Found faithful…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Ezra 6:1-12

Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in Babylonia, in the house of the archives where the documents were stored.  And in Ecbatana, the citadel that is in the province of Media, a scroll was found on which this was written: “A record.  In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king issued a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, the place where sacrifices were offered, and let its foundations be retained. Its height shall be sixty cubits and its breadth sixty cubits,  with three layers of great stones and one layer of timber. Let the cost be paid from the royal treasury.  And also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and brought back to the temple that is in Jerusalem, each to its place. You shall put them in the house of God.”

“Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and your associates the governors who are in the province Beyond the River, keep away.  Let the work on this house of God alone. Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site. Moreover, I make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River.  And whatever is needed—bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them day by day without fail,   that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.   Also I make a decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be impaled on it, and his house shall be made a dunghill. May the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem. I Darius make a decree; let it be done with all diligence.”

When God moves on an individual it is complete.  No stone is left unturned.  No loop holes to manipulate or avoid the command.  The burden of execution now rests not only upon those who opposed the rebuilding of the house of God but also upon God’s people to be faithful in the work that needed to be done.  There is always the temptation to simply take the resources for selfish purposes and neglect the work of God.  This passage makes it clear that the work is to be completed, the resources are available, the only obstacle would be the lack of desire.  Today we see a similar setting in many places.  The work is defined, the resources made available, but the desire, energy to complete is lacking.  May we be a people of zeal, and energy, willing and faithful to complete the building of God’s church on earth; the bride of Christ, those washed in His blood, serving Him here and looking for His return. We are to make disciples, we are to teach and lead by example.  We are to be lights of righteous living.  May we be found faithful.

 

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Living…how?

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Colossians 3:18:25

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.   Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.  Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.   Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,   knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.   For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

“How then, shall we live?”  continues.  There is an underlying principle at work here.  The principle of doing everything in love as unto the Lord.  We obey, serve, cherish, love, and work as if the Lord himself asked us to. If we would do it willingly and heartily, with all our heart, for our attitudes would then be driven by our love for our God and our fellowmen and women.  All this present day bickering, arguing, and fighting; all this negativity would cease. We would be amazed both at how much we could accomplish and at how the quality of our life would improve.

Let us be self-less not selfish; loving not performing; caring not despising.  Let the changes begin in us as we deal with one another lovingly.  This is not a call to give in to that which is not of God but a call to live in peace, as much as lies within us, with our brothers and sisters.  May others see our peace with one another and desire it.  In so doing we will be spreading the ways of the kingdom of God, for there will be no room for our selfish desires there.

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Wise choice…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Psalm 2

Why do the nations rage,

​​And the people plot a vain thing?

 ​​The kings of the earth set themselves,

​​And the rulers take counsel together,

​​Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,

​​“Let us break Their bonds in pieces

​​And cast away Their cords from us.”

 ​​He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;

​​The Lord shall hold them in derision.

 ​​Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,

​​And distress them in His deep displeasure:

​​“Yet I have set My King

​​On My holy hill of Zion.”

​​“I will declare the decree:

​​The LORD has said to Me,

​‘​You are My Son,

​​Today I have begotten You.

 ​​Ask of Me, and I will give You

​​The nations for Your inheritance,

​​And the ends of the earth for Your possession.

You shall break them with a rod of iron;

​​You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”

 ​​Now therefore, be wise, O kings;

​​Be instructed, you judges of the earth.

 ​​Serve the LORD with fear,

​​And rejoice with trembling.

 ​​Kiss the Son,  lest He be angry,

​​And you perish in the way,

​​When His wrath is kindled but a little.

​​Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Psa&c=2&v=1&t=NKJVP>

Acception of Christ and making Him Lord of our lives is still seen as chains and fetters,

“…Let us break Their bonds in pieces

​​And cast away Their cords from us.”

Boundaries arise, restrictions imposed and obligations required.  That is how life in Christ is seen.  However, for those of us who live it, we find that is a lie.  When you serve out of love, it is not an obligation.  When you limit your exposure to and participation in any thing that is the opposite of loving your God and neighbor, and do so out of love; that is not a restriction nor a boundary.  What is viewed as chains is actually a love response to a loving God who has provided a way to live this life and beyond fully.

