Reconciliation

O the Blessedness of the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God  Matthew 5:9

What a great quality of the heart is seeking peace. In fact the primary importance of the spiritual heart is having a peaceful existence with others. A person with a peaceful heart is a healing heart always seeking to obtain completeness and wholeness of self and those around him/her.

A person who strives to have a peaceful heart does not seek war or any strife but is seeking a peaceful reconciliation with those who have wronged or have been wronged at one point in the person’s life. The greatest reconciliation is between God and Man.

So, since we have come to be considered righteous by God because of our trust, let us continue to have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus the Messiah. Romans 5:1

We are reconciled through the saving grace and mercy found in the sacrifice of Jesus. There is no other way that we as human can obtain this blessing but through Him. However, once accepted, we are now obligated to no longer seek causing strife with others but to do our best to have peaceful relationships with mankind. We are also charged with seeking peaceful resolutions between others through the sharing of our faith and life in Jesus Christ. That is the way we demonstrate who we belong to.

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Romans 5:10

If we stay in the world our lives will be full of strife far above necessary but if we take the strife and deal with it in a godly manner then we are showing that we are children of God. Yes we will have pain and suffering in our life but if we depend on the healer as Lord and Savior instead of trying to deal with all things on our own we claim our dependence and freedom all in the same moment.

Independence in the world means death. Dependence on God means life. Independence in the world continues our slavery to sin. Dependence on God equals freedom from the bonds of sin. Dependence on God gives us our place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Dependence on the self keeps us apart from God.

Would you like to be reconciled with God and reignite the relationship that was lost due to sin? Would you like to be known as a child of God? It is a difficult direction to go because of our current life but the rewards are so much greater. Believe on Jesus and be dependent in Him. He will show you what it truly means to be free. Following His example and live the life as He desires for us and you will have peace. 

God’s Grace Is Forever

The Grace of God has covered mankind since creation itself. Many think that only believers in Christ are covered by God’s Grace, they are wrong. The mission of all Christians is to turn people back to God through His Grace and the Mercy of Jesus. This is also encouraged by Christians thinking that Jews are covered under the Mosaic Law and the Ten Commandments and those things are not necessary under Grace. Wow are they wrong.

When the Bible is translated sometimes certain words are changed due to the translators ideas or basic theology. The Psalms are sometimes changed so much that certain meanings and truths are lost. In Psalm 136, many English translations say that His Love endures forever. The Hebrew text gives a more encompassing word that gives new meaning and a better understanding of the Covenant Promises. Below is Psalm 136 with the translation from the Complete Jewish Bible.

Give thanks to Adonai, for he is good, for his grace continues forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his grace continues forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his grace continues forever; to him who alone has done great wonders, for his grace continues forever; to him who skillfully made the heavens, for his grace continues forever; to him who spread out the earth on the water, for his grace continues forever; to him who made the great lights, for his grace continues forever; the sun to rule the day, for his grace continues forever; the moon and stars to rule the night, for his grace continues forever; to him who struck down Egypt’s firstborn, for his grace continues forever; and brought Isra’el out from among them, for his grace continues forever; with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, for his grace continues forever; to him who split apart the Sea of Suf, for his grace continues forever; and made Isra’el cross right through it, for his grace continues forever; but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Sea of Suf, for his grace continues forever; to him who led his people through the desert, for his grace continues forever; to him who struck down great kings, for his grace continues forever; yes, he slaughtered powerful kings, for his grace continues forever; Sichon king of the Emori, for his grace continues forever; and ‘Og king of Bashan, for his grace continues forever; then he gave their land as a heritage, for his grace continues forever; to be possessed by Isra’el his servant, for his grace continues forever; who remembers us whenever we are brought low, for his grace continues forever; and rescues us from our enemies, for his grace continues forever; who provides food for every living creature, for his grace continues forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his grace continues forever.Psalm 136:1-26

Notice how mood and emphasis changes when you read the word grace instead of the word love. God’s Grace is all encompassing and Scripture grants us a look into how all things from the deep past through today are all covered by His Grace. By His Grace he gave them the Commandments to live a right life. By His Grace Moses was given the laws and statutes for basic, healthy, and godly living. Let’s look at the Mosaic and New Covenants for their similarities.

