Now What?

Hopefully everyone has had a meaningful Passover season and has come out of it with a “high hand” as it were.

But what now? We have started the count down to Pentecost. Is there anything that we can be doing or should be doing?

Now is the time to go from strength to strength by letting the impetus of these past feast days vault us towards the next one.

We have a great opportunity to be really right before God after taking the Passover. We have walked in this world and tried not to be a part of it, but we dirtied our feet. Now they are clean. During the Days of Unleavened Bread we exemplified coming out of sin by putting leaven as well as transgressions out of our lives.

There is no better time than the present to walk in the newness of life as epitomized and embodied by the last day of Unleavened Bread. The best admonition that we can follow comes from Christ and His conversation with the woman caught in adultery and the man at the pool of Bethesda…”sin no more.”

As we struggle against Satan, the world and ourselves in these days preceding the feast of Pentecost, let’s endeavor to walk the walk and to do our utmost to overcome. However, at the same time we should be realizing just how much we need God’s help and the Holy Spirit He has given us… the same Spirit that He gave on Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago.

The Best of Times

As we watch events around the world, we can’t help but think that we are entering into the last days. War is imminent with Iraq, ostensibly over weapons of mass destruction. North Korea is now flexing its muscle with the announcement that it is removing itself from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The pope grows old, as radical candidates wait anxiously in the wings. Generations are being wiped out in Africa by AIDS. Approximately 800 million people around the world are persistently hungry. False prophets, wars, pestilence and famine are already here.

Yet, this is the best time! As the world spins more and more quickly out of control, I can’t think of a better time to be doing what’s right. That is to say, that which is right in God’s eyes. By the same token, there really has never been an easier time, specifically in our Western civilization, to be about the task of being a Christian.

In our present day climate there can be a propensity to become complacent due to the freedoms and luxuries we experience in the free world. Yet, given the illustrations above, our disposition should be diametrically opposed. We should be asking ourselves a few probing questions: Are we letting down? Are we becoming weary of doing well? Are we saying to ourselves that God is delaying His coming for one reason or another? Are we taking on any of the attributes of a Laodicean?

We have the tools readily available to combat any such tendency or merely to stay on top of those inclinations. We all know what they are…prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting to mention a few.

Let’s encourage one another to use them as time grows short.
Let’s be a light to the world as we practice being a Christian for NOW and for harder times ahead.

How Did We React?

The big news of the past week has been the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. Many different stories of what exactly happened have surfaced.

Now, I am not here to debate whether he is dead or not; or how he may or may not have died; nor even the ramifications of his death which may be considerable. Rather, I want to address the reactions of many of those in the US and around the world to his demise.

I was struck, and even a little taken back by the unadulterated joy and happiness of many that bin Laden was murdered. Of course, I understand the evil that the organization he formed, al-Qaeda, wrought on the world, not only with 9/11 but many other heinous terrorist acts that have caused untold suffering and anguish.

For those affected by Osama bin Laden, here is the hard thing God asks of us in Proverbs 24:17-18, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him….”

Vengeance belongs to God (Romans 12:19) in His time, in His way and for His purpose. It is not up to us to take matters into our own hands, but rather we are to work and pray that we live according to His Will.

What God wants and accordingly what we should also want is for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). God would rather that everyone would repent and turn away from their evil ways and turn towards Him. Is this what we want for EVERYONE as well?

It’s Not a Small Thing

Sometimes we wonder what we can do to help the church… to do our part as we are often admonished. But too many times we might come to the conclusion that we are too [fill in the blank] to help out. However, there is a way that does not require the resources that we feel that we might not have.



It is the very powerful act of intercessory prayer — praying for others on their behalf. We have the ability by the Holy Spirit; through Christ; to ask God the Father for anything for someone else (Romans 8:26-27, 34). We can actually tap into the power that created the universe to ask Him to do something for SOMEONE ELSE.



Christ has set this example of intercession for us in John 17, even as the time of His death neared. As His physical life hung in the balance, His thoughts were on us. We are to follow His precedent and do the same — pray for the brethren.



Through this act of selflessness the heavens are the limits to what can be accomplished. So when we stop and take a step back and look at our life and see it going well, it might not be because of what we have done, but because of what God did… because someone asked Him to do it FOR us.

Standing Watch

What a tragedy of epic proportions the fires in Southern California have been. The damage it has done is in many ways immeasurable and the effects will be felt for a life time for many.

As we view television, we see many on their roof tops or other vantage points desperately watching for fires or signs of impending danger. They are ready to act at a moment’s notice and respond with all due diligence. Rightly so, they have a responsibility to guard what they have.

Perhaps, those of us not in the vicinity of the wild fires are feeling a certain amount of relief that we do not have to keep so vigilant a watch. Or maybe we feel that there is no reason for concern as nothing of this magnitude could happen to us. But this is not the case.

As Christians we are to be as sentries on our roof tops standing watch – and warning of the impending danger that this world now faces!

God has shown us in His Word what the signs of the end-time would be. Have we seen these? Do we have a good enough vantage point? He has told us of the events that would precede His coming…are we watching diligently for them? Do we know which have already come to pass? Do we know the ones yet to come?

