FIRST BLOOD

In 1982, an American action film hit the box office, “First Blood”.  It was co-written by Ted Kotchheff and starred Sylvester Stallone who became known to most of us as “Rambo”. 

It was based on David Morrell’s 1972 novel of the same name.  I remember a line in the movie that plays into the movie’s title when he said to his pursuers, “You drew the first blood” and as odd as it may seem, while I was reading in my Bible, the Letter to the Hebrews, this movie theme played in my head as I studied and took notes for this study, FIRST BLOOD.

First blood in the Bible – Genesis 4:4; (Genesis 3:21).

[4] And Abel also brought an offering–fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.  The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering…

It was a sacrificial lamb. 

His brother Cain’s offering was far more attractive than Abel’s was, but Abel’s was what God wanted.

Abel’s offering anticipated the coming Lamb of God.

There’s only one way to approach a holy God and that’s through shed blood (Hebrews 9:22).

It’s an echo of Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”

While the first blood shed by Abel was prophetic and pointed forward to that which was to be, the blood of Jesus, on the other hand, it declares the whole work of salvation is finished.

This brings us to our study in the New Testament in Hebrews 9:10-28

The Blood Covenant

JESUS is in heaven right now and seated at the right hand of the Father, guaranteeing the promise of the COVENANT with two aspects:

  • LEGAL GUARANTEE
  • LIVING GUARANTEE

Hebrews 9:11-15 (NIV)  First Blood vs. The Blood of Christ

[11] When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.  [12] He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves, but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.  [13] The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.  [14] How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!  [15] For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

Jesus has shed His blood for us on Calvary 2,000 years ago and now appears in Heaven to plead for us.

Hebrews 9:16-22 (AMP)

[16] For where there is a [last] will and testament involved, the death of the one who made it must be established.  [17] For a will and testament is valid and takes effect only at death, since it has no force or legal power as long as the one who made it is alive.  [18] So even the [old] first covenant  (God’s will)  was not inaugurated and ratified and put in force without the shedding of blood.  [19] For when every command of the Law had been read out by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of slain calves and goats, together with water and scarlet wool and with a bunch of hyssops, and sprinkled both the Book (the roll of the Law and covenant) itself and all the people.  [Leviticus 14]

[20] Saying these words:  This is the blood that seals and ratifies the agreement (the testament, the covenant) which God commanded [me to deliver to] you.  [21] And in the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and all the [sacred] vessels and appliances used in [divine] worship.

[22] [In fact] under the Law almost everything is purified by means of blood, and without the shedding of blood there is neither release from sin and its guilt nor the remission of the due and merited punishment for sin.

COVENANT is an agreement, but it also means “last will and testament.”

The thing about a “will” is that it doesn’t come into effect until a person dies.

In order for the terms of the New Covenant to come into play, Jesus had to physically die on the Cross.

Luke 22:20 (NIV)

[20] In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Even the Old Covenant was established on the basis of the ‘first’ blood so to speak, but the blood, fire, water (Num. 31:21-24) couldn’t change a person’s nature.  (The altar, ark, people didn’t change when the blood was put upon them, but it did change God’s relationship to it).

The reason why blood was such a big variable in the Old Covenant was that God required BLOOD to be shed before sin could be forgiven (Lev. 17:11).

The Old Testament saints were saved the same way we are with the finish work of Christ Jesus.

People before Christ’s death on the Cross were promised a Messiah/Redeemer by God, they died believing/trusting that God Promise would be fulfilled, however, this is really important…they died with the promise unfulfilled.

One of the first accomplishments of Jesus’ death was to REDEEM all those who had believed in God under the Old Covenant (Christ’s atoning death was retroactive).

In the financial world, redemption is “a removal of a financial obligation by paying off a note, bond, etc.” [Dictionary.com]

In a way, the believers of the O.C. were saved on “credit” or a “note,” and Jesus was the actual payment, “redeeming” the note.  The only way a person could come to God was to have the penalty of his SIN paid for and Jesus provided it for everyone who trusts Him.

He was the bridge!

With Jesus dying on the Cross, He legally died and His Last Will & Testament was legally enacted.

Our inheritance is primarily spiritual in nature. Forgiveness, spiritual gifts/fruit, the changing of our nature.

When Jesus died, what all the ‘first blood’ that had been offered up until that time couldn’t do, Jesus accomplished.

The Howard Hughes Story

One of the richest men in the world when he died in 1976.  His fortune, which he accumulated as an aviator, inventor, engineer, filmmaker, had an estimated worth in the billions when he died.  In the final years of his life, he spent them as a recluse in a Las Vegas hotel as his OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder) took its hold.  Upon his death, it was discovered that he had no WILL made.  All his wealth was divided by the State to 22 cousins.

When Jesus died on the Cross, His last Will and Testament came immediately into force.  He designated all His wealth, power, authority to His children…us!

How foolish we are to fail to claim our inheritance in Him!

