Friday, December 10, 2010

The Meaning of Meekness

A Measure of Meekness

I desire to be pleasing to the Lord. I fall short in many ways, but to even have a chance of making God happy, I must know what gladdens His heart. When I read in the sermon on the mount where Jesus says:

Matthew 5:5
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

My attention is drawn to meekness. Jesus valued meekness so much that He said that the meek would receive the entire earth as their inheritance, but what is meekness? Do I know? Is it timidity? Are we to be shy and reclusive like a little mouse? I love to allow Scripture itself to define its own words. The first occurrence of the word ‘meek’ is:

Numbers 12:3
(Now the man Moses was very meek,above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)

My first observation about this verse is that it occurs in the book of Numbers. . . one of the five books of Moses, which were written by Moses. It makes me smile broadly, to think of Moses writing this verse about himself for he would have written this as a response to his brother and sister’s actions just previously:

Numbers 12:1-2
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (2) And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.

So Moses brother and sister were angry because he had married an Ethiopian woman. They didn’t like their sister-in-law, so therefore, they were speaking against Moses. . . rising up against him. . . in a manner rebelling against him because of who he had married. More than a family squabble, Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron the high Priest in open rebellion against Moses the leader. . .almost beginning civil war against Moses and it is not recorded that Moses said even a word in his own defense, but God directly intervened into the situation. He called them to come before him:

Numbers 12:4
And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.

Moses had power. He was the de facto King of the Hebrews. He led them out of Egypt against Pharaoh. Moses had power. In his past he had a temper. He killed an Egyptian in a fit of temper. He was not poor. He could surely have commanded large riches for his own personal use.

So if he was not timid and humble and shy like a little mouse. . .what was he. According to Scripture, he was the meekest man on the face of the earth. He did not respond in the face of continual aggravation and provocation. His brother and sister openly rebelled against him for his choice of a wife. The Hebrew people were continually grumbling and griping about everything under the sun. . .throwing it back in his face how much better they had it back in Egypt!!! Where they were slaves. . .were regularly beaten. . .overworked. . . terribly persecuted. . .their baby boys killed. . .and the people had the gall to tell him how much they missed Egypt after the personal risk of Moses and the tremendous miracles God did to deliver them. . .and with one exception, for which Moses paid dearly. . . he did not respond.

Meekness. . .oh what a rich lode to mine! The words ‘meek’ or ‘meekness’ occur 29 times spread over the entire Bible. Wonderful verses which cause me to hunger to more perfectly acquire the characteristic of meekness:

Psalms 22:26
The meek shall eat and be satisfied:
they shall praise the LORD that seek him:
your heart shall live for ever.

Psalms 25:9
The meek will he guide in judgment:
and the meek will he teach his way.

Psalms 37:11
But the meek shall inherit the earth;
and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Psalms 45:4
And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness;
and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.

Psalms 76:9
When God arose to judgment,
to save all the meek of the earth.

Psalms 147:6
The LORD lifteth up the meek:
he casteth the wicked down to the ground.

Psalms 149:4
For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people:
he will beautify the meek with salvation.

He will beautify the meek with salvation. . Boy oh boy!!! You can meditate upon that verse for a long long time before uncovering all its depth of beauty.

In the book of Numbers Moses was called the most meek man upon the face of the earth and he may well have held that title for a thousand years or more, but I don’t believe there is any doubt that his meekness was greatly surpassed by our Savior's, as explained in the following way.

For a person to be truly meek he must have power. I speak each week to men in the jail, who are humbled by their incarceration. Everything has been taken from them, but I don’t believe they can be said to have attained a state of meekness, because they have no options. They have no way of responding to their circumstance. Theirs is a forced acceptance. A slave may have the appearance of meekness, but only because he has not the means to respond. In his heart may burn an inferno of retribution, if only he had the chance. . .

In mulling this over in my mind, I came to the realization that meekness could be measured as an equation with 4 variables.

First: There must be an aggravating circumstance. You must be placed in a situation that causes your flesh to want to rise up and react.

Secondly The magnitude of the circumstance is further enhanced by your responsibility or lack of responsibility for its occurrence. Are you in some way responsible. . .i.e. guilty of something which brought the circumstance on? I don’t believe it counts very highly as meekness if you fully deserve what is happening to you.

Thirdly: What power do you have to react to the situation?

Fourthly: What was your reaction?

Circumstance x Justification x your power to react
Your reaction

Here’s an example of how this might work (numbered on a scale of 1-10):

1. Severity of the circumstance: Wife yells at you for coming home late for dinner 3
2. Your responsibility: You were shopping for a Christmas present for her 10 , but you have a habit of coming home late thereby continually aggravating her and sharing responsibility for some of her reaction -6 for a total of 4
3. What was your power to react: You had complete freedom to react in any way you wanted. 10
4 What was your reaction?
Instance 1: If you sincerely apologized, expressed sorrow at ruining her fine dinner and gave no excuses: 1
Instance 2: If you threw it back in her face that you were shopping for her Christmas present and thereby tried to make yourself the wounded party: 10

The calculations would look like this:
Instance 1 (3 x (10-6) x 10) / 1 = 120
Instance 2 (3 x (10-6) x 10) / 10 = 12

Not a very severe example, but one that might with variations represent events which occur on a daily basis. The magnitude of meekness in the first instance where you meekly accepted you wife’s injury and anger as being your responsibility, your score would be 120. On the other hand allowing your flesh to react to the situation your score would be a not very meek 12. Using 10 as the upper limit for the values, the highest score possible with the greatest provocation, your complete innocence, your capability to react with your full power and no response from you would rate a score of 1000.

Now let’s try to measure the meekness of our Lord. . .

1. Severity of the circumstance:
Made to stand trial in the ultimate of kangaroo courts, beaten, spit upon, whipped with a flesh flaying whip, crown of thorns crushed into his head making him bleed profusely, forced to drag the instrument of his death to the site of his murder, nailed to a cross in hands and feet, stripped of his clothing. . .hanging naked for his mother, his disciples. . . passing children. . .the entire city to see, taunted by the soldiers below to save himself, dieing a tortured agonizing suffocating death. . .???????????????????

2. What was His responsibility:
Not only was He not guilty of any of the charges placed upon Him, He was not guilty of anything ever. . .He never did anything wrong. He was completely and absolutely blameless His entire life. . ..???????????????????

3. What was His power to react:
He created the entire universe. In the past He has reacted. He’s destroyed cities. He has destroyed the entire population earth, less 8, once for our wickedness. With the smallest inclination of His will, He could have completely undone His creation down to the very atomic and subatomic particles. He could have cast us all into fiery hell for eternity. . ..???????????????????