If we are to make our calling meaningful and worthwhile and if we expect or hope to escape the soon coming perilous times, then we must WATCH and PRAY ALWAYS as God, in His Word, has admonished us to do (Luke 21:36).

“WATCH therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes” (Mat 24:42-44).

Reflections

As a child of God, how well do we represent our Father? How do those around us view our actions?

When we are going about our daily activities, do we let our light shine in such a way that we mirror what God has revealed to us? When others see the way that we act in various situations, is it the way a true Christian would act?

God has taught and aided us through many devices. He has revealed His Way, The Truth, and given us all that we need to be a “good child” and not a child of the world. He has and will continue to do His part perfectly.

Our job can be seen in 1 John 3:10, which states: “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” It is incumbent upon us to practice righteousness and to love our brethren, so that when society observes us, they catch a glimpse of our Father in the reflection.

Pascal’s Wager

Blaise Pascal is purported to be one of the great thinkers of the 17th Century. In an effort to convince non-believers that they should become followers of the Bible, he came up with the following logic. His argument was that we should accept the truth of Christianity, because if we are wrong, we have lost nothing, but if we are right, we have gained everything.

Have we accepted this gambit as our approach to Christianity? Are we “hedging our bet” that we are doing the right thing or that we are in the right place? We do not need to “go with the best odds” to know whether God exists or the fact that His Way is true.

Once called by God, we have all the facts and assurances that we need in the Bible if we are willing to put forth the work and time. The Word of God is not laid out like a good technical manual, but rather meanings have been purposefully obscured to most (Matthew 13:10-13), and pieces to each puzzle have been scattered “a little here and a little there” (Isaiah 28:10,13). But nonetheless, the Book of Books does indeed have all the information that we need to prove that God exists and that this is the path in which we should walk.

If we are willing to put forth the effort, as we are admonished (Ecclesiastes 9:10), we can know with 100% certainty what is and will continue to be a mystery to many.

Left Behind

Life happens. The sun goes up and it goes down; weeks turn into months; months years; years decades; decades turn into a life time and then what is left behind?

Some leave inheritances fit for kings; some have a large family that remains and another an architectural marvel. Many try to leave their mark on history; some to greater extents and some to lesser degrees than others.

Is there anything that we can build that will last?

There is coming a time when the Earth and Heaven, as we know them, will cease to exist (Revelation 21:1). There will be no more of today’s wonders, man-made or natural. What hope is there then that we can produce anything lasting?

Believe it or not, there is one thing that we can build that will last beyond the passing away of this first heaven and

earth…CHARACTER! That is, Godly character.

The word character comes from the Greek word for engraving. It means to exactly represent another image. In Hebrews 1:3, Christ is said to have the express image (Greek: charakter) of God. In the same way, we are to become like God by living by His every word (Matthew 4:4) and following the example of Christ (1 Peter 2:21). We are to strive for the perfection that God is (Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 6:1) and if we do so we will indeed be building the Character of God.

If we work hard at building Godly character and use the tools available to do so, we won’t need to leave anything else behind, because God will see to it that we will live for eternity. In the very end, the only thing that will be around, that we can affect, is this Character and subsequently our place in the God family.

Truth With Consequence

Fort Collins, Colorado, has recently been in the forefront of the news with its debate on how to handle decorating the city and government buildings for the upcoming Xmas season. The initial feeling was that the city should only put up white lights so that they would not offend those that kept Hanukkah (Jews) or Kwanzaa (African-American).

Well… one man, the local Sheriff, had had enough and decided that he was going to put his foot down and put up a Xmas tree and decorate it. He was going to defend what he thought was right no matter what… and he did! And many showed up to help him decorate the tree in spite of the contrary opinion.

Of course, the problem is that while he thought he was standing up for what was right, he was not. Putting up a tree for Xmas is not something God wants us to do. Note what Jeremiah 10:2-4 says, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles….For one cuts a tree from the forest….They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers So that it will not topple.'” It really does not get any more simple or straightforward than this. God does not want us to take some day of our choice and its customs that are founded in paganism, and “make” it a day of honor towards Him.

God wants us to worship Him in truth (compare John 4:23-24), following His directives. He does not want us to worship Him pursuant to the creations of man (compare Matthew 15:9).
Hopefully, one day the Sheriff will be able to take his zeal and combine it with truth as God desires. What a powerful combination this will be in the future! But for those that have an ear to hear now, there is the opportunity, and even more importantly, the obligation to live His way of life with a fervor and enthusiasm that is becoming of the Word of God. We are admonished not to lose our first love (compare Revelation 2:4), lest we are found unprepared when Christ returns (compare Matthew 25:5).

Let us be ready to give an answer or a defense for what we believe (compare 1 Peter 3:15). Now is the time to not take “standing up” sitting down!

Going on to Perfection

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=CJxWT7t0iTQ

Going on to Perfection

Today, I would like to speak on a subject that I’m sure is a little bit misunderstood to a certain degree.

In the Bible, 7 denotes completeness, or perfection.

