise.   (Galatians 3:13-14; 29 NIV Version).

So, the BLESSING, according to the promise of God’s Word,  is  IN me; ON me; and AROUND me.  Then if we truly believe by faith, that we have received the blessing as our root, where then is the fruit on the tree of some believers?

Is there a DIFFERENCE between “The Blessing” and “A Blessing“?

Have you ever heard someone say, “I hope you will have many blessings in all the days of your life”? 

The Difference:

“THE BLESSING of the Lord–it makes [truly] rich, and He adds no sorrow with it”  (Proverbs 10:22)

The Blessing isn’t just any blessing. 

The Church over time has DE-synthesized the meaning over the course of ‘well-meaning’ greetings.  The Blessing is the empowerment; an ability that God puts on you.  His ‘super‘ on my ‘natural; an anointingIt makes“…when the blessing is on you and you won’t stay the same.  The BLESSING will attack lack in our lives.

You might be saying to yourself, “Okay, I think I understand what the Blessing is but what is ‘a blessing’ then?”

The glory is ‘a blessing‘.

GLORY is the manifestation of God; the manifestation of the Word.  In Genesis 1, God spoke and then He saw.  What He saw was His words manifested into His glory.  Therefore, the Garden became The Glory; which became ‘a blessing’.

If you look out your window on a blustery day and the trees are swaying to and fro, you might say, “I can see the wind blowing outside.” You can’t see the actual wind but are really seeing the manifestation, or the glory of the wind; the trees are moving as the result; ‘a blessing’.

John 1:1-5 – ‘Let there be the Light’  The LIGHT is not referring to ‘day and night’.  The Light is the Word and the Glory and out of Jesus came “the blessing”.

We are changed in God’s promise.

“And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever-increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit”  (2 Corinthians 3:18 AMP).

The “Blessing Blockers”:

“Like a sparrow in her wandering, like the swallow in her flying, so the causeless curse does not alight”  (Proverbs 26:2).

Is something BLOCKING the Blessing in your life?

A curse doesn’t come without a cause.  If a definition of the blessing is an empowerment to succeed, then a curse becomes an empowerment to fail at what you do!

A curse is a ‘blocker; there has to be a foundation for it as demonstrated by the inserted photo of the building blocks in today’s blog.  In the Old Testament; Numbers 23:8, 20, it says that ‘no one can curse what God has already blessed’.  But, we who have been blessed can cause a foundation that is not supporting a blessing.  Job 4:8 says, “those who plow iniquity (sin) and sow trouble and mischief reap the same.”  You are supporting a foundation that causes the curseThe Book of Job continues this thought:

“He withdraws not His eyes from the righteous (the upright in right standing with God); but He sets them forever with kings upon the throne, and they are exalted.  And if they are bound in fetters [of adversity] and held by cords of affliction,  Then He shows to them [the true character of] their deeds and their transgressions, that they have acted arrogantly [with presumption and self-sufficiency]”  (Job 36:7-9 AMP).

Revisiting the Ways to Withdraw the BLESSING:

“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse– The blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your god which I command you this day;  And the curse if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God…”  (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

When you set aside monies in your Bank; checking, savings, etc.; to redeem the money… you are going to have to make a ‘withdrawal slip’ of some sort.  God has already deposited the BLESSING IN you, ON you and AROUND you.  For you to be able to witness the benefits of the deposit you are going to have to make withdrawals.  “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God.” ~ Deuteronomy 28:3;  “The Lord shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouse and in all that you undertake” ~ Deuteronomy 28:8.

We have a ‘fat storehouse account’ that is sitting there for us; and in The Blessing, we are given a choice:

“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curses; therefore choose life that you and your descendants may live”  (Deuteronomy 30:19).

4 – Ways to WITHDRAW THE BLESSING:

1.  OBEDIENCE to the Word of God in ALL things.

2.  FAITHFULNESS.

3.  A PURE HEART.

4.  THE TITHE EXCHANGE.

THE 4- OPPOSITE WAYS to BLOCK THE BLESSING WITHDRAWALS:

1.  DISOBEDIENCE.

2.  UNFAITHFULNESS.

                                                 

3.  NOT A PURE HEART.

4.  NO TITHE EXCHANGE.

The Choices –  Obedience Vs Disobedience:

Partial obedience and delayed obedience is still disobedience.

Faithfulness Vs Unfaithfulness:

“I am BLESSED!” According to Galatians 3:13-14; 29.  The Blessing deposit has been made, BUT…the BLESSING is blocked; ‘a curse without a cause can’t happen.’ 