Mankind insists upon seeing the freedom from sin through God’s gift of love as chains and fetters when in reality loving rather than hating enables growth, giving rather than taking blesses, humility rather than pride brings prosperity.  Those who are anti-God speak words of hate, act on greed, and develop arrogance.  All of this is punishable by the God of creation, all of this results in death.

So the choice should be clear, do not be deceived…

Be wise

Be warned

Serve

Kiss

Be Blessed

 

​​Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

Teach My people…

Ezekiel 44:17-31

And it shall be, whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, that they shall put on linen garments; no wool shall come upon them while they minister within the gates of the inner court or within the house. 18 They shall have linen turbans on their heads and linen trousers on their bodies; they shall not clothe themselves with anything that causes sweat. 19 When they go out to the outer court, to the outer court to the people, they shall take off their garments in which they have ministered, leave them in the holy chambers, and put on other garments; and in their holy garments they shall not sanctify the people.

20 “They shall neither shave their heads, nor let their hair grow long, but they shall keep their hair well trimmed. 21 No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court. 22 They shall not take as wife a widow or a divorced woman, but take virgins of the descendants of the house of Israel, or widows of priests.

23 “And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. 24 In controversy they shall stand as judges, and judge it according to My judgments. They shall keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed meetings, and they shall hallow My Sabbaths.

25 “They shall not defile themselves by coming near a dead person. Only for father or mother, for son or daughter, for brother or unmarried sister may they defile themselves. 26 After he is cleansed, they shall count seven days for him. 27 And on the day that he goes to the sanctuary to minister in the sanctuary, he must offer his sin offering in the inner court,” says the Lord GOD.

28 “It shall be, in regard to their inheritance, that I am their inheritance. You shall give them no possession in Israel, for I am their possession. 29 They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering; every dedicated thing in Israel shall be theirs. 30 The best of all firstfruits of any kind, and every sacrifice of any kind from all your sacrifices, shall be the priest’s; also you shall give to the priest the first of your ground meal, to cause a blessing to rest on your house. 31 The priests shall not eat anything, bird or beast, that died naturally or was torn by wild beasts.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=44&v=1&t=NKJVP>

In the New Testament, under the new covenant, we find these words:

Revelation 1:5 and 6 And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,  And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him [be] glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

If therefore, we are made ‘priests’ as believers who have made the trip to the cross and accepted what Christ has done for us, are we given responsibilities to fulfill as well?  Are we to be found different, separate from all others?  Are we charged with teaching the people of His ways?

“…23 “And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean….”

Hands that do…

Ezekiel 40:44-49

Outside the inner gate were the chambers for the singers in the inner court, one facing south at the side of the northern gateway, and the other facing north at the side of the southern gateway. 45 Then he said to me, “This chamber which faces south is for the priests who have charge of the temple. 46 The chamber which faces north is for the priests who have charge of the altar; these are the sons of Zadok, from the sons of Levi, who come near the LORD to minister to Him.”

47 And he measured the court, one hundred cubits long and one hundred cubits wide, foursquare. The altar was in front of the temple. 48 Then he brought me to the vestibule of the temple and measured the doorposts of the vestibule, five cubits on this side and five cubits on that side; and the width of the gateway was three cubits on this side and three cubits on that side. 49 The length of the vestibule was twenty cubits, and the width eleven cubits; and by the steps which led up to it there were pillars by the doorposts, one on this side and another on that side.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=40&v=1&t=NKJVP>

