Obsession, The Unacknowledged Sin

People these days are obsessed with many different things. Some obsessions are so bad that they become a way of life and people then replace things of the Spirit with things of the world.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17 ESV

Webster’s Dictionary defines obsessions as: A persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling; broadly: compelling motivation.
What are obsessions that keep us in the world? Media and celebrity personalities, electronic games, social media, sports, fantasy related media, sexual desires, basically anything that keeps our focus away from God.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24 ESV

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23 ESV

The Adversary is Involved
Satan will do anything to keep us away from the Father and His Word. We may think some things we do are innocent distractions, which they may start out as that but the distraction becomes an obsession if it begins to take up your time so it becomes your life as you start ignoring responsibilities, family, but mostly your worship time with God. Once you start down that path, it becomes very hard to get out and the devil has won.
You see, sinful behavior can start out as something innocent that takes up your time and removes God from the heart replacing it with worldly things. What we need to do is a complete overhaul on how we use things of the world. There are some necessary evils which we cannot ignore because many cannot function without them. Things such as the internet to pay bills online for the ease of access, doing research, playing a game to exercise the mind, and reading some news is okay, just do not dwell on there for a long time.
There are many Bible apps and programs that are useful but the best Bible app is found on paper and bound as a book. All we have to do is faithfully obey the Word within.

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. Deuteronomy 28:1-6 ESV

Now I understand that some will still say, that was Old Testament and we are under Jesus. Well I have some news for you, Jesus was and is under the Old Testament, because He is the Word made Flesh. He took away the sacrifices but did not take away the moral and ethical laws. He did not abolish anything but fulfilled things of old that were meant for the covering and salvation of sins before His coming. We still must do our best to follow the Ten Commandments and the Statutes that are contained in the Law. We do this by living a right life the best we can because we are not perfect and no earthly being can do as Jesus did.

Now do not become obsessed in the Christian thinking either. It is a way of living a right life but some take it so far that they are completely fearful of worldly matters and cannot function in society. They used to be called zealots. We should be zealous but remain functional in society so far that we can survive and thrive through living a right life. Remember we will make mistakes but it is only through the sanctifying Blood of Jesus that we are saved. Plus, understanding the world without living of the world makes it easier to talk to others about our faith life so that we can do our part in our Mission via the Great Commission. That is what Jesus requires of us.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 ESV

What the Apostles Taught About Last Things: Didache 16

The 16th and final portion of the DIDACHE: Teachings of the Apostles focuses on last days. It is here that the Apostolic final warnings about living a right life are given and as you read you will see that the final days look a lot like what we are going through today. Of course, people have noted the same thing in times past but we can honestly say that never since the time of Noah has the world been as bad as it is in this day and age. I have to tell you that as I was reading this I got a bit scared for the world as we see things happening daily that press for the Adversary’s complete takeover of the world as we know it. Let’s read the final portion titled, Watch Over Your Life:

Watch over your life, that your lamps are never quenched, and that your loins are never unloosed. Be ready, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Come together often, seeking the things that are good for your souls. A life of faith will not profit you if you are not made perfect at the end of time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters will be plenty, and the sheep will be turned into wolves, and love will be turned into hate. When lawlessness increases, they will hate and persecute and betray one another, and then the world-deceiver will appear claiming to be the Son of God, and he will do signs and wonders, and the earth will be delivered into his hands, and he will do iniquitous things that have not been seen since the beginning of the world. Then humankind will enter into the fire of trial, and many will be made to stumble and many will perish; but those who endure in their faith will be saved from under the curse itself. And then the signs of the truth will appear: the first sign, an opening of the heavens; the second sign, the sounding of the trumpet; and the third sign, the resurrection of the dead— not of every one, but as it is said: “Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.” Finally, “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory.”

The writer starts right at the heart of the matter with saying do not give in to things of the world but stay in the Word and things of the Spirit. He repeats what Jesus said about the timing and that we need to be in constant communion with each other in the Father’s Name and Presence.

It then moves to false prophets and corrupters. All I can say to this is hello You Tube and other social media outlets as well as some televangelists and the “Popular” or celebrity pastors. There is so much confusion and people trying to scare others by perverting the Bible even worse than those who decided what should be in it and what shouldn’t. There are so many movements out there that it is almost impossible to seek the truth of the matter anymore.

