Blog Archive

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Heaven's Court

God presides over heaven’s court;
he pronounces judgment on the judges:
"How long will you judges hand down unjust decisions?"

~ Psalm 82:1-2 (NLT)

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it ... the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
~ 1 Corinthians 3:12-14 (NKJV)

And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.
~ 1 Peter 1:17 (NKJV)

Judges are expected to impartially decide what is right and lawful. The judiciary determines if the work of legislative and executive government stands. A Supreme Court decision is as close to God's judgment as can be obtained on earth. Legal injustice is an ultimate frustration.

The same Hebrew word used for God is sometimes used for judges: Elohim. In heaven's court, there is only one Judge, to whom every human judge will answer. Though we often lament the earth's injustice, we need only be patient for the Judge of all the earth to render final judgment.

We do well to remember that our works shall also be judged before heaven's court. Though we need not fear of condemnation if we are in Christ, we should fear lost reward if we do nothing for Him in return, but squander His many gifts to us.

Our Father, we call upon You for Your mercy as we stand before You. We are unprofitable servants, and however much we may do, we have done what was our duty to do. Please motivate us to build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ with all that is precious and enduring.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

A Still Small Voice

"Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!"
~ Psalms 81:13 (NKJV)

And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
~ 1 Kings 19:11-12 (NKJV)

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."
~ Revelation 3:20 (NKJV)

Surely one of the most pleasant activities between close friends is a shared meal. There are plenty of other ways to have a wonderful time with a loved one. But is anything more intimate than to sit face to face, dine together, and give one another your undivided attention?

Who more than the Lord deserves our undivided attention? In the midst of busy days it can be so hard to hear His voice. How important it is to sit quietly first thing in the morning, and at other times, and listen for a still small voice and hear one's Maker share His thoughts.

He has so much to tell us—most of all of His great love. He waits patiently at the door for us to push everything else aside and give Him our attention.

My Lord, how precious are Your thoughts! How great is the measure of them and of Your love for us. Please help us awaken early, alert and ready to listen to You. Please help us push aside all thoughts that would intrude upon us as we listen for Your still small voice.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Cup Runneth Over

Look down from heaven and see,
And visit this vine
And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted...
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts;
Cause Your face to shine!
~ Psalms 80:14-15,18-19 (NKJV)

Thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
~ Psalms 23:5 (KJV)

"Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink ...?"
~ Matthew 20:22 (NKJV)

Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
~ Luke 22:20 (NKJV)

"Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me." ... And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
~ Luke 22:42,44 (NKJV)

The significance of the grapevine cannot be understated. Grain represented survival. The olive and its oil represented light and health and anointing. The grapevine's fruitfulness and wine represented covenant and joy—but its cup was also associated with the most bitter sorrow and suffering.

Our inclination is to avoid sorrow. But in plumbing the depths of sorrow we also discover the heights of joy. "My cup runneth over" can refer to either place.

It is said, "God in His goodness has sent the grape / to cheer both great and small; / little fools will drink too much / and great fools not at all." When my cup runneth over—whether with faith's joy or sorrow—prayer and praise are lifted before God.

Oh God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You. I gladly share my Lord's cup of rejoicing and suffering now. We anxiously wait, Lord, to again share Your cup, with You, in the Father's kingdom.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."
~ John 15:5 (NKJV)

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Exalt Jerusalem

O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance;
Your holy temple they have defiled;
They have laid Jerusalem in heaps....
We have become a reproach to our neighbors,
A scorn and derision to those who are around us.
~ Psalms 79:1-4 (NKJV)

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.
~ Psalms 137:5-6 (NKJV)

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
~ Revelation 21:2 (NKJV)

The crown jewel of Israel has been Jerusalem since the day David brought the ark into the city singing and dancing. Twice, to thoroughly re-order Israel, the Lord has taken Jerusalem from the Jews—or perhaps it would be more correct to say that He took the Jews from Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is central to the Lord's people and His plan of redemption. His purpose to exalt Jerusalem mirrors His purpose to exalt His church, whom Jerusalem represents. Whatever reproach Christianity suffers in the present era, it echoes all that has happened to Jerusalem.

God has forsaken neither the Jews nor Jerusalem. Jesus promised to never forsake His church. We shall again see God exalt Jerusalem, for the church's ultimate destiny is to reign at the side of our King as His bride.

Beloved Bridegroom, Your bride awaits Your return as You make preparation for her. By the power of Your Spirit, please complete Your work in us that we will finish preparation for You, beautifully adorned in holiness.

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Friday, March 27, 2009


Christians face very dangerous attacks to truth. At the risk of stating the obvious, I close the series on faith's foundations by presenting truths core to Christian faith.

The Apostle's Creed affirms:

"I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; on the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, one holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting."

The Five Solas of the Reformation were five doctrines for which many believers were slain as they separated themselves from the Roman Catholic Church and came to be known as Protestants.
[* The Roman Catholic Church should be distinguished from the catholic church, or single universal church, comprised by all who belong to Christ.]