Look at you life honestly where you are right now.  “A faithful man shall abound with blessings” (Proverbs 28:20).  Abound means to flow or richly supplied.  Faithfulness requires a test; it takes time of proving.  If we are not dependable through the testing; our hearts, minds, thoughts are not pure, we’re not tithing for whatever reason; that is unfaithfulness, a BLESSING BLOCKER.

Revisiting PURITY and THE TITHE EXCHANGE:

I didn’t want to revisit the Blessing Blockers of a UN-Pure Heart or Not Tithing in this blog; but if you need some encouragement and interest in the BLOCKERS, you might read,

1.  Purity–The Gateway to the Flow of THE BLESSING posted 2011/03/09.

2.  The 4th Key to the Flow of The Blessing – The Tithe Exchange posted 2011/03/11.


The “GATHERING” – The Sheep of Bozrah

The Flight to Bozrah

“I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.    The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it; and their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them”  (Micah 2:12-13 KJV).

I began reading in the Old Testament this week in the Book of Micah.  This was after spending several weeks in the New Testament; The Gospel of John.  I often get direction from Holy Spirit while reading God’s Word, towards a direction for my next blog.

After my devotion and prayer times, I will sometimes re-direct myself to the Comparative Study Bible; containing the King James Version, Amplified Bible, New American Standard Bible and the New International Version.  And that is where this investigation started; the ‘Mystery’ and the connections in Micah 2:12-13 and Revelation 12.

“But the woman was supplied with the two wings of a giant eagle, so that she might fly from the presence of the serpent into the desert (wilderness), to the retreat where she is to be kept safe and fed for a time, and times, and half a time (three and one-half years, or 1260 days)”  (Revelation 12:14 AMP).

THE MYSTERY BEGAN WITH A QUESTION:

Why is the City of Bozrah only referenced in the Comparative Study Bible in the King James Version and not the rest?  Where is the City of Bozrah located?

Bozrah is the ancient capital of Edom and the modern village of today is referenced as Buseirah.  It is located in N. Edom.  Bozrah guards both the Kings’ Highway (major N-S route through Transjordan), and a major route W. to the Wadi Arabah thence the Negev and S. Judah.  It is also within striking distance of the Edomite copper mines.  Also, no water source has been found within the site.  The main water supply is a spring at Ain Jenin which is also a modern village.

Why did I present to you the description of a geographical area in the world that is rarely referenced to in the Bible?  Scripture will answer the question during the reading of the blog.

Several Second Coming passages that I will reference in this investigation, God is seen coming from these regions and adds to the mystery.

The “Strong City” has another name in Scripture:

“Who will bring me into the strong city [of Petra]? Who will lead me into Edom?  Have You rejected us, O God? And will You not go forth, O God, with our armies.  O give us help against our adversary, for vain (ineffectual and to no purpose) is the help of salvation of man.  Through God, we shall do valiantly, for He is Who shall tread down our adversaries”  (Psalm 60:9-12 AMP).

“Who will bring me [David] into the strong, fortified city [of Petra]?  Who will lead me into Edom?…”  (Psalm 108:10-13 AMP).

Amaziah slew Edom in the Valley of Salt 10,000, and took Sela (Greek Petra [rock]) by war…”  (2 Kings 14:7 AMP).

Petra [rock
BOZRAH / PETRA:

In the Book of Daniel, the angel of God gives a revealing account of the ‘mystery’ of end times to Daniel while being captive in Babylon.  In the following passage of Scripture, the angel explains that the Antichrist will enter Israel and other nations:

“He shall enter into the Glorious Land [Palestine] and many shall be overthrown, but these shall be delivered out of his hand:  Edom, Moab, and the main [core] of the people of Ammon” 

(Daniel 11:41 AMP).

Edom, Moab, and Ammon are all in Jordan; these areas must escape the Antichrist.  Israel then, can flee to Edom (Bozrah/Petra [the rock]), where she escapes during the last 1/2 of the Tribulation (times = 2 years, time = 1 year and 1/2 time = 1/2 year or total = 3.5 years– Revelation 12:14).

The Gospel of Matthew Gives Us the “kick-off event”:

Matthew is written specifically to the Jews, gives an escape route for the remnant of Israel, which is noted by Jesus, identifying the “kick-off” event of Daniel 9:27 of the last half of the Tribulation period; the Antichrist setting up an idol of himself in the rebuilt Temple of God (Matthew 24:15-16).

During the terrible last half of the Tribulation period, 2/3 of the population of the Nation of Israel falls to the armies of the Antichrist.  The remaining 1/3, the remnant flees this tyranny found in the prophecy of Zechariah (Zechariah 13:8-9).

The “Sheepfold”:

The Hebrew meaning of ‘Bozrah’ is “sheepfold:   “I will bring [Israel] together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in the midst of their pasture” (Micah 2:12).