A Living Guarantee (vv. 23-26).

OUR LORD BECAME THE SACRIFICE FOR OUR SIN.

He is the better sacrifice, a final sacrifice.

Hebrews 9:23, 25-26 (NIV)

[23] It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

[25] Nor did He enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.  [26] Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world.  But now He has appeared once and for all at the end of the ages to do away with the sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

His final Will & Testament was notarized on Calvary’s Hill.

If you’ve ever had to get an official transcript from a school, or an official copy of your birth certificate, it had to have the official seal on it to be valid.  A notary public will authenticate your signature on an important document by stamping it with his/her seal.

Even so, God’s Spirit is the SEAL on every true believer, showing that you are no longer your own.  He bought you with the blood of Christ and now you belong to Him.  No one can take you from Him!!!

He died, but He lives again!

He’s alive to serve as His own executor of His own estate!

He can enforce the PROMISE of His Will and His Will is incontestable because He lives in heaven as our guarantee!

When we come to God we must go through Jesus.  There’s no other way.  Jesus satisfies the Father, therefore no one comes to Him except through His Son, Jesus.

The idea that God accepts us as we are is unbiblical.  We come to Jesus just as we are, BUT…He doesn’t present us to the Father just as we are.  We are a 100% unpresentable as we are.  [God is holy, and SIN cannot be in His presence.]

When Jesus presents us to His Father, He presents us in Himself, as He is.

So when God sees us, He sees Jesus instead; He sees Jesus’ sacrifice instead of our SIN.  His BLOOD PAYMENT for our sin instead of the penalty we deserve for our iniquities.

Hebrews 9:24 (AMP)

[24] For Christ (the Messiah) has not entered into a sanctuary made with [human] hands, only a copy and pattern and type of the true one, but [He has entered] into heaven itself, now to appear in the [very] presence of God on our behalf.

Jesus has taken us into the real Holy of Holies with Him through His SACRIFICE of BLOOD on the Cross.

Hebrews 9:27-28

One person said: Man’s life is made up of 20 years of his mother asking him where he’s going.  50 years of his wife asking him where’s he been, and one hour at his funeral where everyone wonders where he’s gone.

I know where I’m going because I’m in the Will.

The only way we get into the Will is to be placed into the death of Christ Jesus and say, “God, I’m a sinner.  I place myself into the death and resurrection of your Son.  Be satisfied with me for His sake.”

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CREDITS:

Howard Hughes Story – Wikipedia.

“FIRST BLOOD” – Wikipedia.

Video:  First blood Instrumental YouTube.

Photos:  Google Image Search, Settings Advance search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); other translations as marked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AN UNCROWNED AND POWERLESS NATION

JUDGES 1:1-7 (NASB)

[1]  Now it came about after the death of Joshua that the sons of Israel inquired of the LORD, saying “Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?”

[2]  The LORD said, “Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand.”

[3]  Then Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me into the territory allotted me, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I, in turn, will go with you into the territory allotted you.”  So Simeon went with him.  

[4]  Judah went up, and the LORD gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hands, and they defeated ten thousand men in Bezek. 

[5]  They found Adoni-bezek in Bezek and fought against him, and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

[6]  But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes.

[7]  Adoni-bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and their big toes cut off used to gather up scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me.”  So they brought him to Jerusalem and he died there.

AMERICA AND ISRAEL ARE MUCH ALIKE…

They remind me of each other.  Both remind me of those 70 kings in verse 7:  UNCROWNED AND MADE POWERLESS, reduced to settling for scraps.

AMERICA used to sit feasting at the table of the KING of kings, but we are descending rapidly to the role of the beggar at the Beautiful Gate.

THE BOOK OF JUDGES is a book about incomplete VICTORY…

It stems from incomplete OBEDIENCE.

Another word for “incomplete obedience” would be DISOBEDIENCE.

Partial obedience in your MORALS is disobedience.  [I’m not so bad compared to others! / But are you still willfully choosing to do wrong in the same areas?].  If you aren’t FULLY FAITHFUL…you’re UNFAITHFUL!  If you TITHE on about half of your income, you can’t call it a TITHE.  It may be 10% of THAT paycheck but if it’s only 5% overall, it’s not credited by God as partial obedience but disobedience.  I’ll get some emails and comments on that thought.

When it comes to our COMMITMENT to God, let’s not do it halfway.

I especially like a verse in 1 Kings that illustrates that thought  (1 Kings 18:21):

[21]  Elijah came near to all the people and said,  How long will you halt and limp between opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow Him!  But if Baal, then follow him.  And the people did not answer him a word.  (AMP)

You, WE, are either committed or we’re are not!

And AMERICA cannot ride the fence.  Either we’re a Christian nation or we are not!

Yes, we have FREEDOM of religion, but many today are trying to lift freedom FROM religion, trying to tie our hands and gag our mouths in the process.

Our FREEDOM of speech is going down the toilet.