Love for one another has been blinded. With all the ethnic tensions due to place of origin, color of skin, belief systems, and mainstream society’s acceptance of sin being the norm, the world cannot seem to get along at all. Christianity is under attack all over the world. Lawlessness has increased to the point of a hopeless return. Paul writes in Romans that this would happen due to the degradation of society and the lack of God in people’s lives to the point that God allows us to wallow in sin. We are living in a godless society. It is only a matter of time for the great deceiver to show face. Maybe it already has come and we are so blind we cannot see it. Fortunately, no one person has claimed to be the Son of God who has done signs and wonders just yet but all sings are pointing to seeing it happen very soon.

There is relief for those who stay faithful and notice there is nothing about a rapture of the church. We will see three signs before the final appearance of the Messiah, Son of God: An opening up of the heavens, the trumpet, then raising of the saints. Now we can only guess how the heavens will be opened up. Maybe the firmament will loosen the clouds, maybe the sky will change, we are uncertain but we will know because there will be a great change. The great trumpets will sound and that will shake the earth so that the holy ones (the dead who were faithful servants) will rise up. Then we will see the Son of Man enter the world from the heavens. That will be a glorious sight.

Remember this Brothers and Sisters NO ONE knows the time of these happenings so do not pay attention to those who say they know or try to predict the end. We do not know. Yes there are signs in the heavens but they can be changed and have been. We are to be prepared at all times not just when someone says the end is about to happen. Do not quit jobs and give everything up at the last minute because that will not help matters if you try to make good when it is almost too late. But live now as if you are always ready for the Son of Man to come. Be faithful servants daily and live for the Father by doing what HE instructs us to do through His Word and the teachings of His Son, Jesus. Just remember, Jesus completed the work required because we will never be good enough. Believe in Jesus and accept that He made the payment for our judgement. We can not get into heaven by works of the Law, only by the Sanctifying Blood of Christ are we forgiven. God’s Grace and Mercy be with you all.

In Christ,

Rob

Where Do You Fit

 

ADVENTURES IN THE PARABLES Wedding FeastJesus takes ordinary situations and makes extraordinary points that relate to the Kingdom. He would take the questions or situations where the Pharisees or others tried to make Him slip up and sternly teach them the error of their ways. This teaching has to do with humility and exaltation.

 

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

 

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11

 

What is Jesus telling us in this Parable? Do not be like the Pharisees who think themselves worthy when they are not. The truly penitent will pass by the Pharisee and be welcomed first. Those that go through their life thinking that they have done everything right forgetting their lack of having a repentant heart and should enter first into the Kingdom will be given the back seat to the truly repentant that did their very best but have one thing that the others do not, true faith and trust. For on this earth they were weary and heavy laden. God may have blessed them with things other than money because of their desire to stay out of the world.

 

Where Do You Sit in Church?

 

How many people do you know in church that intentionally sit in the back of the church? Are they hoping to be exalted? Or are they the first to make a quick exit to make it to lunch before the rush? In fact, if you look into just about any Baptist Church you will find that many of the front pews are empty while the back is completely full. When a guest comes in and sits where a member always sits and the said member sees it there are two common reactions. The humble member will find another spot while the zealous will demand they find another place to sit. What does that tell the pastor? There is a need for reminding all that your place in the church pew does not matter, it is a matter of the heart and Spiritual fitness.

 

Now the ones that sit near the front understand that they need to hear the message and are not afraid of being convicted and yet some are still afraid of approaching the altar. Remember, the Father knows our hearts and will guide us. It really does not matter where you sit in the place of worship as long as your heart is focused on God and not the self or things of the world.  Are you in the front and receiving the Word, or in the back waiting for lunch?            

 

The Invitation  

 

We have been given an open invitation by God’s Grace and Mercy to sit at the table. It is how we prepare ourselves on earth for the heavenly feast that will dictate our place. You have a better chance for entering if you have repented, accepted, and put your full faith and trust in Christ, and do your very best to follow His Commandments and His Way, remembering that we are not perfect and will make mistakes. It is better this than the alternative, saying that you have Jesus and that is enough and or forgetting that you are still a sinner and think you are better than everyone else. The latter will be waiting a while if they make it at all. We are to walk in humility, our pride is in the work that the Father does in our lives.

 

First or Last

 

Being first in line on this earth gets you the first helpings in the lunch line which some people desire. But what many forget is that sometimes the staff brings out the best food after the first things are gone. Those that wait are blessed with fresh, hot food while the first do not really know how long the food was sitting out.  There is an order which many circles follow in which the leader goes last even though many will push the leader forward. The humble servant leader will wait away from the line until all have been served and take what he/she needs of what is left.