Covenants Are Made Through God’s Grace

God made covenants with mankind. When we talk about Grace vs. Works many point to the Mosaic Covenant and state the different between being under law and being under grace. The problem is that we do not see the similarities between the covenants and understand that the Mosaic Covenant is covered by God’s Grace as well.
Both are based on Substitution of an innocent for the guilty.

God’s Grace is demonstrated clearly in both because the guilty human lives while an innocent, sinless being dies in his or her place. The old system of sacrifice was sufficient for the people if their mind was in the right place and they were truly sorry for their sins. This sorrow leads to the need to repent which when true, works.
Both require repentance of the sinner for the sacrifice to be effectual.

Repentance of sin is the only thing that makes the sacrifice work. One can believe in Jesus and say that he or she is saved but without repenting of all sins, Jesus will not recognize you nor defend you. True repentance is an action because words and feelings are not sufficient for true repentance to take place.
Complete life changes are required for repentance to be real.

For true repentance, a person must be fully honest with themselves and actively remove all the things that cause the sin in their life to occur. All past transgressions must end. It may take a complete life change but when you look at the consequences of sin, true repentance is a better choice.

We all have heard the saying, “His Grace is enough”, and that is true to a point. God’s Grace is enough for us to desire to make positive changes in our lives to affect positive changes in the lives of others. This positive change occurs when sin no longer controls our lives.

Both covenants are under Grace but one had led to the other and is still in effect with minor changes. Jesus did not come to abolish the law but fulfill it. He came to take the need for the Mosaic Covenant sacrifices away. He took the Abrahamic Covenant and modified it. He came to become the final sacrifice and open the veil so that we had a closer communion with God.

What Does That Mean For Us

First that means that we need to treat the Jewish population with more kindness and stop feelings of anti-Semitism. They are lost because they had to adjust to no longer sacrificing innocent animals. They understand the need for repentance and have the heart but they are still waiting for the Earthly Messiah. We need to help them understand that the Messiah is here and they need to read Isaiah 53 (coming up is a discussion on that text) to understand that Jesus is the Messiah they are waiting for.

We are obligated to do our best to follow the Ten Commandments even though we know we will fail. We are obligated to truly repent and change our lives by fighting back the temptations and sins, living for God through the teachings of Scripture. The real question is, do you know the difference between just believing and being in Christ? Jesus and His Disciples followed the commands of Scripture except what was revealed to be man-made and made for man. Our bodies became His swelling place, His temple. Our lives are transformed as we turn back to God.

Brothers and Sisters be in constant prayer and communion with God. Share your faith walk with others. Do not fear man for they can only hurt your flesh.

In God’s Love,

Rob, Servant of God

Satisfying the Needs of the Soul

O the blessedness of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied Matthew 5:6

What does spiritual hunger and thirst really mean? To have physical need for nourishment means that the body is wearing down because it lacks the nutrients and chemicals found in food and drink to function properly. So it is with the soul. Our heart from the spiritual perspective has certain needs to truly make us alive. That need is the righteousness of God which truly satisfies the heart.

Hungry for Spiritual Food

The word hunger depicts a deep craving or longing. There is a desire within each of us for knowledge and wisdom. Some seek worldly and are temporarily satisfied and do not understand why they never truly feel complete. Then there are those who seek spiritual knowledge and wisdom. These are the ones who hunger for righteousness seek the divine righteousness that we are given by grace through faith in Jesus. This is a true intention of the heart as the reliance on this food is the reliance only upon God to meet our needs. Seeking God’s righteousness means that material things, though necessary for survival, are not absolutes and will not fully satisfy the longing of the spirit to be with the Father again.

Thirsting for the Living God

The word thirst is that painful need for water to stay alive. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are those who seek to know, believe in, trust, and have faith in Jesus who is the bread of life (the Word) and grants us access to the Living Water. Water is life. Our bodies need water to survive. Not just that it needs replenishment of minerals and other things found in the water that help is move. Water is the main ingredient in plasma that moves the blood cells so that the nutrients can get to where they need to go. Living Water is that which brings life eternal. Without this living water, our spirits cannot move.

This Truly is a MATTER of the HEART
God tells Joshua in his commission to lead Israel that he needs to Keep the Word on the heart not just in it. Keeping the Word on our hearts creates that barrier from the world to take over our needs and desires and provides for the Word to be in our heart so that it is what we rely on to live. What do we seek first? We are told that we should seek first the Kingdom of God for that is where true living and happiness is.