Sola Scriptura — Authority of Scripture Alone: The Scriptures are the inerrant and infallible Word of God, revealing His Person, precepts, and promises to mankind. They are the first and the final authority for matters of faith and truth.

Solo Deo Gloria! — For God's Glory Alone: God is sovereign over every aspect of the believer's life. The Westminster Shorter Catechism declares, "What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." All of life is to be lived under the Lordship of Christ, to the glory of God, as man's joy.

Sola Christo! — By Christ Alone: Christ is the sole mediator between God and man. Salvation is by Christ's work alone, through His shed blood, finished at Calvary.

Sola Gratia — Salvation by Grace Alone: Salvation is by grace through faith. Our righteous standing before God is imputed by grace as God's gift to us, who are without self-merit.

Sola Fide — Justification by Faith Alone: Our justification is by faith alone, apart from human works, though our faith is not without works. Faith is our cooperative role in God's work.

I affirm the above beliefs as definitive of Christianity. I also believe:

Every person is made in the image of God, able to discern between moral right and wrong, and is separated from God by both the sin of Adam as well as by the individual’s own sin.

Those reconciled to God through Christ's blood are born into eternal life, and as members of Christ's Church comprise His physical Body on earth of which He is Head. His divine Holy Spirit lives within them and empowers God’s work in and through them. Believers celebrate this relationship in the Lord’s Table. Jesus also instructs believers to bear witness of faith in public baptism.

There is infinitely more to faith. This is my collection of what's foundational and indisputable. Would you add anything?

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Next Generation

My friends, I beg you to listen as I teach.
I will give instruction and explain
the mystery of what happened long ago.
These are things we learned from our ancestors,
and we will tell them to the next generation.
We won't keep secret the glorious deeds
and the mighty miracles of the LORD.
~ Psalms 78:1-4 (CEV)

All your children shall be taught of Yahweh;
and great shall be the peace of your children.
~ Isaiah 54:13 (WEB)

Parents often have one thing which becomes a priority to pass on to the next generation, no matter what else is overlooked. It could be material possessions, educational opportunity, family stability, sexual purity, emotional security—eternal life.

Parents' greatest heartbreak can be seeing the next generation fail to obtain what we desire for them. We do well to remember that faith is a gift of God. Small children may be sanctified by a parent's faith, but the day comes when each of us must account for ourselves.

We cannot give the next generation faith as God can, but we can give them knowledge of God by which faith comes. Whatever we lay aside to make it our priority, we must tell them of the Lord's glorious deeds and mighty miracles, His perfect righteousness and purposes, His great love and peace.

Glorious Creator who made us and our children, You graciously give to us abundantly. Please press upon our hearts each and every day how to make You known to the generations who follow us. However else we fall short, please do not allow us to fail to speak of You and bless You.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

He Will Hear

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God,
and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord....
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders.
~ Psalms 77:1-2,13-14 (ESV)

So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
~ Acts 3:5 (NKJV)

I wish I wrote these posts at first light while the house sleeps. They are typically composed in evening hours as five children, the phone, my beloved, and perhaps bedtime all vie for my attention. Four-year-old Daniel has learned to say "Look at me, Mom" before he speaks.

Our omnipresent God has no difficulty giving His full attention to each one of us, all at the same time. Every day is "the day of my trouble." If we cry out to God He will hear us. There is no matter too great for Him to work wonders with. Miracles are His business.

There is also no matter so trivial it is a bother to Him. His full attention is always upon each of us. There is no moment of the day when we lose His interest. He doesn't have something more pressing to go attend to. We face no situation He expects us to handle on our own.

He will hear because He is near.

Precious Abba our Father, how much You love Your children. How good You are to keep us in Your presence. Please make us mindful of You, as eager to speak to You as You are to hear. Please draw us to give You our attention, expecting to receive what You are anxious to give.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Wrath of Man

Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee:
the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.
~ Psalms 76:10 (KJV)

The LORD has made all for Himself,
Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.
~ Proverbs 16:4 (NKJV)

For if God ... delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.
~ 2 Peter 2:4-9 (NKJV)

~ ~ ~
Having concluded Leviticus, I pick up Psalms again. The below words of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) on Psalm 76:10 excel whatever I might otherwise offer, and I present him here as a "guest blogger."
~ ~ ~

"Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee." It shall not only be overcome but rendered subservient to thy glory. Man with his breath of threatening is but blowing the trumpet of the Lord's eternal fame. Furious winds often drive vessels the more swiftly into port. The devil blows the fire and melts the iron, and then the Lord fashions it for his own purposes. Let men and devils rage as they may, they cannot do otherwise than subserve the divine purposes.

"The remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." ... Some read it "thou shalt gird," as if the Lord girded on the wrath of man as a sword to be used for his own designs, and certainly men of the world are often a sword in the hand of God, to scourge others.... Even the most rampant evil is under the control of the Lord, and will in the end be overruled for his praise.

