Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Temple and the Altar

Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?
Matthew 23:17

Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees because they thought that the gold which made up the temple was more important than the temple itself. His point was that the temple sanctifies the gold, not the other way around. In the same way, He said it is not the offering on the altar that sanctifies the altar, but the other way around. The holy altar is what makes man's offering holy and the holy temple is what makes the gold of the temple holy. Yet both the temple and the altar are only holy because they have been touched, anointed, or inhabited by God. Paul said that we are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in us. His presence within sanctifies us, and our work!

What this tells us is that who we are, and what we build, apart from the Lord, is never good and holy enough for Him. The work that we do and what we offer to Him, are not worthy to be presented to Him. (Just ask Cain!) The thing that makes our lives and our efforts holy are the anointing of the Lord--His presence inside, the cleansing from the blood of Jesus and the anointing of His Holy Spirit. This is what sanctifies us and makes not only us, but all that we do, holy and acceptable to Him. 

Just as when the people who built the tower of Babel decided they would build something that would reach the heavens, what we try and build apart from His sanctioning will be nothing more than an idol. The Lord had not chosen that place to put His Name, that was not the place He wanted His temple built. Our desire should be for our work to be gold, silver or precious stone that becomes purified by fire, instead of wood, hay and straw, which burns up in the fire. The difference is, are we building something for ourselves as the tower of Babel, or are we seeking to become a dwelling place for the Lord, building His kingdom?

Our work is meant to be an offering to the Lord, so our work only becomes holy when it is anointed by Him and offered to Him as an act of worship. Our worship of the Lord is only valuable because its directed to the Most High, the Excellent One. His majesty, His glory--He Himself--makes our worship something holy and excellent, which it could never be if directed to something other than Him.

We can find encouragement in Isaiah 66:1-2:

Thus says the Lord, 
"Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. 
Where then is a house you could build for Me? 
And where is a place that I may rest? 
For My hand made all these things, 
Thus all these things came into being," declares the Lord. 
"But to this one I will look, 
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit,
and who trembles at My word." 

The Lord is looking for a temple, a place to rest, to dwell. Of all the places He could choose, He is looking for a humble heart, submissive to Him and His commands. Will you be His temple?

Matthew 23:15-22; Exodus 29 & 30; Genesis 4:3-5; Genesis 9, Deuteronomy 12:5-6; 1 Corinthians 3:10-17; Isaiah 66:1-3

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In The Beginning: Jewish Roots in America

"...for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye." Zechariah 2:8

This post is for American Christians who would like some insight as to why we should support Israel and the Jewish people. This is a quote from the book Stand With Israel: Friends of Zion by Mike Evans. It begins discussing the King and Queen of Spain--Ferdinand and Isabella.

"On August 2, 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella issued an expulsion order aimed at the Jewish conversos--those who had converted to Christianity under duress. It read in part:
      "Whereas, having been informed that in these kingdoms, there were some bad Christians who Judaized and apostatized from our holy Catholic faith, the chief cause of which was the communication of Jews with Christians...we ordered the said Jews in all, cities, towns, and places in our kingdoms and dominions to separate into Jewries [ghettos] and place apart...hoping by their separation alone to remedy this evil...But we are informed that neither that, nor the execution of some of the said Jews...has been sufficient for a complete remedy...Therefore we...resolve to order all the said Jews and Jewesses to quit our kingdoms and never the end of the month of July next, of the present year 1492...if they do not perform and execute the same, and are found to reside in out kingdoms...they incur the penalty of  death.
"The following day, August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus, who is thought to have been of Jewish descent, set sail on a voyage of discovery. Contrary to popular belief, his voyage was not funded by the sale of royal jewels, but by two Jewish conversos, both businessmen and members of the royal court. the major financiers were two court envoys, Louis de Santangel, chancellor of the royal household, and Gabriel Sanchez, treasurer of Aragon.

"Can you not see God's hand at work in this enterprise? Just as the Jews of Spain were being expunged from the country, God planted a seed in the heart of an explorer who yearned to find new lands. The voyage eventually led to the shores of the North American continent and the place that would become a refuge for millions of Jews over the centuries--the United States of America. God was preparing a sanctuary for His Chosen People. 

"...Within a century of having expelled the Jews from Spain, the country was bankrupt...

We read on regarding the American Revolution...

"Coolidge also recounted the story of Haym Salomon, Polish Jew financier of the Revolution:
     "Born in Poland, he was made prisoner by the British forces in New York, and when he escaped set up business in Philadelphia. He negotiated for Robert Morris [the superintendent for finance in the Thirteen Colonies] all the loans raised in France and Holland, pledged his personal faith and fortune for enormous amounts, and personally advanced large sums to such men as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Baron Steuben, General St. Clair and many other patriot leaders, who testified that without his aid they could not have carried on in the cause.
"Near the beginning of the Revolution, when colonial soldiers were poorly armed, starving to death, and on the verge of defeat, Salomon went to other Jews in America and Europe and gathered a gift of one million dollars (an incredible amount at that time). He sent the funds to General George Washington, who used them to buy clothes and arms to outfit the American troops, an act that ultimately helped the Colonies win the war. Salomon pledged his personal fortune. It is said that altogether, Salomon gifted the Continental Army with $25 million dollars and later died a pauper. Neither he nor his heirs ever collected a dime of what was due from the Government. He never even received a medal for his services...