When you place the form of the cross upon the description here, the north and south gateways to the temple correspond to the hands of Christ out stretched upon the cross that brought us salvation.  Herein are the scars that provide for our redemption.  These are the hands that taught us to serve one another and to carry His message of salvation to the dark world.  When we stand with arms extended we find our hands in the same position.  In Ezekiel’s vision this is where the priests who cared for the temple and altar were found.  They ministered to the Lord in care of His temple and in the care of the altar of sacrifice.  The question that comes is this:  What are our hands doing?  Do they minister to our temple to keep it ready for service to Him?  Do they provide service to His temple in which we worship?  Do they provide the sacrifice of praise – uplifted hands in worship toward Him?  Do they provide the sacrifice of love and caring to our dark world, advising of the love of God who sent His Son as the supreme sacrifice for all sin?  Do they write of His love?  What are we doing to spread the message of judgment and mercy to our dark world?  Do they carry the candle of light, the Light of the world, illuminating the darkness, making it flee, lifting the Christ who said; “If I be lifted up I will draw all men to me? ”

 

Lift Him up, let His light shine, let our hands be active spreading His word.

Imagine the difference…

Romans 15:22

Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient— in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation, but as it is written:

“To whom He was not announced, they shall see;

And those who have not heard shall understand.”

For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you.

Paul speaks of his ministry to the Gentiles as a grace given to him by God.  Grace is a noun defined as:  that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: and, favour, specifically bestowed upon one by God.  Can we get a grasp on that?  It is something given to us, powered by God, that brings joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm and loveliness.  How often do we view what we do ( for all we do is done to the glory of God) as a chore that carries with it descriptive words like work, toil, fatigue, drudgery?  Can we instead begin each day looking forward to what God has planned for us?  What can I do for you?  The question that we ask him upon rising, after saying; this is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.  Our whole demeanor is changed, different from that of the average individual.  Can we get a grasp on that?  What we do is a grace given us by God, to do for Him.

Paul followed the pattern set by Christ, moving from place to place spreading the message of God.  Imagine each believer leaving home in the morning with a smile on their face and a spring in their step because of the privilege they have been given to work for God!  Imagine the believers swarming the workplace with a different mind-set and purpose; that of spreading the message of God wherever they find themselves just through the body language alone.  The message would be written on each face, no words would be needed except as directed by the Lord and the response is seen as an offering to the Lord.  Paul calls those he reached with the gospel as his offering brought before Almighty God as an offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.  And in this mind-set, Paul is able to find no shame in speaking of what he has done by allowing the Holy Spirit to move through him – not a selfish boast. Can we see the difference?    His goal was to go to those who  were not told, tell those who had not heard.  They became an offering when they were told and they saw, they heard and they understood.  The Holy Spirit at work through Paul and now multiply that vision by each believer going to work with the same heart and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through them, touching people for Christ everywhere they go. There is no need to impose our personally held beliefs on another, there is a need to share the joy of working and living each day for the Lord.  Can we see the difference?  We work, play, shop around people who do not actively seek knowledge of God and we are the only message they will see.  Can we catch the importance of our effect upon our individual worlds?

Take away:  Glory in the work we are given to do for him.  See each job as a job he has assigned us.  Glory in the work he does through us.  Take joy in it, see it as an offering to him.  Follow Christ’s pattern.

“To whom He was not announced, they shall see;

And those who have not heard shall understand.”

Hope, peace and joy…

Romans 15:1-13

We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.  For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”  For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.  Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,  that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.  Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers,  and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:

“For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles,

And sing to Your name.”

And again he says:

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!”

 And again:

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!

Laud Him, all you peoples!”

And again, Isaiah says:

“There shall be a root of Jesse;

And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles,

In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”

 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Do we seek what we already have?  Do we seek hope?  Do we seek unity?  Do we seek acceptance?  With the acceptance of the message of the gospel, with acceptance of the salvation provided by God through Jesus Christ do we not all serve the same Lord?  Isn’t that a commonality?  Do we sing praises to the Lord for what he has done?  Isn’t that unity? With salvation are we not provided with hope for the past, present and future?  The past is forgiven, the present is lived in His love and care, the future is sure in that we will be with him.  Isn’t that hope?  When we visit with brothers and sisters in the faith are we not afforded a warm welcome?  True believers will welcome us and accept us with warmth and love. So we may be filled with joy and peace in our belief in Christ and we may abound in the hope brought to us by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is the hope we offer, a message that brings hope to a world that is depressed, hopeless.  Take on the day in hope, peace and joy.