After turning an 11-day journey from Egypt to the Promised Land…

During 40 years of meandering, ISRAEL found itself IN the promised land, but not IN possession of it.  ISRAEL did things halfway.

WANTING TO BE BLESSED BUT NOT WANTING TO PAY THE PRICE.

ISRAEL was commanded by Joshua to cross the river, conquer the enemy and claim the inheritance that God had promised.

They did cross the river, conquered SOME of the enemies, and stopped well short of finishing their conquest and claiming their inheritance.

They certainly wanted the BLESSINGS of the Promised Land but didn’t want to pay the price for complete victory.

They wanted something FREE, much like most Americans today.

They demanded their rights and wanted privileges, but didn’t want to take responsibility.  They were all take and no give!

So, they went back to their old ways of going in circles in the wilderness.

Their progression was:  Sin…Suffering…Supplication…Salvation.  They would sin and naturally suffer for it, then cry out to God and He would come to their rescue.

But God isn’t bound to always be a safety net for His people.

He has come to our nation many times, but like with Israel, His patience may soon wear thin if it hasn’t already.  And He may allow us to fall in order to look up!

THE LAST WAR AMERICA WON WAS WWII.

That was back when generals fought wars to win them.  Today, Congress fights wars according to polls and popular opinion and of course, politics!  No wonder we often lose or end in a stalemate at best.

JUDGES is about a small group sent by God to reclaim a fallen nation, to speak as prophets of JUDGMENT and turning them away from backsliding to repentance, revival, and recovery.

INCOMPLETE OBEDIENCE AND INCOMPLETE VICTORY.

ISRAEL’S first instance of both is right here in chapter one.  They begin with a VICTORY in the first 7 verses, but then FAIL to continue…they stop short…and are satisfied with partial obedience.

IMPORTANT SYMBOLISM:

  • ISRAEL=God’s people and could represent America, or the Church, or us as individuals.
  • CANAAN=Christian victory.
  • Adoni-bezek=  “Lord of Lightning”= Satan.  [See footnote [i] ]

Yes, I believe the king in chapter one in the text is a picture of the DEVIL himself because of a parallel passage in the NT.

LUKE 10:1 – After this, the LORD appointed seventy-two others [Some manuscripts say seventy, also in verse 17] and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go.

LUKE 10:17-20 –

[17] The seventy-two returned with joy and said,  “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”  

[18] He replied,  “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

[19] I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions, and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  [20] However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

JESUS reminded these 70 (or “72”) followers of His that SATAN is a powerful bolt of lightning that fell from heaven, and his power is beyond our own.

JESUS teaches them that although He has given a position of POWER they should glory in the position but not in the POWER as if it were their own.

Another powerful teaching in vv. 6-7 of Judges is RETRIBUTION.

Adoni-bezek was punished for his crimes in the exact same way as he punished these 70 kings.

RETRIBUTION is an aspect of God’s character we seldom think about.  We like to focus on His LOVE and REWARDS in heaven, but we often fail to consider His holiness; His perfect nature demanding justice and a payment for all imperfection.

SATAN’S DAY IS COMING!  He may think he’s getting away with things now on earth but it’s payday someday.

God may not pay weekly, monthly, or annually, but when He pays he pays in full!

We too should take the warning…

  • Numbers 32:23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”
  • Galatians 6:7  “Do not be deceived:  God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.”
  • 1 Timothy 5:24  “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.”

UNCROWNED means to be knocked out of your seat–dethroned from your position of POWER.

Romans 13:1  Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.

It’s like a major demotion…that hurts!

Proverbs 25:26  Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.

What a letdown!

POWERLESS means unable to accomplish work for God–DISABLED!

Some try but find themselves to be ineffective while some have been disabled to the point that they have quit trying.

WITH NO THUMBS they couldn’t hold a sword, no threat…WITH NO BIG TOES, they became unstable, couldn’t stand to fight.

Under his table = OPPRESSION.

They lived off the scraps they could gather under his table and that’s difficult with NO THUMBS!!

Satan DISABLES in many ways but seems to have the most success by using the following ‘BIG SINS’ against us:

  • Bitterness
  • Immorality
  • Greed
  • Guilt

Many Christians Are Defeated Today–

SOME HAVE BEEN OVERCOME–[Ambushed] – 1 Peter 5:8 – “…for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.”

SOME HAVE BEEN OUTMANNED –  We try to go the battle alone and are no match for Satan– Ephesians 6:10 – Be strong in the Lord; draw your strength from Him.

SOME HAVE BEEN OUTGUNNED – Ephesians 6:13 – Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…; 1 Corinthians 15:57 – But thanks be to God, Who gives us victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Remembering THREE THINGS About Satan:

#1.  He is not a mythological character:  Not just a force or influence, but a real person.  He has life, intelligence, a will, and feelings.

#2.  Satan is a destructive force:  He’s out to defeat you!

  • In Christianity
  • Christian America
  • Church
  • Family
  • Person

#3.  Satan is a defeated foe.