St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Which is more right, seeking spiritual experiences, material blessings, signs of the miraculous, knowledge and wisdom, or seeking the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God alone truly satisfies the heart, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt 6:33). The Humble Heart Seeks God for only in Him will there be peace.

The Compassionate Shepherd

ADVENTURES IN THE PARABLES lost sheepMy people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold. Jeremiah 50:6

There were folks in the religious hierarchy that loved to confront Jesus. Their idea of the Word was corrupted by man-made traditions and practices that had manipulated God’s Word for their purposes and not God’s. Often, they confronted Jesus trying to get Him to slip up and say something that would condemn Him. No matter how they tried they were the ones getting the lesson and were confronted with their own mistakes and misgivings. They were the ones who were lost. Not just those in the hierarchy but all Israel was lost and Jesus even told them as, He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24). 

Bringing The Lost Sheep Home

His compassion was first for the chosen people of the Father to bring them home again. We know that this was going to be very hard especially since the people wanted earthly freedom from their oppressors and evidently were not really concerned with spiritual things. But God beats all odds and can get right to the heart.

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:3-7

Jesus, the Great Shepherd, gives this account of searching, saving, and rejoicing. Even more, we can clearly see a picture of salvation in these verses that we do not want to miss today. Even though this was meant for the People Israel, we can clearly see the redemption and salvation that God gives by His Grace and Mercy through putting everything else aside, sacrificing the safety of the rest just to find and rescue one. Jesus lifts us up so we do not have to tread in the waters or the thorns of the world alone. All heaven rejoices even when just one comes to know the Lord and returns home.

The Heart Condition

We are lost to God because of sin. He knows the lost condition of humanity and of our hearts which were given in to sin. But you see, God sent Jesus to rescue and redeem us, to discover and help us choose to repent and change the condition of our heart. All of God’s children are precious to Him, yes even the hardened sinner. We are loved so much. He professed His love in John 3:16, then Paul reminds us how He showed His Love in Romans 5:6-8.

We Are Valued

Like I said, we are precious to Him. Luke 19:10 states, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Brothers and Sisters, we are not something that is created and left to rot. We are created to love and care for one another just as He loves us. He loves us so much that He died as the final blood sacrifice. The innocent given to replace us for our sins. Our value is found in every drop of the Saviors blood which was shed so we could live.

At What Cost

The last line in the Parable speaks volumes on what is needed from us. Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Yes we are saved by Grace but there is still certain obligations. These obligations have not changed since Abraham. Better yet, these obligations have not changed since Abel. We are obligated to Keep His Word on our hearts because our strength comes from His Word. We must repent and not return to our sinful, worldly ways. God continually waits for us in patient love but if we cannot give up the world then we are forever lost to Him. It is our choice though God will continually fight for us. Jesus gave us the examples of Kingdom living and He did it outside the world. He showed us what true love is. He showed us what true compassion is. He thoroughly explained what it is to live for the Father and this generation has thrown it away. We are not perfect so we must depend on His Grace and Mercy but not without making the commitment to giving up the things that keep us away from Him.

Are you willing to peek out so He can find you or will you stay hidden and lost?
The Parable of the Lost Sheep is a tale of a lot more than just one lost person. It is the lost people Israel and the hope for redemption and salvation of all people.

Heartache: Blessed are Those Who Morn

O the blessedness of those who mourn, for they shall be comforted
Matthew 5:4

When someone leaves this world there is a period of mourning that occurs by those who are left to suffer. When we mourn we are actually mourning our condition which is still mortal while rejoicing that the one who past is (we hope) now in a better place. How can someone rejoice when in sorrow? There is a feeling of loss, a tender moment that cuts to the heart, but in that moment is also a sense of relief that the pain and suffering the person had while here, is gone.

So it is with sin. When we repent we are showing our sorrow that we have lived a life outside of the arms of God. The godly sorrow that results from the mourning of repentance is the step required to move towards eternal happiness. God grieves over this lost world so God comforts those who mourn in the separation so He may give them encouragement and strength to make it through this life.

The Psalmist says, “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) How blessed are those who seek God in their pain. Those who recognize their sinful nature and repent are much better off than those who deny their sins and refuse the comfort that comes in repentance. They will not be comforted for those who deny that sin is wrong will taste death, which is permanent separation from God.

We are saved by grace through faith because we cannot save ourselves from the death that is the result of our sinful nature. We have the choice to be believe and be saved or not to believe and suffer for all eternity. To those who choose life, “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven (1 Cor 15:49)”.