Good over evil…a true focus

Romans 12:9-2

 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;  distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Question: do our Christian lists of do’s and don’ts reflect this passage?  Do those lists look like the love in this?  Or, like the Pharisees, have we overstepped the principles given to add legalistic requirements for fellowship with fellow Christians?  Are these ‘requirements’ a hindrance to the gospel by setting up in the minds of believers and non-believers alike a set of behaviors that have become an expectation for entrance into the Christian walk?  Is the unbelieving world justified in some of their criticisms concerning the believer?  In so doing have we become exclusionary, braggarts, judgmental, and harsh?  All opposite of what is written here!  Has the rest of humanity adopted this same list to judge us by?  In so doing, have we distorted the truth in the message of the gospel and given reasons for avoidance of association with messengers of the gospel?
Perhaps we should check our personal and corporate creeds to evaluate if they include the following:
1. sincere love
2. devotion to one another
3. brotherly love
4. honoring one another above ourselves
5. zeal – for the gospel, not for changing others
6. spiritual fervor – focused on the Lord who does the work of change
7. serving the Lord
8. joyful
9. hopeful
10. prayerful
11. sharing
12. generous
13. caring for one another as the need arises
14. hospitable
15. bless rather than curse
16. empathetic
17. harmonious
18. humble
19. peaceful
20. allow God to avenge any wrongs
Wow!   not much room for the list of don’t drink, smoke, cuss or associate with those who do!  The focus is on the good not the evil.  Are we looking at the white elephant? or are we focused on the underlying principles that will allow the Spirit of God to dictate what is right behavior and wrong behavior for the individual?  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Obligation or spirit…

Romans 7:1-6

Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?  For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

Under law, we do whatever we do because we are obligated to.  There is no choosing for the consequences are sure and swift.  The only fruit born under that state leads to death.  The law serves to define what is wrong and the focus is on what is wrong.  Can we agree that when God stated not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or death will be the result, that was not a threat but rather a statement of condition.  A law existed and its consequences were sure.  If we drop the apple from the tree it will fall, the law exists and its consequences are sure.  The only release from the laws that exist is death.  Even a woman bearing a child has given birth to death. This is described by Paul as the before picture.   Before Christ.  There is life outside the law.  That life is in Christ.  We die with Him to the law and its consequences and are given life, as he rose to life, to a new existence that now extends for eternity.  No longer separated from the one who created us.

When we enter into that new place, we continue to act but now we live under the direction of the Spirit, not our flesh.  What motivates us is desire, a desire placed there by the Spirit of God.  And the mystery now comes to life!  Now what we do springs from love of justice and right living, and this bears fruit that lives.  “so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”

Take away: what we do;  is it done from obligation or from desire?  Are we driven by a law that states we must or from a spirit in tune with God that functions in the freedom to choose to do right? What is our mind-set?  Knowing who we are in Christ motivates us to act in love for what is right.  “serve in the newness of the Spirit

Who’s your daddy?

Romans 6:15-23

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.  I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.  But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Who do we obey?  Self? God? Two roads to travel in life from which to choose. Which road have we chosen?

 “…to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey,...”

Do we begin each day asking; What shall I do today?  Or do we begin with: This is the day the Lord has made, I shall rejoice and be glad in it.  What can I do for you today, Lord?

 “…you were slaves of sin, …  you became slaves of righteousness….”

It is a mind-set and the manner in which we approach life that has changed when we decide for Christ and a life lived for God and His righteousness.  It is how we present ourselves to Him each day, all day and night.  Who’s our daddy?  Who do we serve?  Self or God?

Paul reminds us that the wages of sin is death.  The gift of God is eternal life.  One a wage for which we work, the other a gift, freely given and freely received.  Both enslave us in the sense we attend to the wishes of the source.  Who is our source?  Who is our Daddy?

 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”