Sheep Gathered in a pasture

The ‘Sheep pen’ or “sheepfold” is put into play as the Antichrist tries to finish off Israel at Bozrah/Petra in Edom (Jordan).  Jesus returns to save them after the Battle of Armageddon takes place in His clothing reflecting the Winepress of God (Isaiah 63:1-6).

‘The Day of the Lord’ also is pictured in the Book of Revelation where Jesus returns to Earth on a white horse; the Winepress of God in Isaiah 63:3.  Again found in Revelation 19:15.

THE FLIGHT TO BOZRAH–The Gathering of the Jude o-Christian People of the Earth:

Picking up the story in Revelation 12 is a critical passage of Scripture in our story.  John, the recipient of the vision sees a woman flying away on the wings of a great eagle; flying off to a place of exile for 1260 days, 3.5 years.  John saw her escaping the face of the dragon, clothed in glory.

The people of the ‘gathering’ will be exiled to places (or places) to be nurtured in the things of God.  This event, during the Great Tribulation, is told to us in Revelation 12:6:

“And the woman [herself] fled into the desert (wilderness), where she has a retreat prepared [for her] by God, in which she is to be fed and kept safe” 

Here we see  “the flock in the midst of their pasture” of Micah 2:12.  The story is retold in Revelation 12:14 just in case you missed it the first time.  The Bozrah story apparently is the climatic end-time gathering; like sheep in the fold.  A gathering of Jude o-Christian people from around the world.  On board airplanes?  Maybe or maybe not but John’s vision was that of a Giant Eagle.

The drama unfolds as Jesus, the Messiah takes a little visit to Bozrah/Petra.  He will have some business to attend to after He breaks out His people out of the ‘sheep pen’.  This is why the Holy Spirit, writing through the prophet Micah, calls Him ‘the breaker’ (Micah 2:13).

The Jewish Return:

“Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east [where you are dispersed] and gather you from the west.  I will say to the north, Give up! and to the south, Keep not back.  Bring my sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth”  (Isaiah 43:5-6 AMP).

Isaiah lived about 2700 years ago.  The succession of empires conquered the land of Israel, forcing many into exile; a worldwide scattering.  During the past century, millions have returned via Planes, Trains and Automobiles (by sea too!). The “GATHERING”!

“And I will gather the remnant of My flock out of ALL the countries to which I have driven them and will bring them again to their folds and pastures, and they will be fruitful and multiply.  And I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them.  And they will fear no more nor be dismayed, neither will any be missing or lost, says the LordBehold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch (Sprout), and He will reign as King and do wisely and will execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In His days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name by which He shall be called: The Lord Our Righteousness”  (Jeremiah 23:3-6 AMP).

The “Math Idea” – What is it?:

In 8 years, the percentage of Jews living in Israel compared to the percentage of Jews living in the world today, we can use the data to make a prediction.  Most Jews would return to Israel by 2012.

Checking the math, “93.5 % of Jews in the world would end up in Israel by 2012” (Research was done by George and Raymond Konig of http://www.AboutBibleProhecy.com).

From the east:  Many Jews living in the Middle Eastern countries moved to Israel in the 1900 s.  After Israel reclaimed independence in 1948, more Jews moved to their ancient homeland; forced out of various Arab countries by persecution.

From the west:  In the mid-1900 s, hundreds of thousands of Jews from Europe and the United States moved to Israel to escape the persecution of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.

From the north:  Hundreds of thousands of Jews living in the former Soviet Union moved to Israel in the 1980 s post the Berlin Wall being torn down.

From the south:  During the 1980 s and the 1990 s, Israel struck a deal with the Ethiopian’s government, to allow Jews of Ethiopia to move to IsraelOn the weekend of May 25th, 1991, 14,500 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel.  Isaiah’s prophecy was correct in saying that the north (Russia) and the south (Ethiopia) would allow their Jews to move to Israel.

THE “GATHERING” HAS BEGUN!

Prophecy is being fulfilled as I write this blog.  We are arriving at a threshold of  Isaiah’s words through God’s Spirit:

“It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house

shall be [firmly] established as the highest of the mountains

and shall be exalted above the hills

and all nations shall flow to it” ~ Isaiah 2:2

Re-building of the Temple on Mt. Moriah.

Before the final gathering takes place; The Sheepfold at Bozrah, God’s Holy Temple must be rebuilt before Jesus returns.  Although The Dome of the Rock is currently occupied by the Muslim’s mosque, out of sight and with little publicity, the construction plans are underway.