The site, hebrew4christians.com says this to speak the opposite of our verse this week: “O the misery of those who love this world, for they will receive no consolation in the world to come.” If you stay in the world you will be in and of the world and pass away, those who abide in the Word and the Will of God will live forever.

Keep His Word (Unless you deny everything Christ died for)

 

The world opened their heart to Dr. Charles Stanley and he has done so much in so many lives but he could not keep his son from denying the need for Scripture.  In a sermon from Andy Stanley, he denies the need for the Old Testament and says that the only thing we need to understand, know, and believe, is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The way the sermon reads is that everything that Scripture (that is, Old Testament) says is unnecessary for our salvation. He is bluntly denying our Father. He even states that the Scripture is only meant for the Jews; wait what??? Jesus did not come to destroy the Law, He came to fulfill. This means that we are still bound. Jesus is the Word made flesh and He came and ministered first to the Jews to put them back on track. It was their understanding of the Scriptures that enabled them to understand the need for the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.

 

You cannot fully comprehend everything Jesus said and did without an understanding of the past events and circumstances that led up to His birth. That being said, one must have an understanding of the developments, the covenants made, the history, and the story of God as it is told in the Old Testament to fully comprehend the reason we believe. That is like saying that the great structures and artistic representations of the world are there and just taking by faith that they exist. Someone had to have the idea, the blueprint/sketch, the knowledge of what materials to use to create it and give it meaning.

 

To understand why Jesus did what He did we need to know the reason for it. The fact that forgiveness is found in the flowing of innocent blood dates back to the time of Adam. The mark of faith was sealed in the circumcision of Abraham. The Day of Atonement was established by God through Moses. The need of sustaining the Word is given through the commission of Joshua. Faith and trust in God was described and demonstrated in the victory over Goliath. The need for maintaining faith and trust in God is demonstrated in the description of what happened every time the Israelites did their own thing. The list goes on and on of why we need the Scripture to understand why Jesus came.  

 

Now this is not the first time a popular pastor has denied some part of the belief system in favor of only one thing necessary for our salvation. In the past 200 years there have been more than I can count on my fingers and toes but guess what, the Word cannot be denied. They have died and most of their memories have faded but the Word has remained and its truth is unchanged. God is still God, David still killed Goliath, and Adam and Eve still made the choice that took down the path which we live today.

 

The Apostle Paul who persecuted Christians even noted the need for understanding Scripture to get the full grasp on why Jesus had to die. The explanation is simple: The flesh had to be destroyed so that the Word could live. The ascended person of Jesus showed the world the result of living with the Word ruling the heart, soul, and mind.

 

So, all this to say that we need the whole Word not just the resurrection occurrence to truly be saved. Yes we need to follow the example of Jesus but to follow His example we have to know what He is demonstrating. We are saved by Grace because we cannot be perfect followers, it is against human nature but we must persevere and give our best to follow God’s Word in our lives daily. Trusting in His mercy that we may become faithful followers through suffering and a fearful respect of the One who gave us life.  God grants us the provisions to be strong and courageous when standing in this world but under the condition of keeping His Word on our heart.

 

 “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:7-9

 

Jesus emphasized the need for this, all the Apostles reiterated it, some modern pastors deny it. Who will you believe????

 

I Promise: Two Words That God Does Not Need From Us

Have you ever made a vow or a promise with God and not kept it? You have deceived yourself and angered God. The writer of Ecclesiastes speaks on this in the first part of the fifth chapter saying:
Don’t speak impulsively — don’t be in a hurry
to give voice to your words before God.
For God is in heaven, and you are on earth;
so let your words be few.
For nightmares come from worrying too much;
and a fool, when he speaks, chatters too much.
If you make a vow to God, don’t delay in discharging it. For God takes no pleasure in fools, so discharge your vow! Better not to make a vow than to make a vow and not discharge it. Don’t let your words make you guilty, and don’t tell the temple official that you made the vow by mistake. Why give God reason to be angry at what you say and destroy what you have accomplished? For [this is what happens when there are too] many dreams, aimless activities and words. Instead, just fear God! Ecclesiastes 5:1-6 (CJB)

We have been taught that God is slow to anger but this is one of those things He detests, the lying tongue. All too often when people are in a rut, need something repaired or forgiven, they vow to make things right in an “if/then” scenario. Those are tests that God does not need us to start. Instead of making a vow, put your trust in God through your faith that He will get you through the things in life that you bring to Him in prayer. Anyone can promise to try to be a better person but the truth is we will fail unless we have the knowledge and understanding that God’s Love and faith in us is where things really matter. He has a never ending love for us and we return that love by being faithful without promises or self-inflicted tests that we would not really pass even when giving it our best shot.

