Saturday, July 2, 2016

Do we have to follow the Shepherd, or not?

When I was growing up, the "Sermon on the Mount", recorded in Matthew chapters 5 through 7 was considered to be something of a manifesto of the Christian life, an outline of how the disciples of Jesus ought to live and walk as we follow Him. This discourse from the mouth of the Lord Jesus includes the well-known "beatitudes", the "salt and light" teaching, His revelations about adultery and divorce, how to give alms, how to pray and fast, the narrow vs the wide gate, and the wise man who built his house upon a rock, among other very familiar and beloved teachings!

It is troubling to learn now, as an adult, that some Christians believe and teach that this passage was not even written to the majority of the body of Christ. They say it was not written to "gentile" believers, but Jewish. What??  I'm afraid that modern Christians have gotten so full of religious ideas that they've forgotten the fine art of listening to the Shepherd, and obeying His voice.

I still believe that the sermon of Jesus recorded in Matthew 5-7 is just as much ours as the Great Commission recorded in chapter 28 is. He said:

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..."

Does anyone doubt that the Great Commission is given to the entire body of believers, even today? Is it not the responsibility of the gentile church to go to the nations to teach them the good news of the gospel, baptize them, and teach/disciple them in "all things whatsoever I [Jesus] have commanded you"? Two important things jump out at me.

1) The people present when He gave the "Great Commission" were also all Jewish Believers, just as were those who heard Him on the Mount of Olives. Would these modern believers who deny the Sermon on the Mount was written to us, also deny the Great Commission was written to us? Same audience. (Matthew 5:1-2; and 28:16) Also...

2) Part of the Great Commission states that we are to teach new believers all the things Jesus commanded. That would include all the things given at the Sermon on the Mount. Correct?

Now, here is the problem some modern believers have with the Sermon on the Mount, and why they insist that it was written specifically to Jewish believers, excluding gentile believers. They do not want all of it to apply to them. They especially do not like the part where Jesus said,

17  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 
This is just as much ours as the part about salt and light, and blessed are the meek, and when thou prayest enter into thy closet, and seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Could it be that to our Messiah, there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile who are in Him? (Colossians 3:11) Could it be that we gentiles were grafted in to the same "good olive tree"? (Romans 11:19-24) Could it be that we become adopted into the same family, the seed of Abraham, by faith? (Galatians 3:16)

Could it be that we who get to inherit the Kingdom (co-heirs with Christ), also inherit the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises? (Romans 9:4)

Or is it that, though we gentiles are grafted in, we somehow have nothing to do with the commandments given to our adopted brothers, that we are outsiders? Are we grafted ones to be treated differently than the natural branches? Does this agree with what Jesus (and Paul) taught? Not at all. We are treated as sons and daughters, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the natural-born sons and daughters. 

All too many Christians are happy to acknowledge that we are co-heirs with Christ, destined to rule and reign with Him, but without owning the responsibility to obey what He said to do once we are in Him. To answer the title question, no, we do not have to follow the Shepherd. *sigh* No, we do not have to, not in order to be saved. But we ought to, because we are saved. And it is a joy to do it! Obedience brings His greatest blessings, both in this life, and in the Kingdom to come.

Be blessed!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Rest for your Souls

My Father has loved on me so much today, that I've just got to share a little bit that's spilling over the brim of my full cup. If you are like me, there are days when life and all its details can overwhelm your soul. You know you need to get away. You know you need a break. Perhaps it escapes you how you will ever be able to stop and catch your breath. You need r.e.s.t... physically, spiritually, or both.

I have good news.

You can find rest for your soul.

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. (the Prophet Jeremiah 6:16)

When the Messiah, Jesus, walked the earth teaching the people His ways, He made reference to the old prophet's words:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
To whom did Jesus apply the words of the prophet? To those who were heavy laden, and He invited them to rest. Then, He says He is the Lord of the sabbath (Matthew chapter 12), and compels the people to leave off all the traditional trappings and burdensome add-ons to the Father's instructions. He completely smashed the Pharisees' false teachings which had made the sabbath difficult and burdensome to keep, instead of it being a gift for man.

In other words, He compelled the people to return to the old paths; to do it the way the Father intended. Because there is the "good way". Walk in it, and you shall find rest for your soul.

May you be blessed!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

At home.

I've spent an hour or more this evening, looking over this blog and other blogs I've attempted to start, but just couldn't stay excited about. As much as I wanted a fresh start and a fresh look, I keep coming back to This Pilgrimage, and I realize it feels like my online home, if that makes sense. Motherhood, ministry, multitasking and mayhem may keep me from writing very often, but when I am able to squeeze in a few moments to organize my thoughts and arrange them into a blog post, there seems to be no place like This Pilgrimage to put them.

So I think I'll just stay on This Pilgrimage I've been on for several years, until God leads me Home!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Seven Reasons Why a Christian would keep the Biblical Feasts

"Concerning the feasts of the LORD..." The word translated "feasts" is from the Hebrew word /moed/ which means "appointment, a fixed time or season; specifically a festival...".