 

What Are We To Do?

 

In all things be humble, do not try to push your way forward nor jump to get the first fruits. When sitting in the place of worship, place yourself where the Spirit leads your heart. There is no need for sitting in the same place every week even though that is what happens. If you are given a place of honor, accept it in humility and let others exalt you if they so choose. Take care not to exalt yourself in the hopes that others will give you praise for that is vanity but accept praise with a humble heart and give the glory to the Father.

 

Brothers and Sisters, serve others before the self and follow the Word keeping it on your heart always. Be blessed as we begin a new week. Share your faith in everything you do.

 

In Christ,

 

 Rob  

 

Praise VS Worship

This article is written by David Branham our Director of Music and leader of CROSSover Praise Band

What is the difference and definition of Praise and Worship?

In my own words, it can be as simple as just being directional. Praise is to lift God up. And Worship is to bow down and bring HIM in close to your heart.

Praise, according to the dictionary means: to express admiration or approval for; to express thanks and worship to God.

Worship, according to the dictionary means: to show profound religious devotion; to have intense love and admiration.

Understanding the difference between praise and worship can bring a new depth to the way we honor the Lord. Throughout the Bible, the commands to “Praise the Lord” are too numerous to mention. Angels and the heavenly hosts are commanded to praise the Lord (Psalm 89:5; 103:20; 148:2). All inhabitants of the earth are instructed to praise the Lord (Psalm 138:4; Romans 15:11). We can praise Him with singing (Isaiah 12:5; Psalm 9:11), with shouting (Psalm 33:1; 98:4), with the dance (Psalm 150:4), and with musical instruments (1 Chronicles 13:8; Psalm 108:2; 150:3-5).

Praise is the joyful recounting of all God has done for us. It is closely intertwined with thanksgiving as we offer back to God appreciation for His mighty works on our behalf. Praise is universal and can be applied to other relationships as well. We can praise our family, friends, boss, or paperboy. Praise does not require anything of us. It is merely the truthful acknowledgment of the righteous acts of another. Since God has done many wonderful deeds, He is worthy of praise (Psalm 18:3).

Worship, however, comes from a different place within our spirits. Worship should be reserved for God alone (Luke 4:8). Worship is the art of losing self in the adoration of another. Praise can be a part of worship, but worship goes beyond praise. Praise is easy; worship is not. Worship gets to the heart of who we are. To truly worship God, we must let go of our self-worship. We must be willing to humble ourselves before God, surrender every part of our lives to His control, and adore Him for who He is, not just what He has done. Worship is a lifestyle, not just an occasional activity. Jesus said the Father is seeking those who will worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).

In Scripture, praise is usually presented as boisterous, joyful, and uninhibited. God invites praise of all kinds from His creation. Jesus said that if people don’t praise God, even the “stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40). When the Bible mentions worship, however, the tone changes. We read verses like, “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 96:9). And, “Come let us worship and bow down” (Psalm 95:6). Often, worship is coupled with the act of bowing or kneeling, which shows humility and contrition (2 Chronicles 29:28; Hebrews 11:21; Revelation 19:10). It is through true worship that we invite the Holy Spirit to speak to us, convict us, and comfort us. Through worship, we realign our priorities with God’s and acknowledge Him once more as the rightful Lord of our lives.

Just as praise is intertwined with thanksgiving, worship is intertwined with surrender. It is impossible to worship God and anything else at the same time (Luke 4:8). The physical acts often associated with worship—bowing, kneeling, lifting hands—help to create the necessary attitude of humility required for real worship. Wise worship leaders know how to structure a worship service to allow participants to both praise and worship the Lord. Often, services begin with joyous praise songs and transition to a quieter, more introspective opportunity for worship.

Worship is an attitude of the heart. A person can go through the outward motions and not be worshiping (Psalm 51:16-17; Matthew 6:5-6). God sees the heart, and He desires and deserves sincere, heartfelt praise and worship.

Appointing Bishops: Instruction From the Teachings of the Apostles

This is the 15th out of 16 Teachings of the Apostles found in what is known as the Didache, a writing that is said to have originated in the Community of Believers in Christ before Paul was sent on His journey.

The Apostles could not maintain a presence in every place they visited and planted a church so they had to enlist people who were in the Spirit to lead the people.   