Vows That Humble

Think for a moment the vows in Scripture that caused anguish. The warrior, Jephthah, vowed to sacrifice the first thing that came out to meet him after a battle ended up sacrificing his own daughter. Hannah vowed to give her only child to the service of God. She was in anguish but God used that to her eventual benefit. Kings made vows that ended badly. Now some were losses to people while others ended up benefiting the nation.

There are times in our lives where we make desperate pleas to God that end up being vows to get us out of messes, I am not innocent on that account. God does make good on things but sometimes at what we would see as a cost because of the testing. Our best bet is to not let the words, “I promise”, or “I vow”, to exit our thoughts and mouths in prayer. Instead, Ask God’s forgiveness and take your troubles to God in prayer with the faith and trust that no matter what the issue is, God will get you through it.

A Gentle Reminder

God may make you go through some tough things but do not worry for they are for the benefit of His plan for you and for others in your life. Do not speak in desperation things that may actually cause more strife nor of things you know you cannot keep. Just give all our worries and pains to God for that is the best way to get our minds in the right place so we can be open to His plan and make things right through His guidance. Our lives are not our own but God encourages us to make choices and decisions that will work for the spiritual benefit of humankind.

May today be the day that you begin to no longer vow or promise things to God but put your entire faith and trust in Him alone that He will guide you to make the right decisions and cause your actions to be for the Glory of His Kingdom not our own. Brothers and Sisters, have a great and blessed day today and every day. Speak of God’s grace and mercy in your life and keep His Word on your heart and lips so that others may know the joy that He brings. Our suffering will not last long but take joy in sorrow and live for Him because He Lives in you.

God’s Love and Grace to you,
Rob

Sin Hurts More Than The Sinner

I’m going to tackle a very touchy subject that needs to be discussed. Before I begin, I confess that I myself have sinned and have seen the devastating effect that sin has on my own family and those around me. Sin can cause much grief, a loss of trust, bitterness, anxiety, displacement, and many other things. The point being, sin will cause an emotional upheaval that has physical ramifications in this world and spiritual ramifications in the next if there is no repentance and forgiveness. The story of Achan in the Book of Joshua shows the worst of what can happen to sinners when it causes many to suffer.

7 But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.

Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few.” So about three thousand men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water.

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?”

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. 12 Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. 13 Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” 14 In the morning therefore you shall be brought nearby your tribes. And the tribe that the Lord takes by lot shall come nearby clans. And the clan that the Lord takes shall come nearby households. And the household that the Lord takes shall come near man by man. 15 And he who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he has done an outrageous thing in Israel.’”

16 So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel near tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17 And he brought near the clans of Judah, and the clan of the Zerahites was taken. And he brought near the clan of the Zerahites man by man, and Zabdi was taken. 18 And he brought near his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20 And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23 And they took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel. And they laid them down before the Lord. 24 And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor (trouble). Joshua 7

What Can We Learn From This?

Sin Committed (v.20-21) The Course of Sin                                                                               And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. ..

Achan was enticed by the riches in the plundering from a battle and took a portion which was not allowed. His desire for material things outweighed his obedience to the commands of God. 

Sins come in many forms. Sin is disobedience of God’s Word. It is the choice of being disobedient from Adam and Eve that caused sin to enter the world. Disobedience leads to disappointment and possible disownment especially from those whom the sin is against. 

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:15 (ESV)

Temptation (action or emotion not from God) is a hard thing to walk away from because of the many forms it comes in. We all have experienced temptation in one form or another more than once in our lives. Some temptations seem innocent until enticement increases then it becomes something that you can no longer remove yourself from. It becomes sin.

Sin Concealed (v.21) Covering of sin                                                                                             And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

Achan had no choice but to hide what he had stolen so that no one else would know but as we read above. God knew Achan’s sin and had already affected the lives of many in fact he caused the death of 36 men. He caused pain suffering and mourning because the loss trickled down to the most innocent; all because of one man’s disobedience.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy Proverbs 28:13 (ESV)

Concealing sin is detrimental to one’s health. Not just the person but all those around whom the sin is against. In fact, concealed sin causes a person to act in ways that change the person outlook and some that notice will start asking questions. One thing is for sure, it is better to confess than to be found out. 