4 What was His reaction?
He did nothing. He spoke no words in His own defense. He ministered to ones who did deserve their fate, up until moments before His death. He prayed for forgiveness for the very ones who pierced his flesh with the nails. . ..???????????????????

Additional extenuating circumstances: He came and took on flesh knowing what would happen. From the moment of creation, when He said “Let there be Light”, as He built the perfect garden of Eden, He knew the agony He would have to endure. He endured it all to make a way for His persecutors to avoid having to pay any price for their crimes against Him. . ..???????????????????

How many zeroes do we have to add to our numbers so that there is any semblance of proportion in our calculation? If what ever pittance I may be called upon to endure is a 10. . . If my perfect justification to react could possibly be a 10. . .If all the power I might muster to be able to react were a 10. . .If my reaction might be as minimal as a 1. . . What numbers must I use to describe what HE endured. . . a thousand. . . a million. . .His meekness is beyond measure. . .

AND!!!!!! His meekness continues today. He knows every injustice. . .He knows every blasphemy. . .He knows every act of total immorality. . .and He endures. . .He waits for the fullness of time. . .He waits. . .He waits. . .He waits. . .He waits. . .

Matthew 11:28-30
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you,
and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I cry. . .
I beg you God. . .
Forgive me. . .
I am so unworthy of You. . .
I am so unworthy of everything You have done. . .

I love you God. . .
I love you God. . .


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

All in a Name. . .

Over the years of my life I have seen the names of various people and laughed and cried at nearly the same time. . . to go through life as Ima Skunk. Ha Ha. . .What cruelty. How terrible to play such an indelible trick upon your child.

I take great pride in my name. I am the seventh generation of David Stokely. My son, Colin David Stokely, is the 8th generation. We must be getting close to 200 years of this tradition in our family. I value my name. As now being a Christian, I value my name even more. To have the same name as King David of the Bible. . . David the beloved, for that is the original Hebrew meaning. . .loved or beloved. Yes, I treasure my name.

In the Bible names had great meaning and were oftentimes prophetic of the attributes or destiny of the child given the name.

In my devotions this morning, I was in 2 Kings chapter 10 when I read this verse:

Kings 10:16
And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD

This was spoken by the newly anointed King Jehu of Israel. . . Jehu Stokely was an ancestor of mine. He was one of 3 Stokely brothers who came from England previous to the Revolutionary War. The story goes that my ancestor, young Jehu, on horseback, was attempting to cross a creek in England when his horse refused. Jehu, happening to be on the King’s land, broke a branch off a tree with which to encourage the horse. This was reported and Jehu was found guilty of malicious trespass on the King’s land and sentenced to 7 years in the British Navy. At the end of his term, he left the English Navy at Charlston, South Carolina. This being how our branch of the Stokely family came to the United States.

More of the story of Jehu Stokely can be found at this web page:

But when I read this verse this morning:

Kings 10:16
And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD

My mind went to the naming of Jehu Stokely. Was he given his name with this verse in mind. Nearly 300 years ago now did a devout young English mother, pray and greatly desire for her son to be zealous for the Lord. . .Does Jehu’s name reflect the dreams and hopes and prayers. . . can I say the fervent faith for the future of her child. Again some nearly 300 years later her choice of name for her son has deeply touched me. It has me thinking of my ancestry and of my legacy. . .

I don’t know much of my family history. I do know that my grandfather, whom I only knew as a scratchy voice over the 1000’s of miles of telephone wire, from a few hurried phone calls in the 1960’s, was a church planter. He and his brother I believe ministered to the Native Americans of Southern California. My grandfather attended or was somehow involved with a church in El Monte, California called: Church in the Barn. At one time I found a reference on the Internet to a diary entry of a lady who had attended this church that my grandpa had attended, but the Internet link no longer works, but in any respect my grandfather Leonard David Stokely had zeal for the Lord and was proud to share it.

Were he alive, what would he think today. . .or is is possible he watches from heaven. . . My first 45 years as an atheist. . . Did my grandpa Leonard pray for me? It comes to me, that as surely as I pray for my children and grandchildren, that my my grandpa whom I never met, would surely have said prayers on my behalf. . .I envision Jehu’s mother praying for him so many long years ago. . .Again Jehu possibly praying for his descendants. . .Grandpa Leonard praying for his sons and daughters. . .and grandchildren. . .I pray for all my kids and grandkids. . .In my minds eye an unbroken river of faith for hundreds of years in our family. . .I weep. . .

Kings 10:16
And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD

See my zeal for the Lord. . .
Hear my zeal for the Lord. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

I thank you for all the prayers sent up on my behalf. . .
Please Lord, let me not grow weary of praying for my family. . .

Again I love you my God. . .


Friday, November 26, 2010

Taking the Highway. . .

Deuteronomy 2:27
. . .I will go along by the high way,
I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.

A few years ago the community where I live, built a new highway that looped around the southern edge of the 3 largest cities in the area. Running from east to west, this new road greatly enhanced travel in the area. Today it is so much easier to go from one town to another by hopping on the by-pass. For many the construction of such a road through a countryside of beautiful small farms was quite painful, required great personal sacrifice. My step-mother’s family farm, on which she and her siblings were raised, was bisected by this 4 lane concrete intruder. Many many other farms and little rural communities were similarly disrupted, but the community as a whole was well served by this road. Uncountable thousands were benefited by the sacrifice of a few..

At the time of its construction, the highest legal speed limit for this type of road was 55 mph. Not satisfied with travel times already cut nearly in half by taking the new road, people quickly began significantly exceeding the posted speed limit and the Indiana State Police and other local law enforcement agencies began patrolling the road with radar units in order to keep some semblance of enforcing the law.

A few years later the speed limit was raised from 55 to 65 mph. The naive might have thought that the new posted limit would have reduced the numbers of people exceeding the maximum speed for the road, but that surely was not the case. If anything my impression is that a greater percentage of people than ever significantly exceed the posted limit. . .

Having a posted speed limit is clearly for the common good. When I was in the U.S. Army stationed in Germany, I rode on the no speed limit Autobahn several times. Every single trip I took on that road, I witnessed the aftermath of terrible accidents. In a comparable stretch of highway here in the U.S. which I’ve driven regularly for decades, I’ve not seen the vehicular carnage that I saw in a mere 2 or 3 trips on the Autobahn. To allow people to drive at any speed they like, is clearly a recipe for disaster.

