Monday, October 14, 2013

The Bible as Cookbook: The recipe for a Good Life

Yesterday was Life Tabernacle's Sunday for having the church service at the JDC. My daughter Kimberly, who is involved with juveniles, had asked me Saturday what I spoke on when I spoke before the young people in the Juvenile Detention Center. Here's my notes from my talk yesterday afternoon. I thought I would share them with her, and with you:

When I was young, maybe 8 or 9 years old, my mother bought me a cookbook. I don’t know why she did this. I don’t remember being especially interested in cooking before that time, but for whatever motherly reason, she bought me a little cookbook for kids. . . it contained very basic recipes. If I remember one of the recipes was for ‘pigs in a blanket’. Maybe you've had them. . .you just wrap hot dogs up in crescent rolls and bake them in the oven for fifteen or twenty minutes. I remember recipes for simple spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and I think I remember a recipe for pancakes among others.

This influenced me, for today I love to cook, and my family loves to eat the things I cook, and I can trace at least some of this love back to being give the little recipe book my mother bought me.

I like cookbooks with pictures. I want to see what the recipe looks like when it’s correctly made. Sometimes just by the look of it I can tell that I wouldn't like it. Cookbooks without pictures are OK, but I much much prefer a cookbook with pictures.

A recipe always begins with in ingredient list. You always must look to make sure that you have the ingredients on hand before starting to cook something. You might as well not begin making pigs in a blanket, if you have no hot dogs in the refrigerator. Then the recipe will list out the steps in order to make the dish.

As you gain experience in cooking, you learn that sometimes you can substitute one ingredient for another, and the recipe will still turn out OK. I've learned that if a recipe calls for olive oil, I can usually substitute canola oil, or sunflower oil, or peanut oil and still have the recipe turn out well, but I cannot substitute motor oil. It’s yellow. It kind of looks like the other oils, but it won’t work in a recipe.

Likewise, when the recipe calls for flour, I can’t substitute powdered sugar or baking soda. Both are white powders, but they cannot be exchanged for flour in a recipe. It just would not work.

I enjoy going to cooking websites and finding new recipes, and I like to read the comments of the people who have made the recipe. You learn what people have tried, and how their families liked the recipe. Sometimes I laugh. . . this is only a small exaggeration. . . In a recipe for spaghetti, a person might write in that they didn't have the crushed tomatoes that the recipe called for, so they substituted strawberry jelly. . .and the recipe just didn't taste very good. . . .Yeah. . .OK. . . Is that really such a big surprise.

The first time through on a recipe, I like to follow it exactly as written, before I begin to tweak it to my own tastes. At least then I know what the recipe was supposed to taste like before I begin ‘improving’ it.

A really good recipe will have not just instructions on how to make the dish, but dangers to look out for in the recipe, and what to do if something goes slightly wrong. . . options to try, etc. I have a recipe for pulled pork, that is maybe 12 or 15 pages long. It has pictures of everything: the pan you roast it in, the digital thermometer you use to gage when the meat is done, the brining bag, the rub you put on the meat before roasting. It is full of tips, and warnings of things to avoid.

I’m convinced that a beginner cook, could follow that recipe, and make great tasting pulled pork. The recipe is very very helpful. It explains how to make pulled pork, warns you of different dangers or difficulties, and explains how to correct for problems if things go wrong.

This Book (the Bible) that many of you have brought with you today, might be looked upon as a cook book.  It gives the recipe for successfully living life. It has instructions, lists of ingredients, and like my favorite cookbooks, it even has a picture in the beginning:

Genesis 2:1-9
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. (2) And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. (3) And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. (4) These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, (5) And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. (6) But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. (7) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (8) And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. (9) And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:15-25
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. (16) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (18) And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (19) And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. (20) And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. (21) And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; (22) And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. (23) And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. (24) Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (25) And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. . .

Here we have a picture of a perfect life. Adam and Eve living in the beautiful garden created specially for them. Trees with fruit hanging from their boughs in abundance, for the mere lifting of their hands to pluck and eat. Perfect weather and temperature, no illness, no lack. . . every need met. God met with them daily. . . conversed, and communed with them. Physical needs fulfilled, and their psychological and Spiritual needs satisfied. Adam and Eve’s lives were complete.