Sin Unearthed (v.22) Confrontation                                                                                                  So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath.

When uncovering sinfulness, it is best for the sinner to confess the sin before it is discovered. If another person had found the stuff that Achan hid, the resulting retribution may have been even more disastrous than it was. The effects of sin that are discovered before confession makes the resulting adverse actions worse for all involved both emotionally and physically.

But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23 (ESV)

Sins will be discovered. Sins against others, especially in marriages cannot stay hidden long and will be discovered or revealed in one way or another. When that happens it takes a long time for trust between partners to be regained, sometimes years, if ever.

Sin’s Retribution (v.25) Condemnation                                                                                     And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones.

God’s retribution required Achan’s family to suffer along with him. This is an extreme example but I believe it gets the point across on the ramifications of sin. However, there is relief. Because of Jesus, our punishments have lessened in this life but some for cultures, the severity of the sin still requires physical death without chance for repentance. 

For it is because of these things that God’s anger is coming on those who disobey him. Colossians 3:6 (ESV)

We are living in a time where good is evil and evil is good. The earth is trembling due to our disobedience. Every soul, whether faithful or not, will suffer during this time because the faithful have not truly stood up. Society calls it progress. How can it be progress when certain things go against nature?

For ourselves when we sin, we must confess, repent, ask forgiveness, and accept the ramifications that come from how the sin effected others. It may take a while for forgiveness and some may never forgive but we still must get our hearts right with God.

If we do not follow the Great Commission and live a right life the best we can, God’s wrath is going to be devastating even before the Great Judgement. We will see good friends who we did not open the floor of discussing God, suffer and die because they know Him not. What about all those who are openly sinning because the new moral majority are actually the immoral foolish ones. Are we not just as guilty if we do not try to save even one. 

Seven Deadly Sins?

In the 4th Century C.E., there was a mystic who made a list of eight principle vices. Evagrius Ponticus inspired John Cassian who was a monk who wrote on these vices. Pope Gregory I in the 6th Century changed these into the seven deadly or cardinal sins of Roman Catholic theological thought. The list is a simplified overview as many sins are involved in each one listed, they are: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth. As you can see the list appears to be a generalization from which many other sins follow. Thing is, the Bible does not specify a list of seven sins.
We all know that there is One unforgivable sin and that all sin leads to death. Blasphemy against the Spirit or denouncing God (Matthew 12:31) is unforgivable but all other sin can be forgiven. Listing Seven Deadly Sins is a way to remind people that continuing in these sins means death but turning to God and leaving the sinfulness behind leads to life when one believes, trusts, and is faithful through Jesus (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

Proverbs mentions actions and thoughts that the Father hates and are an abomination: There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV

Paul gives numerous examples of things of the world to remove from your life: But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Colossians 3:8 ESV

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 ESV

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

The list goes on and on. Paul spelled out the wrongs of the individual towns to make a point. There are many things of the world that God finds as sins against Him. Here is one major thing to notice, all these things are found in the 10 Commandments and the Statutes (Moral/Ethical Laws). Yes we need listings of sins but when it boils down to it, failing to abide by the Ten Commandments leads to death. We are incapable of always abiding by them, that is where Jesus comes in. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. James 2:10 ESV                                        Only accepting Christ and changing our lives leads to life. His sacrifice paid for our sins in full.

Living the Best We Can for God
You see, God has a plan for you. Though this message was specific towards Jeremiah, God is with us all when He says,
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
What is required of us is to guard ourselves from our sinfulness and live a right life the best we can for:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ESV

We should replace the sins with the fruits of the spirit, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness Galatians 5:22 ESV.

Paul tells the Corinthians, Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV
To sum it all up, anything that is written in Scripture as something that is against God is considered a sin and should be avoided at all costs. Today there are many who have forgotten and are living unnatural, sinful lives. The Seven Deadly Sins have become a normal way of living for many people. Please do not be deceived by the view of the new norms of society, the devil is in the mix. Those norms are against God and nature. Stand firm in the faith show God’s love whether in comfort or correction, compassion or conviction. Show God’s tough love as needed no matter how much it may hurt for our suffering now will be rewarded.

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?