How To Become A Star Monday, Feb 22 2016 

Jude 1.13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.(KJV)  wild ocean waves leaving nothing on the beach but the foam of their shame; Lost stars in outer space on their way to the black hole. (MSG)

All backsliding eventually progresses to missing church. All. It progresses to missing church and telling the pastor what you will do, you inform him. You do not seek permission, you tell him what you are doing. You would never do that to your employer. You become comfortable informing the spiritual leader in your life what you are doing. 

Then it progresses to missing and not telling the pastor. In my opinion, at that point you have become your own priest. You make your own decisions. The spiritual leadership fades from your life. You are and have become, the spiritual leader of your own life. You do not have spiritual oversight from another. 

It may take time, but people rarely recover once they have started down this path of pastoring themselves. I am not sure I have ever had one person recover from this drift and go back to being a loyal committed sheep in the flock. I cannot remember one example of recovery from this path of becoming your own spiritual leader, in my 40 years of preaching. 

I have watched many start down this trail and I have grieved knowing they are slowly, inexorably, beginning a journey they will probably never correct. They slowly drift out to the edge of the church, lose contact with the body of Christ, and some where they simply drift away.  

It is truly one of the saddest things in this life. A person who held eternal life in their grasp, exchanging it for control of their own life. Resisting spiritual leadership and taking over their own life when they were safely in the plan of God. 

It is God’s plan for you to have a spiritual leader in your life. I truly believe if you do not trust your pastor, it would be far better for you to go find someone you trust, than for you to take over your own spiritual authority in your life. 

Once you start down the path of making your own spiritual decisions, not seeking counsel from your spiritual overseer, you will probably never reverse that drift. You will become what Jude called a wandering star, forever drifting away from God, farther and farther and farther.

Thanks for reading today.

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Hebrews 7 commentary Wednesday, Feb 10 2016 

7.1-3 the introduction of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. The author introduces again the priesthood of Melchizedek. Caution must be observed to not be distracted by Melchizedek, because the emphasis is on the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Melchizedek is but a shadow and a type of the great ministry of Jesus Christ. The author illustrates Jesus’ conspicuity similar to Melchizedek. Jesus is first of all unlike any other priest ever before. Jesus, like Melchizedek was apator-without father. The meaning is literally one who has no father or whose father has died or who was born after his father died or no recorded paternity. To some Melchizedek was a theophany, a temporary manifestation of God. To others he was a man, the King of Salem (Jerusalem). To the Jews historically he was Shem, the son of Noah who had lived until this time. The opinion given by Josephus, is that he was a pious Canaanitish prince, a person eminently endowed by God, and who acted as the priest of his people. All of this is of interest, but the author is establishing the ministry of Jesus Christ. To lose sight of the author’s goal is to be avoided. This is about Jesus Christ, not Melchizedek. Melchizedek is a type of Christ because he unites righteousness and peace. Melchizedek is a type of Christ because he unites Jew and Gentile. This is the purpose for his typology. Judaism has no monopoly on eternal truths.

7.4-17 Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation, and the ancestor of the Levitical priesthood. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, therefore the High Priesthood of Jesus is better that the High Priesthood of Levi. Levi, the ancestor of the whole Levitical priesthood, might be said to have paid tithes in Abraham, and thus to have acknowledged his inferiority to Melchizedek, and consequently to the Son of God, who was of the order of Melchizedek. The author shows that perfection could not arise out of the Levitical priesthood, and that a priesthood that introduced a perfect state must be superior. In the prosecution of this argument, he states that perfection could not be arrived at under the Hebrew economy, and that there was need that a priesthood of another order should be formed. A change of the priesthood involved of necessity a change in the law or administration. The necessity of change of the law also followed from the fact that the great high priest was now of another tribe than that of Levi. Jesus Christ is of the tribe of Judah. The Christian High Priest was constituted not after a commandment pertaining to the flesh and liable to change, but after the power of an endless life and adapted to a life that was never to change or to end. Jesus is after the Homoiotes-resemblance, of Melchizedek. There is a subtle yearning for a better priesthood throughout the history of Judaism. This caused the Jewish people at times to stray to other Gods and religions. Now that is no longer true. The emphasis is again on better. Jesus is a better priest. The priesthood of Jesus is not temporary, but eternal. It is forever, aion-perpetuity, specifically the (Jewish) messianic period, present or future. 

7.18 this verse is interesting. There is a disannulling (athetesis: cancellation). Many times we attempt to fulfill all Old Testament types and shadows. Looking for their completion in the New Testament. In this case the author says it was cancelled, set aside. The new commandment is better.

7.19-21 the oath. The oath begins with a sacerdotal phrase: by the which we draw nigh unto God. This emphasis on the priest drawing nigh to God is presenting Jesus Christ as the ultimate High Priest. To this God gives His oath. This is the strongest affirmation possible. The immutable God who cannot lie is giving absolute endorsement of himself as our great High Priest. From the beginning any oath given by God was unchangeable. Oaths were given to Abraham, Moses, and David, and all were unchanging. This oath given here is from that same unchanging God. The priests of Judaism were made without an oath, but not so with our High Priest. Why? Because theirs was a changing, temporary priesthood. Jesus Christ is forever our High Priest. The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever. The author again shows Jesus Christ is a better High Priest.

7.22-28 Jesus was made a surety. To guarantee a better testament, Jesus pledges himself as surety. No longer will there be a new High Priest when the former dies. Our High Priest will continue forever as He has an unchangeable priesthood. Our High Priest is able to save to the uttermost because he ever liveth to make intercession. Our High Priest of Christianity is holy, undefiled, and made higher than the heavens. Our High Priest has no need to daily offer up sacrifices as those priests did. The former high priests had to offer up for their own sins as well as the sins of the people. Our High Priest offered himself once for the sins of all mankind. The law made men high priests that had astheneia: feebleness, weakness. But now, by the word of the oath, Our High Priest is forever, throughout all eternity. Therefore, Christianity has a better high priest than Judaism. The High Priesthood of Jesus Christ has an endless duration, it is eternal, and therefore better.

Thanks for reading today…

The Beauty of Life Tuesday, Feb 9 2016 

This story is about a beautiful, expensively dressed lady who complained to her psychiatrist that she felt that her whole life was empty, it had no meaning.So, the lady went to visit a counselor to seek out happiness.

The counselor called over the old lady who cleaned the office floors.

The counselor then said to the rich lady “I’m going to ask Mary here to tell u how she found happiness. All I want u to do is listen to her.”

So the old lady put down her broom and sat on a chair and told her story:

“Well, my husband died of malaria and three months later my only son was killed by a car. I had nobody. I had nothing left. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I never smiled at anyone, I even thought of taking my own life. Then one evening a little kitten followed me home from work. Somehow I felt sorry for that kitten. It was cold outside, so I decided to let the kitten in. I got some milk, and the kitten licked the plate clean. Then it purred and rubbed against my leg and, for the first time in months, I smiled.

Then I stopped to think, if helping a little kitten could make me smile, may be doing something for people could make me happy.

So, the next day I baked some biscuits and took them to a neighbor who was sick in bed.

Every day I tried to do something nice for someone. It made me so happy to see them happy.

Today, I don’t know of anybody who sleeps and eats better than I do.

I’ve found happiness, by giving it to others.”

When she heard this, the rich lady cried. She had everything that money could buy, but she had lost the things which money cannot buy.

“The beauty of life does not depend on how happy you are; but on how happy others can be because of you…”

Happiness is not a destination, it’s a journey.

Happiness is not tomorrow, it is now.

Happiness is not dependency, it is a decision. 

Happiness is what you are, not what you have.

Thanks for reading today….

One of the most misunderstood passages of the Bible. Thursday, Feb 4 2016 

Hebrews 6.4-6

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

Heb 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

Heb 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

6.4-6 this short passage may qualify as the most misunderstood passage in the Bible. This short concise concept sheds great enlightenment on enlightenment. True revelation only comes once on a particular subject. These believers had experienced that moment of illumination at salvation. The author is again letting them know there is no more enlightenment available. That is impossible. You have already been enlightened. The impossibility is because a one time moment has already occurred. Much like being born in the natural. It is impossible for that to happen again. If the believer allows the vessel to leak out and become empty, the believer only needs to refill the vessel. There is not another conversion experience for them to experience. That would in essence require another crucifixion of Jesus to replace the crucifixion they have already been blessed by. The author is holding up the cross of Jesus Christ as the ultimate conversion. There is none other. The cross is the final act of propitiation. This they had already experienced.

Thankful for the propitiation today!

Don’t Be A Nepios! Wednesday, Feb 3 2016 

Hebrews 5.11.14

5.11-14 for the first time the author seems to be disappointed in these wavering Christians. He appears to want to say more of Melchizedek and Christ but senses they are dull of hearing and immature. Dull here is nothros and means sluggish or lazy. The author fears their sluggish, lazy approach to Christianity will cause them to go back to Judaism. They could allow the priest in Judaism to make all decisions for them and Christianity demanded they grow into maturity. The author warns those who do that are nepios (an infant, a simple minded person). In the closing verse of this chapter the writer uses the word exercised. The Greek here is gumnazo (to practice, to train). This is the contrast of work and completion of work. The author is again stressing we do not work to earn salvation, but we work, train, practice to enter into this rest Christ has provided. In 1 Corinthians 9.24 the Apostle Paul likens this Christian walk to running a race. This will be the continued ideology in chapter six, we must move forward and grow up in all things in Christ. These Christians must leave the basic doctrines of a Nepios and move on to the knowledge and fullness of Christ

May we all strive to grow up in God to the fullness of the stature of Christ.

Keep growing my friend!

The River Tuesday, Feb 2 2016 

I read this story recently and enjoyed pondering the meaning.

All of us can choose how to experience the river of life we all travel. We can fight, conquer, and feel dominant, or we can learn to adjust, understand and flow with life. I do not suggest either is better than the other. I only observe the choices that are presented to each of us. We can grapple with life and all it’s challenges, or learn how to find peace with it roaring in our ears. Hope you enjoy. I do not know who the author of the story is. 

By good fortune, I was able to raft down the Motu River in New Zealand twice during the last year. The magnificent four-day journey traverses one of the last wilderness areas in the North Island.

The first expedition was led by “Buzz”, an American guide with a great deal of rafting experience and many stories to tell of mighty rivers such as the Colorado. With a leader like Buzz, there was no reason to fear any of the great rapids on the Motu.

The first half day, in the gentle upper reaches, was spent developing teamwork and co-ordination. Strokes had to be mastered, and the discipline of following commands without question was essential. In the boiling fury of a rapid, there would be no room for any mistake. When Buzz bellowed above the roar of the water, an instant reaction was essential.

We mastered the Motu. In every rapid we fought against the river and we overcame it. The screamed commands of Buzz were matched only by the fury of our paddles, as we took the raft exactly where Buzz wanted it to go.

At the end of the journey, there was a great feeling of triumph. We had won. We proved that we were superior. We knew that we could do it. We felt powerful and good. The mystery and majesty of the Motu had been overcome.

The second time I went down the Motu, the experience I had gained should have been invaluable, but the guide on this journey was a very softly spoken Kiwi. It seemed that it would not even be possible to hear his voice above the noise of the rapids.

As we approached the first rapid, he never even raised his voice. He did not attempt to take command of us or the river. Gently and quietly he felt the mood of the river and watched every little whirlpool. There was no drama and no shouting. There was no contest to be won. He loved the river.

We sped through each rapid with grace and beauty and, after a day, the river had become our friend, not our enemy. The quiet Kiwi was not our leader, but only the person whose sensitivity was more developed than our own. Laughter replaced the tension of achievement.

Soon the quiet Kiwi was able to lean back and let all of us take turns as leader. A quiet nod was enough to draw attention to the things our lack of experience prevented us from seeing. If we made a mistake, then we laughed and it was the next person’s turn.

We began to penetrate the mystery of the Motu. Now, like the quiet Kiwi, we listened to the river and we looked carefully for all those things we had not even noticed the first time.

At the end of the journey, we had overcome nothing except ourselves. We did not want to leave behind our friend, the river. There was no contest, and so nothing had been won. Rather we had become one with the river.

It remains difficult to believe that the external circumstances of the two journeys were similar. The difference was in an attitude and a frame of mind. At the end of the journey, it seemed that there could be no other way. Given the opportunity to choose a leader, everyone would have chosen someone like Buzz. At the end of the second journey, we had glimpsed a very different vision and we felt humble – and intensely happy.

Hebrews Chapter Four Monday, Feb 1 2016 

4.1-8 the incomplete rest of the Old Testament. The author presents the case for the failure of the rest in the Old Testament. It is evident the rest is ensconced in the gospel. The rest and the gospel are indivisible. When you receive the gospel, you receive the rest. (3) when you believe you enter into this rest. God did rest, not from fatigue, but from completion. We rest today because the gospel completed the “work” of salvation. The door to rest is belief. Unbelief closed the door for the Old Testament people, and it still closes the door today. The author reminds us if we will hear His voice, and not harden our heart, we will enter His rest. (8) clear admonition this is not about a literal day, but about the rest Christ gives through the Holy Ghost. The author fears that these wavering saints may have lost sight of the fact that the whole way of salvation is through faith. This faith in Jesus Christ promises the rest that accompanies the gospel. This rest is eternal. God did not begin work again on day 8. God has been at rest since that moment he finished creation! This is accented by the fact Moses noted the end of the first six days but does not mention the seventh day ending.

4.9-13 the complete rest of Jesus Christ. As God ceased from his works when he entered the rest, so now the people of God rest concerning their own works. Salvation’s work is finished! The only labor the child of God needs to do now is labor to enter into that rest where salvation is complete. In verses 1-8 the word rest is katapausis-reposing down, abode, rest. Here in verse 9 the author uses another word sabbatismos- the repose of Christianity, as a type of heaven. The former rest was never a type of heaven. It was simply intermittent rest from physical labor. The rest of Jesus Christ is a type of heaven. It is a repose we enter into and never leave. The rest (peace) is inside us through the power of the Holy Ghost! We no longer have katapausis, we have sabbatismos. In verse 8 the author boldly proclaims if Jesus had given them katapauo, He would not have spoken of another day! Jesus Christ replaced Katapauo, (temorary repose) with sabbatismos (permanent repose). Therefore the rest of Christianity is better than the rest of the former covenant. The rest of Christianity, (sabbatismos), is the rest when a work is finished! Death is no longer the gate to eternal rest, now that door is faith in Jesus Christ.

4.14-16 the closing admonition on rest in Jesus Christ. Our High Priest hath passed into the heavens where he intercedes for us continually. The lamb has been slain, the sacrifice complete, we rest in his all sufficient priesthood. Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace (getting the things we do not deserve) that we may obtain mercy ( not getting what we deserve: judgment), so we can find grace ( the good things we do not deserve), to help in time of need. Christ’s rest is better.