These last few years we have been learning about the Feasts of the Lord, and keeping them the best we know how. Some of my friends have asked me about it, wondering why we would have any interest in keeping "Jewish feasts". I woke up this morning thinking on that question, and decided to write this post sharing with you seven good reasons to keep the biblical feasts.

1. They are the Feasts of our LORD.

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. {Lev 23:2}
In the minds of most of us, they are Jewish. By the time of the New Testament they were sometimes referred to as feasts of the Jews. That is because throughout history, it is the Jews (even if just a remnant) who have faithfully kept them from year to year, though they may not have understood their full significance and fulfillment. But from the beginning, the feasts are appointments set by God, special times to meet with Him, from which He did not exclude "strangers" (Lev 19:34; Num 9:14). They are His appointed times, and we who are His may keep His feasts!

2. Creation itself was set up for them.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons /moed-im/, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. {Gen 1:14-15}
The Appointed Times were not a new idea in the mind of God when Israel left Egypt and congregated in the wilderness. They were in His heart from the beginning, and were part of the purpose for creating the heavenly bodies. When we look up at the night sky and thank Him for creating these beautiful lesser lights to light the night, we are only acknowledging part of His purpose. They were also created to be for signs and for His seasons (moed-im, appointed times).

3. The Biblical Feasts are all pictures of Jesus Christ, our Messiah.
For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me {Jesus}: for he wrote of me. {John 5:46}
The more we study the Feasts, the clearer the beautiful picture of Christ comes into view. It reveals more of His heart and His character to us! They are all about HIM. Why wouldn't I keep them, then?

4.  The Biblical Feasts are not all "fulfilled" yet.

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. {Matt 5:18}
The Spring Feasts picture events that have been fulfilled with Messiah's first coming: Passover and Unleavened Bread (His death and burial), First Fruits (His resurrection; He is the First Fruits, and we will follow in the Resurrection), and Feast of Weeks/Pentecost (He sent the Holy Spirit). But the Fall Feasts have yet to be fulfilled: Feast of Trumpets (His second coming), Day of Atonement (That Great Day, final redemption), and Tabernacles (when He will dwell/tabernacle among us in the Kingdom). We are still looking forward to these prophesied events. The Biblical Feasts are still relevant at least until these events come to pass.

5. So that we won't be in the dark about Messiah's return.
Read this carefully:
1  But of the times and the seasons {Greek /kairos/: occasions, set times, akin to Hebrew /moed-im/}, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2  For yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3  For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4  But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. {1 Thes 5:1-6}
Why did Paul not have any need to write to them about the times and seasons? Because they already knew all about them, and were keeping them as Paul did. From this and other passages we see that Messiah will come as a thief in the night to those who are NOT watching, and who are NOT walking in the Light of God's Word, which reveals His times, seasons, appointments.

6. Keeping the Feasts of the LORD shows that we are a faithful Bride, prepared and waiting for our Bridegroom.
{Matt 25} Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish...
In this parable there are five wise virgins and five foolish ones, who went to meet the Bridegroom. The five foolish ones were not prepared for His coming, but the five wise ones were prepared with oil to spare. At the end of the parable we see this same admonition used later by Paul: WATCH.

7. The Feasts are remembrances of what He has done, and rehearsals for what is to come.

Looking back, we remember His death with Passover, His glorious resurrection with First Fruits. Looking forward, in the Millennial Reign of Christ the first event we see taking place is the Feast of Tabernacles, which is a picture of the great wedding feast of the Bridegroom and His Bride! It will take place every year for a thousand years as a commemoration, like a wedding anniversary.
And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. {Zec 14:16}
Most of us had a wedding rehearsal before our actual wedding date. Shall we rehearse the Greatest Wedding in the Universe?

I have found it a joy to do so!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On Tomatoes and Children

This morning I woke up thinking about children. In the Bible, children are sometimes likened to tender young plants, and I thought of the tiny tomato plants we recently potted. Not all of them stood up straight at first; they needed to be planted into good soil, gently watered, and trained with a gentle and patient hand. With that kind of care, their little stems gained strength, their leaves stretched toward heaven, their roots went deeper into nourishing soil, and they've grown into strong plants and are even beginning to bear fruit.

I thought about how silly it would have been to yell at those tiny plants for being so flimsy, or to impatiently stick them into the soil, or worse, toss them onto the soil and throw up our hands hopelessly, saying these plants will never amount to anything. That's ridiculous. No one would do that with a tiny tomato seedling. Yet people do that with their children.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. {Ephesians 6:4}

What does it mean to "bring them up"? The Greek word is /ektrephō/, which means "to rear up to maturity, that is, (generally) to cherish or train: - bring up, nourish". Cherish. Train. Nourish. These speak of meeting needs, and children have a lot of needs.

We must cherish them to meet their emotional needs.

We must train them to meet their spiritual needs.

We must nourish them to meet their physical needs.

How can children grow up right, if their needs are not met? How can they learn to be kind to others, if they are not treated with kindness as they grow? How can they learn to tolerate others' shortcomings, if they are not allowed the the same grace? How can they learn to do a job well, if they are never given opportunities to try, to fail in a safe environment, to build confidence, and then to succeed?

When parents provide the secure, loving, nourishing environment that little ones need, they can grow up to maturity and produce the good fruit that we long to see.