Lord, You see how we are tormented in our righteous souls and oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked, who rage against You, our holy God. We trust You to set all in order in Your perfect timing. We wait upon You to raise us up.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Put to Death

Nothing devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed, but shall surely be put to death.
~ Leviticus 27:29 (MKJV)

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
~ Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish.
~ Psalms 73:25-27 (NKJV)

Most translations of this passage from Leviticus refer to "no man" rather than "nothing" being unredeemable. (The more literal translations are similar to the above quote.) In context, it is clear that some things or people could be set aside for God and later redeemed; but some were devoted to Him, whether put to death (as a sacrifice) or to belong to Him until death.

The New Testament is less ambiguous. To receive life in Christ—eternal, resurrection life—is to go to death with Christ. It is to no longer have a life of one's own at all.

No complaint here. The psalmist says, "there is none upon the earth that I desire besides You." That "none" includes me. The life I once desired was on a path to death and no good to me. The solution? Go ahead and be put to death, and experience Christ in me, the strength of my heart.

Lord Jesus, You know the depth of human agony apart from You. To know You, living in me, is the only life I want. Please Lord, use me, my words, my life, all I am to bring others to more fully know life in You. Please enable all of us to sacrifice whatever makes more room for You.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

My People

"I am the LORD. If you ... keep My commandments, and perform them ... I will give peace in the land ... I will look on you favorably ... I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.... But if you do not obey Me ... but break My covenant ... I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart ... I will punish you seven times more for your sins.... And those of you who are left ... they shall waste away. But if they confess their iniquity and ... are humbled ... then I will remember My covenant ... I will not cast them away ... for I am the LORD their God."
~ Leviticus 26 (NKJV)

"I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
~ Matthew 28:20 (NKJV)

Isn't one of the deepest desires of the human heart the desire to belong? To feel included in whatever group of people one becomes part of? There is no greater treasure than to be included in the group of people the King of the universe calls "My people."

Our God is stubborn in the very best sense. When blessing fails to win the hearts of the people He has purchased, He will allow them to receive the fruit of their choices, until they come to a place of such despair they might become willing to return to Him. He does not give up on His people.

To belong to God means submission and obedience to Him—a prospect some find distasteful. Incredible! How could anyone not delight to belong to the good God who loves and blesses as ours does?

What a privilege to attend church and worship our Creator as part of those God calls "My people."

Lord God, You are worthy of our very best. As You are worshiped across the globe this Sunday, please put in our hearts the ability to give back to You the thanks and praise due to Your holy name.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Days of Famine

"But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest ... to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or ... reap what grows of itself ... You may ask, 'What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?' I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years."
~ Leviticus 25:4-5,20-21 (NIV)

The upright ... shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied....
I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.
~ Psalms 37:18-19,25 (NKJV)

The Lord showed exceptional zeal for His Sabbaths—the seventh day of the week and the seventh year. When the Jews were taken captive to Babylon, the time of their captivity was seventy years, according to the number of Sabbaths the land was due (2 Chronicles 36:21).

Farmers know the benefit of rotating crops to prevent excessive depletion of the soil. Setting aside time from work to devote to the Lord imparts peace of mind and body that makes a person more productive six other days. Observing this important sign shows faith in the Lord's ability to accomplish more for us in six days (or years) than we ourselves attain in seven.

The present economy is not yet days of famine. But it can undermine faith in the Lord's provision, and tempt disregard for principles of tithing and Sabbath rests. If we would yet have "all things added," we need only seek first His kingdom.

Loving Father, You didn't say we would not go hungry, but that You would satisfy our hunger. Please let whatever we lack in health or wealth be the means by which You increase our faith in You and make us more dependent upon You. Give us hunger for You above all else.

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Friday, March 20, 2009


"Imagine there's no heaven ...
No hell below us, above us only sky ...
Imagine no possessions ...
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living for the day.
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one."

John Lennon's ballad captivated the heart of its generation with its visionary aspirations for a world free of conflict. Set to a melody evocative of the peace it espoused, the soothing lyrics of Imagine painted a new world order with alluring hues foundational to atheism and communism.

Thirty years later another generation is being enticed to further dismantle faith's foundations. Visionaries redefine rather than deny God, harmonizing humanistic ideals with just enough Jesus so everyone but the "intolerant" can sing together around one campfire.

Our era recognizes hunger for God yet is accustomed to clicking on only that which appears cheap, convenient and compatible. A curious pass of the mouse may take a peek, but expends no time on what risks being expensive, engrossing or exclusive .

The emergent church packages an experience for the spiritual seeker disillusioned with biblical Christianity—supplemented by reassuring ritual or trendy talisman when desired. Its Gospel is Jesus as a model of social sympathy, not the Messiah whose blood saves from sin. Its polished presentations invite adherents to imagine "what would Jesus do?" without teaching who Jesus is. It markets human happiness rather than humble worship of Holy God, and a default destination of heaven not hell—you can opt out but needn't worry about opting in.