This portion is all too familiar for some and will probably surprise others. Once again we see them saying that the appointed leader should be humble, not be attached to money (all funds go to the church with little going into the leaders pocket), transparent, and knowledgeable. Once appointed they should be treated as the congregation wishes to be treated and not looked upon with evil intent. The portion reads:

Appoint bishops for yourselves, as well as deacons, worthy of the Lord, of meek disposition, unattached to money, truthful and proven; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. Do not despise them, after all, for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers.

 A Servant Leader

The appointed bishop should fall under the same category as other leaders where care is given. They have a responsibility to the deacons as instructor of deeper meanings so the deacons can grow as well as make Disciples of all men. The deacons need to be well versed in all aspects of care which means the bishop should have served as a deacon as well.

 Unattached to Money

The Love of money is the root of all evil. To afford an opportunity for a bishop to fall, give him control of the money. That is what we are NOT supposed to do. There should be no contact between any higher head of the church and the funds that are given for the Glory of God to conduct missions and take care of other building and program needs. The bishop can hear about it but money should not be the only concern.

 Transparent

We are all human, we make mistakes, and we have skeletons. How many times did God appoint a person who sinned, was forgiven and given a second chance through making the person a prophet, a priest/pastor, or other type of religious leader? When going through the rigors of election to a position, it is best to be open and honest. If you are deemed worthy to speak God’s Word to a flock then you are good to go. When making the final decision, consult God. He knows where He wants His shepherds

Given Honor but Not Glory 

To God be all Glory, no one else. The bishop has many responsibilities. Some of which are passed down to others who do the work. Gratitude is received with humility and the Glory is given to God. The mission of the church is to learn, love, and grow in Christ so we can become Disciples and share the Word with the world. The head of the church is responsible for giving the go ahead with the mission while those chosen for the mission implement the plan. They are not to be despised for to despise them is to despise God. He supplied them with the Spiritual Gift and others with other Spiritual Gifts. Do not hate on the chosen because you were not. Do not despise the bishop for choosing others above you. God has a mission for you, have patience.

This portion reiterates one very important aspect of Christian leadership that many falter on, money. God does not want us dependent on the world and His shepherds doubly so. I am not saying that leaders should be paupers or totally dependent on the flock for survival but they should not have certain worries or be tempted by desires that pull them away from the study and announcement of the Word.

How often do we see churches fall when they are consumed with money and numbers in the church. The concern should be the spiritual welfare of the community not how much individuals put in the offering plate. Also, a church that closes its main doors without someone left outside to welcome the late comers or those who come up but are frightened on how others will look at them because it is the first time for them in a church is not a church concerned with saving souls. Be watchful of those types of churches.

Brothers and Sisters we near the end of the study of the Didache as there is only one portion left. The next portion talks about Last Things. You will be surprised to note how eerily similar it is to today’s world.

Repentance: Parable of the Fig Tree

ADVENTURES IN THE PARABLES Fig TreeJesus loved using analogies for the Kingdom and what is required to enter. Right before sharing the Parable of the fig tree he was speaking first about how sin leads to death and repentance leads to life. What was He trying to tell them? Living a life in sin equals death but living in and for God equals life.

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” Luke 13:6-9

This man had a fig tree planted among vines. It was a lonely fig tree and was not bearing fruit because the grapes were taking most of the nutrients needed for the fig tree to flower and give fruit. Maybe the tree was not mature enough to do what it is supposed to do. Maybe it was seeking nutrients but could not find them.

The fig tree is representing a sinner who knows of God in a sea of sinners who refuse, due to their love of the world. The corruption of man and the perversion of the Word has people confused so they cannot truly bear fruit. The man sees the tree and wants it destroyed. The devil will take you down if you stay in your ways. Repenting and replenishing the nutrients with the truth will bring forth life which is what the vinedresser tells the man.

But the vinedresser cares for the tree, gives it the nourishment needed and it will bear fruit as it sees it is different what the fruit is picked it will share with others and possibly plant seeds as well. Jesus is sharing the Word (nourishment) so that our spirit is fed and we can bear the fruit (repent) and share our faith with others.

Jesus is telling those who were around Him that they must receive the Word as it is meant to be heard and repent of their sins so that they will not die the final death but have eternal life. Now He gave it a time period which is saying that the time we have on this earth is short and we need to stay in the Word to make it through and bear fruit for we will surely be cut down if we continue in our sinful ways.