The Sanhedrin has been reformed again; 500 Levites  being trained in priestly duties to serve in the temple.  Golden utensils are being forged and antiquities returned to Jerusalem daily as the search for the Ark of the Covenant goes on.  With the political climate in the Middle East right now, with Israel being threatened from all sides, God’s Holy Temple, the third temple is underway.

There is still an unanswered question that is a mystery to me.  Why is Bozrah/Petra left out of most modern translations in Micah 2:12 and only found in the King James Version?  I even grabbed The Interlinear Bible-Hebrew, Greek, English and read the same verse.  Again Bozrah appears in Micah 2:12  but is omitted in The Amplified Bible, New American Standard Bible and The New International Version.

Although I was able to investigate the location of city Bozrah/Petra, the mystery of omission is not answered.  Was there a reason why the translators, who claim to be in line with Hebrew and Greek language just leave it out?  Maybe you might have an answer to the question.  There is a COMMENT place at the end of the blog.

I do know this, that over and over again the prophets unveiled the full dimensions of God’s judgment and salvation.  God must punish His rebellious people but will afterward redeem them.  Israel will be held in captivity, yet a remnant will return.  The Messiah, the “One”, “The Breaker” (Amplified Bible) will break through, pass through the pasture gateand go out through it, and their King will pass on before them, the Lord at their head” (Micah 2:13).


Hiding Your TALENTS and GIFTS in a Tennis Shoe?

Hiding Your TALENT in a shoe?

IN THE PROCESS —Matthew 25; The Parable of the TALENT and Luke 19; The Parable of the MINAS  (First READ Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27).

I assume you have probably read the two passages by now.  Let me give you the similarities between the two parables:

  . man goes to another country, stays a long time, then returns.

. man allocates his resources to his servants, expecting them to be profitable in his absence.

  . first two servants are faithful; they are praised by their master and are given more authority in the process.

  . third servant hides what was entrusted to him.

  . third servant seeks to excuse himself by accusing his master of being harsh.

  . third servant claims he was afraid of his master.

  . third servant does not make a profit for his master.

  . first two servants are commended and go to heaven; the third is condemned and goes to hell.

The Process of Reaching Your Potential:

Several years ago, Dianne and I went on our second cruise to the southern Caribbean islands.  We had enjoyed our first cruise to the western Caribbean in the late 1990’s, so we decided to venture out to a different geographical area on our second cruise.

When we arrived aboard our ship into the harbor of Barbados, our previously planned excursion on the island had been canceled.  So we looked at the activity brochure and decided to go to the Orchid Farm by default.

After the tourist bus dropped us all off, we pretty much were on our own.  The orchids were all outside growing in the tropical climate and blooming in magnificence.  Some of the blooms even had a fragrance; one in particular smelled of chocolate.  We had to pinch ourselves; were we in heaven or in Barbados?  To a garden enthusiast it was almost overwhelming.

All of us have met unnoticed persons in our lives who live in the middle of struggle and hardship, far from the center of attention, yet live lives in the beauty and fragrance.  They are in obscurity, faithfully fulfilling God’s calling for them.

God’s question on the last day will not be, “How much were you noticed?” or “How much did you do?”  Rather His question will be, “Were you faithful in fulfilling your calling where I placed you?  Did you try?  Did you do your best?”  Titles or prestigious position won’t matter when Jesus comes someday soon.  Just do your best where you are and He will say, “Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant!  You have been faithful and trustworthy over little; I will put you in charge of much”  (Matthew 25:21 AMP).

What are you doing with your talents?

What a challenge we face in the process of possessing qualities and attributes that are on loan from God!  I hope you are not hiding them in a tennis shoe.  I can personally give testimony that even when God reveals to you a specific talent, your reaction might be skeptical.  You might say to yourself, “I have little or no experience in that task.  Why did God choose me to accomplish that …?”

I love growing Dahlias every year in the garden and last year I entered two blooms in the county fair for the first time.  I took first place with one bloom and second place with the other; a Blue Ribbon and a Red Ribbon.

Go ahead and produce beautiful prizewinning blooms where you are in life, even if all your neighbors are producing weeds.  Succeed where God has planted you.

JESUS LAYS OUT A PRINCIPLE FOR LIFE IN THE TWO PARABLES:

“Five of them were foolish (thoughtless, without forethought) and five were wise (sensible, intelligent, and prudent)”  Matthew 25:2.

“And [said Jesus, ] I tell you that to everyone who gets and has will more be given, but from the man who does not get and does not have, even what he has will be taken away”  Luke 19:26.

It is so simple sometimes and easy to miss: “If Rome wasn’t built-in a day, neither is character formed in a moment.”  There is a process in becoming all that God created us to be!.