HOW DO WE THEN GAIN VICTORY?

The only true victory is COMPLETE VICTORY.

America today fights to a stalemate or a draw.

Let’s not make the same mistake in our personal lives.

 

1 John 5:4 – 

Who is it that is victorious over [that conquers] the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on that fact]?

In the above verse, the Apostle John is giving his readers a testimony that in Christ there is VICTORY!

  • VICTORY doesn’t come by regretting.
  • VICTORY doesn’t come by resolving.
  • VICTORY doesn’t come by renouncing.
  • VICTORY doesn’t come by rededication.

VICTORY COMES BY RECEIVING THE VICTORY ALREADY MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH JESUS.

Outside of Christ, there is no victory.

In John 16:33 we read, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence.  In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]!  For I have overcome the world.  [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”

This KING is just like the devil and he wants to oppress you and rob you of the benefits of your SALVATION.

Many of God’s people live a beggar’s lifestyle while they’re the rightful heirs of the kingdom of God.

Satan is holding many of God’s people in BONDAGE to GUILT and SHAME, (slavery) while living like beggars because they don’t know what God’s COVENANT says.

The Syrophenician Woman said, just let me have the crumbs that fall from the children’s table, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs (She didn’t know or have a part in the Covenant).  [Matthew 15:21-28]

But the sad part is that when we are COVENANT sons and daughters and because of ignorance, Satan oppresses us and brings us into BONDAGE, and has us living like beggars.

LAZARUS was a son of Abraham (Yet he was living like a beggar).

HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE:

You are NOT a beggar and Satan has no AUTHORITY over you if you are truly SAVED!

He has no authority to hold you in a BONDAGE of GUILT or SHAME over your past.

You are a Covenant Son or Daughter of God!

The King is calling you to the banqueting table, and at His table, no one sees what you were, only what you are!  A CHILD OF THE KING!

When you take your rightful place at the table, you RULE AND REIGN as kings!!

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FOOTNOTES AND CREDITS –

Footnote [i] :  Bible Study Tools, Dictionaries – Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary:  Adoni-bezek

Photos:  Google Image Search –  Advance search setting.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and the Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

Do Sheep and Goats Make the Same Noise?

If the person listening had never heard a goat or a sheep before, they probably wouldn’t know the difference.  Also, different BREEDS of goat can sound very different.  Saanen (white dairy goat breed) goats sound similar to sheep except their voice is higher pitched–but Nubian goats sound very much like a crying human baby.  [See FOOTNOTE [i] ]

 This brings us to a passage in Matthew where the Shepherd (Jesus Christ) knows the difference between “sheep” and “goat” – Matthew 25:32 (AMP)

[32]  All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them [the people] from one another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats;  [See Ezek. 34:17]

Now before you start thinking to yourself of separating the goats from the sheep at your church on Sunday or in your neighborhood, this passage in Matthew has brought a debate to when all this takes place in time.  Some say it is at the beginning of the millennial reign while others say it’s at the end of the Millennium.  However, I believe the more important concept for us to grasp here, that there will come a time when King Jesus will separate people into two classes – SHEEP & GOATS.

OUR STUDY IN MATTHEW 25:31-46 is a conclusion to what is called the Olivet Discourse–where Jesus reveals the TRUTH of His second coming and the gathering of BELIEVERS and the JUDGMENT of the wicked and the LOST–non-believers.

Now for some reading this, the problem will be the SEPARATION–the righteous (those in Christ) and the judgment of the wicked (those who have rejected Christ).

THE REWARD for the SHEEP and the JUDGMENT for the GOATS –

To one group – JESUS says to enter in and enjoy your inheritance.

To the other group – Depart from me.

One is offered ETERNAL LIFE with God…

One group suffers ETERNAL LIFE without God.

The central truth to keep in mind is that when Christ returns (and He will return) to His glorious throne, there will be JUDGMENT based upon people’s response to Jesus.

THERE ARE SHEEP AND THERE ARE GOATS –

All of us came into the world as GOATS, born into SIN and far from God.  Some will allow God to TRANSFORM them and some will not because they like the way they are and by CHOICE stay far from God.

We read in Scripture that the Lord Jesus is JUDGE and SAVIOR.  He will allow each one of us to enjoy or endure the path we have FREELY chosen.  Now that’s worth reading again!

IMAGINE  the world where a GOAT, presented with an opportunity to be transformed miraculously into a SHEEP, could do so by grabbing the offer extended by the one making the offer.  SUPERNATURALLY the GOAT became instantaneously a baby SHEEP and cared for by the transformer (Jesus Christ, Savior, and King).  That happens by God’s GRACE and MERCY to all those that want and will let God TRANSFORM their lives.

That’s a God thing!

You cannot earn it.

You cannot buy it.

It is a FREE GIFT received only by acceptance!

When Jesus Returns with Angels All Around Him…SEPARATION BEGINS!

