Post-Flood Church Services

August 23, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails, The Flood | 3 Comments
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It didn’t take long. The good feelings and perceived unity generated when people of various skin colors, ethnic backgrounds, political persuasions, and economic classes put their differences aside and came together to help each other survive and rebuild after a catastrophic flood, started eroding faster than the banks of the tributaries and bayous around the Amite River – beginning on the following Sunday morning.

It seems that some local churches, despite doing everything they could to help their church members (our first obligation) and neighbors, and despite devastation to their own buildings, managed to clean out enough debris, and to dry out the mold-producing moisture just enough, to have a worship service to thank the Lord for sparing us from what we truly deserved (greater damage and destruction) and to praise Him for Who He is.

Some of the complaints sounded like this:
“I can’t believe they are having a church service while people are hurting and need help!”
“People need their homes cleaned out, while these so-called ‘Christians’ are singing and praying!”
“Jesus would be helping people. He wouldn’t be attending church after a disaster!”

I will admit that the church I attend was one of the ones that did have a Sunday morning church service on the Sunday after the flood. We did not have one on the Sunday of the flood, because on that Sunday our church building was in the middle of a newly-formed lake roughly the size of our whole parish, and because our church building had several feet of water inside it! Before the flood waters had even finished rising our church members were out rescuing people and trying to help. Two of our pastors and our church secretary lost their homes and most of their possessions, along with about 75% of the residents in our parish, including many of our church members and families. Those of us who barely stayed dry began to provide shelter, food, and clothing, and began the time-consuming and costly process of debris removal and salvage for those without flood insurance. A huge percentage of the homes affected were in “non-flood” zones, and therefore did not have flood insurance. And, yes, many of us worked hard on our church building, too, since it is our ministry headquarters, and since we believe that, as good stewards of the property that God has given us to manage, we owe a duty to protect it so it can be used for future ministry – including the most important part of ministry: the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We also needed the property to be a staging area for the distribution of food, clothing, and other necessities.

That Sunday morning service was special. People with dire physical needs came and were helped. They also received comfort and were helped spiritually. For this we do not apologize.

Many of our church members went right back to work that same day, helping each other and others in our community. Anyone who would begrudge us ninety minutes of prayer, singing, preaching, and worship after one of the busiest and most traumatic weeks of our lives, has greatly misunderstood what the Bible teaches about the purpose of the Church.

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:10-12

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

As for this idea that, by trying to preserve our church building and by having a church service while others were working on their homes, we were doing what Jesus would not have done, let me remind you to be very careful playing the “WWJD” card that has become so fashionable in “Pop Christianity.” People tend to be very selective and biased in claiming to know what Jesus “would” do, when, in reality, we are far better off looking in the Bible and seeing what Jesus actually did do.

No offense, but the family who lost literally every worldly possession they had in the flood, but who live in 21st Century Livingston Parish, Louisiana, is still far better off than a Jewish family, under Roman occupation, in 1st Century Nazareth on their very best day. Yet:

And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

Luke 2:43-36

He was “in the temple.” Not helping other families carry their belongings, not providing food and water. In the temple.

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

Matthew 26:6-11

Jesus did not condemn those who gave their resources to be used in worshiping Him, even though there were always poor people who could be helped with material and physical needs.

People read about Jesus healing on the Sabbath and going about the countryside helping and miraculously feeding people, and they somehow get the idea that Jesus would be opposed to church attendance, but:

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

Matthew 4:23

Jesus did both. He attended worship services and He ministered throughout the land. Do you think there were people who were not hungry, who did not need help, while He was teaching and preaching? Of course there were! It is a peculiar brand of legalism which condemns Christians for focusing on church when a disaster strikes, but gives the critics a pass when things are normal. If you are tempted to criticize our church for having worship services during a flood recovery effort, you also need to be just as hard on yourself for preparing for a Spartan race or taking a family vacation while there are homeless people living under bridges in Baton Rouge and beggars on every street corner in New Orleans. Self-righteous hypocrisy can cut both ways, can’t it? I would not condemn those who skipped church that Sunday morning, under these exceptional circumstances, so they could bless people in need, but neither would I criticize those who assembled to worship.