BECOMING MORE LIKE GOD:

Becoming like God, in His character is a gift from God Himself; enabling us to express ourselves as a part of who we are in its process.  This surprising journey of holiness after receiving Jesus into our being is a complete transformation; a miracle of God and stewardship of man.  God promises to do what we cannot do for ourselves.  He commands us to do that which He will not do for us.  It is both a miracle and a responsibility.

In both the parables in Matthew and Luke, God entrusts us with His resources and holds us accountable for what we do with them. He lays down a framework to adhere to.

The framework for how the kingdom of God works.

The master in the parables distributes his resources among his servants.  Not proportionately or equally but as he chooses.  He leaves on a journey, to one day return and settle accounts with them.

An important note here! The master doesn’t tell them how to manage the money or what to do with it.  It does say he distributed the resources according to each individuals ability.  He didn’t give them more than they were capable of managing well.  Each one was effectively positioned to succeed.

The third servant, after receiving a single talent, dug a hole in the ground and buried it.  In today’s culture the servant might have placed his one talent in a tennis shoe.

Being “WICKED” and “LAZY”.

The servant who was given but one talent didn’t steal it.  He even returned it without being asked.  Yet his master condemned him with the indictment that he was wicked and lazy.  Is it possible that God views negligence and human capacity differently?

The servant was declared wicked and lazy when what he could have done was measured against what he did.  When we think of a person’s talent or gifting, we often put it in a category with added value.  Then, if an individual doesn’t achieve his or her God-given potential, we might consider it a tragedy.  But we would never think of it as wickedness.

From our common view of holiness, the third servant in both parables did nothing wrong regarding his actions.  He just didn’t do anything!  The servant’s wrong view of God’s character led him to the wrong conclusion of what God required of him.  At the same time, his wrong view of God led him to lose both potential of his life and the pleasure of his master.

God sees not only who we are, but who we can become.  When we neglect our God-given potential, putting our TALENT and GIFTS in a tennis shoe, it is wickedness in the sight of God.  How would it change the work of the church if our measure of effectiveness was not how little sin was being done, but how much good  was being accomplished?  We have more than likely seen very clearly that a life lived against God is wicked; is foolish.  But have we ever seen as clearly that to live our lives beneath a God-given capacity is equally dishonoring to God?  To not have that opportunity is tragic.  To relinquish it, to neglect it, to reject it is wicked in God’s sight.

FREEING YOUR GOD-GIVEN POTENTIAL:

You and I are created for more than just existing.

While we have redefined mediocrity as normal; ‘the best of the worst or the worst of the best’, we far too often expect nothing more.  God will not have it!  He did not create us to be average, but to be unique.  While you may be dreaming right now of a better life or the better person you could be, only God really knows the person you were intended to become.  Only He sees the fullness of what is being neglected or lost.

In both parables the servant was fearful and in neither parable was his apathy found acceptable by the master.  Whether you are a one-, five-, or ten-talent servant, you have not been left with only a tennis shoe.

Every one of us has God-given talent.  Beyond this, God pours into each of us His gifts.  Each is unique in the contribution he or she can make.

Potential and productivity are not the same.

In Seizing Your Divine Moment, we reveal the dilemma of untapped potential:

There’s so much talk about potential in our culture, as if it’s the end-all of success.  Has anyone ever said about you, “He has so much potential”?  If you’re under twenty–let’s give you twenty-five–consider it a compliment.  Potential–your untapped or unlocked capacity.  Potential–the hint of greatness not yet developed.  “She has so much potential–a statement of praise and maybe even adoration.  And then you’re thirty, and you still have all this potential.  Pressing forty, and you’re still full of potential.  If you’re forty-five and someone looks at you and says, “You have so much potential,” pause, excuse yourself, step into a closet, and have a good cry.

What once was a statement of promise is now evaluated as lost opportunity.  There is a point where you’re not supposed to be full of potential; you’re supposed to be full of talent, capacity, product.  Potential is a glimpse of what could be, yet there must be a shift from where we have potential to where we are potent in our servant-hood.  You’re not supposed to die with your potential.  Come on church.  Let’s quit putting our TALENTS and our GIFTING in a tennis shoe!

“You have been faithful and trust-worthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the blessedness) which your master enjoys.  [29] For to EVERYONE who has will more be given, and he will be furnished richly so that he will have an abundance”  (Matthew 25:23, 29 AMP).


The Tenderness of the Towel–A Servant’s Heart

Having A Servant's Heart

“[NOW] BEFORE the Passover Feast began, Jesus knew (was fully aware) that the time had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father.  And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, He loved them to the last and to the highest degree [1]”

[JESUS] “Got up from supper, took off His garments, and taking a [servant’s] towel,  He fastened it around His waist [4]”

“Then He poured water into the wash basin and began to wash the disciple’s feet and to wipe them with the [servant’s] towel with which He was girded [5]”

(John 13:1, 4 and 5 AMP).