The SHEEP, those on His right, hold a position of honor.  Jesus says, starting with verse 34,  “The the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world…

BY CHOICE they have decided to follow Jesus.

BY CHOICE they have participated in kingdom work.

We cannot earn SALVATION, but it’s very clear here that the RIGHTEOUS (God’s SHEEP) took an interest in people they were around.

The early church in the Acts of the Apostles exploded because they were willing to open their hearts and lives to others.

I remember years ago while in attendance at a Church Growth Seminar in San Diego, one pastor said this about the growth: “Quality first, then quantity.”

JESUS made it very clear!

“their inheritance was there since the creation of the world” – verse 34 (b).

That would have been long before they could have established any good works.

GOOD WORKS is not the cause of SALVATION, but the Effect of Salvation.

As Christians, our responsibility, and yes, as believers we have responsibilities…is to be more like JESUS.

GOOD WORKS is the direct overflow of God active in our lives.  I love being in the “overflow” [John 10:10 Amplified Bible].

GOOD WORKS are only acceptable to God because of our RELATIONSHIP with Christ–NOT in place of Christ Jesus.

RELATIONSHIP is an interesting word to grab hold of.  One Greek word, pros ko Liao,  describes “to CLEAVE (join with) someone in a personal (“interfacing”) relationship. – “to glue in” (for extending towards).  [Bible Hub – Relationship].  

Reminds me of a song made popular by Sugar Land, “Stuck Like Glue” –

Now GOATS can indeed perform acts of kindness,

BUT…their HEARTS are far from God and not right with God.  Their ACTIONS do not honor Him.

BELIEVERS, after always keeping our RELATIONSHIP with Christ FIRST…we are called to be a part of KINGDOM WORK–we are “glued in”.

#1 – Seek and save the lost.

#2 – Build each other up.

#3 – Minister to one another.

We cannot do that in isolation.

EVERYTHING WE SAY AND DO MATTERS TO GOD!

  • Kind words to others matter to God.
  • Small tasks of kindness to others matter to God.

In our ‘doing’, we may not be acknowledged by the one we are showing kindness to, but to God, kindness matters and done often enough becomes a LIFESTYLE instead of occasional work.

Matthew 25:37:  “When did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink?”

Jesus replies,

Verse 40:  “Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me.”

Our response to others is an indication of where our RELATIONSHIP is with the LORD.  For some, there will be a great REWARD waiting and we won’t even realize it because it has become a HABIT and we can’t remember each act of kindness we do.

We will be asking Jesus, when did you see us do these things.  And He will remind us of each act of kindness to others.

What About The Other Group of People, THE GOATS?

THE GREAT SEPARATION –

The DAY OF JUDGMENT will come; the LORD will separate and say…

Matthew 25:41-44 (Message Bible)

41-43  “Then he will turn to the ‘goats’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats!  You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell.  And why?  Because–

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,

I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

I was homeless and you gave me no bed,

I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,

Sick and in  prison, and you never visited.’

44  “Then the ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about?  When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?

Those that had no time for God.

Those that have spent their whole life centered on themselves.

One day they’ll find themselves out of TIME–out of EXCUSES of why they have not responded to the things of God.

Many people today want to SERVE God in their own way. without restrictions, without discipline, without having any commitments. 

They want EXTERNAL REWARDS now, and INTERNAL REWARDS later and to base their rewards on good intentions and a RELATIONSHIP that’s almost non-existent.

Kingdom Rewards in Heaven is given to those who SERVE without thought of REWARD.  

God GIVES out of His GRACE!

OUR INHERITANCE…

Our INHERITANCE has been laid out since the creation of the world, based upon a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ, Lord, and Savior of our souls.

ETERNAL FIRE was prepared for the devil himself and the rebellious angels that followed him,  and also for those that REJECT the FREE GRACE of God, that REJECT what Jesus did on the Cross, and say no to Christ.

The RELIGIOUS LEADERS of the day knew 1000’s of Jewish pilgrims would come for PASSOVER and FEASTS.

They knew that many will admire Jesus from a distance, BUT… few will follow Him.

Those who REJECT Jesus will not follow Jesus.

Those who have no time for Jesus will not have time for God’s people.

“Depart from me”  (v. 41 – NIV Bible)

These will be terrible words to hear from Jesus.  You have no time for me and you show no compassion for those put in your path.

It’s like an employee who puts on a good show when their boss is present and slacks off the times he/she thinks they can get away with it.

GOD SEES ALL…

GOD KNOWS ALL.

It is while we have time that we must decide to be identified with the SHEEP.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like being called a SHEEP or a GOAT!

But I’d rather be a SHEEP and a follower of Jesus, than a stubborn GOAT that rebels at all authority and does things his own way.

Something I particularly noticed in this study is JESUS’ words:  Notice the SINS pointed out were not the things they DID, but rather the things they DIDN’T do (vs. 42-43).