Adam and Eve were created to have a close personal relationship with God. Only God truly knows us. Only God is ever patient with us. Only God knows all our flaws. He knows everything we have done, and He loves us anyway. When we stumble and fall, He is there, ready to hug and forgive.

What is sin? Sin is that which separates us from God. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the tree that He forbid them from eating from. This sin is what caused Adam and Eve to have to leave the garden of Eden. We cannot be in the presence of God with active sin in our lives. Now being out of the garden of Eden. . . away from the face to face presence of God, Adam and Eve had an empty spot, a hole within them.

This aching hole where God used to be. . . where God gave them pleasure, and love, and understanding. . . Adam and Eve. . . indeed all men and women try to fill with other things. . . they try to fill this empty space within them with lust, money, drugs. . . all types of worldly answers to their need for a perfect loving God, that they no longer had.

Each worldly solution to man’s need for God brings great problems with it. In the end, It never satisfies, indeed everything we try to replace God with ends up causing more pain and anguish than it cures.

Every minute of every day we face a decision in our minds of whether we draw closer to God or turn further away from Him. Before any action is done, a war is fought in our minds. Our thoughts travel away from God before our feet take the first step.

How many times do I remember stopping after work for 1 beer. . . a small step away from God, but hours later drunk. . .in a place I had no intention of going. . . not knowing how I got there, not knowing how to come back. My 1 beer sent me on a long journey. . .

As a chaplain in the jail, I hear of stories again and again. . . men and women taking one seemingly small step. . . thereby beginning a journey that led to destruction and horror beyond their dreams.

One friend I knew in the jail, had been in trouble a few times in his life. He had been jailed for public intoxication on a couple of occasions. He had a problem with alcohol. He is about my age. When one night at a party, someone offered him a hit on a crack pipe. . . Willy took, what he thought to be a small step, a few beers with friends, and ended up taking him a long ways from home. . . lost. . . alone. . .a nightmare in the wrong direction. . .his life forever changed. From that point forward Willy was addicted to crack. . . the former man with a drinking problem, became a raging crack addict.

One day he was in the front seat of a car. His drug dealer was driving, and a girl that Willy was involved with was in the back seat. Willy’s girl wanted to rob the drug dealer for his drugs and money, but gentle Willy wanted nothing to do with that. The girl took matters in her own hands, and from the back seat she hit the drug dealer over the head with a pipe. The drug dealer and the girl began fighting, and in his haze of drugs, Willy became involved in the fight, and ended up knifing and killing the drug dealer.

Willy woke up the next day, covered with blood having only a faint memory of the evening before. . .He now resides in Michigan City prison with a 50 year sentence for murder, there he took one more step that again completely changed his life. . . Willy found the Lord while in the Elkhart County Jail. . . He now writes me letters of joy, and power, and peace.

This is not understandable to our flesh. How can a man who will in all likelihood never see freedom have such an attitude? He is a changed man. He has been reborn in Christ. He has been made new.

The Bible as our cookbook. . . as our recipe guide has on its pages numbers of examples as warnings of what not to do to have a beautiful life:

Genesis 4:1-8
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. (2) And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. (3) And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. (4) And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: (5) But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (6) And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? (7) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. (8) And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

Cain had an attitude problem. He stepped away from God in his envy for his brother’s offering. Cain’s heart was not right, and God rejected his offering. Rather than humbling himself, repenting. . . turning away from his bad attitude, Cain let his anger reign. . . and killed his brother.

It seemed like such a small step in letting his envy and anger rule for a time within him, but this journey carried into a ruined life. . . a darkness that we do not know that Cain ever came out of.

Cain has a reputation as only a murderer, but our next example, David is known as a man after God’s own heart, but David on at least one occasion also stepped away from God:

2Samuel 11:1-2
And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. (2) And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

David’s eyes wandered. He stepped away from God by giving into his lust. He looked where he should not have looked. . . not a large sin, but this small step was the beginning of a journey into darkness that led to his having an affair with the wife of one of David’s great warriors, while the man was fighting in a war that David should have been in the field overseeing himself. . . The woman became pregnant, and David murdered her husband to cover his shame. Their baby died. . . all this a result from David’s eyes resting upon a place they should not have. . . A journey of a thousand miles. . . whether into light or darkness begins with one step. . .