The Washing of Feet:

One of the most hated thing of going to the beach when I was a kid, was coming home after spending all day and into the night was the coming back home.  I grew up in the San Diego area of California so going to the beach on a regular basis was commonplace in my family.

Mom would gather all the necessary implements before going; towels, picnic basket, paper plates and cups, wiener forks for roasting and of course…marshmallows!  We would leave the house about 2 PM and return home at 10 PM, a long day in the sun.  We were tired, sandy all over and ready to shower off and go to bed.

But it wasn’t that simple with mom.  Before entering the back door, she would stand with her back to the screen door and say to my brother and I, “You boys are not going into the house that way until I wash off your legs and feet with the garden hose.”  Our whining would immediately begin and we would moan and gripe, “Oh mom. We are sleepy and tired.  Can’t we just go to the shower and wash the sand off in there? And besides, the water coming from the garden hose is cold!”  I already knew the answer as the manufactured tears would roll down my cheeks, mom said nothing.  She would bend down and turn on the water, unwrapped the neatly coiled hose and bring it over to where we stood shivering in defiance.  Those memories are imbedded in my mind and to this day, I hate walking through beach sand to venture into the sea.

Old Testament References to Feet Washing:

– Genesis 18:4; 19:2; 24:32; 43:24

– Judges 19:21

– 1 Samuel 25:41

– 2 Samuel 11:8

– Psalm 58:10

– Song of Songs 5:3

By reading the referenced verses, the first act before entering the tent or house was the washing of their feet after a journey.  The Oriental culture of wearing only sandals on the feet fulfilled several purposes. They were light on the feet, they were cool in an arid climate, they slipped off the feet easily and they could be purchased or made inexpensively.  The problem was cleanliness; walking in dirty streets and roads with animal dung everywhere along the way.  So even if you had taken a bath before going to someone’s home for supper, your feet would be filthy as you were knocking on your neighbor’s door.

Washing the feet in the quest for adventure was also refreshing after a long day’s journey.  The average host would furnish a basin of water and a towel and the guest would wash his own feet.  Richer household would have the washing done by a slave; the lowliest of services to be performed.

  “And she arose and bowed herself to the earth and said,

Behold, let your handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of

servants of my lord”  (1 Sam. 25:41).

The word “humble” can give us a picture.

Humility doesn’t require us to be self-depreciating.  Humility is about self-awareness and not about having a low self-image or poor self-esteem.  If you see yourself for who you are and embrace it honestly, humility is the natural result.  God isn’t asking you to say something about yourself that isn’t true.  God is asking that we take a good, long. look in the mirror and see ourselves for who we really are, and then after that, to have the courage to ask for help.  Our humility allows God’s intervention.

Strength down low.

I read a story in Erwin McManus’ book, UPRISING – A revolution of the soul.  He tells the story of a trip that he and his wife to Japan.  He says that they took the time to visit the ancient castle of Shogun.  One of the unusual features of this highly guarded home was how the doors were shaped on the outer wall.  The doors were at least a foot off the ground, and for a man of average height, about two feet too low.  To enter the house of the Shogun, you have to lower your head and pass through the door headfirst.  In other words, to gain admission to the home of this warrior master, you would have to expose your head to his sword.  This was both a physical and visceral expression of submission.  You would place your life in the hands of him whose home you entered.  No enemy would position himself in such a way or allow himself to be vulnerable.  Submission came before admission and admission was necessary for communion.

The Disciples Pride Is Addressed – John 13:1-16

Lets begin by setting the scene before The Tenderness of the Towel–A Servant’s Heart is displayed to us by Jesus.

It’s just before the Passover Feast and Jesus and His disciples were all gathered together to eat, fellowship and enjoy the Passover Seder.  Jesus was fully aware that His time had come and for Him to leave the world.  He wanted them to know that He loved them to the last and to the highest degree (John 13:1).

Now the disciples pride had already been heightened by the anticipation of a place in the Messianic kingdom and they were expecting an immediate crisis was about to happen.  Their conversation amongst one another might have been revealing about their character; the Bible doesn’t say that but perhaps pride surfaced earlier in the evening; a controversy of  where they were going to seat themselves before the table.

Jesus’ act of service and the demonstration of humility was meant to actually cleanse their hearts from selfish ambition; killing their pride and a lesson of love for them to follow after His leaving their presence by the resurrection.