He focuses on their SINS OF OMISSION; failing to act out of LOVE and COMPASSION for those in need.  And although GOATS may at certain times sound like SHEEP, even have certain characteristics of SHEEP, just like the sheep, the GOATS didn’t understand just like the SHEEP.  The GOATS are clueless to what King Jesus is talking about.

THE GOATS respond similarly as the way the SHEEP have.

Jesus responds in the same way as He did with the SHEEP–EXCEPT…the GOATS have not acted on behalf of “the least”  (v. 45).

This past week, I read about an instant CAKE MIX that was a big flop {brand in the photo is for reference only].  The instructions said all you have to do is add water and bake and you’ll have a cake.  The company couldn’t understand why it didn’t sell until their research discovered the buying public felt uneasy about a mix that only required water.  Apparently, people thought it was way TOO EASY.  So the company altered the formula, changed the directions to call for adding an egg to the mix in addition to the water.  

Google Image Search Advanced Settings

The idea worked!

You know where I’m going here–some think the plan of SALVATION is too simple.  

Some people think that they have forever.

Some people think that God has no rules and anything flies.

“By Grace, you have been SAVED through FAITH, it is the GIFT of God, not of works”

And that is FACT!  You cannot add anything to the mix–that’s God’s recipe.

THE GOOD NEWS we proclaim is FREE from works, BUT WORKS will follow those that truly are FOLLOWING Jesus.  It has to do with our RELATIONSHIP–“Stuck Like Glue”–with Him.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i]:  Do Sheep and Goats Make the Same Noise?  Ask For Answers @ yahoo.com

Photos:   Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP). Message Bible (MESS).

 

 

HOPE OVERFLOWING!

BIBLE STUDY TEXT:  ROMANS 15:4-13

imagesThere are probably some who are reading this BLOG ON HOPE that is not feeling a lot of Hope in your life right now.  Maybe on different occasions, you have had your Hope built up in things and they let you down.  Trust me, I’ve experienced this almost rehabilitating feeling in my own life in the past.

Maybe you have had your HOPE IN THE WRONG THINGS.

Maybe you have had your HOPE IN GOD, but what you expected God to do, didn’t happen.

Maybe you have lost HOPE or afraid to put your HOPE in anything for the fear of being disappointed.

Hopefully, this Bible Study in Paul’s Letter to the church in Rome will give you or someone you know to live in HOPE, because HOPE is absolutely essential for LIFE and FOR LIVING!

ILLUSTRATION: Wharf Rats Drowning.

I was reading this week about this experiment by some behavioral scientists did once with some rats.  They put some WHARF RATS in a tank of water, observed them, seeing how long they would survive before drowning.  The average time was 17 minutes.  Then, they repeated the experiment, but this time they “RESCUED” the rats just before the point of drowning, dried them off and returned them to their cages, fed them and let them play for a few days, then repeated the drowning experiment.

This time, the average survival time for these same rats increased from 17 minutes to 36 hours!  The scientists explained by pointing out the second time around the rats had hope.  They believed that they could survive this because they had done so before.  [See Footnote [i] ]

HOPE ETERNAL – 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV):

[3] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  [4] and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.

NOW THAT IS AWESOME!  Awesome that we have that LIVING HOPE when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, believing in Him.

And how can we forget Jesus’ words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever BELIEVES in him shall not perish but have eternal life”  (John 3:16).

We have this ETERNAL LIFE, not based on what we do, but solely based upon our BELIEF in and receiving of Jesus Christ.

LIVING IN THIS “HOPE” THROUGH HIS WORD!

Romans 15:4 (NLT):

[4] Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us.  And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

Through reading God’s Word on a daily basis, we can see and are taught how God has been faithful to His people, even in the middle of difficult circumstances.

God IS Faithful!

In 1985, my family was going through some “difficult circumstances”, in that I had lost my management job due to a company buyout.  Although we had food and shelter, other necessities were going to have to wait until I could get back on my feet with new employment.

The church we were attending at the time had mail slots for each member that hung on a back wall in the foyer.  Special bulletins, upcoming meeting notices, and anything else that needed to be circulated in accordance with church activities.

One Sunday morning, proceeding to check for mail, in the designated slot there was a white legal-sized envelope with our last name on the face.  I curiously opened the envelope and found an unsigned note paper clipped to a hundred-dollar bill that read,  “Buy some clothes for the kids, or yourselves…something personal to enjoy and not on bills!”

It is through reading His Word that our circumstances don’t necessarily change, but that He gives us strength and encouragement to stand in the HOPE that we have.

Earlier in Paul’s letter to the Romans (5:2-5). through His Word, we’re reminded of His PROMISE.

romans-5_2-5

Through His Word, we are told of God’s FAITHFULNESS to past generations.

Through His Word, we can be encouraged to live in HOPE, while rejoicing in our trials and sufferings.

GOD HELPS US TO LIVE DAILY IN HOPE…

Not only does He help us in our HOPE through His Word, but also, God helps us live in HOPE through His church (15:5-11 NIV):

[5] May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,  [6] so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[7] Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.  [8] For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and  [9] and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.  As it is written:

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.”