We clearly need limits to the speed of cars traveling on the highways, but no one wants to adhere to the limits. Most rationalize and find one reason or another to exceed what ever limit is posted for a road. I’m convinced that if the limit was raised to 85 mph, it would not be long before the average speed upon the highway would surely exceed 90 mph. It’s not the number specified in the limit that people object to, it’s the limit itself that people resist. We rationalize and justify what ever speed we choose to drive at. Nearly everyone recognizes that in principle a speed limit is a good thing, but no one seems to believe that it is a particularly good idea for them. We resist and we refuse to submit to the law of the land.

Very similarly I see parallels with the speed limit on a highway and submitting to the holiness standards of churches. The Bible is all about setting limits, division and separation. From beginning to end God divides and sets apart.

Genesis 1:4
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

The light was created and immediately afterward, it was divided from the darkness. The light is never to mix with the darkness. There must be a distinction between the two. Light was created. Dark was inevitably divided from the light. . . .All shades of Gray are abhorred. . .

Revelation 3:15-16
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

The lukewarm is a mixture of hot and cold. . .Neither purely one or the other. God will better tolerate blackness than any shade of gray. Blackness is known for what it is and can be worked with. Blackness is very able to be repented of, but against intuitive thought, to be a mixture of white and black is a condition nearly impossible to overcome. The measure of righteousness that you do have will convince you that it outweighs the small contaminating bit of darkness within you. A person not familiar with the white purity of holiness, can be self-deceived into thinking any shade of gray as being white.

It is clear from the Word of God, that He desires us to live disciplined lives, within set limits of behavior, speech, and dress. It is also clear that one of the duties of a Pastor is to set the limits for his flock. While there are certain behaviors which are clearly prohibited, there are equally areas of holiness not distinctively set forth, which are judgement calls left up to the determination of the Man of God for his church.

It is in these areas that each pastor must arbitrarily make a decision for his congregation. Skirt lengths for women. . . ankle length, mid-calf, or knee high??? Each can be considered to be modestly attired. For men, are ties required, long sleeves, or merely to have shirts with collars. There are countless such areas such as this where there are no cut and dried Biblical instructions, but a line must be drawn and adhered to.

And that is where the problem begins for many people. Most everyone will agree that standards and limits are in theory a good idea, but for many, any proscribed limitation by their Pastor will eventually become a stumbling block for them. To the submissive spirit, it is not a problem, a second thought is not given. What the Pastor says goes. . . but for the rebellious endless arguing and rationalization arises. . . the continual chafing against the yoke grows and grows until eventually either, the person submits their will and the knee is bent, the requirement is accepted or rebellious spirit reigns and the yoke is cast off.

This is a life long battle. Our submission or lack or it, to our Pastor a definite miniature image of the submissiveness in our relationship to God. Our pride and our flesh are strong willed. They will exert themselves in a multitude of ways. Submission means to completely and fundamentally accept Christ’s spoken words: not my will, but thy will be done. . .If you agree with it, it’s not submission.

Dear God. . .I pray let me always. . . go along by the high way, centered in your will. . .I pray let me. . .neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left. Let me not take detours. Let me not vary in my walk with You. I don’t always succeed, but I desire always for it to be not my will, but thy will be done. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

Dave Stokely

Who Do You Worship?

Whom do you bow before? What do you bend your knee to? Everyone reveres something above all else. . . Money. . . beauty. . .for many in today’s world, the god of science reigns supreme in their thinking. Their faith in science to solve their problems and lead the way to truth is complete. This ignores the indisputable historical record which shows that over and over again the most ardently held scientific beliefs have been found to be false. As new observations are made which run against existing thought, each theory is eventually replaced by a newer thinking, upon which is then bestowed the mantle of final truth. . .again and again each supposed scientific axiom in its turn to be deposed by a new generation of great thinkers who have unshakable faith in the correctness of their current ideas.

We obviously cannot argue against the ability of the scientific method to describe the world around us and through this understanding to make possible marvelous advancements in our physical abilities, but we must not forget that at basis of the wonders of science a foundation of faith is always required, for never can phenomena be comprehended with absolute certainty. For any observation there are always multiple explanations.

We are told that the great thinkers of today have a rather complete understanding of the origins and advancement of life itself. It spontaneously arose with no outside influence. Life is a logical consequence of the laws of physics. The entire universe arose by nothing more than random chance and obedience to natural law.

This surely stretches our credulity and of itself requires a huge degree of faith. To leave aside the marvelous organization, the ultra-precise fine tuning of law and function in the universe at large and to only look upon the teeming biologic life of our world, well illustrates the nature of the scientific god.

Who will argue against Man being a moral creature? Surely it is obvious that each man has a conscience which tells him the difference between right and wrong. Yet if we are merely a product of a law of survival of the fittest, where did this morality arise from? The man who steals the most. . .the man who rapes the most would surely have the greatest chance of leaving behind the largest genetic footprint and after the theorized uncountable generations of our supposed Darwinian past, this trait of rape and pillage should be so embedded in our DNA that it would appear as invisible to us as an elephant’s trunk is to him.

Man is a lover of beauty and organization, and symmetry. What advantageous purpose do any of these serve the Darwinian advancement of the species. . .But the Bible tells us that we are created in the image of God:

Genesis 1:27
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God created he him;
male and female created he them.

Thereby it is fully explained our love of these attributes which give no advantage to the Darwinian casting of seed. God is moral. God loves beauty and order. . .and as a consequence of our being made after the likeness of Him. . . In His image. . . We love these things also. As Christians we are derided and called the fairytale believers for our faith in a God which created everything. . . This name cast upon us by the inhabitants of a magical kingdom where everything wondrously and spontaneously arose from nothing. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

You are my God. . .
You are my Lord. . .

I give thanks to You. . .
I worship You. . .

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Calculus of the Cross

God is not the creator of confusion. His Word is straight forward and clean and pure. It fits closely together without contradiction or error. The Word of God is given to bring enlightenment and certainty and joy and understanding:

Psalms 19:7-8
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

In the physical, the time in which we live in is the greatest age of enlightenment. . . In the spiritual, our world is in the midst of the darkest night of confusion imaginable. In churches with crosses out front, we find doctrines preached which have their origins somewhere other than in the Word of God.

In such a manner, when confusion can be successfully sown about God and His perfect plan of salvation, then the devil’s work is accomplished. He need do nothing more, by the means of such confusion, those who base their faith upon upon such a belief, will be greatly weakened and prone to being led ever further astray into great false doctrines based upon such false beliefs. If the foundation be faulty how can the house stand?

There is no confusion in the Word of God. In God’s Word there is 1 God. We as Apostolics worship 1 God. There is no multiplicity of Gods. . .no confusing co-equal co-eternal tangled triangle in the godhead. I once heard a preacher, a believer in the Trinity, on the radio try to explain the Trinity. He said, as close as I can quote him, that almost anything you say about the Trinity is blasphemy. If I were speaking in his place, I would have removed 1 word and said, “That anything you say about the Trinity is blasphemy.”