The events of John 13 was not the first time we read about the washing of feet.  The Gospel of Luke gives us the story of Jesus being invited for dinner; dinning with the religious leadership of the day.  Now this was BIG NEWS in the religious community of that day.  It might be attributed to the Reverend Billy Graham, Jentezen Franklin. Tommy Tenney, or someone who everyone knew in the church, coming over to your house for dinner one night.

And behold, a woman of the town who was an especially wicked sinner, when she learned that He [Jesus] was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment (perfume)”  (Luke 7:37 AMP).

I once heard a definition given of the word sacrifice we sometimes throw around in church as a practice every Sunday.  It says, “something given that comes with a cost.”  If it doesn’t cost you something, then it isn’t a sacrifice.  So, when “a woman of the town” came to worship Jesus, and at all places…a house of a Pharisee, there was a cost, a sacrifice of worship to be given.  Given in the cost of an alabaster flask and a cost of humility through her LOVE; brokenness of an expensive container and the brokenness of ‘self’.

“And standing behind Him at His feet with [her] tears; and she wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet [affectionately] and anointed them with the ointment (perfume)”  (Luke 7:38 AMP).

As in today’s culture, a woman’s long hair was an ornament and glory given to her for a covering by God.  So wiping the feet of Jesus with her hair as ‘the tenderness towel‘ showed Jesus of her sacrifice of self; her glory given back to the Son of the living God.

Years before I gave my life to follow Jesus, I had been attending a small church in the area; The Church of the Brethren.  I was doing so for two completely different reasons.  The first, I was asked by my former Junior High Choir teacher to come and sing in their choir for Easter.  The second reason for a healthy 19-year-old young man was of course…GIRLS in the church!  That’s a whole another story.

That particular Easter, the church held Communion on Good Friday in the basement of the church and I certainly didn’t mind going.  Men on one side and women on the other.  My first reaction was…this isn’t what I came here for!  But rather than just leave, I decided to see what this was all about.  I looked down toward the end of the table, a large basin of water and a towel was placed on the floor and the Elder told us to remove our shoes and socks.  The same ceremony was being done at the women’s table also.

I want to stop right here and tell you that there is nothing more humbling than having relative strangers on both sides of you sitting with bare feet. Then washing the feet of someone else on the other side of you…period!

This procedure went on at both tables for about an hour or so and then we all participated with clean bare feet, in taking Communion.  It took me years to fully understand the TRUE meaning of this ceremony.

Having someone else wash your feet at a church event isn’t the real issue here.  Nor was my mom’s washing my sandy, dirty feet after a day at the beach the issue.

Jesus said to a mouth-opened Pharisee, the woman who has denied herself has done so much more than you have observed with your UN-spiritual eyes:

“You did not anoint My head with [cheap, ordinary] oil, but she has anointed My feet with [costly, rare] perfume.  Therefore I tell you, her sins, many [as they are] are forgiven her–because she has loved much.  But he who is forgiven little loves little”  (Luke 7:46-47 AMP).

False Humility:

Looking humble while serving, but still full of pride while doing the service is FALSE HUMILITY.  Someone might ask you to come help do a little painting on your day off at the church this weekend.  You might say to yourself, “With all my Bible learning, teaching and training you would think I could serve the church more significantly than just painting.”  After you get to the church on Saturday morning, you find that you are not going to paint, but to scrape wallpaper in the man’s and women’s bathrooms.  Now that’s when SELF raises its ugly head as you mumble to yourself while peeling, and peeling, and scraping wallpaper.  We in the church have perfected phoniness even in the church bathrooms.  We want to appear to be charming to those who are around us on Sunday mornings in the bathroom or the sanctuary.  By the way, charming means ‘con’; charming for the moment;  it is who you are for the moment while character is who you are all the time.  In other words, it is not how we look to others but it’s the heart that people will fall at the feet of Jesus.  Falling at His feet gets the results of defeating self being in the way of life.

Some Daily Challenges Are Presented.

We can see that Jesus gave credibility and integrity to whatever He did so because of who He was.  While most of us are inclined to get it backwards.  We define who we are by what we do.  How many times when I have attended a function and some stranger will come to me and ask, “So what do you do for a living?”  Our character is often identified by what we do rather than who we are.

Humility and the Service of feet-washing:

The apostles had been quarreling one evening of who would be the greatest in the Kingdom that Jesus was about to set in motion (Luke 22:24-30).  Then Peter’s question comes up in the conversation in John 13:6–

“Lord, are my feet to be washed by You?”

What was Peter’s objection?  Jesus, his Lord and Master would offer and perform such a humble service.  But Jesus was trying to teach His disciples that true greatness in His kingdom comes from humility and service.

“For who is the greater, the one who reclines at table (the master), or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table?  But I am in your midst as One Who serves”  (Luke 22:27).

