Sunday, October 19, 2014
Sunday, October 5, 2014
It’s the time of year for parties, tailgating, and family get-togethers.
They can be large or small assemblies consisting of people with like interests, employment, age, or gender. Nevertheless, at most gatherings I’ve attended, small groupings emerge. In corners, around tables, standing or sitting, there are pockets of people, engaging in conversation. However, if the party is mixed company, I’ve noticed women seem to end up in one room, usually the kitchen, and men just naturally gravitate towards the living room, den, or man cave.
Why does this occur? It’s because, human relationships are important and friendship is a gift from God. He created us to need one another, and says through Solomon, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion…Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
When we have a decision to make, it’s nice to be able to talk it out or run it by a friend. They maythink of things we didn’t or ask questions that will make us reconsider. If we’re angry, a friend can help us see the truth of the situation and change our attitude. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)
These characteristics are true whether the group is Christian or secular. However, as believers we have an advantage.
God gives us friends and places us in groups to enhance the talents and abilities He has given. The groups and relationships, who resist envy, recognize each person as uniquely designed by God, and placed within it for edification, are the groups that will mold into a cohesive cluster and grow in love. These will bear one another's burdens, and fulfill the law of Christ. As Christ’s disciples, they will have fervent love for one another, above all things, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Nevertheless, we cannot encapsulate love or keep to ourselves. Love must reach out to someone or else it is not love. This is why our God, who is love, chose to initiate a relationship with His creation saying, "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love... Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. (Jeremiah 31:3; John 15:13)
So, the next time you are with your friend or your group of friends, remember you are a unique creation. You bring something to this group no one else can and because of Jesus, they bring out the best in you. With these friends, you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel…and…[together] you put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (Philippians 1:27; Colossians 3:14)
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Are you kidding? It isn’t New Year. Well, maybe not, but September always feels like it to me. With a new school year, new church programs, etc, the lackadaisical summer has turned into a disciplined schedule. Nevertheless, September-October is the month Israel celebrates their civil New Year, called Rosh Hashanah. Israel’s New Year begins Wednesday, September 24, 2014, but for them, it’s the year 5775.
Rosh Hashanah or The Feast of Trumpets is one of the seven feasts the Lord instituted in Leviticus 23. The first feast, The Sabbath, is weekly. Three spring feasts are next, ushering in the religious New Year: Passover/Unleavened Bread, The Feast of Firstfruits, The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. Jesus Christ, in His first coming, spiritually fulfilled these three. The remaining three are fall feasts, ushering in the civil New Year: The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles are yet to be fulfilled. The gap of time between the spring feasts and the fall feasts represent this present church age.
Into each feast, God built deep spiritual meaning and unless you know Jesus Christ as Messiah, you miss the fullness. This is where Israel is today. Some suggest this feast commemorates the day of creation and some feel it represents the binding and deliverance of Isaac.
Israel’s Feast explanations do have the feel of spirituality, but they remain empty and flawed without Christ.
So let’s examine the deeper meaning of the Feast of Trumpets. It begins on the first day of the seventh month, the month of Tishri (Leviticus 23:24). On all other months when two witnesses spot the new moon, the celebratory silver trumpets are blown. However, the new moon of Tishri is different. The shofar (ram’s horn) is blown as a symbol of calling the hearers to the ten-day, soul-searching process of repentance, culminating with Israel’s national day of repentance, the Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur.
Because Rosh Hashanah begins with the blowing of trumpets, most pre-millennial commentators see it spiritually representing the rapture of the church or the “catching away” to meet Jesus in the air.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”(I Corinthians 15: 51-52)
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)
“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this’.” (Revelation 4:1)
Are there are scoffers? Of course, just as God said there would be (II Peter 3:3-4), but only because He is “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)
While we wait then, let’s conduct ourselves in holiness “…and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…” (II Peter 3:11-12). If we do, people will “see our good works and glorify…[our]…Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of attending the Franklin Graham Festival of Hope in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with my aunt and cousin. As volunteers, we arrived very early and the arena’s immensity stunned me. All I could say was, “Lord Jesus, fill this place with Your Spirit.”
After receiving our assignments, people began filling the seats. Soon the entertainment started with music of every genre, mostly appealing to the younger crowd. There was Rap, Grunge, Alternative, etc, and for us ole-folk, earplugs.
What a joy to see the kids having such a great time moving to the music of these Christian artists and then intently listening to their testimony. Each artist gave details of their life and the lies they believed until someone introduced them to Jesus. And as He does with everyone who calls upon His name to repent, believe, and receive Him as Savior and Lord, Jesus turned their lives around. They are new creations, who now sing for Him. Each evening, Jesus Christ was lifted up, Almighty God was glorified, and Franklin Graham had not yet taken the stage.
Reports of seven hundred teens going forward on Saturday night blew us all away. Adults and teens alike came forward to speak with counselors Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Nevertheless, with events like this, I’m always concerned about sincerity. To this day, I pray every seeker found Jesus, their conversion was true, and the seed of the Word of God fell on good soil, so the enemy cannot snatch it.
However, sitting at breakfast on Sunday morning my cousin posed a question. She said, “Each artist and musician seemed tattooed to the hilt. How does that jive with Scripture when it says, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:28)
Remembering the tattoos I observed, clearly, these artists acquired this “ink” after they came to know Jesus. The only thing that came to mind was how Paul said in I Corinthians 9:22, “…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Paul was saying he tried to fit in, so those to whom he witnessed would hear the gospel and not reject it, because of his appearance.
I wondered would the tattooed crowd listen to me if I tried to witness? Probably not. But, would they listen to someone sporting tattoos? Possibly.
I didn’t have a good answer, but I knew someone who would. Therefore, I asked the Lord, “Since it seems like disobedience, how does one justify a tattoo when obtained after salvation?”
Incidentally, as I read the miscellaneous laws in Leviticus 19, I found some very curious, especially verse 27. This verse before the mention of tattoos says, “You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard."
But, a clean-shaven man with shorter hair is appealing in our culture.
So, since I’m still waiting for a clear answer from the Lord, I will pose the question to you. What are your opinions about tattoos and how do we reconcile these verses with the world in which we live?