I heard another learned man say, at a debate, his position being in defense of the Trinity, again a paraphrase, but as close as I can come to remembering his words: To try and understand the Trinity will drive you crazy. To not understand the Trinity will send you to hell. . .These were his concluding remarks at the debate.

It is not possible to understand the Trinity, because it is nonsensical. It is a total creation of man, arising long years after Jesus and the apostolic fathers of our faith.

It takes convoluted explanations of many many pages to explain the Trinity and still you are left in confusion. It takes 10 words to refute it:

Deuteronomy 6:4
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

It all works fitly together:

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

This foretold Messiah was not some mysterious eternally begotten son. He was God. Isaiah said Jesus is to be called: THE MIGHTY GOD. . . THE EVERLASTING FATHER. . .COUNSELLOR. . .

There is no confusion in the Word of God. When something is repeated in the Bible, you know it is important. On four occasions Jesus is recorded as saying:

Revelation 1:8
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Revelation 1:11
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: . . .

Revelation 21:6
And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. . .

Revelation 22:13
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

This knowledge of who God is, must be our foundation. This must be our starting point. To base our faith upon a confused idea of the godhead leads into doctrines which are not righteous and holy. Doctrinal confusion about God leads to darkness and acceptance of sin. We must know who we worship.

Matthew 1:23
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Jehovah of the Old Testament, robed Himself in flesh and came to the earth for our salvation. . . But how can that be, you ask??? The God of the Old Testament is all about blood and sacrifice, whereas Jesus is all about love and grace and forgiveness. . .Aren’t we now under a new dispensation? Aren’t we now under the cover of grace and not under the Law??? Aren’t we playing a new game by new rules in this the New Testament Age???

That phrase, “The dispensation of grace” only occurs once in Scripture:

Ephesians 3:2
If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: (KJV)

Another translation of this verse:

Ephesians 3:2
Certainly, you have heard how God gave me the responsibility of bringing his kindness to you. (GW)

Paul is saying that he was given stewardship, he was made the caretaker of telling the Gentiles (non-Jews) of God’s kindness for them.

I can find no where in Scripture that with the coming of the new contract, this new covenant, this New Testament between God and mankind that suddenly the expectations of God for mankind to turn away from sin were put away. Many believe that this supposed dispensation of grace under which we now live, does away with all need for us to be a holy and righteous people.

They have turned Scripture upside down and preach that if we are needful of being holy and righteous, that we are then saved by our own actions. . .They preach that if that is the case, then we are saved by works and not by the grace of God. But the Bible is clear:

Psalms 5:4-5
For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. (5) The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Proverbs 10:29
The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.

Matthew 7:21-23
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

You cannot have a close relationship with God and be a worker of iniquity, that is to be actively involved in committing sinful acts. God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden when they sinned. He had to separate them from Him, when they sinned. The Spirit of God and sin cannot both reside within you at the same time.

2 Corinthians 6:14
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Do you desire to have communion with God? Then you cannot be in the darkness of sin. It’s not about our salvation being based upon our good works, but rather our salvation is based upon a close and correct relationship with God. We cannot have a close and correct relationship with God and be sinning at the same time.

When asked what the most important commandment was, Jesus replied:

Matthew 22:37
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

If you are loving God with everything that is you, then it is clear you are not sinning at the same time. If God is the most important thing in your life then you will not be in bondage to the desires of your flesh.

In the Law of Moses we are given examples of many crimes for which the penalty was death, but that is not only a doctrine of the Old Testament. It is clearly repeated in the New Testament that if you sin, then death awaits you:

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Commit sin and you earn a paycheck. The denomination of payment is death. This is consistent. There is no difference with the Old Testament. But many churches today are trying to convince us that we do not need to quit sinning. As long as we believe that Jesus died for our sins we will be guaranteed everlasting life with Him in heaven. Very similarly, the snake told Eve she would not die for her sin:

Genesis 3:4
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

The devil is a liar. He is the father of all lies, but like all good liars there is always a grain of truth to his lies. Adam and Eve’s flesh did not die immediately after eating the forbidden fruit. God speaks of spiritual things, the devil speaks of the flesh. Throughout the gospels, men would hear Jesus words and take His meaning as speaking of the physical, when He was speaking of spiritual things.

Jesus was clear. He came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill the Law:

Matthew 5:17-18
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

The Law required the sacrifice of an innocent life as payment for sin. Sin creates a debt which must be paid for with blood:

Leviticus 17:11
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

So the Children of Israel were commanded to sacrifice perfect and innocent animals as payment for their sins. Something must die to pay for sin. The Law was given as a shadow of a more perfect salvation to come:

Hebrews 7:19
For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope [did]; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Hebrews 9:11-15
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; (12) Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (13) For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: (14) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (15) And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

The sacrifice of animals in the temple paid the price for sins past, but as soon as the person again committed an unlawful act they were again in a state of sin until another sacrifice could be offered at the temple. The Law was not a way of righteousness, but a vehicle of continually paying forward the debt:

Hebrews 10:1
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

The Law of Moses was a physical manifestation of the spiritual more perfect salvation to come. Jesus lived His entire life without sin:

2 Corinthians 5:21
For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Hebrews 4:15
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

If Jesus had committed even 1 sin, then He would have deserved to die upon the cross. In man’s law, there are misdemeanors and felonies. . .serious crimes and minor crimes, but with God there are no classifications of sin. A sin is a sin is a sin. A lie. . .a murder. . .a theft. . .an act of sexual immorality are all sins whose penalty is death. Even 1 sin on Jesus part would have made Him deserving of what happened on the cross. . . But! But! But!!!!! He lived His entire life without sin and yet paid the price for sin.

A question to consider. . . How many sins can a person commit in their lifetime? Think of the most evil man you might imagine, still they do not sin every second of every day of their lives. To my mind one of the most heinous crimes of mankind, was the invention of crack cocaine. No medicinal purpose exists for this drug, there is no beneficial reason for crack. It’s only purpose is to enslave people to is hugely powerful addictive qualities. To the account of this man or woman who invented crack is laid the millions upon millions of lives directly destroyed by the drug and to my thinking the even greater multitude of children, spouses, friends, parents whose existence has become a living hell because of crack must also be given to the inventor of crack. . .with 1 match a man can light a fire that destroys a city and kills a multitude. . .with 1 small lie a lifetime reputation can be destroyed, but yet there is only 1 price to be paid.

