What Is Man…

English: Pleiades Star Cluster

English: Pleiades Star Cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever had an experience like you know something, but then whatever it is hits you right between the eyes in a fresh, new, powerful way? Well, this very same thing happened to me recently. Two things happened. First, I was teaching my students about astronomy and we were discussing light years, stars, galaxies, etc. Secondly, my husband and I went on a walk on a crisp, clear night where we could see forever (or so it seemed!). All of a sudden, Psalm 8:3-4 became a reality to me. “When I observe Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, what is man that You remember him, the son of man that you look after him?”

Here are some facts that when I stop to think about them and ponder them, my mind just can’t quite grasp them.

  1. A light year, which is the speed light travels in a year, is approximately 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). Stop and think about that number for a moment. It’s easy to say, but can we really grasp the enormity of the number… (It would take about 32,000 years to count to 1 trillion; assuming you could say 1 number per second.)
  2. The sun is 93 million miles from Earth. It takes 8 minutes for the light from the sun to reach us. Therefore we see the light from sun as it was 8 minutes ago.
  3. The second closest star to Earth (after the sun) is about 24 trillion miles (4 light years) away from Earth.
  4. There are between 200 and 400 billion stars just in the Milky Way Galaxy.
  5. The Milky Way Galaxy is about 100,000 light years wide. (Think about that, 100,000 x 6,000,000,000,000). In other words, traveling at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), it would take 100,000 years to get from one side of our galaxy to the other.
  6. The closest galaxy to the Milky Way is actually within the Milky Way Galaxy. It is called the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy and is about 42,000 light years from the center of the Milky Way. It is 25,000 light years from Earth.
  7. The Andromeda Galaxy is about 2.5 million light years away from Earth. (Think: 2,500,000 x 6,000,000,000,000). Mind boggling!
  8. There are at least 100 billion galaxies in the known universe.
  9. Even on the clearest of nights, we can only see about 3,000 stars.
  10. It is estimated that the number of stars in the known universe far exceeds all the grains of sand on all the beaches on Earth! So on a clear night, we can only see the equivalent of a handful of sand.

As I pondered these facts, while gazing at the heavens I felt so small and insignificant in comparison to our awesome God. Here are some other verses that speak of the awesomeness of our God. Take some time to meditate on these scriptures.

Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands.”

Psalm 147:4, “He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.”

Isaiah 40:5, “Look up and see: Who created these? He brings out the starry host by number; He calls them all by name. Because of His great power and strength, not one of them is missing.”

Amos 5:8, “The One who made the Pleiades and Orion, Who turns darkness into dawn and darkens day into night, who summons the sea and pours them out over the face of the earth – Yahweh is His name.”

Psalm 33:6, “The heavens were made by the word of the Lord, and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth.

Job 9:8-9, “He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He makes the stars: the Bear, Orion, the Pleiades, and the constellations of the southern sky.”

Psalm 90:1-2, “Lord, You have been our refuge in every generation. Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity, You are God.”

What is man that He remembers him? All praise and glory to our eternal, immortal, invisible God!

How to BE a Sheep

English: Sheep

I recently felt led to write a post, “How to Spot a Goat”, in response to what, in my opinion, was a poorly written, scripturally-unsound article entitled “How to Spot a Legalist”. However, I think the most important idea that should come from that post is how to BE a sheep.

Throughout His ministry, Yeshua makes the comparison between wheat and weeds (Matthew 13:24-30), sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46), and ready and unready virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). I’ve always thought these were interesting teachings, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized that He is comparing believers. This realization combined with Matthew 7:21-23 that says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’”, has given me great pause for thought, reflection, prayer, and studying the scriptures. Our focus should be on how to be wheat, how to be sheep, how to be ready, because not everyone that says they believe in Yeshua and has done things in His name is going to go to Heaven. Yeshua said it Himself.

So here is a list for “How to BE a Sheep”. This is not an all-inclusive list, but some important guidelines on our journey with Yahweh.

 1. We must enter THE door. John 10:7-10 says, “So Jesus said again, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. We must be saved by grace, through faith, for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10).

