man-made god

Have you ever stopped and thought about salvation? Why do we need a Savior? Why did Yahweh make a way so us, mere humans, could have fellowship with Him? I mean after all, it is not His will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.—2 Peter 3:9 Why?…He loves us…isn’t that enough? Why this whole plan to save man? As I pondered these things, it hit me…yes, He loves us just as we are…He will not love us any more or less than He does right now, but He cannot and will not accept us into His Kingdom just as we are. He is a holy and just God. He loves righteousness and hates lawlessness (sin).

Your throne, God,
is forever and ever,
and the scepter of Your kingdom
is a scepter of justice.

You have loved righteousness
and hated lawlessness;
this is why God, Your God,
has anointed You
with the oil of joy
rather than Your companions.

(Hebrews 1:8-9)

 

His plan of salvation for us is clearly outlined in Ezekiel 36: 26-28, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances.Then you will live in the land that I gave your fathers; you will be My people, and I will be your God.” He saves us so we can be changed into His image from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). We are supposed to become more and more like him and conform our lives to His ways. Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.—Romans 12:1-2

But, what does it mean to be transformed by the renewing of our mind? What does it mean to become more and more like Him? How do we know what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God? Why is all that important? After all, we’re saved, right? End of story. I’ve said the prayer and accepted Jesus into my heart. Now I am free to live however I want because He nailed everything to the cross. There are no rules, just freedom in Christ. (Ooops, sorry…there is some sarcasm slipping out!)

Yes, there is freedom in Christ…but not freedom from His ways…there is freedom to walk in His ways because He has overcome the sin nature in us. He gave us a new heart…a heart of flesh…a moldable heart…to cause us to follow His statutes and observe His ordinances. We are to become living sacrifices to the Most Holy God. We are to be transforming our lives to the image of Christ. How can we know what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God? He has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He has given us His Word and His Spirit so we can worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).

When we use the Spirit as an excuse for sin, then we should check the spirit. The Holy Spirit of Yahweh will not lead anyone to do anything that is contrary to the will of God. He gives us His Spirit to guide us in all truth (John 16:13).

When we take away pieces of His truth, like telling people that His Law was nailed to the cross, or telling people that we don’t need to follow this command or that command anymore, or God doesn’t care about those tiny details…that tells me three things.

1.) We are trying to conform Yahweh into our image. We are putting Him in a box of our own making. We are making a man-made god…a god that will accept us as we mire around in our sin…a god who doesn’t care that we play the harlot with the world…a god who doesn’t care how we live or how we worship him.

2.) We don’t know Yahweh as well as we think we do. Yahweh is a God of details…look at the intricate patterns and workings of nature and the human body. Look at His instructions for building the tabernacle. Read His word…it is all throughout scripture how He wants to be worshipped…how He wants us to walk in obedience after we have accepted the precious atoning blood sacrifice of Yeshua our Messiah…how we are to live our lives.

3.) We have no reverential fear of Yahweh. Have you ever stopped and thought about Yahweh? No, I mean really stopped and pondered the intricacies of the Creator of the universe, the Redeemer, the Rock, the Holy One. He and He alone is the Sovereign God of the universe. How dare we try to change Him into an image that is comfortable for us instead of changing ourselves to fit His image.

Oh, the depth of the riches
both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable His judgments
and untraceable His ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been His counselor?
Or who has ever first given to Him,
and has to be repaid?
For from Him and through Him
and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

(Romans 11:34-36)

Isaiah 66

This is what the Lord says:

Heaven is My throne,
and earth is My footstool.
What house could you possibly build for Me?
And what place could be My home?

My hand made all these things,
and so they all came into being.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
I will look favorably on this kind of person:
one who is humble, submissive in spirit,
and trembles at My word.

One slaughters an ox, one kills a man;
one sacrifices a lamb, one breaks a dog’s neck;
one offers a grain offering, one offers pig’s blood;
one offers incense, one praises an idol—
all these have chosen their ways
and delight in their detestable practices.
So I will choose their punishment,
and I will bring on them what they dread
because I called and no one answered;
I spoke and they didn’t hear;
they did what was evil in My sight
and chose what I didn’t delight in.

You who tremble at His word,
hear the word of the Lord:
“Your brothers who hate and exclude you
because of Me have said,
‘Let the Lord be glorified
so that we can see your joy!’
But they will be put to shame.”