The emergent church dangerously deconstructs all absolutes which could be divisive: the Bible offers some nice perspectives but is disregarded where it excludes other perspectives; and truth is whatever works for you—as long as it tolerates other definitions of truth.

The foundation of our faith is the Bible, with well-defined absolutes. God's reliable Word contains assurance of His promises and His ability to fulfill them. Jesus Christ declares His disciples to be those who build their lives upon the solid Rock of Himself and His words.

If one doubts the Bible's reliability as a solid foundation, one need only observe the already crumbling foundations of the world which denies the Bible's truth.

Let the buyer beware.

Feedback invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved. Lyrics quoted from Imagine Copyright 1971 EMI Records Ltd.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An Eye For An Eye

Then they put him in custody ... And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "... as he has done, so shall it be done to him—fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth ... whoever [murders] a man shall be put to death."
~ Leviticus 24:12-13,19-21 (NKJV)

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also."
~ Matthew 5:38-39 (NKJV)

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.... If you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
~ Romans 13:1,4 (NKJV)

So what does the New Testament teach—allow the evil person to do as they wish or execute wrath upon them?

There is no conflict between the passages in Matthew in Romans, nor even between Old Testament and New Testament. We are not to seek vengeance on our own against those who wrong us; those in authority are charged with holding a wrongdoer accountable and executing justice—with fairness: an eye for an eye, a life for a life.

There is no conflict between accountability and forgiveness. Ideally, one who belongs to Christ is willing to support accountability while also expressing love and forgiveness; we are willing to forgo retaliation, but need not stand still and allow ourselves to be abused. To love neighbor as self treats both neighbor and self appropriately.

Father, You know well we do not behave ideally. In the power of Your Spirit we can do all You ask. Please enable us to release to authority all that is not right in our lives, all that is not right in the world. We trust You to execute perfect justice. We trust You to dispense mercy as is fitting.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Appointed Times

"These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times."
~ Leviticus 23:4 (NKJV)

To everything there is a season,
And a time for every purpose under heaven....
I have seen the burden God has placed
Upon the children of men with which to humble them:
He has made everything beautiful in His time;
He has also set eternity in their hearts—
Though no one can grasp the work God does
From beginning to end.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1,10-11 (author)

The biblical feasts were not simply placed on the calender of ancient Israel, they actually determined the calendar by which all else in life took place. God set up times of both feasting and fasting in a manner that all life revolved around His appointed times.

I've heard that some people don't believe in praying about the weather, but that the Creator ordains the weather and our place is to adjust to what He sends. I like that. I have prayed, "Lord, if You send more rain could You please spare City Hall during our prayer gathering?" But for the most part I try to simply say, "Lord, please help me be grateful for all You ordain."

Perhaps more than anything else I wrestle with the Lord's appointed times. Yet I do trust that His timing is perfect. My need is not for Him to hurry up and do whatever He's going to do, but for Him to grace me with patience and endurance.

Gracious Father, Your ways are ways of pleasantness, and all Your paths are peace. When Your appointed times are fulfilled, You will bring to pass all You have planned and promised. Please show our mortal hearts mercy and give us patience and faith. Come Lord Jesus!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reign Over Us

"I am the LORD who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD."
~ Leviticus 22:33 (NKJV)

"But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We will not have this man to reign over us.' "
~ Luke 19:14 (NKJV)

"O My people, what have I done to you? And how have I wearied you? Testify against Me."
~ Micah 6:3 (NKJV)

Do you know anyone impossible to please? A person with a critical eye who immediately finds fault any person or situation, even if remaining silent? In the midst of God's blessings, do we find fault (complain) about what we perceive lacking?

Jesus never said we would be without trial and tribulation, only that He would never leave us nor forsake us. He is always with us, carrying us, sustaining us. Sin has brought evil to us, but our God has brought us only good. Shall we testify against Him that He has wearied us?

The Lord brought out of the bondage of sin through the blood of His Son to be our God. May we say always, "Blessed are You, Oh Lord our God. Reign over us!"

Father in heaven, please forgive us for all our whining and complaining and fault finding. Please teach us to use suffering as an opportunity to be carried by You more fully, not to complain. In the midst of blessings, please remind us that You are our God and reign over us with love.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Love Your Neighbor

"You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people ... You shall not hate your brother in your heart.... You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD."
~ Leviticus 19:16-18 (NKJV)

So the scribe said to Him, "Well said, Teacher.... To love [God] with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."
~ Mark 12:32-34 (NKJV)

"Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."
~ Matthew 7:12 (NKJV)

The God who gave the New Covenant is the same God of the Old Covenant. Hundreds of laws, rituals, ordinances, precepts, statutes and judgments of the Old Covenant had the same purpose as New Covenant grace: show how to love God foremost and fully, and how to love your neighbor. In these two commandments is summed up all the law and prophets.