7 days of creation; 7 holy days; 7 churches of revelation; 7 Seals 7 TRUMPETS 7 Plagues

7×7 perfect perfection /complete perfection

When we are born again of the Holy Spirit, when we become completely spirit, we will truly achieve this.

Leviticus 23:16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.

What is Perfection?

Matthew 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

A correct translation of this verse reveals three significant implications:

  1. Unlike God, we are not already perfect.
  2. We are to become perfect. Perfection is a process.
  3. God–His character, His way of life–is the standard of perfection we are to work towards.

 

Correctly translated, this verse answers the most fundamental human question: “What is the purpose of life?”

It explains that its purpose is to become like God. As the verse says, to become “just” as He is.

To summarize, Matthew 5:48 reminds us of our mission and purpose. It acknowledges that God has not commanded us to be instantly perfect, but to work on it to become perfect. It reminds us that God instructs us to use Him as our personal standard. And it also reminds us of our ultimate destiny–to become a God Being in His very Family.

1. brought to its end, finished

2. wanting nothing necessary to completeness

3. perfect

4) that which is perfect

4a) consummate human integrity and virtue

4b) of men

4b1) full grown, adult, of full age, mature

From G5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter (as noun, with G3588) completeness: – of full age, man, perfect.

“without spot or blemish,” “complete,” “full,” “sound,” “undefiled,”

Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete[a] in all the will of God

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
James 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1:4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.

In what way are we to become perfect?

What is the perfection or completeness that we are to achieve?

Job of the Ministry

Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
Ephesians 4:13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

Colosians 1:28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
Colosians 1:29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

How to be Perfect?

Put God First

Matthew 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Matthew 19:18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Matthew 19:19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Matthew 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Matthew 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
Matthew 19:22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Matthew 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Matthew 19:25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Matthew 19:27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.


Not only do we have to forsake those things but we must also continue to move forward

Luke 8:7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.
Luke 8:8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Luke 8:9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?”

Luke 8:14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
Luke 8:15
But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
Luke 8:16 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light.

Fruit to Maturity “whole,” “mature” and “ripe.” You want your fruit to be perfect and without spot or blemish, completely mature and ripe.


Spiritual Maturity [Perfection]

Hebrews 5:8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Hebrews 5:9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

Keep your place marker here (in Hebrews 5)


Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Hebrews 2:11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren

There is a perfection that comes with patience through suffering:

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
James 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1:4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

1 Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

Comment: Back in Hebrews 5– in his analogy, Paul compares babies to adults. Little children are unskillful at many tasks, often becoming discouraged and quitting when the going gets tough. A sure sign of approaching maturity is endurance, but this is not passive waiting. Paul urges diligence in becoming perfect and complete, following those who endured great trials. Peter warns us that we will suffer during the perfecting process. We cannot expect to escape what Christ Himself endured, learning perfection by the things He suffered. [sacrifices]

 

Back to:

Hebrews 5:10 called by God as High Priest “ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK,”
Hebrews 5:11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

Spiritual Immaturity

Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
Hebrews 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age [teleios perfect; Is solid food only for the perfect [in the sense that we normally view perfect], strong meat is for the mature], that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

 

The Peril of Not Progressing

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Hebrews 6:2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Hebrews 6:3 And this we will do if God permits.
Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
Hebrews 6:5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
Hebrews 6:6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
Hebrew 6:7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God;
Hebrews 6:8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.
Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,
Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

It shouldn’t surprise you then that another way that we are to be perfect is by:

Put Others Before Ourselves

Not only do we put God before our own interests but others as well like we were just talking about in Hebrews 6; to become perfect not only do we need to work on our relationship with God, but we need to do it with man as well.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. [Duty]
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Integrated, big picture, all fits perfectly together, are we beginning to see?

THEREFORE:

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’
Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
Matthew 5:45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matthew 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Matthew 5:47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
Matthew 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

We have been talking about this quite a bit lately. Having just gone through the Passover season and talking about the Christs sacrifice and the sacrifices that we are to make (1 John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.) how it differentiates those that will go through the Great Tribulation from that who go to the Place of Safety. A significant difference to say the least.

John 17:20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;
John 17:21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
John 17:22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:
John 17:23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

Unity of the brethren that we have been talking about.

1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
1 John 4:17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.

Does perfection ultimately mean we are completely without fault? 

We know that we sin, and God has given us the Passover to wash away the sins that we do pick up walking through this world. Nonetheless, we exit the Passover season, putting out sin, replacing it with righteousness and growing and becoming perfect and perfecting that perfection seven times over up to the day of Pentecost.

Matthew 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

This is what we are to become…

This type of perfection refers to us maturing and becoming more completely spiritual.

We are not going to match the sacrifice of Christ nor the His ability to walk blamelessly on this Earth, but we are to continue to endure all the way until the end until we actually become like God!

Until then we can have hope.

Conclusion

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already attained [made it], or am already perfected [same root word teleios; but Paul knew that it was a process]; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind [the sins, faults and shortcomings that have been forgiven] and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
Philippians 3:14 I press toward the goal [I go on to perfection] for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [the Kingdom of God and the reward that we have waiting]
Philippians 3:15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature [teleios; perfect], have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus