If you are a follower of The Master’s Table, or a former student, or have ever listened to me preach, teach Sunday School or lead a small group of any kind, you know by now that I do not pick up a recent newspaper and use the headlines for talking points about Bible prophesy. During Advent I talk about prophecies of the Messiah being fulfilled by Jesus’s birth and the events surrounding it. During Easter and Pentecost I talk about prophesies Jesus fulfilled during his earthly ministry, his death, burial and resurrection, and the promise we have of his future return. What I have never done is point to earthquakes, volcanoes, war in the Middle East or any other current event while quoting snippets of scripture and saying “See, the Bible says so.” I’ve seen preachers and other church leaders look foolish when Mikhail Gorbachev did not turn out to be the antichrist, Saddam Hussein was not the Beast described in Revelation and the world did not end in 1988 despite the list of 88 reasons that it was going to. Continue reading
Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. -Deut 12:23
In Deuteronomy 12 Moses reiterates some of the instructions to the Hebrews regarding where and how animals may be prepared and eaten. If they were killing the animal to be prepared as food then the blood was to be poured on the ground. If the animal was being offered on the altar then the flesh could be eaten but the blood was to spilled on the altar. Why? Because the life of an animal is in it’s blood.
Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. -Heb 9:22
As we approach the Passion week it’s appropriate to think about some of those Old Testament lessons. Everything about the sacrificial system help us understand what Jesus did on the cross and does now seated at the right hand of God. The design of the tabernacle, the office of the High Priest, the altar, the sacrifice and the blood of atonement all speak to the ministry of Jesus. Read Hebrews 9 to tie it all together.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God,purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. -Hebrews 9:11-14
Sometimes we desire to offer comfort to those that mourn and try to find the perfect thing to say. What we really want to do is make it all better. There often is no perfect thing to say, and sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. Job’s “friends” accused him of lying, concealing the truth, and having unconfessed sin in his life. But before all of that, the first thing they did was sit down with him in the ashes and rubble and for three days said nothing at all. Those were real friends.
Some Christians get the idea that happiness is the only mood we are supposed to express. God is good all the time, this world is not our home, Jesus is all we need. These are all great truths but that doesn’t mean we will not experience other emotions during this life here. Ecclesiastes teaches there is a time for every activity under heaven, including a time to laugh and a time to cry. After Jesus saw Martha, Mary, and all those with them weeping, John 11:35 says that Jesus wept. He knew ahead of time that Lazarus was dead and that he would be raised; he wept because he empathized with those weeping. Jesus also wept over Jerusalem, and at other times was angry. Revelation 21:4 says that God will wipe away every tear. We live in a broken world, and are surrounded by sin and death. There are times that mourning is called for, and no words can make everything better. Despite our eternal hope, it is not wrong to sometimes be sad. Continue reading
Four verses from Philippians, two from Hebrews. Each describe the voluntary act of Jesus humbling himself to the Father’s will. Each describe him as smaller, weaker or lower than his original state, and each ends in death. But as far as we are concerned, his death was his greatest moment. He tasted death so that none of us have to. Death that is separation from the body maybe, but not the death that is total separation from God. And he defeated the one with the power of death, that is the devil.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
(Hebrews 2:9 ESV)
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
(Hebrews 2:14 ESV)
I grew up in the 80’s. Before David Blaine and Chris Angel there was David Copperfield. Over the course of several prime time specials he made the Statue of Liberty disappear, walked through the Great Wall of China and escaped from Alcatraz. Part of his appeal came from his sense of humor and showmanship on stage, but people tuned in to see the “magic.” The magic of course was really illusion; he wasn’t really sawed in half on stage. But you know what they say – Seeing is believing.
It is so easy to believe what we see. Illusion, special effects and camouflage all depend on it. That very fact can also get us into trouble at times. We had to see bacteria with a microscope before germ theory really caught on, and there’s an ever-present warning in your side mirror not to believe exactly what you see (objects are closer than they appear). We all know there is more going on than can be seen. Wind, gravity, magnetism, microbes, radiation, DNA and so on cannot be seen, but we either perceive their effects through other senses or else detect them with scientific devices. The earth appears flat, and the sun seems to move across the sky from east to west. Our understanding is no longer limited to what we can see with our eyes; but the tendency to do so will always be there. Continue reading
When does life begin? Consider Jeremiah 1:5
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
(Jeremiah 1:5 ESV)
What about in the cases of rape or incest? What if the mother’s life is in danger? Does a woman not have the right to choose when it comes to her own body?
Abortion is used in this country as birth control. If allowing abortion for exceptional cases such as rape or incest would allow all other abortions to be made illegal in this country I would support it. The very vast majority of abortion procedures in this country are for birth control. Pregnancy is seen as a nasty side effect of a pleasure seeking lifestyle. A baby would “cramp our style” or “get in the way” so abortion is an easy answer for people that act like they don’t know where babies come from. For some women, who have had 10 or more abortions, that is their only form a birth control.
Of course a woman has the right to choose. How about choosing to honor God with your body? Men have always had it a little easier when it comes to “moving on” after a relationship, but each father will give an account of how many fatherless children he created or how many abortions took place to clean up his mess.
Each human being is created in the image of God.
God created life and it is precious to him.
Your life is a gift from God and someday each individual will give account with what they did with what was given. To whom much is given, much shall be required. The command in the Garden of Eden was to be fruitful and multiply. Our ability to procreate is God-given to fulfill his purposes, not simply to enjoy ourselves while we here.
God had a plan for your life before you were born. Before you were conceived he knew you; his plans are to prosper you, not to harm you. He gave his only son, and the Son gave his life, so you and I might live. And what some doctors would have you believe is tissue, nothing but a lump of cells much like a tumor? That is God’s gift also.
This post is very personal and way too long; but I feel it’s a story that must be told.
You don’t hear about it much anymore, but during the 70’s a concept known as equal time or equal opportunity was hotly debated. Television stations had to provide an equal amount of broadcasting time for both sides of a political issue. 1959 and 1971 are banner years regarding amendments and exemptions to the Congressional Act if you get really interested. I just wanted everyone to remember there was such a thing.
For a number of years, it didn’t look like my wife and I would be having any children. We were married in 1997; in 2002 she tested positive for the first time on a pregnancy test. We laughed, we cried, then we called everybody we knew. We started picking out names, and one person wanted to be the first to give the baby a gift. Then around 12 weeks or so we made a trip to the emergency room, and found out the she had already miscarried. The event was traumatic; much worse than never becoming pregnant at all. Continue reading