Bottom line is this. Repent of our sins and trust in God that He will continue to nourish us through His Word. We must stay in His Word so that we can bear fruit through its sharing because if we do not, we will be cut down and suffer death never to see the light of God again.

Time To Worship

Every minute of every day is a time to worship. It really depends on the type of worship you are doing but if it is glorifying God it is worship. My daughter Katrina and her friend Kyle were challenged by me the other night and 15 minutes after the challenge was issued, this is the result:

Not boasting or bragging but they sure do sound pretty good together. And yes I am playing the shaker in the background.

 

God Never Gives Up On His People

“For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” (Rom. 11:21-22)                                    (Emphasis added)

Brothers and Sisters,

       Israel is still God’s Chosen people. God never rejected Israel in favor of the church. That is a man- made doctrine that became official in the 4th century. However, this idea was around way before thanks to Claudius removing Jews from Rome within the 20 years after Jesus ascended.

Gentle reminder here: Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph who are both of Israeli descent. God brought Jesus into the world as the Incarnate Word whose mission was to correct the fallible man-made traditions of the Sanhedrin and bring people back to God so that they could share the Gospel with the world. It was the Jews (and some Gentiles) who received the Great Commission. Therefore, the original Christians are from the Tribes of Israel with a small batch of Gentile believers.

As the Word spread through the Great Commission so did the beginning of Anti-Semitism within certain Christian populations mostly due to political leaders who were hateful of them. When Claudius removed the Jews from Rome they took all their scrolls with them which left most of the teachings through tradition and word of mouth from what the Gentiles remembered from the teachings. Unfortunately this meant that the early Roman Christians were just as guilty as the Sanhedrin for replacing God’s Word with man’s invention and mixed paganist ideologies within.    

Knowing this, Paul wrote to the Christians and the Jews alike in Rome.

Moreover, if their stumbling is bringing riches to the world — that is, if Israel’s being placed temporarily in a condition less favored than that of the Gentiles is bringing riches to the latter — how much greater riches will Israel in its fullness bring them!

 However, to those of you who are Gentiles I say this: since I myself am an emissary sent to the Gentiles, I make known the importance of my work in the hope that somehow I may provoke some of my own people to jealousy and save some of them! For if their casting Yeshua aside means reconciliation for the world, what will their accepting him mean? It will be life from the dead! (Romans 11:12-15)

Paul is reminding them that the Scriptures (Old Testament) are still manly meant for God’s People Israel, yet with the change in conditions brought forth through Christ. This is something we simply and truly cannot deny.

We did not replace the People Israel as God’s Chosen but added to the Elect by adoption through the Blood of Christ. Besides, there are many prophesies in Scripture that specifically state the forgiveness and restoration of Israel before the time of the end of which many have come to pass. We cannot deny that God is working on full restoration. He is working on us every day.  

Preparing for Worship: Didache 14

This is the 14th out of 16 Teachings of the Apostles found in what is known as the Didache, a writing that is said to have originated in the Community of Believers in Christ before Paul was sent on His journey. 

This teaching of the Apostles has some difficulties. As Christians today celebrate the Lord’s Day on Sunday, the early Christians celebrated on God’s Sabbath Day. There was no change to the day before Sunday was established as the Lord’s Day by the Roman Catholic Church.

Up to this point everything taught in the Didache has been clearly in accordance with what we know from what Jesus taught in the Gospels. Not much is known about all the teachings during the 40 days He spent with the Apostles after being raised from the dead but we can guess He discussed with them worship as well as deeper life lessons. This discussion on the Lord’s Day mixes certain Tabernacle and Synagogue traditions that continued to be practiced because of being a sect of Judaism. There are pieces missing from this translation that leave much to conjecture and leaves the reader curious to find out if the document was at one time tampered with.

On the Lord’s day, gather yourselves together and break bread, give thanks, but first
confess your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure.
However, let no one who is at odds with his brother come together with you, until
he has reconciled, so that your sacrifice may not be profaned.
For this is what the Lord has said: “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my
name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the of hosts. . . . For I am a
great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name is reverenced among the nations.” DIDACHE 14

So the first two lines are in concert with the Gospels which we know to be true. Jesus tells us to confess our sins before we enter into His courts with praise. We should have no outstanding issues with anyone that clouds our minds with things that set us apart from God. According to Matthew, Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.” (Matt.5:23-25)

In the Gospels, Jesus never spoke of worshiping Him but maintaining worship of God. In fact the only thing that Jesus said to do in His name was to baptize. The thing I have issues with here is Jesus saying the incense offered to His Name. This is meant for God alone. To offer this causes Jesus worship. Incense was used in the Jewish Temple practices to call upon the Lord of Hosts. It was also used to confuse the demons so they would not enter the Lord’s presence.