Our third example from Scripture, comes from the New Testament. We know less about the beginnings of this man’s fall than the others:

John 12:1-6
Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. (2) There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. (3) Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. (4) Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, (5) Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? (6) This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

We don’t know much of Judas early life, but we know that he carried the bag of money for the disciples. I suppose people gave offerings to Jesus and the disciples, much like today people give to those ministering to them for their daily needs, and Judas was a petty thief. He took money from this bag of offerings. . . . probably only small amounts. . . what ever he thought he could get away with. . .$5 here $10 there as the opportunity arose, but small amounts or not, he was a thief. He allowed his greed, his love of money, his covetousness to reign in him. . . a step away from God. This journey into darkness let to his selling out Jesus, and to Judas committing suicide by hanging himself on a tree.

In each of these examples, these men took what appeared to be a small first step,  which in fact led to a ruined life. . . going back to our parable of the cookbook. . . Their lives not following the directions of our cookbook, the Bible resulted in a ruined recipe. They did not follow the steps called for in the directions for a perfect life. . . In the case of Cain, and Judas we have no evidence that they ever turned away from their darkness, and came back to God.

David did repent, and ask God for forgiveness. He came back to God. He paid a price for his sin. There were consequences, but he did come back into the loving arms of God.

Fortunately our cookbook has an ‘Oops’ section.  We call it the New Testament. It deals with how to correct a life’s recipe, when the wrong ingredients have been used. . . when the wrong steps have been followed. . . when the oven temperature was too hot and the cake was burned. When too much salt has been added to the soup. . . This is a section of the Bible that shows us that no dish. . . no life is beyond repair and recovery.

You have made some poor choices. You are sitting here this morning in a place that you surely do not want to be in. . . but as a journey away from God and into darkness begins with a small step, so does the journey back into His loving arms. . .

The wages of sin are death. . . but the gift of God to us is life. Jesus paid the price of death on the cross. Our sins can be written on His perfect sinless life. He paid the penalty for our sins. . . willingly. . . thinking of you and I as He gave up His last breath.

Pray to Him. . . Dear Lord. . . I've messed up. I've made mistakes, and I am so sorry for what I've done. Please forgive me, and help me find my way back to You.

We all fight the same battle against our flesh. It takes different forms for each of us, but there is power in this relationship with God to deliver us from our anger. . . from our lusts. . . from our weaknesses of every kind.

I stand before you today as one who found God 13 years ago, when I was 45 years old and these last 13 years have been years of peace, and joy, and happiness beyond anything I knew before I came to God.

Some day this can all be as a bad dream for you. Every one of you can be mighty men and women in God’s kingdom. . . and it begins with a single step of changing your direction. . .of walking toward God, and continuing to walk toward Him, and with Him for the days of your life.

Yes you may stumble, but as David did. . . but as David did, pick yourself up, dust yourself off. . . “I’m sorry God. I messed up. . . please forgive me.”, and go back to living for God.

This is the reverse of nearly every other service I've ever done. Worship always come first, but I prayed, and I believe that God gave me this message and the design of this service. . . let us now worship. . . let us now worship God, let us begin rebuilding our relationship with Him. . . drawing close to Him. . . letting Him know how much we need Him. . .and love Him. . .

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


Thursday, July 18, 2013

And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people. . .

2 Chronicles 30:15-20
Then they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of the LORD. And they stood in their place after their manner, according to the law of Moses the man of God: the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the LORD. For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.

I find great comfort in this passage. A little background for understanding, at this time the Hebrew people were newly come back to the Lord. King Hezekiah turned the nation away from evil and began restoring them into favor with God:

2 Chronicles 29:1-10
Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them. And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place. For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD, and turned their backs. Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel. Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes. For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us.

He tried to do that which was right, but there were too few priests. . .

2 Chronicles 29:34-36
But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests. And also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings, and the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So the service of the house of the LORD was set in order. And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly.

We know that the Law of Moses is very particular, and very specific as to how things were to be done. Hezekiah had a choice, either do nothing. . . have the people not partake of the Passover, or to do it to the best of their ability. . . not fully sanctifying everything and everyone in the manner prescribed by the Law. . . and to fall upon the mercy of God to look at their hearts, and to cover them with the Grace of God. . . .

Again I read it. . .

2 Chronicles 30:18-20
. . . .But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.

There are some who have gone before us. . . who didn’t do everything according to how the Bible prescribes that things be done. . .Not speaking of righteousness, but in ways of ‘cleans[ing] according to the purification of the sanctuary. . . ‘ This gives me hope. . . those who prepared their heart to seek God. . .though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. . .the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people. . .

I weep. . .there is hope. . .

Psalm 18:30
As for God, his way is perfect. . .

No one at the end of the day, can point a finger at God and justly accuse Him of not being righteous. . . In spite of not doing everything to the letter of the Law. . . the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people. . . .

Unrepented of unrighteousness will not be ignored, but at least in this occasion in the Old Testament failure to follow the letter of the Law was forgiven. . .

2 Chronicles 30:20
And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.

I thank you my God. . .
This is great comfort to me.
I have hope. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

Saturday, April 20, 2013

God is:

(Exodus 20:20)  And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

(Numbers 23:19)  God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

(Deuteronomy 4:7)  For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?

(Deuteronomy 4:24)  For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

(Deuteronomy 4:31)  (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.

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

(Deuteronomy 6:15)  (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

(Deuteronomy 7:21)  Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the LORD thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.

(Deuteronomy 9:3)  Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.

(Deuteronomy 10:17)  For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:

(Deuteronomy 20:1)  When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

(Deuteronomy 20:4)  For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

(Deuteronomy 33:27)  The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

(Joshua 1:9)  Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

(Joshua 3:10)  And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.

(Joshua 23:3)  And ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the LORD your God is he that hath fought for you.

(1 Samuel 10:7)  And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.

(2 Samuel 22:33)  God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.

(1 Chronicles 14:15)  And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines.

(1 Chronicles 17:2)  Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee.

(2 Chronicles 30:9)  For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.

(Ezra 8:22)  For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.

(Job 27:3)  All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;

(Job 33:12)  Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man.

(Job 36:5)  Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom.

(Job 36:26)  Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out.

(Job 37:22)  Fair weather cometh out of the north: with God is terrible majesty.

(Psalms 7:11)  God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

(Psalms 14:5)  There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous.

(Psalms 46:1)  To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

(Psalms 46:5)  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

(Psalms 47:5)  God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

(Psalms 47:7)  For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.

(Psalms 48:14)  For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.

(Psalms 50:6)  And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.

(Psalms 54:4)  Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.

(Psalms 56:9)  When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.

(Psalms 59:9)  Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence.

(Psalms 59:17)  Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.

(Psalms 62:7)  In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

(Psalms 62:8)  Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.

(Psalms 68:20)  He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.

(Psalms 73:1)  A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.

(Psalms 73:26)  My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

(Psalms 74:12)  For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.

(Psalms 75:7)  But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

(Psalms 84:11)  For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

(Psalms 89:7)  God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.

(Psalms 94:22)  But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.

(Psalms 99:9)  Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.

(Psalms 115:3)  But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

(Psalms 116:5)  Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.

(Psalms 118:27)  God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.

(Psalms 144:15)  Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.

(Proverbs 30:5)  Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

(Ecclesiastes 5:2)  Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

(Isaiah 8:10)  Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.

(Isaiah 12:2)  Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

(Isaiah 61:1)  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

(Jeremiah 3:23)  Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.

(Daniel 2:47)  The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.

(Daniel 9:14)  Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.

(Nahum 1:2)  God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.

(Habakkuk 3:19)  The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

(Matthew 3:9)  And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

(Matthew 22:32)  I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

(Mark 12:29)  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

(Luke 3:8)  Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

(John 3:33)  He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

(John 4:24)  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

(John 13:31)  Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.

(Acts 10:34)  Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

(Acts 28:28)  Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.

(Romans 1:9)  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

(Romans 11:23)  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.

(Romans 14:4)  Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

(1 Corinthians 1:9)  God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

(1 Corinthians 1:25)  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

(1 Corinthians 10:13)  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

(1 Corinthians 14:25)  And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

(1 Corinthians 14:33)  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

(2 Corinthians 1:18)  But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.

(2 Corinthians 9:8)  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

(Galatians 3:20)  Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

(Galatians 6:7)  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

(Ephesians 4:24)  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

(Philippians 1:8)  For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

(1 Thessalonians 2:5)  For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

(Hebrews 6:10)  For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

(Hebrews 11:16)  But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

(Hebrews 12:29)  For our God is a consuming fire.

(Hebrews 13:16)  But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

(1 John 1:5)  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

(1 John 3:20)  For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

(1 John 4:8)  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

(1 John 4:16)  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Pride of Herod. . .

Often times in the Bible, for godly men and women, names are significant and meaningful, many times even prophetic. In the case of Herod, it is a cynical, sarcastic, scornful, and laughable naming. . . for the name Herod means:

Compound of ἥρως hērōs (a “hero”) and eidos (a view), that is, form (literally or figuratively): - appearance, fashion, shape, sight. So combined, the view or appearance or form or shape of a hero. . . heroic.
(Adapted from Strong’s Greek Dictionary)

Yes. . . how heroic Herod was. . .

Matthew 2:16
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

No hero. Herod had no appearance of a brave and honorable man. He was the very opposite of a hero. Baby killing Herod was a pitiful excuse for a man. The words of the Bible are often very sparse and economical, not a lot of decoration, not much detail, the foundation and girders of the events, without decorations or furnishings. It pays to read the Bible slowly, and thoughtfully, else you might miss much due to the Spartan nature of the writing, but take notice of the pain and horror hidden within this one sentence.

If this were a contemporary happening, books would undoubtedly have been written of this event. A three hour long television documentary or maybe even a mini-series would have been produced. . . a museum built with pictures and artifacts. . . containing recordings of interviews with witnesses. . . tear stained pictures of grieving mothers and fathers. . .testimonies of siblings. . . a memorial would be erected in the town square to help remember that day. . . with teddy bears, and candles, and flowers, but the dust of centuries has covered this day, and all that remains of of this first century holocaust, is one sparse sentence in the Bible. . .

Herod’s anger arose when his pride was hurt. He realized that he had been deceived by the wise men The way it is stated, it almost seems that his reaction was spurred on by this initial anger at the wise men escaping his trap.

Matthew 2:7-8
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. (8) And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

No brave hero this king Herod, but fearful of babies, in these two verses he proves himself a liar. Rather than wishing to worship the baby Jesus, Herod wished to sacrifice Him on the altar of Herod’s unholy pride.

Nothing bothers the deceitful, quite as much as being deceived themselves. I’m sure it hurt Herod’s pride greatly. . . the scammer being scammed. . .The manipulator being manipulated and played for a fool. A deep and public wound of the pride for any man will often cause great anguish and a desire for revenge.

The logic of Herod’s reaction, seems to come almost as an afterthought: “when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, [he] was exceeding wroth” The wise men escaped his ploy and Herod was furious. . . and additionally he felt threatened by the birth of a baby in Bethlehem. . .

No cost was too high, he somehow justified in his mind the killing of an entire town's 2 year old sons, and indeed the surrounding area’s male children to protect his rule from a threat that was decades away. His love of power was so strong, that it completely corrupted Herod’s soul.

He feared that which was of no threat. Every man judges others by his own heart. Jesus was no threat to Herod. . . Jesus kingdom was not of this world, but Herod saw a mere baby as a threat to his power. . .

Proverbs 28:1
The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

The poor mothers of Bethlehem who very likely saw their children killed in front of their own eyes. The searing pain. . . the blackness of that bloody scene. . .the screams of the children wrenched from their mothers. . . the wailing and tears. . . the horror of the mothers. . . the helpless anguish, the impotent rage of the fathers, standing by as armed soldiers invaded their homes and killed their children. . . the spiritual corruption of Herod, and of the soldiers who carried out his command.

And it availed nothing for him. . . It preserved him not. . .

Matthew 2:19-20
But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, (20) Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.

Mothers and sons. . . paying the price for the corrupt heart of a power mad king. All men have prideful hearts, but a king with pride, combined with power, and blackness of heart. . .the resulting evil knows no bounds.