2. We must love Yahweh with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, with all our strength. Absolutely nothing should get in the way of our love of Him. And, our love for Him must be His way. (Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 22:34-38; 1 John 2:3)

3. We must love each other. We must be willing to put others ahead of ourselves and love them with the heart of Christ. (Mark 12:31; John 13:34-35; Romans 13:8-10; 1 John 3:11-18; 1 John 4:7)

4. We must be totally souled out and committed to Yahweh. We must be willing to take up our cross and count the cost. We must be prepared to follow Him no matter what may come our way. (Matthew 10:32-39; Mark 8:34-38; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 2:20)

5. We must hear and obey His voice. It is more than mere mental assent. We must have a saving faith that leads to obedience to His Word. We must understand that if we are living by the Holy Spirit, He will not lead us to do anything that is contrary to God’s Word. (Matthew 7:24-25; John 8:31-32; John 10:27; Romans 2:13; 1 John 2:3-6; 2 John 1:6)

6. We must bear good fruit. We are known by our fruit. What kind of fruit are we producing? (John 15:1-17; Luke 6:43-45; Galatians 5:16-26)

7. We must be servants. We must have a servant’s heart. If our Messiah was willing to wash His disciples’ feet, how much more should we be willing to serve Him and each other? (Psalm 119:125; Mark 10:42-45; John 12:26; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; Galatians 5:13; Philippians 2:5-7)

8. We must forgive. We must be willing to forgive others if we want Yahweh to forgive us. (Proverbs 17:9; Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25; Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:12-14)

9. We must be humble. We must stay away from self-righteousness and a proud and haughty attitude. We must be humble before Yahweh and realize that every breath we take is because it is from Him. (2 Chronicles 7:14; Micah 6:8; Matthew 23:12; Luke 18:9-14; Philippians 2:3-11; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:6)

10. We must be holy. Holiness is not optional; we must pursue holiness or we will not see Yahweh. (Isaiah 35:8; Leviticus 20:26; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:4; 2 Timothy 2:21; 1 John 3:6-10; 1 Peter 1:14-16)

 Are you a sheep? Are you wheat? Are you ready?

Galatians: flesh or spirit

Walk in His Ways

     Galatians is written to people who are being told that they must do something by their own merits to join, or be identified with, Israel.  Obviously they’ve seen something in their belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that tells them they are connected with the natural seed line to have opened themselves up to this type of deceptive reasoning.  Paul is emphatically explaining that they are connected, through their faith in Yeshua (Gal. 3:29)! 

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Good-for-Nothing Slaves

“Which one of you having a slave tending sheep or plowing will say to him when he comes in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? Instead, will he not tell him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, get ready,and serve me while I eat and drink; later you can eat and drink’? Does he thank that slave because he did what was commanded? In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves; we’ve only done our duty.’” –Luke 17:7-10

I came across this passage last week; and verse 10 really stuck out to me. “In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves; we’ve only done our duty.’” That’s exactly how we should be in our walk with Yeshua. We are to do what He commands because we are His slaves…it is our duty. It’s not about working to earn salvation, righteousness, or anything else. It is our duty. When we have received the free gift of salvation through the Messiah’s shed blood, we then become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Sin no longer rules over us, because we are not under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14).

But wait you say…weren’t you just talking about following the commands of Yahweh and then you just totally switched trains and now it’s all about grace? Absolutely not…because if you keep reading the rest of Romans 6 you will be amazed with sudden clarity. Keep reading…

“What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from allegiance to righteousness. So what fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the end is eternal life! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:15-23).

Saved by grace through faith for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10)…to take on Yeshua’s ways, follow His commands, and walk as He walked (1 John 2:3-6).

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping Your word. I have sought You with all my heart; don’t let me wander from Your commands. –Psalm 119:9-10

How to Spot a Goat

Sheep and Goats

Sheep and Goats (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently read an article with the intriguing title “How to Spot a Legalist.” The article begins by discussing how “legalists” will tell you that salvation comes by grace and then adds to it by telling you a list of do’s and don’ts to follow. The author then goes on to say, “21st Century Pharisees have replaced circumcision and keeping of the law with a more accepted evangelicalized list of do’s and don’ts. These pious sounding party poopers are getting Christians to doubt their salvation, get discouraged in their salvation and trying to prove, keep and/or earn their salvation. They are robbing believers of the joy that was once theirs in Christ and replacing it with the heavy yoke of legalism (Acts 15:5-11)” One of the problems I have with that statement is the only time that following the commands of God become a heavy yoke and therefore burdensome is when people keep the commands for their salvation. The Scriptures clearly and explicitly tell us that the Law is a delight (Psalm 1:2, Psalm 19:7-11, Psalm 40:8, Psalm 119, Romans 7:22) and His commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). We are saved by grace through faith…a faith that leads to obedience and good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). After all, we are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20), the precious atoning blood of our Messiah. We are sternly warned against trampling the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:26-31). And, I will reiterate my point from previous posts Law vs. Grace and Law and Grace Collide, that it takes both to fully and totally follow God.

The next thing the author does is to write a list of 10 ways to spot a legalist. Well, I got to thinking and pondering about that and I thought about the wheat and the weeds and how they grow together. “He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this!’ he told them. “‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him. “‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30) And, I also thought about how Jesus will separate the sheep and the goats and how they are both believers…but judged by their works. (See Matthew 25:31-46).