Only 1 death is required for sin. It’s not like really bad people have to die 10 times, while more moderate sinners only die once. The little white haired old lady who lies or steals or cheats, will pay the same price as child molester or a mass murder. In God’s eyes there is no acceptable sin. Jesus paid the same penalty as a man who might have lived and sinned every second of his life for a thousand years. . .Jesus’ sinless life therefore, is a blank check upon which our sins can be written. His sacrifice paid the price for our sins. His blood atoned for the debt we owed God by our sins.

He came not to destroy the Law. Jesus fulfilled all the sacrificial requirements of the Law. The law was a mere shadow of this more perfect salvation we have available to us. Again, the Law was a physical example of the spiritual law to come.

Jesus said:

Matthew 10:28
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Death by stoning was ultimate penalty of the Law of Moses. Surely an awful and terrible vision arises in the mind, of your peers picking up rocks and throwing them and striking you until you are dead. Realistically though, after the first few rocks your suffering was over. The mercy in stoning was that unconsciousness was quick to come.

Many preach Jesus only with a lamb draped around His neck. The only scene given of Him, has children sitting on His lap as He gently talks with them, but one day Jesus will sit on the great white throne and judge all of mankind:

Revelation 20:11-15
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (12) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (14) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (15) And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

This too is an office that Jesus will take. He is first our Lord. He then becomes our saviour and in the end He will then be our judge. So the Law of the Old Testament is bloody and harsh. In the sentence of the New Testament judgement there will be no respite. No merciful unconsciousness awaits those cast into the lake of fire, but rather a never ending bleakness of suffering and agony and despair.

It is a lie of the devil, that we presently live in some special dispensation which is in direct opposition and contradiction to the Old Testament. Where by some transformation in this new age, God now accepts sin in our lives. This is a confusion brought by not correctly understanding the godhead. Our Lord is the same Lord that gave Moses the Law. Our Lord is He who paid an unimaginable price for our sin. Do you think then that after being hung on the cross for the remission of our sins, that He would take sin lightly? In fact consistent with all of Scripture. His sacrifice does indeed cover sin and we are forgiven, but we are not to continue in our sin:

Matthew 5:21-22
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: (22) But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

His standards as to what constitutes a sin are governed not by the letter of the Law, but by the Spirit. Which of the 10 commandments have I broken, if beat a man close to death, but do not kill Him? Man’s law is focused on how not to act. It is so complex that legions of lawyers make their living exploiting the wriggle room between one rule and another for their clients advantage.

The Law of Moses is similar to the law of man. Rather than a mere 10 commandments which we are so familiar with, the Law of Moses actually contains some 613 laws. The Indiana legal code has some 36 sections with hundreds upon hundreds of subsections and further uncountable 1000’s of sub-chapters and still it takes hundreds of courts to handle all the arguments of the Law.

Man’s law and the Law of Moses are focused on the negatives, things not to do. Well, there are more ways of getting in trouble and committing sin than acres of bookshelves filled with laws are able to address. When Jesus was asked what the most important law was, this is how He responded:

Matthew 22:36-40
Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law? (37) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (40) On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The focus of Jesus was on how we should act and not on how we shouldn’t act. With the Law of Jesus, there is no wriggle room. Either you’re loving God with all your heart and you’re loving your fellow man as yourself or you’re not. It’s not a law written on tables of stone, but a law written in your own heart. It is your own heart which convicts you, not some external policeman:

2 Corinthians 3:3
[Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

This is a much tougher standard to live by, than by the Law of Moses. Again Jesus said:

Matthew 5:27-28
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: (28) But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

We are now under a law, not of the flesh, but of the Spirit. This new law has much much higher standards than the Law of Moses.

John 8:10-11
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? (11) She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

The key is. . .”go, and sin no more”!!! That is His expectation, but how then can we live up to such a high standard? From the beginning God has desired a close relationship with us. In the garden of Eden:

Genesis 3:8
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

God walked with and spoke with Adam and Eve until their sin. . .and then He had to remove them from His presence. . .

At the giving of the Law of Moses:

Exodus 20:18-19
And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw [it], they removed, and stood afar off. (19) And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

This follows immediately after the giving of the 10 commandments. God spoke directly to the Hebrew people, and the power of God terrified them. . . I weep. . .They did not understand what they were asking, but they said that they no longer wanted God to speak directly to them. . .They wanted God to speak to them, by way of Moses. They did not want a direct relationship with God. They only wanted what Moses could pass along to them.

Moses could only give them laws and rules. He could not give them the power. . .the sweetness. . .the joy of a direct relationship with them. . .

This new Covenant of ours with God, has higher standards than the Law of Moses, but we are given something that the children of Israel never had. . .In His final words before being take up to heaven, Jesus said:

Acts 1:8
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. . .

This Holy Ghost coming to us was previously foretold of by Jesus:

John 14:23-26
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (24) He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (25) These things have I spoken unto you, being [yet] present with you. (26) But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

If a man loves Jesus, he will keep His words. . .He will follow His commandments. To help us, God has given us the power of His spirit living within us. The children of Israel did not have this power. They rejected an intimate relationship with God, but it is by this relationship that we are saved from our sins. . . Now we are able to be filled with the Spirit of God and the power of God living within us, that we might be able to live according to His Word. . .

On the day of the feast of first fruits, the Spirit of God fell upon the believers:

Acts 2:1-4
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. (3) And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. (4) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The seed fell to the earth and was planted, by the death of Jesus on the cross. . .

John 12:23-24
And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. (24) Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

A way was made for our sins to be washed away, once and forever. Now on the day of Pentecost that act of fulfillment of the Law bore fruit. . .The devil doesn’t want you to have power. The devil wants to corrupt the Word of God. The devil wants you to go to hell and he will do anything to achieve that goal.

Read the Word of God. . .
Study the Word of God for yourself. . .
Do not allow others to mislead you. . .
Love God with everything you have. . .
Seek to be filled with His Spirit. . .

I love you my God. . .
I say it a hundred times. . .
I love you my God. . .

Thank you for everything you do for me. . .


Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Question With No Wrong Answers. . .

Often I start my meetings at the jail with a question to the men, “Why are you at this meeting. . .What did you come looking for at this meeting tonight. . .” Several years ago a fellow confided to me that he had first come to a church meeting in the jail for the express purpose trying to steal a pen. He was touched by the Lord that evening and was later baptized in Jesus name. I saw him again several years later and he was still living for the Lord. His walk with the Lord began with his sinful desire to come to a church service and steal a pen.

My first visit to a church, over ten years ago now, was to say thank you to the church that had prayed for me during my then recent heart surgery. I had no desire to learn more of God. I had no interest in worship or holiness or repenting of my sinful lifestyle. I came through the church doors, that first Sunday of June 2000 only to say thanks for an act of kindness that I did not even believe in.