When our pride is hurt, our natural response is to want to hurt in return, but firstly being restrained by the fear of the consequences of our actions, and secondly not being powerful, we would have to exact the retribution ourselves. Whereas a king has no such limits.

What repercussions would a king face? A king does not have to do the dirty work himself. He has underlings, whom he may command to bloody their hands. . . Oh the seductions of power. The self-justification. . . only hearing affirmation, never hearing criticism. . .the distorted view of self. . .

A king can act upon his hurt pride, and we are surely not able to act in the same manner, and to the same degree as a king, but are not the desires and inclinations of our hurt pride the same as Herod’s by the measure of Jesus? Herod’s actions were magnified by his power, but in its origins, and in its flavor, how does my hurt pride differ from his?

Do you think yourself different from Herod? I encourage you to read of the Stanford Prison experiment. In 1971, members of the psychology department of Stanford University conducted an experiment, where they selected 18 student, who appeared to not have any great psychological disturbances. . . who appeared to be normal college students. These students were divided into (2) groups of (9) guards, and (9) prisoners. The setting was constructed to be very similar to a prison setting. The experiment was intended to last for two weeks, but had to be terminated after only six days, when the guards began behaving very sadistically, and the prisoners became greatly depressed, and stressed by the conditions.

Here is the web site documenting the study:

These were ordinary college students put into positions of authority, with opportunity to exert their will over their fellow man. They were not evil beasts, deranged by some sinister spirit. . . such as we might, for example, look upon the guards in Nazi concentration camps. These were college students given uniforms, and authority, who very quickly began to act in evil ways. . .

Do you think that you are different than Herod, or these students, or concentration camp prison guards? It is the evil intent present in every heart, fertilized by power, and watered by opportunity to express itself that brings these things forth, that allows the dark seeds of evil to sprout out of the common heart. . . not out of some deranged beast in human form. . . but out of the evil dark thoughts and desires of our own hearts, are these things born.

Jesus was clear. . .

Mat 5:21-22 & 27-28
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.

. . .(27) 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.

According to Jesus, intent has as much weight as action. If our hearts are prideful, and wanting to strike back to hurt when hurt. . . we should take no pride that we have not murdered children. . . we should be worried in that the same pride and darkness found in Herod’s heart, is found in our hearts as well. . .

Romans 12:1-3
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (3) For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Paul then goes on in the following verses, to attack the pride found in the church. . .It is this pride within our hearts which leads to every kind of evil thought and action.

Matthew 18:4
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 23:12
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

James 4:6
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

James 4:10
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

1Peter 5:5
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

1Peter 5:6
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

The pride of Herod, is really the pride of a man given a king’s power, and ego, and authority. Do not hate Herod. . . pity him, and fear for yourself, for within your own heart resides the pride of Herod.

Be vigilant against pride rising up in your own heart. . .
Be vigilant in being justified in your own eyes. . .
Be vigilant against fearing the rise and favor of another. . .
Be vigilant against thinking yourself special or privileged. . .

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up. . .
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up. . .
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up. . .

I love you my God. . .
Help me Lord. . .
Let your Spirit rule in my heart. . .
Let your Spirit rule in my life. . .

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Study of Meekness. . .

The following are all the verses in the Bible (KJV) containing the word ‘meek’. It is apparent that God greatly values meekness in a person. . . not weakness, but humbleness. . . not prideful. . . not boastful. . . not aggressive, and self-assertive, but considerate. . . giving. . . sharing. . . compassionate. . . kind. . . mild. . .quiet. . .not an attention seeker. . . not desiring glory for himself, but a steadfast member of the body. . . contributing as they are called, persevering contentedly with harmony, and unity in their given role. . . nourishing and supporting the Body, working to expand His Kingdom.

Christ as our ultimate example of meekness. Possessing within Him apocalyptic power to hurt and destroy, and without question able to exact justified retribution upon His persecutors, but showing absolute restraint in the face of unimaginable provocation. . .Not fearful. . . not intimidated by confrontation, not seeking glory for Himself. . not self-wilful. . . but neither did He hide in a closet. . .always doing His Father’s bidding. . . Not My will but Thy will. . .self-sacrificing. . .about His Father’s business. . . returning love for hate. . .perishing in agony upon the cross, that all men might through His death. . . by His shed blood, be saved from death, and raised themselves in eternal glory. . .