Finally, as our Pastor pointed out on that first Sunday morning after the flood, we do have something of a Biblical precedent. Noah, upon exiting the ark with his family and the surviving animals – before he began rebuilding and even before they began repopulating – made a point of stopping to worship:

And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him: Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark. And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Genesis 8:18-21

The Danger of Slandering God

March 30, 2016 at 10:49 am | Posted in Hebrews | 1 Comment
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Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

Hebrews 10:19

Entering into the “holiest” is the ultimate in “drawing near” to God. Under the New Covenant, and its superior Sacrifice, we are allowed to come this close to God. “Drawing nigh” creates the image of pulling up forcefully and quickly and suddenly stopping – of getting as close as possible without becoming that to which we are drawing near. As Christians, we spend time preparing to draw near to God, and, even in our preparations, we are already “near,” but, as the shadows of the Old Covenant are fulfilled in the New, the sprinkling of the blood of animals becomes the sprinkling of our hearts from an evil conscience.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

The washing in the laver becomes the washing of our bodies with obedience to the Word. We are motivated to try to keep ourselves clean (holy) in preparation for entering His presence, and abiding in His presence every minute of every day.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Hebrews 10:23

If he said we could do it – if He PROMISED – then we CAN.

The next verses exhort us not to forsake some things: do not forsake considering each other; do not forsake provoking each other; do not forsake assembling with each other. That’s one reason why it’s so important to attend a local church. Three things that help us to abide in God’s presence are His Word, His Spirit, and His Body, the local church. If you forsake any one of these three, you are on a dangerous path, and are placing yourself at the mercy of one of your three enemies:

1. The devil, who we fight with the Word.
2. The flesh, which is fought against in the power of the Holy Ghost.
3. The world, which we fight against with the local church.

This brings us to the fourth admonition in Hebrews:

1. Don’t slip.
2. Don’t be suspicious.
3. Don’t be stunted.
4. Don’t slander.

Slandering God is slandering His Word. It is living as though what He has said will not come to pass. It is living as if disobedience will produce no consequences.

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Hebrews 10:26

The Old Covenant provided no sacrifices for deliberate and willful sins.

He that despised Moses’s law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

Hebrews 10:28

The punishment was execution.

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Hebrews 10:29

Who is more accountable? The lost person who slanders God? Or the saved person, who knows the truth about God, yet slanders Him anyway? Even forgiven sins have consequences.

We are saved through faith, and the victorious Christian must also LIVE by faith.

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Hebrews 10:38-39

The opposite of drawing near is drawing back. “Perdition” in Verse 39 is not eternal punishment or damnation, but it is a serious and severe punishment. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. He’s a living and a loving God. A saved person will never fall out of the hands of God – nothing shall pluck them out (John 10:28-29) – but a believer who slanders God by repeated willful deliberate patterns of sin – by drawing back farther and farther – WILL be dealt with by God.

The Greatest Sacrifice

March 17, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Priests went into the Old Covenant sanctuary to make sacrifices. These sacrifices had to be repeated time and time again, but the New Covenant Sacrifice is superior. It is an everlasting Sacrifice. It is sufficient and efficient to open the way into the Holy of Holies in Heaven – to allow believers to have confident and eternal access to God the Father. In the Old Covenant animals were sacrificed, but in the New Covenant the Sacrifice was Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Christ was a better Sacrifice because He actually took away sins.

But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Hebrews 10:3-4

Old Covenant sacrifices had to be repeated over and over because they did not cause God to stop “remembering” the sins of the people. These sacrifices served to cover sin, but not to cleanse the sinner. Christ was a better Sacrifice because God had prepared the Sacrifice Himself.

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

Hebrews 10:5

Christ did what it was not possible for anyone else to do: He pleased God with His mind, His heart, His desire to obey, and even with a body of flesh. He did ALWAYS the will of the Father.

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Matthew 17:5

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:38-40

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

John 17:4-5

Old Covenant sacrifices were accepted, but they had no will of their own to be sacrificed, and they had not been especially prepared by the Father in the way Christ had.

In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

Hebrews 10:6

Why would God have no pleasure in sacrifices which were done in obedience to His Word? These sacrifices were often made with an outward show of obedience, but without an obedient heart. Remember, God sees the heart. There’s no drawing near by way of a sacrifice in form only. There must be a humble heart, a desire to please, and a true obedient ATTITUDE: a desire that the Lord God would accept this sacrifice as a sign of true repentance and a resolve not to disobey again. This did bring about blessings, but it did not pay the sin debt once and for all. The sacrifice of Christ did.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

Hebrews 10:12

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Hebrews 10:14

Catechism Question 19

March 18, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Hebrews | 3 Comments
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Question 19: Where is Jesus now?
Answer: He is in Heaven with God the Father.
Prove it.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

Hebrews 10:12

It is important for children to believe that, after Jesus died and rose from the grave, He showed Himself alive to many witnesses, and then ascended up to Heaven – still fully God, but also still fully human, in His resurrected and glorified body.

It is also important to explain the significance of Jesus’s position at God’s right hand, equally enthroned with God the Father, having His rightful place as Judge and Ruler.