Recently our church had a block party in our parking lot with free popcorn, cotton candy and hot dogs. There were blowup activities for the kids, music, games and prizes. Most of the people came for one reason, to have fun, but at these block parties, many hearts have been touched and many lives eternally changed by the power of God regardless of the original motivation. . .

I’ve never heard a wrong reason for coming to a church service. Girls come for cute boys. Boys come for pretty girls. Many come for beautiful singing, or to see grandchild be promoted from one Sunday School class to another. What ever reason brings a person before God, and puts them in a position to hear the Word of God preached has the potential to touch their heart and change their life for eternity. There is no wrong answer to the question, “Why did you come to church today?”

But it being said, that there is no wrong reason for coming to church, on the flip side of it there is only one right reason for coming to church. Our primary, above all other reasons for coming to church, must be. . .must be. . .must be to develop and deepen our relationship with God. We must move from what ever initially brought us to church, to a point where the only reason we are there is for developing our relationship with God.

If we are in church primarily for the music, then someday we will be disappointed when a new choir director comes and changes the style of worship music. If we are in church mainly for the fellowship and friends we have there, then someday we will have a falling out with someone or someone will be rude to us and or a friend will stop going to church and where will we be???. . .If we attend church for the love of our pastor and the anointing of his preaching. . .someday he will retire or move to another church or leave the profession and where will we be???

The only reason for attending church which will never diminish or let us down, is our hunger and desire to draw closer to God.

If my hunger is for God, in spite of my private feelings about the choir’s song selection, I will find a way to worship.
If my hunger is for God, in spite of who is preaching and whatever the weaknesses of their style or delivery, I will find a way to feed on the Word of God in any message given by the anointed Man of God.
If my hunger is for God, I will not be distracted by issues with others in the congregation. I will stay above personal controversies and seek God’s face no matter what else happens. . .
If my hunger is for God, I will not allow envy or pride to create disunity and thereby allow bitterness grow in my heart, for how others are being used in the church. . .
If my hunger truly is for God, I will not allow anything to distract me from my quest grow closer to Him every day. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

I pray to keep my eyes focused solely upon you. . .
I hunger for you. . .
I hunger to see your face. . .

Thank you my God. . .


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Through the Looking glass. . .

Reading today in Exodus for my daily devotions. Exodus is the book of the Bible where the Hebrew people, led by Moses, depart from Egypt. The leaving of Egypt was a physical occurrence. It was a historical event, but as many things in the Bible there was a heavily symbolic meaning to the historical event.

Egypt is a metaphor of and symbol for the non-religious world. The 40 year journey of the Hebrews from Egypt through the wilderness of Sin and finally to the promised land, is a journey from the world of sin and fleshly appetites into the presence of God.

After receiving the commandments of God for a second time, Moses comes back to the people and tells them everything which God has given him. Moses received the Law and the Commandments, and he also received a very detailed plan from God, for the temple the Hebrews were to use to worship and minister to God while they journeyed through the wilderness.

It was very detailed, mind numbingly so. For verse after verse. . .chapter after chapter we read very detailed instructions on the construction of the tabernacle, the priests clothing, the instruments and stations of the tabernacle. For me it is difficult to maintain my attention in these verses because I cannot really understand the construction of the items and have no mental image of what all the things described are, so I have to restrain myself from just skipping and skimming over the verses.

All this was given for a concrete physical reason to the ancient believers and there is a wealth of spiritual symbolism for the believers of today. In the midst of this mind numbing detail, is a very interesting verse:

Exodus 38:8 And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

Amongst the very detailed instructions for the articles of clothing, the walls of the tabernacle, the altar, the candlestick, table for the show bread, is this stark statement: and he made the laver of brass and the foot of it of brass. . .

The laver is an essential part of the temple, it is the place where the priests cleansed themselves before working in the temple:

Exodus 30:17-21 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 18) Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. (19 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: (20 When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD: (21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.

Aaron and his sons had to be clean before coming before the Lord. For them to be before the Lord without first cleansing themselves, was to risk death. The physical washing of the Old Testament has given way to the symbolic washing of the New Testament. Jesus was clear, it is not physical uncleanness which is important:

Matthew 15:20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

It is also clear that there is no special class of priests today. We, who love God and follow His footsteps. . .we who call ourselves Christians. . .we who wish to be Christ-like are all priests when we come to God:

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Revelation 1:5-6 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, (6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

We the believers and followers of Christ are the priests of the New Covenant and as such we must wash before entering into the Holy of Holies. Our cleansing is accomplished by baptism:

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

We are washed and made clean, we are sanctified and made holy, we are justified and made free from our bondage by the name which is above every other name. . .the name of Jesus and by the Spirit of God:

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

We are cleansed and made holy by obeying the word of God, the commandment to be washed by baptism and thereby be a totally cleaned and pure bride of Christ:

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

We are cleansed by nothing that we can do of ourselves. We must be regenerated. . .We must be reborn. . . born of the water of baptism and born of the spirit of God:

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

All of this washing and cleansing is only possible by the opening of the door of death. We placed ourselves under death’s dominion by Adam and Eve’s following the words of Satan rather than the Word of God. God told Adam and Eve that they would die if they ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree. They disregarded Him. Now all men must pay this price and deserve to die for the sins which we have committed, but through the death on the cross of one man who committed no sin, and yet paid the price of sin, we are able by the means of His blood to be freed from our sentence of death. Jesus paid the price for sin which He did not commit. Because of the price He paid, we are redeemed from our sins and death no longer has any hold over us. The mystery of God, is that the staining red blood can wash whiter than snow:

Revelation 1:5 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

Now to return to the verse, which started me on this study:

Exodus 38:8 And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

As translated in the KJV and every other version I consulted, the Hebrew women gave up their brass lookingglasses. . . they specifically gave up their brass hand mirrors in order to construct the wash basin which the priests would use cleanse themselves before entering the Holy of Holies. . .

A woman’s appearance is very important to her. She desires to make herself as beautiful as possible. To give up her mirror was a very very great sacrifice. The Hebrews were wandering in the desert. The mining, smelting, casting and forming of metals is difficult or impossible to a nomadic people. Undoubtedly these mirrors had come from the spoils which were brought out of Egypt. These women gave up something irreplaceable, that the priests might be able to cleanse themselves and not fear death.

This brings a wonderful image to my mine, one full of symbolism on which to ponder and meditate, but let us look at the word rendered as “lookingglass”. The Hebrew word is: מַרְאָה (mar'ah)

It is found 12 times in the Old Testament. 11 times it is translated as ‘vision’ or ‘visions’. Only once is it translated as ‘lookingglass’. Here are the verses where ‘marah’ is found:

Genesis 46:2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

Exodus 38:8 And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the
lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

Numbers 12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a
vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.

1 Samuel 3:15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the

Ezekiel 1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw
visions of God.

Ezekiel 8:3 And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the
visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.

Ezekiel 40:2 In the
visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south.

Ezekiel 43:3 And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the
vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face.

Daniel 10:7 And I Daniel alone saw the
vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.

Daniel 10:8 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great
vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.

Daniel 10:16 And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the
vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.

As important, as symbolic as the Hebrew women giving up their hand mirrors would have been, would it not also have been so very beautiful if the following were the case:

Exodus 38:8 And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the [vision] of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

I am surely no expert of the Hebrew language. This Hebrew word is ‘marah’, 11 times translated as 'vision' or 'visions'. In only one instance is this word translated as ‘lookingglass’. In any respect, those ancient Hebrew women saw something. . .they had a vision of the station of washing, being so extremely important that they were willing to sacrifice something of huge importance to them. The wanted to be. . .they hungered to be the instrument by which the laver was created. . . .I weep. . .I weep. . .A vision of mine, a vision of these Hebrew woman that no one could come to the holy of holies without first being cleansed. . . .A vision of the physical cleansing required by the priests of the tabernacle. . . A vision of the required spiritual cleansing made possible only by the terrible sacrifice of Mary’s Son upon the cross. . .

The beauty of their sacrifice. . .
I weep. . .
I weep. . .

Thank you my God. . .
Thank you my Lord for your sacrifice. . .
Thank you my God for the vision and for the sacrifice of these women. . .

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Bible’s Biker

Matthew 3:1-6 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

What comes into your mind upon hearing the word, “biker”? Someone a bit unconventional?. . .someone who doesn’t fit into the cultural norm? A free spirit? Someone not overly concerned with the opinions of others? Not a polished person. . .not a person of gentle flavors and hues, but a bold flavor-filled, pungent, strongly independent minded. . .a radically free spirit. . .

Enter John the Baptist upon the scene. Not caring for the safe way. He entered unexpectedly upon the scene as a prophesied prerequisite for the arrival of the Messiah. His purpose to make straight the way of the Lord, to knock off the rough edges, to hew a theological path based upon relationships and love from the rigid ungodly unforgiving structure of rules which had become the religious order of the day.

Isaiah 40:3-5 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

His message was convicting to all. “God is coming. Stop doing bad things. Turn away from evil.” The religious had become so very comfortable in their ability to follow the Law, that their way of life had become an unthinking routine. Their rules became more important than righteousness. Their rules became more important then relationships with either their fellow man or with God.

John came to turn everything on its head. The low were to be lifted up. The high were to be brought down. The unrighteous were to be made righteous. The coarse were to be refined. . .This was hands-on work. The sweaty work of rippling muscles, hog wrestling a jack hammer. This was not a work of delicacy and subtlety.

John came of a form and of a lifestyle not be be desired by the established. Wearing 1st century leathers, with bug crumbs in his teeth and on his breath. . .the very caricature of a biker. . .minus the bike. . .a free spirit. . .a man from the wilderness. . .A man on the periphery, he came preaching a message that was central and bold and could not be ignored.

He did not fit what the leaders of the temple saw as a proper model for a prophet. . .The same myopia that caused them not to recognize the Messiah, made them blind to the significance of John. And indeed the same fate awaited both John and Jesus.

In their eyes, John’s lack of a $500 robe and his not having sat at the foot of an esteemed Rabbi stripped any significance from him. How could his message have meaning and influence if it did not come wrapped in the trappings which the world finds so important. Thereby their own prejudice blinded them to John and to Jesus.

What if Jesus returns today riding a motor cycle rather than a burro. Would your mental image of what He should be cause you to ignore Him? Would you listen to Him? The Pharisees were looking for a king dressed in purple robes. The humbleness of Jesus was blinding to them.

God has always taken delight in confounding our expectations. In every respect, indistinguishable from a true son of Pharaoh, Moses led the children of Israel, against Pharaoh's wishes, out of Egypt and to the very doorstep of the promised land. The chief persecutor and prosecutor of Christians and an inherent disbeliever of Jesus, Paul became God’s chief voice for spreading God’s new covenant with man. The wild man, John the Baptist, known for eating bugs, living in wild places, and dressing in animal skins is the herald God used to announce His coming arrival on Earth. . . and on and on and on we might go

How do you decide whom you listen to? Do you base your respect upon the finery of the messenger. Would you have listened to John? In eight verses it is recorded Jesus saying: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Many then had no ears for a carpenter’s son from Galilee. Many died then and will die today for their spiritual deafness. . .

One of the great teachers of my life was an rheumy ancient and wizened one-legged black man I met in Chicago’s Union Station when I was 16 years old. My Dad, as a railroad worker, had a rail pass and I could travel to Chicago for free. I would go to the Loop, to Old Town, to the museums, and spend the day roaming the streets of Chicago.

Our eyes met. Not quickly enough to run and hide within myself, I was snared like a stunned rabbit by a hawk’s talons. He caught me. Our eyes were now frozen and locked together. No escape was possible without pain and obvious cruelty. . .He called to me, “Hey boy. Where you going?” I know nothing of what he saw in me. Maybe the seizing and holding my eyes was a rare open door to share fellowship. Of all his needs and hungers, maybe the ache for human companionship was deepest within him.

He had lost his leg in WWI. He had cancer and he was going home to to die. He spoke of home reverently, his personal promised land, St. Louis, Missouri. He was going home for the first time in decades. Monetarily he was poor beyond poor. His clothing, tattered rags. He smelled of disease and infection. His breath was a wheezing humid wind of acrid decay. I bought him a coffee and we talked for an hour or so while waiting for our trains. I had trouble understanding. His voice was as of another land. His land was as of another world from mine. He talked of his life. He talked of the war and of losing much more than a leg. He spoke of life and love. . .He spoke of death and hope.

We parted. He in his wrenching precarious gait, one leg, one worn and misfit home made wooden crutch, lurching down the platform between the tracks. I back to my own war, my battles of adolescence. . .my own war of independence if you will. Now diminished with a new vision of larger battles than curfews and grades. . . My sole gift to him a coffee with lots of sugar. . .It was difficult for me to carry the abundance of gifts which he bestowed upon me. . .40 years later I carry his memory. I carry some of his gifts to this very day. Others unseen, have been carried so long they are now become a part of me. . .

He that hath ears to hear. . .let him hear. . .
He that hath ears to hear. . .let him hear. . .
He that hath ears to hear. . .let him hear. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

Dave Stokely

Friday, July 30, 2010

Soul Talk. . .