A sound of uproar from the city!
A voice from the temple—
the voice of the Lord,
paying back His enemies what they deserve!

Before Zion was in labor, she gave birth;
before she was in pain, she delivered a boy.
Who has heard of such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Can a land be born in one day
or a nation be delivered in an instant?

Yet as soon as Zion was in labor,
she gave birth to her sons.
“Will I bring a baby to the point of birth
and not deliver it?”
says the Lord;
“or will I who deliver, close the womb?”
says your God.
Be glad for Jerusalem and rejoice over her,
all who love her.
Rejoice greatly with her,
all who mourn over her—
so that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her comforting breast
and drink deeply and delight yourselves
from her glorious breasts.

For this is what the Lord says:

I will make peace flow to her like a river,
and the wealth of nations like a flood;
you will nurse and be carried on her hip
and bounced on her lap.
As a mother comforts her son,
so I will comfort you,
and you will be comforted in Jerusalem.

You will see, you will rejoice,
and you will flourish like grass;
then the Lord’s power will be revealed to His servants,
but He will show His wrath against His enemies.
Look, the Lord will come with fire—
His chariots are like the whirlwind—
to execute His anger with fury
and His rebuke with flames of fire.
For the Lord will execute judgment
on all flesh with His fiery sword,
and many will be slain by the Lord.

“Those who dedicate and purify themselves to enter the groves following their leader, eating meat from pigs, vermin, and rats, will perish together.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

“Knowing their works and their thoughts, I have come to gather all nations and languages; they will come and see My glory. I will establish a sign among them, and I will send survivors from them to the nations—to Tarshish, Put, Lud (who are archers), Tubal, Javan, and the islands far away—who have not heard of My fame or seen My glory. And they will proclaim My glory among the nations. They will bring all your brothers from all the nations as a gift to the Lord on horses and chariots, in litters, and on mules and camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “just as the Israelites bring an offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. I will also take some of them as priests and Levites,” says the Lord.

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth,
which I will make,
will endure before Me”—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
“so your offspring and your name will endure.
All mankind will come to worship Me
from one New Moon to another
and from one Sabbath to another,”
says the Lord.

“As they leave, they will see the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against Me; for their worm will never die, their fire will never go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind.” (Isaiah 66 HCSB)

Wow! What a prophecy for the end times. Stop worshiping a god made in your own image. Stop trying to worship the One True God any way you want. He has clearly defined how He wants to be worshiped and it doesn’t end well for those who choose to worship their own way. Repent and return to the Most High God. Lord, let us be humble, submissive in spirit, and tremble at Your word.

Friends, Enemies, and Spiritual Adultery

Spiritual Adultery Edited

Adulteresses! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.—James 4:4

I recently saw a picture that made me heart sick. It was the same picture as above only on the back of the black t-shirt were the words “The Law” and under the bench was the scripture address Romans 7:1-6. The implication of that picture is that the people who want to follow God’s Law are committing spiritual adultery. My first thought was, “Wow! How blasphemous!” How can the desire to walk as our Savior walked and follow the teachings, instructions, and commands of the Most High God be spiritual adultery? So, I did what I always do when something strikes me as off…I went to the Word (and I had a little fun with some photo editing).

First of all, Yeshua the Messiah is God’s Word from the beginning. (John 1:1) He is the Lawgiver. In Isaiah 33:22 it says, “The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our King. He will save us. In James 4:12, it tells us, “There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. He gave the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. He taught and kept the law when He walked on the earth.

Throughout God’s Word, we see the consistent theme of natural and spiritual. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:45-47, “So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam (Yeshua) became a life-giving Spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth and made of dust; the second man is from heaven.” Before Yeshua, obedience was about being obedient to the letter of the law (natural). After Yeshua, it became about being obedient from the heart (spiritual). That is what the prophecy from Ezekiel 36: 26-27 is about, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances.” (emphasis mine) This is what the prophecy from Jeremiah 31:31-34 is about, “Look, the days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant they broke even though I had married them”—the Lord’s declaration.“Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sin.” (emphasis mine). Romans 7:6 says, “But now we have been released from the law, since we have died to what held us, so that we may serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old letter of the law.” If we are true believers, we have His Spirit to write His law on our hearts…we have the privilege of obeying from the heart, not from the letter.