How do you love your neighbor as yourself? We are so dense that Jesus makes it simpler yet. Do to others what you'd want done to yourself under the same circumstances. Forgive as you've been forgiven by Your Father in heaven. Show to those who offend you a fraction of the grace God has shown for your infinitely greater offenses against Him.

Whatever we might offer as a sacrifice, whatever we'd do to show ourselves children of God—in faith, hope, or love—we can do nothing greater than simply love.

Dear God, You've shown us perfect love. Please humble us so we might be filled with Your Spirit and able to love You as much as is humanly possible, and love the people around us who You love as You love us.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Jealous God

"According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do.... You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the LORD your God."
~ Leviticus 18:3-4 (NKJV)

"The LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God."
~ Deuteronomy 4:24 (NKJV)

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
~ James 4:4 (NKJV)

Jesus calls His church His bride and Himself her Bridegroom. Throughout the Old Testament, God likewise calls Himself the Husband of His people. And like any husband, He is a jealous God, rightfully wrathful if the affection due to Him is given to anyone else.

When they were set free from Egyptian slavery, the Israelites were not to look to the people around them for how to live, nor to the people from their previous way of life. They were to look only to the Lord for direction in how to live every aspect of their lives.

There is still no aspect of our lives that the Lord does not care about. Though He looks at the condition of our hearts rather than our exterior appearance and works, exterior appearance and works are often an expression of what's in our hearts. Do they conform to the world or God's will and Word?

Beloved Bridegroom, You are jealous for us with an enduring love. You have given us everything and deserve all we have, all we do, all we have. Please open our eyes to the ways we give worship to the world around us rather than to You. Let us not give ourselves to another.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Just Any Time

Now the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the LORD, and died; and the LORD said to Moses: "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die."
~ Leviticus 16:1-2 (NKJV)

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus ... let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.
~ Hebrews 10:19-22 (NIV)

Who is like the LORD our God,
Who dwells on high,
Who humbles Himself to behold
The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?
He raises the poor out of the dust,
And lifts the needy out of the ash heap,
~ Psalms 113:5-7 (NKJV)

Years ago a friend told me about sharing the Gospel with a Jewish woman. She was astounded to witness the casual manner with which Christians approached God in prayer.

The Lord has not changed from the time when Aaron came before the mercy seat with utmost reverence, carrying offerings of blood and incense before him. His two sons had already been struck dead for their carelessness, and he no doubt took the Lord's directions seriously.

Each time we pray we boldly come before the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place of the heavens, where God dwells between the cherubim. If not for the blood of Jesus we would have no place to draw near at all, and certainly not just any time we wish.

The favor we have of an audience with God Almighty whenever we please, to obtain mercy and find grace in time of need, is a privilege we surely do not fully appreciate.

Lord of Hosts, how is it that You, the King of the Universe, should allow us to speak with You? Your great love and mercy is beyond our comprehension. Please let us appreciate with awe the favor You grant to us. Remind us to use our privilege to pray not just any time, but all the time.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Freelance: FOUNDATIONS, PART I

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it ..."

With these words the United States of America became a sovereign nation, a few years before the Constitution and Bill of Rights established her government.

The hallowed documents preserved as history's relics could not comprise our country's foundation except for the blood which engraved into antiquity the words recorded upon those fragile bits of parchment. Without bloodshed such words might have become lofty philosophy whose time came and went.

The Bill of Rights' first lines declare: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Our founders clearly understood that they could not assert for themselves any rights with which their Creator had not already blessed them, and they established our foremost right as the free exercise of faith.

Our faith is likewise founded on a collection of the Lord's words, recorded on fragile bits of parchment and secured with blood. The power of words secured in blood lies at the core of the inextricable connection between American Judeo-Christian faith and U.S. sovereignty—and the alarming decline in the health of both.

President George Washington said, "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." Revolutionary patriot Patrick Henry said, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ." John Adams said, "If I were an atheist, and believed blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations."

Another American revolution is already well underway. Like the covert terrorists of 9/11, its proponents are utterly convinced of a greater good masterminded behind the scenes. Once all elements are in place we may be caught off-guard by their attack, regardless of well-known rumors of its imminence.

While the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are no equals to the Bible, some parallels are unmistakable. Security of both faith and U.S. sovereignty lies in reliance upon words sealed in blood which establishes our foundations, no matter how far others go to render revered writings as irrelevant for a new millennium. By too lightly esteeming such words, we demolish the foundations upon which we stand or fall.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Be Ever Intoxicated

"If a man lies with a woman and has an emission of semen, both of them shall bathe themselves in water and be unclean until the evening."
~ Leviticus 15:18 (ESV)

Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth,
An affectionate deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times.
Be ever intoxicated with her love.
~ Proverbs 5:18-19 (author)

"For when they rise from the dead, [man and woman] neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven."
~ Mark 12:25 (NKJV)

Whatever else the ancient law of uncleanness after physical intimacy might mean, it required a man to abstain from sex if he wished to take part in holy rituals, allowing him to have his heart focused on God. It also prevented a casual approach to sexual relations. Whatever was lost in spontaneity was surely gained in careful planning and anticipation.