With the God-Man as our Savior, Lord, elder Brother, and Father, we have full assurance of acceptance with God, access to Him in prayer, and eternal life in His loving and benevolent presence.

Other key verses to know:

Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Romans 8:34

Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

I Peter 3:22

Winning the Argument that Christ is Better

March 16, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 6 Comments
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The Book of Hebrews was authored by the Holy Spirit, but there are vastly differing opinions over which human instrument He used to do so. Personally, I believe it was the Apostle Paul. It was written to convince the Hebrews (Jewish Christians) of the superiority of Jesus. A key phrase is “a better…” The Lord Jesus is “better” than all the attempts at righteousness in the Jewish religion.

Another one of the book’s main themes is the encouragement to draw near – draw nigh – to God.

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Hebrews 7:19

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

We don’t have to chase God all over the country. As Christians, we can draw near to Him any time we want. When Jesus spoke to His disciples about the little children, He said, “Suffer them to come unto Me.”

In Hebrews Chapter 1 we see that Christ is better than the prophets of God who came before Christ’s birth.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Hebrews 1:1-2

The prophets told people about how God created everything, but Christ was there when it was created.

Second, Christ is better than the angels.

Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

Hebrews 1:4-5

The angels are sometimes called the sons of God, but they are created beings, and the created is not to be worshiped. Only the Creator is to be worshiped.

The angels serve Jesus, and they serve Christians, too.

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Hebrews 1:14

How does knowing that Christ is better than the prophets and better than the angels convince us to draw near to Him? It’s step one of an argument. How did the Hebrews know that they were supposed to have priests and a high priest and altars and sacrifices and a tabernacle and sin offerings and blood sacrifices? God told them (His Word). But through what medium? His prophets. They delivered the Law – including the ceremonies of their religion. But if Christ was greater than the prophets, then the people needed to learn from Him.

Christ did not really come with a revelation of following a by-the-numbers set of rules and regulations. He came with principles like Grace and Love. The angels and the prophets helped deliver the Law, which was God’s revelation of His nature to the people, but Christ is enthroned in glory. He is seated at God’s right hand.

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Hebrews 1:3-4

Christ is better than the prophets because He is God. He is better than the angels because they were created and He is the Creator.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Hebrews 1:8

The cults don’t like this, but it is still true. “The Son” is a more excellent name. Jesus is God, and He has been forever. He was not “born” as touching His Deity. However, God the Father has especially honored Him as Son.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Hebrews 1:8-9

Worship in Faith

February 2, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Posted in Habakkuk | 2 Comments
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Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 1:17

The doctrine of faith as the doorway to salvation did not originate in the New Testament.

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Galatians 3:11

However, the New Testament clearly refutes the false belief that keeping God’s law can save.

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

Hebrews 10:38

So, what about after salvation? We are saved through faith, but how do we please God after He saves us?

Faith is the means of salvation because God has declared that by faith will man be justified. “The just” are those whom God, by His grace, has declared righteous, and who, therefore, have a perfect standing before Him in Christ Jesus. Does that scare you? It shouldn’t – it put Habakkuk right into a spirit of worship. How I wish that modern Christians didn’t have such a tendency to surrender their brains to their feelings in worship!

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

Habakkuk 3:2

Dear Lord, the basis for our worship is Your Word. We fear You, Lord. Your Word has convicted us where we stand – and we admit it. We want a revival – not of wordly “success” – but Your work. Even if not right now, but in the midst of years – in Your time. We trust You – we even trust Your wrath. We call on You to remember mercy, not because we deserve it, but because of Who You are. Keep Your promises, O God. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

The Mountain No One Can Climb Alone

January 14, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Posted in Matthew, Salvation | 8 Comments
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Matthew Chapter 5 contains the first part of the “Sermon on the Mount,” and includes the “Beatitudes.”  Since we know that Matthew stresses Christ Jesus in His role as King, we may read this sermon as the King’s creed – the guiding and foundational principles of His Kingdom.

Since we also know that the book of Matthew was written primarily to the Jewish people, we may now unlock the significance of Matthew Chapter 5, Verse 1:  “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:”  The Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to make a point of saying that Jesus “went up into a mountain” in order to call to mind the differences between the law that Christ the King was about to pronounce, and the law that Moses gave on Mount Sinai.

And, like everything in the Old Testament which is a shadow (Hebrews 10:1) or a type of the New Covenant, the law of Christ is “more perfect” than the law of Moses (Hebrews 8:5-7).  Examples:  Moses said, give God a tithe (one tenth); Christ says, surrender everything you have to God; Moses said, do not kill; Christ says, do not even hate your enemies; Moses said, do not commit adultery; Christ says, do not even look at a woman with lust in your heart; Moses said, give God a day (the Sabbath); Christ says, give God every moment of every day of your life.

It quickly becomes clear in Matthew Chapter 5 that the kind of rule-keeping and regulation-following it would take to truly achieve “righteousness” under God’s law is impossible for man to obtain.  Only Christ’s righteousness is sufficient for the Kingdom of Heaven.  Has that righteousness been imputed to you by faith?  If not, trust and obey Jesus Christ the King right now. (Romans 4:22-25)

The Trap of Loose Liaisons

July 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | Leave a comment
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In the last lesson on Samson’s pattern of lawless living, I advocated banishing the term “luck” from our vocabulary as we think about God’s sovereign and providential control of the circumstances in which we find ourselves day by day. Another example is the way in which Samson only appears to have been “unlucky in love.”

From his marriage to the girl from Timnath, who ended up with the fellow who had been the “best man” in his wedding (Judges 14:20), to the harlot from Gaza, who was nothing more than a one-night-stand (Judges 16:1-3), finally to Delilah, who had to manipulate him repeatedly to get the secret of his super strength out of him (Judges 16:15), Samson does not seem to have been the type of man who was big on emotional or spiritual intimacy. (Physical intimacy was obviously another story!)

Even in the area of non-sexual friendship, though, Samson appears to have been very aloof. Over the four chapters which recount his life, there are no close friendships, no male camaraderie, no sharing of his thoughts or feelings with any sort of trusted “confidant” (aside from Delilah). When his own countrymen came to see him, they found him sitting alone on top of a rock, and he made no special attempt to reason or fellowship with them. Rather, he sulkily told them he was a man motivated by a personal grudge, and asked them not to attack him personally as they handed him over to the Philistines (Judges 15:11-12).

One of the lessons we may learn from Samson’s life is the danger of trusting those who are not trustworthy, but another valuable lesson is the danger that lies when we fall into the trap of being a “lone ranger” in the Christian life. God does not command his people to live a life of monkish isolation. Instead, His Word often extols the benefits of healthy companionship.

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Proverbs 27:17

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

Maybe it’s overly simplistic, but I like to wonder what would have happened if Samson had made a couple of trusted friends during his time as a Judge over Israel. Perhaps, if there was someone in which to confide, someone to give wise counsel, Samson could have rallied his kinsmen against the Philistines in a concerted God-honoring effort and ended the cycle of wrath and repentance sooner. Judges 14:20 is the only mention of Samson even having a friend, and it says that Samson only “used” him as a friend. As Christians today, we certainly need to be wary of placing our trust in those who have yet to demonstrate a Godly character, but, at the same time, God has placed us into a “family” of brothers and sisters, and Christian friendship can be a terrific asset as we invest our lives in serving our Lord and our fellow human beings.

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

John 15:15

Christ in Church

March 22, 2013 at 9:02 am | Posted in C.H.U.R.C.H. | 7 Comments
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Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

What are some good reasons to come to church?

1. You are commanded to
2. To worship God
3. To hear the preaching and the teaching of the Word of God
4. To study the Bible
5. To minister to needs
6. Corporate prayer
7. To get involved in organized ministry

Those are some of the reasons you are supposed to come to church, but what are some of the real reasons people come to church? (Some of these are more applicable to teenaged children.)

1. Food
2. Fun
3. Fellowship – to see your friends
4. To catch up on gossip
5. Parents make me
6. Prizes
7. Feel guilty if I don’t
8. Need to show off my clothes or hair or phone or car
9. Extra credit for school

What is going to keep you coming to church when you don’t “have” to – or when none of these other reasons apply any more? As you get older, the enticements you are offered to come to church as a teenaged child are typically phased out. I believe one of the reasons we see so many young adults leave church – at least until they marry and have children of their own – is that there are not as many worldly or reward-based incentives to come to church once you leave a “youth group.” Having grown accustomed to the enticements, young adults don’t feel the need to come anymore when the enticements are gone.

Hopefully, understanding the importance of church will keeping you coming even when worldly or fleshly enticements are gone.

The “C” in “C.H.U.R.C.H. is for “C.hrist.” Christ is the “head” of the Church.

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Ephesians 5:23 (emphasis added)

Jesus Christ is the head of the Church. He is in charge of it, and He’s the reason for it. We are supposed to be like His body. The head is most important, but the body carries out the actions that the brain commands. Jesus could get His will done on earth without our bodies, but He allows us to do it because He loves us.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Colossians 1:18

Church must be about Jesus. He must have the preeminence. Jesus Himself must be the first and the foremost in our church participation – or else it’s not really church.