Yeshua’s teachings magnified the law. Isaiah 42:21 says, “The Lord was pleased, because of His righteousness, to magnify His instruction and make it glorious.” Yeshua revealed the full meaning of the Laws of God…that is why he rebuked the Pharisees…they kept the letter of the Law, but their hearts were not right. Reread the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. Now, it’s not only about actually physically murdering someone, now if you hate someone, you have committed murder in your heart. Now it’s not only about committing the physical act of adultery, if you lust, you’ve committed adultery in your heart. By bringing fuller meaning to God’s Law, Yeshua did not nullify the need to obey the letter of the law. That would be ridiculous. It’s okay to actually murder someone as long as you don’t hate in your heart? But now, it has become a heart issue…because where do these physical acts begin?

The apostle John had a lot to say about true faith.

“This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.”—1 John 2:3-6

 “Dear friends, if our conscience doesn’t condemn us, we have confidence before God and can receive whatever we ask from Him because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight. Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commands remains in Him, and He in him. And the way we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit He has given us.”—1 John 3:21-24 

 “This is how we know that we love God’s children when we love God and obey His commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden.—1 John 5:2-3

Yeshua could not have been more clear when He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.”—John 14:15 And…”The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I will also love him and will reveal Myself to him.”—John 14:21 And…“If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.”—John 15:10.

Are you following your own deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9) and the traditions of men (Mark 7:8)? Do you believe the lie that Yeshua nailed God’s Law to the cross? Do you really believe it is possible to commit spiritual adultery by obeying God? I would be more concerned with those that have one foot in the world and one foot with God…that my friends is spiritual adultery (James 4:4). Repent and turn from the lies. “But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship.”—Joshua 24:15

Why I Celebrate Passover

Step onto the path. Come with me on a journey…a journey that begins with creation itself. In the beginning God. God in the beginning…the creator of heaven and earth, the universe and all that is in it. From the beginning, the One True God had a plan of redemption, a plan of salvation for His children that were enslaved by a fallen world. Look through the shadow…see the Hebrew children toiling away under the harsh rule of Pharaoh in the land of Egypt. Chains. Bondage. Nothing they could do would free them from the slavery that held them.

Onto the shadowy stage of His Story steps a man…a man called by the Creator Himself to lead the people out of slavery…out of darkness into Light. A Battle. Good versus Evil. Light versus Darkness. The One True God versus manmade gods. “Let My people go so that they may worship Me.” “Let My people go so that they may serve Me.” Plague by plague the manmade gods are dismantled…discredited…disqualified. Until the last plague…the lamb’s blood on the doorposts…the vigil in the night…waiting. Finally, the chains are broken…the children are set free. Off they go following Yahweh’s chosen into the wilderness. Here is where the schooling begins. Here is where Yahweh teaches His children how to live in the Light. But ooohhhh how hard the lessons are…how great the temptation to return to Egypt…to what was familiar and comfortable.

Yahweh gives His instructions. This is how you are to live. This is how you are to worship Me. This is what you are to eat. These are My set times. These are My Feasts. These are My expectations for you. This is freedom…freedom to walk in the Light…freedom from darkness. The journey in the wilderness is long. There are many obstacles. Many temptations. Many frustrations. Many failures. But then The Promised Land; a land flowing with milk and honey.

Step forward in His Story a few thousand years. Look through the clear lens. See the children toiling under the sun with hearts of stone…enslaved by the world…enslaved by darkness. Nothing they could do would free them from the slavery to sin.

Onto the stage of His Story steps His own Son in the flesh. The Son of God ready to lead the people out of slavery…out of darkness into Light. A Battle. Good versus Evil. Light versus Darkness. The Son of God versus sin. A sacrifice. A death. A burial. A vigil in the night. A resurrection. The Lamb’s blood…on the doorposts of repentant sinners’ hearts.  Finally the chains are broken. The children are set free…with hearts of flesh. Off they go, following Yahweh’s Chosen through the narrow gate. Here He says, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” “Walk as I walk.” “Walk in the Light”. But ooohhhh how difficult the path, how great the temptation to return to sin…to what was familiar and comfortable. But then the crucifying of flesh; the laying of life on the altar…becoming a living sacrifice to the Most High God. And finally…The Promised Land.