Then, I came up with a list…How to spot a goat.

  1. They cheapen grace by saying it doesn’t matter what you do; you can go to Heaven because you’ve said a prayer. But the bible says believers are called to good works (Matthew 5:16,  Romans 2:6-10, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Ephesians 2:10, Titus 2:14, James 2:26 just to name a few!)
  2. They’ll say non-sensical things like, “Salvation is free and you don’t have to conform your life to His…you can keep on living however you want to live.” But the bible says believers are called to conform their lives to His (Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18); believers are called to die to self (John 12:24-26, 1 Corinthians 15:31, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 5:24 etc.).
  3. They give their stamp of approval to everyone, even if their fruit stinks. But the bible says believers are called to hold each other accountable (Proverbs 27:17, Ezekiel 33:7, Matthew 18:15-17, Galatians 6:1-2, Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 4:25); and to recognize good and bad fruit (Matthew 7:16-20).
  4. They focus on things like salvation without repentance. But the bible says believers are called to repent (which means to turn completely away from sin; change your heart and your mind) (Matthew 4:17, Mark 6:12, Luke 13:3, Acts 2:38).
  5. Their “gospel” teaches it’s okay to sin because grace covers a multitude of sin. But the bible says believers are commanded to, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11, Ephesians 4:22-24)
  6. They let people run amok with too much grace and not enough justice. But the bible says believers know God loves them unconditionally (Romans 5:8), but that He is also a God of justice (Psalm 33:5, Acts 17:30-32), and they will be held accountable for their actions (2 Corinthians 5:10, Hebrews 9:27).
  7. They conveniently leave out the entire Old Testament (which is the foundation) and then James, 1 John, and any other books or verses that tell us we have to do something after we’ve been saved. But the bible says believers are called to obey God’s commandments (John 14:23-24, Romans 2:13, Hebrews 5:8-9, 1 John 2:3-6, 2 John 1:6).
  8. They discard any verse that opposes their viewpoint and say, “Well sometimes the Bible contradicts itself.” But the bible says believers are called to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). God’s Word never contradicts itself (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:16-21)…however, our interpretation of scripture can be contradictory.
  9. They concoct a grace alone recipe that holds fast to the traditions of man and leads people to the wide and smooth path that leads to Hell. But the bible says believers are to enter through the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14).
  10. They cheapen grace and cause nonbelievers and believers alike to steer clear of Christianity because of the hypocrisy that goes on day in and day out. They honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him.  (Matthew 15:8-9). But the bible says believers are called to be ambassadors for Christ and therefore represent Him wherever we go (2 Corinthians 5:20).

The author then goes on to state, “But grace that cannot be abused is no grace at all.” Uhmmm…excuse me…doesn’t God’s Word say in Romans 6:1-2, “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

I absolutely agree that salvation comes by grace alone. It is undeserved mercy. We don’t deserve to get out of Hell, but Jesus paid that price for us. It’s what we do with that grace that matters. Are we going to take it lightly and trample the blood of Jesus to continue to live our very same lives? Or are we willing to give up our lives, crucify our fleshly desires and follow Him in all the ways He walked? Are we willing to allow the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us as believers to transform us into His image? Are we willing to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age? Are we willing to be slaves to righteousness? Are we willing to stop cherry picking which verses we will follow and submit ourselves to the whole word of God?

Choices………………………..and eternal consequences.

 

 

 

Stier, G. (March 16, 2013). How to Spot a Legalist. The Christian Post. Retrieved May 14, 2013, from http://www.christianpost.com/news/how-to-spot-a-legalist-92015/.

Grace and Law Collide

You’ve heard the story…

The woman taken in adultery

The woman taken in adultery (Photo credit: gwilmore)

“At dawn He went to the temple complex again, and all the people were coming to Him. He sat down and began to teach them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him. Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” (John 8:2-11)

I would like to take a closer look at verse 11 where Yeshua says, “Neither do I condemn you, go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

Hmmm….”Neither do I condemn you.” Sounds like grace to me. She deserved death. After all, she was caught in adultery. But, wait…Yeshua said, “Neither do I condemn you.” Grace … unmerited favor…undeserved mercy. However, He goes on to say, “Go and from now on do not sin anymore.” What? That can’t be right…don’t sin anymore? Wouldn’t that be following …………wait for it………the Law? I mean if sin is transgressing the Law (1 John 3:4), then wouldn’t it stand to reason that not sinning would be following the Law? (1 John 3:7)

And then…why would Yeshua tell someone to go and sin no more if it was not possible not to sin? Just some food for thought.