C.hrist
H.
U.
R.
C.
H.

The Thousand Year Reign of King Jesus

February 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Ezekiel | 4 Comments
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If Ezekiel was describing the Millenial Temple in Chapters 40-48 – and I believe that he was – then it is somewhat surprising to see that this temple will have altars for sacrifices.

And from the bottom upon the ground even to the lower settle shall be two cubits, and the breadth one cubit; and from the lesser settle even to the greater settle shall be four cubits, and the breadth one cubit. So the altar shall be four cubits; and from the altar and upward shall be four horns.

Ezekiel 43:14-15

And one lamb out of the flock, out of two hundred, out of the fat pastures of Israel; for a meat offering, and for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make reconciliation for them, saith the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 45:15

Why sacrifice? Didn’t Jesus die for the sins of the whole world once and for all? You better believe He did! But in Ezekiel we have descriptions of burnt offerings, trespass offering, sin offering, peace offering, meal offering, drink offering… What gives?

It is helpful to remember that Old Testament believers weren’t forgiven because of the actual shedding of the blood of animals.

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Hebrews 10:4

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalm 51:16-17

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

The Old Testament believers were not saved by the sacrifices of animals, but, as we see in Hebrews 11, they were saved because of the sacrifice of the then-future Messiah, through faith.

For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

I Thessalonians 2:9-10

These Verses are addressed specifically to believers.

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

I Thessalonians 2:9-11

Note the honesty and authenticity in the “exhorting, comforting, and charging.” Note that the Apostle and the other leaders did not subtly insert themselves into the lives of the new Christians. This was more deliberate and intentional discipleship than backyard barbeques and once-weekly meetings at Starbucks. The purpose of discipleship is not to make new believers feel comfy and cozy.

That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

I Thessalonians 2:12-13 (emphasis added)

These new believers received the Word of God more than the excitement of experiences, more than the external appearance of exuberant praise and worship, more than fun, food, and fellowship. Many folks will agree that the Word of God must be trusted at salvation, but then they abandon it, or don’t place the same importance on it. The Word of God is still of paramount importance after we are saved. It works “effectually” in those that believe.

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

I Thessalonians 2:14-16 (emphasis added)

In the Millenial Temple Jewish people and gentiles will study the Word of God and worship together.

But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

I Thessalonians 2:17

Circumstances caused the Apostle and the other leaders to be physically separated from these new believers, but they longed to see them face to face. As Christians today, we need to physically attend church whenever possible so that we can see our brothers and sisters face to face.

In the Millenial Temple there will be no “separating wall.” In the Book of Acts we saw that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Paul because they thought he had brought Gentiles into the Temple.

If you are reading this, and you are a gentile Christian like me, I am not sure what we will be doing during the Millenial Reign. Perhaps we will have authority over certain regions (under King Jesus, of course). Perhaps we will have specific ministry- or worship-related tasks. It appears that we will not be “priests,” although that is what we are, in a sense, today.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

I Peter 2:9

There will be singers in the Millennial Temple.

And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; and their prospect was toward the south: one at the side of the east gate having the prospect toward the north.

Ezekiel 40:44

Perhaps some people in the Millenium – Old Testament saints, New Testament believers, Tribulation martyrs – will have glorified bodies. Perhaps there will be some Tribulation survivors with mortal bodies who will be subject to death. I suppose that babies born in the Millennium will be sinners who need to be saved. Apparently, Satan will be able to raise an army to oppose the Lord. The descendants of Zadok will be the ones who will serve as priests.

And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the LORD to minister unto him.

Ezekiel 40:46

“Zadok” means “righteous.” They will not shave their heads, nor allow their hair to grow too long.

Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll their heads.

Ezekiel 44:20

Ezekiel Chpaters 45-48 describe the geography of the Kingdom, not just the Temple.

There will be a “prince” under the Messiah.

And the residue shall be for the prince, on the one side and on the other of the holy oblation, and of the possession of the city, over against the five and twenty thousand of the oblation toward the east border, and westward over against the five and twenty thousand toward the west border, over against the portions for the prince: and it shall be the holy oblation; and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the midst thereof. Moreover from the possession of the Levites, and from the possession of the city, being in the midst of that which is the prince’s, between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin, shall be for the prince.

Ezekiel 48:21-22.

There will be 20 separate “Years of Jubilee” – one every 50 years for 1000 years.

There will be a river of life, which Ezekiel was shown in a vision. He was taken out of the north gate of the Temple because the east gate has been closed. His vision was highlighted by things like fertility in the desert, bountiful fruit, and leaves for medicine.

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