[10] Again it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”

[11]  And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.”

Paul talks about having a spirit of UNITY and the ACCEPTANCE of people as the Lord accepted us.

Sometimes we can confuse being “accepting” with condoning sin.  The Jewish Christians were struggling with the Gentile Christians with what they had to do to be part of the church.

  • Did they have to get circumcised?
  • Did they adhere to the dietary laws?
  • If they didn’t, could they really be part of the community of FAITH?

All these differences could destroy the church in the building up of the believers in HOPE.

But Paul tells the Jewish Christians that God has ALWAYS declared that He would bring the Gentiles to FAITH.

And notice how the apostle quotes from the Historical Books–the LAW, the WRITINGS, and the PROPHETS to make his point to the Jewish Christians that God’s plan was always to include the Gentiles so they should accept them too!

So God helps us through His Word and through His church, reminding us of the HOPE we have, but at the same time, we must remember OUR HOPE is only found in His Son.

HOPE IS ONLY FOUND THROUGH JESUS CHRIST (Romans 15:12):

“The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him, the Gentiles will hope.”

Titus 2:11-14

word-of-the-week-titus-2-infographic

Standing In That HOPE

I love Natalie Grant’s song lyrics that came to mind while studying the verses:

IN CHRIST ALONE-

In Christ alone, my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song.

This Cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease.

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the love of Christ, I stand.

GOD gives us OVERFLOWING HOPE through His Spirit (v. 15:13):

[13] May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may OVERFLOW with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.

cup-overflowing

It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that those who TRUST in Jesus have, that our HOPE cannot just help us endure, but that it can OVERFLOW from our lives and we can thrive with that overflowing HOPE!

But you might be thinking, “Isn’t the ‘overflowing’ of anything a big waste?  When I overflow my car’s gasoline tank at the gas station, it always leaves a big mess!”

Not in this case.

As the Holy Spirit FILLS you with HOPE as you grow in FAITH through the Word, through the fellowship of other believers, through having your eyes fixed on Jesus and the SALVATION He has given you now, along with the INHERITANCE that never perishes, never spoils or fades, kept in HEAVEN for you…THAT HOPE you have, OVERFLOWS, spilling on to others around you!

As you interact with others in this world and live in the HOPE that you have, and speak to them of the HOPE that you have, it OVERFLOWS so that they want what you have in their life.

While you endure and persevere in difficult circumstances, the HOPE OF GLORY that the people see will want what you have even if that means their circumstances are not great.  That’s because HOPE is essential to life and to living.

If you have great circumstances in life but no HOPE, you really won’t be living!

All we have to do is look at so many famous people walking down the Red Carpet, who seem to have all kinds of great circumstances, but struggle with LIFE & LIVING.

CONCLUSION –

Do you have HOPE today?  Is your HOPE, an overflowing hope?

Have you trusted Christ as Savior?

If not, then that’s the step into HOPE you need to take!

But if you have TRUSTED Him, and not experiencing the HOPE He gives, then maybe you are not taking advantage of the things He has given us to help us to LIVE in that Hope.

Get in His Word!

Connect with a body of believers, in REAL RELATIONSHIPS, through Bible studies and serving in the community.

And as God POURS OUT that HOPE in you, SHARE that and experience the OVERFLOW HOPE of the Holy Spirit as He uses you and me to SERVE His kingdom.

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Bible Translations:  The New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Footnote [i]:  The Remarkable Power of Hope by Joseph T. Hallinan, Psychology Today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Someday” Mentality of Our Inheritance

THE BELIEVER’S INHERITANCE:

knowing-receiving-your-inheritance-by-andre-roebert

 

One of my favorite, all time HYMNS is “When We All Get To Heaven” by Eliza F. Hewitt and Emily D. Wilson.  The hymn was inspired by a verse in 1 Thessalonians (1 Thess. 4:17):

Chorus:  When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be!

When we all see Jesus,  We’ll sing and shout the victory!

What a glorious day that will be for those in Christ.  It’s an INHERITANCE to look forward to!  

And there are several New Testament verses confirming our spiritual inheritance, giving us continued HOPE in a confusing world.

Ephesians 1:11-14:

11  In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will,  12  in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.  13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our INHERITANCE UNTIL the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of His glory (New International Version).

Titus 3:7:

So that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life  (NIV).

Too Many of God’s People Have Settled Into a Someday Mentality–

Joshua 18:2-3 (Amplified Bible):

2  And there remained among the Israelites seven tribes who had not yet divided their inheritance.  3 Joshua asked the Israelites,  “How long will you be slack to go in and possess the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?”

“SLACK”:  fail, (be) faint, (wax) feeble, forsake, idle, leave, let alone (go down), (be) slack, stay, be still, be slothful.