I speak not to your flesh, with its malignant hungers and desires. I speak not to your mind, with its corrosive pride and rebelliousness. I speak to your Soul, that everlasting spiritual part of you, which will eternally live with the consequences of the actions of your flesh and your mind.

You Soul. . .You need to take command. Long after the shell of this body is dust. . .ages after your mind has succumbed to dementia and unconsciousness, cloaked by the false escape of death, you will remain, forever remembering and reliving each day of life, replaying each minute of each day of your life on this earth. . .far too late for repentance. . .ages after forgiveness can be granted. . .painful wishful aching remorse. . .rivers of eyeless tears shed in the horror of suffocating darkness. . .endless and hopeless weeping for a life lived and relived. . .again and again replayed. . .vividly minutely remembering, your rebellion and denial of God.

Long ages after the lust of the flesh has faded from memory. . .Uncountable years after the pride of life is shown to be of counterfeit importance. . .the consequences of these temporary temporal decisions will remain.

You Soul, must manifest yourself. You Soul, must exert the force of your will in this lifetime, for you will stand alone stripped of body and mind, before He who is pure, and unblemished, and eternally holy and righteous. . . Your false sense of your own goodness will be shown for the dark lie that it truly is.

I cry. . .I shed tears for you. The lie of your present life, was also the lie of my life past. The memories of that past, the memories of my self justification and pride remain in tatters. I can see all my foolishness for what it was. . .BUT!!!. . .BUT!!!. . .BUT!!! I have only the regrets of the memories. I have deep scars from the past, but I have received greater healing. I came to awareness with time ahead of the consequences. I regret the foolishness of wasted decades, but I rejoice in the forgiveness and peace, which I have now found.

I bent my knee. . .I gave up my pride. . .I turned away from the lusts of my flesh before it was too late. . .I was a fool. . .I was blind, but my Soul overcame and I will live forever in celebration of that day. . .

I pray for you. . .I pray for you Soul to come to the light and be cleansed. . .Listen Soul. . . . .Listen to the call of God. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .
My Soul abides within you. . .
My Soul rejoices the day it found You. . .


Saturday, July 17, 2010

For the Sake of Ten. . .

Genesis 18:20-21 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. . .

Genesis 18:32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.

God’s hearing was filled with the cries of the victims of the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. He heard again and again the pain and anguish resulting from the violence and depraved acts committed by these people.

God knows the number of hairs upon the heads of every man, every woman, every child on earth. He intimately knows the number of hairs upon the heads of every unborn child. He surely knows the exact number of feathers on every bird and the precise number of scales upon each fish in the sea. . .

Do you seriously think that He did not know what was going on in Sodom and Gomorrah??? He surely had a purpose in coming before Abraham. It was a test for Abraham. . .It was a lesson for Abraham. . .

Genesis 18:22-23 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. 23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

The angels turned and left for Sodom and Gomorrah. . .but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. . .Abraham did not bow his head. . .he did not avert his eyes and go about his business trying to camoflage the hidden thoughts in his heart. He did not leave felt things unspoken. . . Abraham was a righteous man. He did not pretend all was well, when his heart was troubled. He felt such love and compassion and concern for righteous men and women, whom he did not even know, whom he merely held out hope that they existed in Sodom and Gomorrah and was afraid that they would be caught up in their cities destruction.

For these unknown, but envisioned like minded brothers and sisters, Abraham delayed God’s progress, thereby preventing God from leaving with the angels. Abraham did not give way, did not defer. It almost appears that he stood in God’s path after the angels had left, having the audacity to bargain with God on behalf of the righteous, to prevent what Abraham thought to be an unrighteous act by God.

We are not told the heart of God. We do not know what His plans were when He arrived at Sodom and Gomorrah. We do know that the way of God is perfect. We do know that God had no need of Abraham’s bargaining, to be a perfectly righteous and holy God. . .

God did not rebuke Abraham for his lack of faith in God’s righteousness. God saw past the flaw in Abraham and still yet honored Abraham’s sincerely honorable heart. God respected Abraham’s breaking heart, by not merely listening to Abraham, but by giving the appearance of modifying His plan to accommodate Abraham’s concern.

Abraham and God bargained down until they arrived at the number of ten righteous people being required to save the cities and there they stop. Abraham pressed no further and God offered no further concessions below the number ten. . . For the two cities, God would call off the planned destruction for ten righteous people. . .

Five people in each city is that which God would require. . .One family in each city, is the minimum level of righteousness that God would allow for the cities to remain standing. To redeem the thousands of people of Sodom and Gomorrah, one lone family was required to be found in each city. A lone believer would not be enough. An isolated pair of believers, or a solitary couple would not suffice.

Believers must be able to gather together for their faith to survive. That is the purpose and reason for our communal gathering together, our communal worship and fellowship. We need each others faith and support to survive. We need brothers and sisters to lift us up in times of need. We must have brothers and sisters with whom to celebrate in times of victory and joy. . . We cannot long exist, alone spiritually in a spiritual wasteland.

For the equivalent of one righteous, believing family in each city the Lord would hold out hope that the cities could be salvaged without destruction. A family has shown itself fertile and capable of reproducing. For righteousness to grow and spread there must be good seed and fertile ground. A family has demonstrated that potential fulfilled through their repeated bearing and raising of children across the years.

What does your family’s righteousness count for? You are not evangelists. You do not travel the country spreading the Good news. You are not eloquent preachers of God’s word. What impact does your simple righteous family’s life, have upon your community? . .One lone family in each city would have prevented the burning death and destruction of thousands. . .For the lack of five individuals in each city, the cities were destroyed in a burning hail of death.

How far does your influence spread? How many evil winds do you break in the lee side of your steadfastness? How many rumors of malicious gossip die when they arrive upon your shores? How many dark corners to you bring light to? How much hope does your life give to those who have no hope? How many see your example of living for God and thereby gain an understanding of the grace of God? What impact does your continued worship have on your neighbors, in times of trial and pain?

How wide do your prayers spread for co-workers, city leaders, neighbors, friends? How contagious is the love you show? The courtesy. . .the forgiveness. . . the generosity each having its source as and inspired by the love of God, all flow outwardly from the righteous as a wellspring of living water, refreshing cool water, essential life giving water coming from God and flowing through us to a harshly arid desert land. . .

Never underestimate the importance of your family's righteousness and holiness in your community. God recognized your importance and spoke that He was willing to save two otherwise entirely wicked cities, wholly deserving of destruction for the hope of the righteousness and holiness offered by one such family in each. . .

I love you my God. . .
I thank you my Lord. . .

Dave Stokely