"In addition to his gifts, Salomon loaned the US government at least another $800,000. It has been calculated that were his loan to be repaid today at 7 percent interest, the amount owed the Salomon family would equal at least $2.5 trillion.

"To show his appreciation, Washington instructed the engravers of the US one-dollar bill to include a memorial to the Jewish people over the head of the American eagle. It is still there today. If you look closely at the reverse side of a one-dollar bill, you will see thirteen stars over the eagle's head that form the six-pointed Star of David. Surrounding that is a cloudburst representing the glory in the tabernacle in Jerusalem. President Washington specified that this was to be a lasting memorial to he Jewish people for their help in winning the war for independence."

Stand With Israel: Friends of Zion by Mike Evans, Copyright 2014 by Time Worthy Books. Quote from pages 97-102.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bad Breath!

"...Indeed, has God said,...?" Genesis 3:1

When words are spoken breath is released. This breath creates an atmosphere of life or death depending, not only on the words spoken, but the heart-motivation of the speaker. The words of the serpent to Eve created an atmosphere of doubt. Doubt about God, and about what He said and what He meant. Doubt about His intentions and sincerity for Adam and Eve. This is bad breath! We want to stay away from those breathing out bad breath and creating an atmosphere of doubt, suspicion and a feeling of lack.

On the contrary, Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. His life is a story--a living example--of the Word of God. He is the very breath of God and His life here on earth perfectly revealed the breath of God--His intentions, His love and what He desires for His people. When we spend time breathing in the Words of God, as intended by His Spirit, we surround ourselves with an atmosphere of love, faith, peace and all that He is. As we do this, our breath becomes exhales of His breath and creates life atmospheres wherever we go.

Jesus often spoke in parables to teach the ways of the Father, yet His life was a story too. The Word of God is full of stories about people. When we study the stories of man--history--they also speak about the ways of God. Breathe in..breathe out...the life-filled breath of God!

John 1:14

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Like a Dove

"and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove..." Luke 3:22

After Jesus was baptized in water, the Holy Spirit came upon Him, resting on Him, like a dove. Because of this Scripture we often refer to the Holy Spirit as a dove. Why did God choose a dove? I'm reminded of another place in Scripture where a dove was used when another bird wasn't quite so helpful. It was with Noah. After the rain stopped Noah opened the window of the ark and sent out a raven. The raven flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth. The raven never came back to let Noah know what was going on. It just went on its way exploring the earth. 

"Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark..." Genesis 8:8-9

The dove returned to Noah, letting him know the water was still flooded over the earth. I love how the Scripture reads, "Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself." The dove had no place to rest and returned to Noah, who gently received her back into the ark. It seems the dove will rest in a place where one will gladly receive her, appreciate her, and learn the language she has to speak. Noah waited another seven days and sent her out again. This time the dove returned in the evening with a freshly picked olive leaf. Noah understood this communication from the dove--the water was abated from the earth. Seven days after that he sent her out again and she did not return. It was time. How helpful it is to welcome the dove and learn the language of the Holy Spirit.

By the way, I'm not anti-raven, for the raven brought Elijah food during the drought as God instructed in 1 Kings 17.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Perfection or Truth?

I have seen a limit to all perfection; Your commandment is exceedingly broad.
Psalm 119:96

There is a difference between perfection and truth. Human "perfection" has limitations. The judgment of man which tries to define and attain perfection apart from the commands of God brings bondage. It sets a standard of conformity that limits creativity and expansion because everything is tested by man's understanding. Even if we try and live by God's commands according to our own understanding and judgment of it, we will live by the letter of the law which kills, rather than the Spirit of the law which gives life.

On the other hand, God's commandments are "exceedingly broad." They are more than perfect, they are truth. They are the breath of God--His Spirit and His Word. They are His thoughts and His heart. His truth brings freedom. His truth encourages creativity and growth. His truth is His heart and is mingled with love. It contains hope and faith. It's full of mercy and forgiveness. It's all that the Spirit of God is. Jesus said to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. Rather than looking to our limiting idea of perfection, we follow His. Rather than defining holiness and righteousness as we think it should be, we look to His defining truth. Rather than trying to judge the end from the beginning, we walk with Him from where we are now and go forward embracing His Spirit and truth--worshiping Him in Spirit and in truth.

The standard that Truth uses are things like the righteousness of God, the judgment of God, the holiness of God and the love of God. However these are not limiting as man's ways are, but they bring creativity and growth as the Holy Spirit flows from man. The "correctness" of truth is not in the end result so much as it is in the seed that its birthed from. As we are filled with God's Holy Spirit, then what flows out from us will be truth. It will be His life, love and the Spirit of all He is. It will be His nature expressed through the creative gifting we've been given from Him.

Usually, we fall into perfection because we don't want to forget truth. We receive a revelation of truth and recognize how important it is to remember. Yet if we don't mix the truth we hear with faith then we end up trusting ourselves to try and preserve this truth. We must have faith in God who holds it all together. We can't try and contain His truths into something we become the keeper of. The Most High God sees things from a perspective higher than ours. Yes, we are seated with Him in heavenly places, and we need to see things from this place, but we must remember it's the word of His power who holds it all together. It's His thoughts, His mind, His ways and His truth that we must seek to live by, and as we do we live in freedom that perfection could never bring.

John 14:16-17, John 17:17, John 8:31-32, Hebrews 4:2, Mark 11:22, Hebrews 1:3, Ephesians 2:6, Matthew 5:48, Ecclesiastes 3:11, 2 Corinthians 3:6, John 4:24