Who can argue against taking a more careful approach to both the Lord and sex? Scripture provides ample evidence that God intended intimacy between husband and wife to be far more than a routine experience. While the Bible admonishes against being intoxicated with strong drink, it directs a man to be ever intoxicated with love for his wife.

Human marriage will not exist for resurrected bodies. Heaven's delights of marital intimacy will be between Christ and His bride. Without a doubt we will then be ever intoxicated with love.

Lord Jesus, we cannot see or hear, nor even imagine the things You now prepare for Your bride. Please help us cooperate with Your work of preparation in us. Please lead the marital love we know now to be all You intend. Teach us to rightly be ever intoxicated with love.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Way

The priest shall put [the blood] on the tip of the right ear of [the leper] who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot.... [And] the priest shall put some [oil] on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot.
~ Leviticus 14:14,17 (NKJV)

"Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
'This is the way, walk in it,'
Whenever you turn to the right hand
Or whenever you turn to the left."
~ Isaiah 30:21 (NKJV)

"Lord ... how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
~ John 14:5-6 (NKJV)

The ritual for cleansing one healed of leprosy involved putting blood then oil on the leper's right ear, thumb and big toe. The instructions in Exodus 29:20 for anointing the priests likewise required putting sacrificial blood on the right ear lobe, thumb and big toe.

It is thought that for the priests this represented the ability to hear the Lord's Word, touch the holy things, and walk into the holy place. Another thought—for the priest, leper, or follower of Christ cleansed by blood—is that a person demonstrates being cleansed by heeding God, which comes by hearing the command, acting upon it, and continuing to walk in the way of the Lord.

Jesus declared Himself to be The Way to the Father. Then—in case we missed the way to walk demonstrated by His actions—Jesus spoke clearly: "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."

Lord Jesus, Your perfect love is our perfect example. We struggle to love the annoying, the offensive and the wicked as You did. Please enable such love. Please lead us to seek out Your Word, Your Spirit and Your saints that we might be encouraged to walk in Your way.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Outside the Camp

"Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!' ... and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp."
~ Leviticus 13:45-46 (NKJV)

Behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately the leprosy left him.
~ Luke 5:12-13 (NKJV)

"Cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness ..."
~ Matthew 25:30 (NKJV)

Rustic camping (without electricity) provides two places after dark: campsite with companions, fire and provisions, and outer darkness. The outer darkness is no place to dwell long or alone.

The plight of a leper is truly one of the Bible's most poignant depictions. The infectious illness not only brought physical suffering, but the leper lived alone, outside the camp and its comforts—marked by torn clothes, bare head, covered mouth, and a cry to keep others away.

Sin creates spiritual lepers. Without salvation by a life of faith in Jesus, ostracization outside the camp will be eternal. Once we become Christ's, we need continual cleansing from sin lest we infect others. Sin's insidiousness is a leprosy that clings to us with defiant tenacity.

The Lord is willing to make us clean.

Lord, though Your blood covers our sin, we still live with its infection. We cannot heal ourselves. We desperately need You to make us clean. We implore you to cleanse us from the iniquity which draws us to sin. We want to dwell close to You and Your light.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

The Shedding of Blood

"When the days of her purification are fulfilled ... she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering ... Then he shall offer it before the LORD, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female."
~ Leviticus 12:6-7 (NKJV)

"And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting.... Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it."
~ Genesis 9:5-7 (NIV)

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
~ Hebrews 9:22 (ESV)

When God pronounced sin's consequences to Adam and Eve, woman's destiny became much toil in pregnancy and great pain in giving birth—and the desire for her husband that would ensure pregnancy. The process would involve bloodshed, both before and after pregnancy.

The Lord demands an accounting for the shedding of blood. His law required a woman (not her husband) to make atonement for the bloodshed of childbirth. God also commanded mankind to be fruitful and multiply, which requires childbirth. A catch-22 if ever there was one.

Before thinking "unfair," consider the process of being "born again." Before we receive spiritual life, our sins require an atonement [Hebrew kaphar, a covering which changes the nature of the thing covered]. For this God required the shedding of blood, and that blood was shed by His Son.

Most Holy God, You are good to make our lives and blood precious in Your sight. Please let us likewise see all human life as precious, valued no matter its circumstances. Please let us value most highly the blood of Your Son, by which we have forgiveness and eternal life.

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fulfillment of the Law

"This is the law of the animals and the birds and every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth, to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten."
~ Leviticus 11:46-47 (NKJV)

Eat whatever is set before you, asking no question ... Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God ... [seeking] the profit of many, that they may be saved.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:27,31-33 (NKJV)

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.... Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
~ Romans 13:8,10 (NKJV)

It would be difficult to closely associate with someone and never eat with them. The laws which instructed the Israelites to abstain from certain foods was one of the most effective ways to segregate them from the pagan people around them, and show them set apart to the LORD.