Now compare what was  said in Luke and what Jesus says in Matthew 23:11-12:

“He who is greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself [with haughtiness and empty pride] shall be humbled (brought low), and who ever humbles himself [whoever has a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly] shall be raised to honor.”

Radical Self-Denial in the House:

In Richard Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline” , he wrote:

Radical self-denial gives the feel of adventure [but] service banishes us to the mundane,

the ordinary, the trivial…   Therefore the spiritual authority of Jesus

is an authority not found in a position or a title, but in a towel.”

Jesus was fully aware of Who He was in God, Where He was from and Where He was going.  He was not serving His disciples while waiting for God to bring Him into His ‘real’ ministry.  He didn’t wash feet while passing time before He got on with His studies at Seminary; waiting for His first call as pastor of a church.  But instead, service was at the heart of the life He was laying down for His friends.

A Problem in Serving:

We often want to serve in a more glorious way than just washing someone else s feet.  We can be in obedience to Jesus’ call to deny our mother and father, our home and our ‘stuff’, take up our cross and follow Jesus.  IF…self can be denied!

I heard a young husband once say, “Our marriage  has to be a fifty-fifty situation for it to succeed.”  Friend, if your marriage is going to be successful, it has to be 100/100 proposition to work.  You give 100 % and your new wife gives 100%.  By the way, that method never ceases in a Godly marriage. After 47 years of marriage, I need to remind myself of that percentage.

The Tenderness Towel In Marriage

Are you thinking about an up-coming marriage ceremony soon or perhaps the renewing of the marital vows?  This might be a great way to remind yourselves of denying you self in relationship.  Instead of two flames becoming one in the Unity Candle, the washing of each others feet can show your giving of 100%; a true servant’s heart with the tenderness of the towel.  Just a glancing thought.

Quick Thoughts on The News this morning!

1 Timothy 2::1-4

I was having my devotions this morning and afterwords, the Holy Spirit quietly spoke into my inner ear, “When you pray this morning Mel, pray from the ’12 Powerful Prayers for 2012′ card you received from church this past week.”

I was in somewhat of a quandary at Holy Spirit’s prompting, for which one of the prayers did He want me to focus on?  I immediately was directed to #11: “Pray for Our Nation and Our World to Find Hope in Troubled Times.”

Because of my personality, I am most likely to flare up over headlines in the news that butt heads with Christian principles and the Word of God; the Bible.

Here are a few examples from many that are in the news headlines today:

Washington State Senate approves same-sex marriage bill (Seattle Times).

Komen Foundation reverses decision on funding Planned Parenthood (Google News).

When I take notice of these types of headlines, if I could, I would start pulling  hair out of my head in frustration and anger.  But since that is physically impossible, I just shake my head and point my finger at the politicians and people who are in authority and with high responsibility in this nation of America.

I asked myself, ‘My heavenly Father’s heart must be aching over His people’s decisions to overturn His Word and be in rebellion. How does He want me to react and pray over this Nation?”  Is there a right reaction on my part Lord in all of this? 

And His answer to my questions came from His Word this way:

“FIRST OF all, then, I admonish and urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all men.  For kings and all who are in authority or high responsibility, that [outwardly] we may pass a quiet and undisturbed life [and inwardly] a peaceable one in all godliness and reverence and seriousness in every way.  For such [praying] is good and right, and [it is] pleasing and acceptable to God our Savior,  Who wishes all men to be saved and [increasingly] to perceive and recognize and discern and know precisely and correctly the [divine] Truth”  (1 Timothy 2:1-4 AMP).

WOW, have I and perhaps you, been reacting and praying about what is going on in the world today wrongly?  Have our prayers been acceptable to God and Savior on the things going on around us?  Has my temper-tantrums been all wrong?

Notice in the first verse, it mentions 4 types of prayer: petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings.  Now I don’t want to take the time this morning in discussing the different forms or types of PRAYER.  But I do want to point out the urging from the apostle Paul in offering these prayers, is on behalf of ALL men; that is believers, those who have a relationship in Christ Jesus and non-believers who do not.  You might be thinking right now, “Are you kidding me? Pray for the men in the Seattle Times photo?”  Always remember the love of the sinner and NOT the sin.  I have to remind myself of that every time I watch the news on television.  Then why do you watch the news.  How else can we specifically know how to pray for our leaders?

So the next time you and I see or hear of a report that strikes a match in our hearts; to anger, to disgust, to yelling out loud and stomping our spiritual feet, “That no good, blanket y blank, blank politician”, STOP and think about what is said in 1 Timothy 2:1-4.

THERE, I feel much better.  How about you?