Abandon pride, fervently seek meekness. . . and at the heart of meekness find the heart of God. . .

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

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

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.

Isaiah 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

Isaiah 29:19 The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

Amos 2:7 That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name:

Zephaniah 2:3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.

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

Matthew 11:29 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.

Matthew 21:5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

1Peter 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Questions and Answers. . .

What is your goal for your life? What would your perfect life be like? What would a perfect day be like? What path from where you are currently, would take to to such a day and such a life?

Would it be:

A life without pain?
A life surrounded by loved ones?
A life without fear?
A life without want?
A life filled with joy and happiness and satisfaction?
A life with purpose?

This life is possible. . .

Why listen any longer to the voice which whispers doubt, and sows discouragement and confusion?
Why hold on to your doubt, and despair?

Give faith a chance. . .
Give hope a chance. . .

Choose life. . .
Choose light. . .
Choose love. . .

Come to God. . .
Seek Him. . .
Open your heart to Him. . .

Revelation 3:20
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Matthew 11:28-30
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) 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. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Jeremiah 29:11-13
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (12) Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. (13) And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

God loves you. . .
He is calling for you. . .
Give love a chance. . .

Friday, April 12, 2013

Men’s Hearts. . . God’s Dominion. . .

11 Times in the Word of God, the Lord hardened various men’s hearts. 1 time in the Word of God, the Lord hardened a man’s spirit, and made his heart obstinate and 1 time in the Word of God, the Lord softened a man’s heart.

From this evidence, It is clear that God has dominion over men’s hearts. . . Again from this evidence it is surely within His power and within His will in times past, to influence the hearts of men.

This then is an avenue of God’s working that we may ask, and believe in faith, Him able to repeat this work. . .Let us then call out specifically to God to influence and to soften the hearts of men and women around us. . .that the Word of God might find fertile soil. . .

Thank you my Lord. . .
I love you my God. . .
Open their eyes. . .
Soften their hearts. . .
I love you my Lord. . .


1. Exodus 4:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
2. Exodus 7:3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
3. Exodus 7:13 And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
4. Exodus 9:12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.
5. Exodus 10:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:
6. Exodus 10:20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.
7. Exodus 10:27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.
8. Exodus 11:10 And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.
9. Exodus 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.
10. Exodus 14:8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.
11. Exodus 14:17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

12. Deuteronomy 2:30 But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.

13 Job 23:16 For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Be ye holy for I am holy. . .

1 Thessalonians 4:7
For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

Many people state that their reason for not attending church, is the issue of holiness standards. Years before coming to God, I can remember feeling a need for God, but I could not see myself ever living a holy lifestyle. I thought of the things which I knew that I must give up. . . drinking, drug use, gambling, immodest, immoral behavior, and they seemed to be too high of a price to pay for a relationship with God. My drinking. . . my smoking. . . Really my pride was too important to me. I was unwilling to submit to God. I thought myself too capable. . . too independent. . . too much of a free spirit to ever bend my knee to God. My life progressively grew more tumultuous, more filled with strife and pain. . . with the crisis of my heart surgery, I was faced with my mortality, the costs of my pride became apparent even through my stubbornness, and I did submit to Jesus.

Today almost 13 years later, I greatly value living a holy lifestyle. It is no burden. It is what keeps me from going back into the swamp that was my life before Jesus. I value righteousness, not because I am holier than anyone else, not because I am more righteous than others, but because I remember the pain of where I came from, and I never want to go back.

But with our current strong societal aversion to holiness, many contemporary churches are greatly lowering or abandoning entirely former standards of holiness in an effort to be more appealing to world. . . We hear of churches where the pastor conducts Bible studies in a bar, while swilling beer. . .Churches where very provocatively immodest dress is allowed for those in leadership, and conducting service the on the platform, and in the choir. . .Churches not preaching against sexual immorality, but accepting of it as an inescapable fact of modern life. . .We are not to remain the same way we were when we came to God. Our relationship with Him is to transform us into ‘new creatures in Christ.’