What do we do with this knowledge. First we do recognize that Jesus returned to the Father as the mediator between us and God. Secondly, we recognize that Jesus is the Word incarnate so we do worship Him but only as the Savior and final sacrifice needed to reestablish the right teachings of the Word which has returned to God’s presence and joins Him when called through the incense. Thing is though, God is ever present thanks to that great sacrifice so the incense is only needed to cleanse the place of the evil one. Yes we celebrate Jesus as King but one that does not demand our worship but invites us. Staying in God’s Word provides for worship in every moment of every hour whether in darkness or light.

So how do we correct this? Every time we gather together, let no one who is at odds with his brother come together with you, until he has reconciled, so that your offering may not be profaned then confess your sins so that your offering may be pure, break bread and give thanks. For our God is great and His Word is what gives us life. In other words, truly forgive those who wronged you and ask for forgiveness from who you have wronged.

Forgiveness between mankind is an integral part of receiving God’s forgiveness because of our sins against Him. His Grace and Mercy provide for that forgiveness but we still are accountable and need to be in obedience to His Word. The Word is from God and our very breath is also of God. He is our oxygen, our blood, every muscle. Without Him we are just skin and bone, dust, and will return to the earth and die in darkness. With God there is hope. Where are you?

The Foolishness of Hoarding Earthly Riches

The Rich Fool

Jesus spoke about many different aspects of worldly things and how those need to change in order to get back to God. In the Parable of the Rich Fool, Jesus speaks of a materialist who hoarded things that made himself lazy, paying more attention to the world and less of God. He has no concern for the ramifications of his eternal soul.

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21 (ESV)

A Prosperous Man

Jesus begins by introducing us to an unnamed materially rich person who had so much that he had nowhere to put his earthly belongings. Back then, wealth was measured by monetary means, crops, and livestock. Though money was still not a high priority it was there and was only for the super-rich and those in positions of power. We can think of this man in terms of a wealthy landowner with a very large plantation. While it is good to prosper and live comfortably it is bad to have too much and keep it all to oneself.

A Progressive Man

He has so much, but his barns are too small. What to do?? Build bigger so he can store more stuff. How much does one person need? Rich people build sky high structures so that their material storehouses are filled with all their personal amassed wealth and show their greatness. The wealth is not just material but how many people they have control over.    

A Self-Seeking Man

This man had the idea that if he stores everything and only gets things out as needed then he can live without worry. He has so much stuff and just the right amount of servants to appease his every need. This man never desires to lift a finger ever again and has become self-serving, lazy, a man of his own design.

A God-forgetting Man

This laziness causes the man to forget who provided for him the ability to gain such wealth. He turns to enjoy his sinful nature and is not worshiping nor praising God. He is not giving thanks to the Creator who gave him the knowledge to gain the provisions. This person becomes delusional because the temptations of the material world have taken him so far as to complete forgetfulness of God and his heart is filled with greed and selfishness, which clouds his mind to believe that he is his own success and denies God. 

Called by God a Fool

John explains the worldly fool in his first letter saying, “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If someone loves the world, then love for the Father is not in him; because all the things of the world — the desires of the old nature, the desires of the eyes, and the pretensions of life — are not from the Father but from the world. And the world is passing away, along with its desires. But whoever does God’s will remains forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

In this parable, the worldliness of the man cost him his life because he no longer cared for matters of the spirit. He was concerned with his pitiful temporary existence on the sand, dirt, and water. His life was sinking in the sand because his spiritual foundation had left him. This man apparently had no heir so it was all meaningless and would end up going to support people he does not know until it runs out. That very night, the man died and he was not prepared.

Entered Eternity Unprepared

The man entered into the next life without the knowledge of God. His disobedience to the simplest of God’s Laws left him in a place that he was not prepared to go.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

His heart was in the wrong place and filled with torment that gave him false hope. No mortal man lives forever no matter who you think you may be. Yes we have ways now of prolonging life but God still has the final say. One can live a long happy life in Christ and reap the heavenly reward or live a long life with false hope using all the manmade medical advances, cheating death but those too will fail and lead to condemnation. It is better to live for God and die happily knowing that you will be in the loving embrace of God than to live a life for yourself and die without truly knowing God.