In Christ such restrictions no longer bind us. We are free to eat non-kosher foods and to abstain from them (not a bad idea considering how unhealthy they are). More important than what we eat is what brings glory to God? What gives offense? What brings others to know Christ?

Love is the fulfillment of the law. A healthy physician must be willing to enter the presence of sickness to bring healing. If we allow Christ's righteousness rather than self-righteousness to dominate our lives, then even in the presence of another's sin Christ's love will be displayed in us.

Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for Your perfect righteousness, available only through Your blood and given to us by Your Holy Spirit. Please give us discernment in how to yield to Your will and how to best manifest Your love to all around us.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Those Who Come Near

Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people, and ... they shouted and fell on their faces.... Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron ... offered [wayward] fire before the LORD.... So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them ... And Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD spoke, saying:
'By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.' "
~ Leviticus 9:23-10:3 (NKJV)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.... Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.... To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
~ James 4:8,10,17 (NKJV)

We who know the amazing grace of God have a tendency to become too comfortable with Him. Assured that no sin is too great to receive forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, those who come near to the Lord's throne of grace may forget to fear Him.

Not only does the person still condemned by sin face the wrath of God, but the child of God also faces His loving discipline. If anyone dares to commit sin asserting God does not care, it would be better to stand afar off than presume to draw near and throw sin in God's face.

When I witness someone who understands the cost of God's forgiveness, and who demands to sin in willful defiance of God's Word, my soul cannot help but be deeply troubled.

Almighty and Gracious Father, we are blessed who know the grace of Your great forgiveness. Please let us keep fear in our hearts for Your holiness, and never count the blood of our salvation so cheap that we choose sin. Thank You for the love which does not allow Your children to languish in sin.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Freelance: MARRIAGE, PART III

Opposites attract—a fascinating principle with magnets, in man and wife, or between God and people.

His timetable is eternity; we crave immediate gratification. He came as humble Servant; our nature is pridefully self-serving. He is holy, the epitome of goodness and love; we are hollow, willing to fill our God-shaped voids with the deficiency of the world.

Contrasts abound. It defies reason that any one of us, let alone all of us, are chosen to be His very own. Yet Christ finds His church irresistible, calling her His bride.

Paul speaks of man and wife becoming one as a great mystery. Paul does not make human marriage a metaphor for abstract divine. Marriage is concrete reality between Christ and church.

God often uses the palpable physical to portray less tangible spiritual. We grasp the physical intimacy of marriage resulting in a child's conception. Stretch a bit to recognize union of physical and spiritual in Mary's consent to receive the Holy Spirit and conceive God's divine Son. Stretch a bit more and comprehend the spiritual intimacy of the Holy Spirit, who enters the believer and instills the eternal life of Christ.

As any baby, Jesus grew in His mother's womb until He became too great for her to contain and emerged to become visible. Spiritual life in a believer should likewise grow until too great to contain, emerging as the visible fruit of the Spirit.

Human marriage between one man and one woman in life-long commitment is sealed by physical union exclusive to the relationship, and naturally results in new life. The Bible refers to this intimacy with the word "know," as in "Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived." No one else will know a man or woman the way spouse does. And no matter how it is described, the inexperienced cannot comprehend such intimacy.

Marriage is consummated when virgin bride surrenders herself to her husband. It is a point of no return to a former way of life. Those who are in Christ have crossed a line of surrender and union and knowledge from which there is no going back. Those who do not know Him cannot understand it.

Infinitely more might be said. Of God being entirely complete without us, yet needing us to be wholly who He is. Of the seed of His Word. Or of the future, when physical and spiritual meld in resurrected bodies, when a bride united as one receives divine Bridegroom and becomes one with Him.

Details are in the Bible.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

His Very Own

His Very Own

Moses said to Aaron and to his sons, "... You shall not go out from the door of the Tent of Meeting seven days, until the days of your consecration are fulfilled."
~ Leviticus 8:31-33 (WEB)

"Fulfill the week of this one, and we will give you the other also ..." Jacob agreed thus, and fulfilled Leah's bridal week.
~ Genesis 29:27-28 (author)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people to be his very own and to proclaim the wonderful deeds of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
~ 1 Peter 2:9 (ISV)

The custom of Bible times was to isolate a bride for seven days in her husband's bedchamber, set apart as his very own. The festivities of a week-long wedding feast surrounded those intimate first days of dedication to each other.

The seven days of consecration for the priests set apart to God mirrored the bridal week. It appears that the Lord directed the priests to be isolated in the tabernacle for a week to become intimately familiar with the holy things, and to know themselves set apart as His very own.

Those chosen to belong to Christ are His royal priesthood. We are a people likewise set apart as His very own, designed to know Him intimately. The church's title of bride is not metaphor but reality.