Ephesians 4:17-24
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, (18) Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: (19) Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (20) But ye have not so learned Christ; (21) If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: (22) That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (23) And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; (24) And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Wouldn’t this acceptance of the unholy in the church, be like Weight Watchers eliminating fresh vegetables and adding cream filled donuts and stuffed crust double cheese meat lovers pizzas to their menu plans in order to become more appealing to people? Is not this then catering to the same appetite which caused the people to seek help with their weight? How then is one delivered from being too heavy by eating the same way and not changing. . .not transforming your desires to healthier choices. Staying with this example, there is a direct relationship between the strict reduced fat/carbohydrate diet, and the desired results. . .

Lowered standards is possibly a path to full pews, but this clearly is not the path to God, Lowered standards were not the message of Christ. Jesus told the adulterous woman John 8:11. . .”Go and sin no more. . . “ Jesus standards were higher than those of the Mosaic Law. . . In the Law you had to commit the act for it to be a sin. . .Jesus said that the thought, was the same as the act of sin. . .

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.

The Word of God is clear:

1 Peter 1:13-16
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (14) As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: (15) But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (16) Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Be ye holy. . . for I am holy. To be Holy is to be different than the rest of the world. To be holy is not to fit in. To be holy is to overcome your flesh, and subdue your pride. . . to submit yourself to what God wants for you.

Romans 8:13
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Galatians 6:8
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Holiness is foundational to a close relationship with God. Today, almost 13 years after my conversion from atheism, I do not find it a burden to live a holy lifestyle, but rather it is the keystone of my walk with the Lord. Before I fell in love with Jesus, all I could see of Christianity were the do’s and don’ts. Can’t do this. . . can’t do that. . . can’t do the other thing. . . have to do this. . .

Viewed from the outside, Christianity seemed to be an oppressive, and horribly restrictive lifestyle, but it is clear that God desires us to be holy. . . and now. . .today I love God with all my heart. . . all my soul. . . and all my strength. . . and as such I want Him to be happy with me. I do not want to disappoint Him. I want no barriers between us, and as such: dressing modestly. . . not drinking. . . avoiding immorality of all flavors. . . rejecting the world . .subduing the flesh. . . I do not gain heaven by these things, but by my holiness. . . I avoid temptation. . . I avoid sin. . . and thereby draw closer to Him.

If I compare myself to other men. . .If I measure myself to those around me, if my motivation is to be ‘better’ than someone else. . . then I am self-righteous and prideful, but by keeping my eye solely upon the Lord, and His spotless example. . . and keeping as my motivation, to become separated from the world and devoted to Him. . . pleasing to Him. . .with no barrier between us, then the path of holiness is a path which leads into deeper and closer relationship with God.

From the outside looking in, it appears to be all about the do’s and don’ts. . . but now being converted. . .the view from the inside is that I am head over heels in love with Jesus, and wish to do those things pleasing to Him. I greatly desire to live a lifestyle as pleasing to Him as possible. . .

Be ye holy for I am holy. . .I strive for holiness. I revel in the comfort and peace found in the arms of God. . .

The devil would have us believe that holiness is a burden and a weakness. . . a stumbling block. . . a hindrance to growth for the church, when in truth it is a great strength. . . and foundational to our faith. . .

2 Timothy 2:19-22
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (20) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. (21) If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. (22) Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

We are to be anointed, and sanctified to the Lord. . holy vessels of God’s Spirit. . . those items of the temple so dedicated to God were never to be put to common or profane uses. . . So must we be separated and holy, in the world, but not of the world.

Jesus said:

John 3:3
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

To be reborn, is to be born again into a new life. . . We are new creatures. . . old things are passed away. . .

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

If the old things do not pass away. . . if there is no new life, no new creature resulting from this rebirth. . . if there is no transformation, then rather than a new birth, it is a false labor. . . Be ye holy for I am holy. . . be ye transformed. . . be ye renewed. . . be ye remade. . .

We name ourselves Christians. . .the ‘ian’ suffix in Christ-IAN means to be: “One from, belonging to, relating to, or like.”. . . We are to be Christ-like. . . Be ye holy for I am holy. . .
To say that we are Christ-like, and yet not holy is a terrible blasphemy of God Himself. . .

I love you my God. . .
I long to be close to You. . .
I strive for holiness. . .
I thank you my God. . .
I love you my God. . .