“In order that you may not grow disinterested and become [spiritual] sluggards, but imitators, behaving as do those who through faith (by their leaning of the entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) and by practice of patient endurance and waiting are [now] inheriting the promises”  (Hebrews 6:12 AMP).

Joshua’s Rebuke –

Joshua’s scolding of the people tells us that it was not a weakness or a failure on God’s part that they had not taken possession of their inheritance, but a slackness and slothfulness on their part.

Ephesians 6:13-17
Ephesians 6:13-17

Paul the Apostle put a great emphasis on the whole armor of God (Why put on the armor if there’s not a battle to be fought?).

It is to POSSESS that which has been promised to us, to take possession of our INHERITANCE!

“POSSESS”:  to seize, to rob, also to expel, to ruin–cast out, to impoverish, consume, destroy, disinherit, dispossess, drive out, (take) possession, seize upon.

Why do I say this should be our focus as Christians?  Because until we are in possession of our inheritance, we cannot help anyone else to receive theirs.

The Spirit of the Tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the Half Tribe of Manasseh:

The spirit that God is looking for in this day and hour…they took their INHERITANCE on this side of the Jordan (Numbers 32:32).

The reason the three tribes were able to go ahead and fight for their brethren was, they had received their inheritance already.

MOSES and JOSHUA didn’t give the people of Israel their inheritance, God did!  Moses and Joshua were only instruments God used to bring them into their inheritance.

“JORDAN” = death.

Many Christians today have determined they have to cross Jordan–die before they can receive their inheritance.

7 Tribes = representative of the church.

They had not received their inheritance.  Not because is was not theirs, but because they were SLACK to go in and POSSESS it.

Too many of God’s people have settled into a “someday inheritance.”  But FAITH is always now.  Like these 7 Tribes, they’re waiting to cross over Jordan to possess their inheritance.

Somehow, we’ve come to believe, we have to die (or, be “raptured”–caught up) before we receive our inheritance.

Since when does the BENEFICIARY of the Last Will and Testament have to die to receive what the Will entitles him or her to?

It’s when the writer of the Will dies that entitlement occurs; to take possession of the contents of the Will.

You don’t have to die to get your inheritance…you just need to show up at the reading of the Will in finding out what belongs to you.

JESUS Was the Express Will of God for Us!

All of the riches of Heaven are contained in JESUS:

Hebrews 9:15-17 (NIV)

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.  16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it,  17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.

JESUS DIED to bring us into possession of our inheritance; to bring the kingdom of God to us (thy kingdom come, thy will be done).

Someday, Somewhere, Somehow…

Many of us were raised in the church [I wasn’t] with this idea, from our parents, from our pastor, through the songs and hymns when we remember:  “When we all get to heaven…” THEN…!

A SALVATION that told us everything was just on the other side of the river in glory; where the soul never dies, and one of these days we’ll die and fly and eat our pie in the sky in the sweet bye and bye.

While I definitely believe in what’s available in heaven and I definitely believe there’s more to come, this someday mindset is a total contradiction to everything the Bible teaches.

The Bible doesn’t tell me I have to WAIT to have power until I die.  It says “you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8).

Galatians 3:29 English Standard Version (ESV):

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

That means the COVENANT BLESSING that He pronounced on Abraham is mine NOW!

Deuteronomy 28:1-13 New International Version (NIV):

1  IF YOU fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all His commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2  All these BLESSINGS will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

3  You will be BLESSED in the city and BLESSED in the country.

4  The fruit of your womb will be BLESSED, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock–the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

5  Your basket and your kneading trough will be BLESSED.

6  You will be BLESSED when you come in and BLESSED when you go out.

7  The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you.  They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

8  The LORD will send a BLESSING on your barns and on everything you put your hand to.  The LORD your God will bless you in the land He is giving you.

9  The LORD will establish you as His holy people, as He promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.  10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you.  11 The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity–in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground–in the land He swore to your forefathers to give you.

12  The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse on His bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.  You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.  13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail.  If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

No where in those verses do I read that MY BLESSING is waiting for me, on the other side of Jordan.

Tell your neighbor:

I love you and I don’t want to offend you, and if you want to wait till we all get to heaven to get BLESSED that’s up to you.  But don’t get mad at me, if I take mine now!

THE PROMISE LAND

Somebody has said, the Promise Land in the Old Testament is a type of “heaven.”

That can’t be true, because there are no giants in heaven.

I’ve come to the biblical understanding the Promise Land in the Old Testament is a type of THE BLESSING of God, belonging to us, which symbolizes our spiritual inheritance in Christ.

JESUS is the PROMISE LAND of the believer:

For as many as are the PROMISES of God, they all find their Yes in Him [Christ].  For this reason we also utter the Amen to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God  (2 Corinthians 1:20).

How long are we going to be SLACK to POSSESS the land which the LORD has already given to us?

I believe I’ll take my INHERITANCE now!

inheritance


CREDITS and RESOURCES:

Photo Credits:  Google Search – Images

Word Definitions:  Online Dictionary, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.