Beloved Bridegroom, You promised that You left us only to prepare a place for us. Our time of waiting grows long and we grow weary. Please strengthen us that we'd be found awake and waiting, with brightly lit lamps filled with the oil of Your Spirit.

[More on this tomorrow. Marriage Part III has been planned for weeks. I realized only today that the above passage "coincidentally" precedes it.]

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Earthen Vessel

"The sin offering ... is most holy ... the earthen vessel in which it is boiled shall be broken."
~ Leviticus 6:25,28 (NKJV)

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (NKJV)

If I correctly remember the location, the archeological site of ancient Gibeon's place of sacrifice had thousands of shards of shattered pottery, clearly broken intentionally. They evidence compliance with the requirement that the earthen vessel used to cook the sin offering to be set apart for this single use, and then broken that it might never be used again for a lesser purpose.

The treasure of the Holy Spirit, who gives us the light of the knowledge of God, lives in the earthen vessel of the believer's body. Though made of the planet's dirt, we are set apart to Him, to be used for whatever holy purpose He ordains, and to be broken in the process.

When our hearts break with the realization of the deep pain and great cost our sin has caused our God, we become broken vessels. The light that then filters through the cracks is God Himself.

Most High God who loves us, please help us to understand the depth of Your grief for our sin. Please help us allow our hearts to be broken for sin when we see suffering in the world. Please let us appreciate the pain of brokenness and its purpose in our lives.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Falling Into Sin

"If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally ... and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat ... for his sin which he has committed."
~ Leviticus 4:27-28 (ESV)

Give praise to the One who is able to keep you from falling into sin. He will bring you into his heavenly glory without any fault. He will bring you there with great joy.
~ Jude 24 (NIrV)

I've put my foot in my mouth enough times to make an art of it, and well understand giving unintentional offense. I also know the hurt from a careless word or action. The real pain comes when the offense is made known and the offender expresses neither guilt nor remorse.

Falling into sin can be unintentional. It still offends God, it is still sin, it still begs repentance. Few of us relate to unintentional sin costing us a goat. What if the cost was your dog or your cat? Forfeiting laptop/cell phone/Blackberry? Suffering high blood pressure/headache/stomach distress? For what price would the cost of unintentional sin motivate one to become more careful?

Praise God that He can prevent us from falling into sin and suffering its many consequences. Praise God that His thorough sanctification enables us to joyfully enter His presence without fault.

Lord and Father, we've caused You much and great sorrow with our sin. How much more so with the sin of which we're ignorant! Thank You for Your forgiveness by the blood of Jesus. Thank You for the power from Your Holy Spirit to keep from falling into sin which grieves You.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

His Commandments are Not Burdensome

"This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live: You must not eat any fat or any blood."
~ Leviticus 3:17 (NIV)

"Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life; you may not eat the life with the meat."
~ Deuteronomy 12:23 (NKJV)

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
~ 1 John 5:3 (NKJV)

Some thirty-four hundred years have passed since Moses gave the Israelites God's law, including the command to ingest neither blood nor fat. The warning to not take in blood is one of only four Old Testament directives called a necessity for New Covenant believers.

In the 21st century we know an animal's blood and fat contain disease and contaminants humans do best to pass over. God knew the hazards and protected His people with His prohibition. He wasn't handing down thou-shalt-not's just to throw His weight around.

We belong to a God who wants to bless us at every turn and asks our cooperation. For everything we sacrifice God will return a far richer reward. If we believe that He loves us and love Him in return, we will find His commandments are not burdensome.

Lord YHWH, You are only good. Your every commandment is good. ALL you ask of us is good. Please open the eyes of our hearts to see Your will as for our benefit even when we don't understand it.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Salt of the Earth

"You shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt."
~ Leviticus 2:13 (NKJV)

"For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another."
~ Mark 9:49-50 (NKJV)

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one."
~ Colossians 4:6 (NKJV)

Leaven's opposite, salt flavors and preserves food. Orientals and Arabs say "covenant of salt" to signify an agreement shall endure without decaying. Salt is necessary to life yet brings barrenness to land. Blood devoid of life is cleansed away by salt with water, and salt with water corrodes metal. Valuable salt has been used as money and is at the root of the word "salary."

Christ calls His followers the salt of the earth. When judgmental we bring the earth barrenness. When His Spirit empowers us, we season and cleanse with words of grace and peace. Is it possible that our continual prayers for mercy preserve the earth by staying the hand of God from wrath?

I don't presume to fully understand rapture prophecies. But I don't share the view that the rapture gives final notice to earth that God is serious about repentance. As with Noah's family, I see Christians being removed from harm's way so the earth may be cleansed—this time with fire.

Lord Jesus, in Your offering of blood we are preserved. Please lead us to yield to Your Holy Spirit and be seasoned with fire. Please use us as Your salt of the earth, in every way possible, and prevent us from becoming an irritant or aggravation to barrenness.

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