Yahweh gives His instructions. This is how you are to live. This is how you are to worship Me. This is what you are to eat. These are My set times. These are My Feasts. These are My expectations for you. This is freedom…freedom to walk in the Light…freedom from darkness.

This is why I celebrate Passover.

Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch. You are indeed unleavened, for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with old yeast or with the yeast of malice and evil but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.—1 Corinthians 5:7-8

Do You Know It? Then Live It!

“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you.  In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.” – Philippians 3:12-16.

These are verses with which I am very familiar…at least 12-14. These are often quoted and like all of Yahweh’s word have a good message. But, as I was reading this morning, verse 16 is what really popped out at me. I’ve read it before…but WOW! “In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.” In other words, do you know it? Then live it! Once we get the truth of His word inside of us, we need to walk it out.

While none of us has reached the goal, as we are all works in progress, we as believers should be striving to imitate our Master, and allowing Him to transform us more and more into His image. As we come to understand more and more truth from Yahweh’s word, we should be putting it into practice. It should become more and more evident in our lives. As we pursue holiness and walk out our salvation with fear and trembling we need to be doers of the word and not hearers only. He has given us the rule book to guide us in our race. Grasp it…get hold of it…run the race.

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter. Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer ought to be the first to get a share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” – 2 Timothy 2:3-5

Let’s live it for His glory!

Word

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. –2 Timothy 3:14-17

As I was pondering the Word of God over the last few days, not any particular scripture, but just the infallibility of His Word, several things came to mind. First what came to me is the beautiful continuity between the “Old Testament” and the “New Testament”. It saddens me when I hear people say that the old and the new testaments contradict one another. Take out the uninspired page in your bible and read His Word as one complete, whole unit. Some people think the Old Testament is not valid today because they think Jesus came to replace what was written there. Some people think the New Testament is not valid because it contradicts the Old Testament. Well…both camps should brush up on their interpretation of the Scriptures. If people really think God contradicts Himself in His Word, their interpretation is what is in error. The Old Testament is the firm foundation on which everything Godly is built. The New Testament brings deeper meaning and more clarity to the foundation. Notice verse 15 in the Scripture above…”And you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.” What sacred Scriptures is Paul talking about? The only Scripture that Paul and Timothy had was the “Old Testament”. The new had not yet been written. And yet they are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ…Think on that for a few moments. Another confirmation that I keep returning to is straight from the mouth of Yeshua Himself…”Don’t assume I came to destroy the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill (to carry out, or bring to realization, as a prophecy or promise). For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18) And finally, did you know that the “New Testament” has more than 1,000 quotes, either direct or partial, from the “Old Testament”? It seems to me that the “New Testament” writers wanted to make sure that their readers knew the firm foundation on which their faith was built.

A second thing that came to me was the surety, or confidence, that we can have in Yahweh and His Word. We can have this assurance because our Most High God is eternal…”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. (Psalm 90:1-2)…and He does not change…”God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes his mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19) His Word is forever as well…”The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of our God remains forever.” Forever…such an interesting word…what is forever? In the Hebrew, the word ‘olam’ is used over 300 times to indicate indefinite continuance into the very distant future. Some synonyms in English are: always, endlessly, eternally, permanently, evermore, and perpetually. Interesting…forever means………forever. The Word of our God remains…FOREVER! “Lord, Your Word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89)

Thirdly, I realized how thankful I am to have His Word to guide me. He has given me everything I need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) His Word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105) “For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures. Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.” (Romans 15:4-6)

Invited and Chosen

Preparing for a Banquet

Preparing for a Banquet (Photo credit: Rennett Stowe)

“Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out his slaves to summon those invited to the banquet, but they didn’t want to come. Again, he sent out other slaves, and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: Look, I’ve prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the other seized his slaves, treated them outrageously and killed them. The king was enraged, so he sent out his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned down their city. Then he told his slaves, ‘The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet.’ So those slaves went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests. But when the king came in to view the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen.”—Matthew 22: 1-14

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” That verse has been coming to me a lot lately, since I wrote my previous post, Chosen. So I looked up the verse to see the context. The parable that precedes this verse really made me stop and think. The King (Yahweh) tells His slaves (believers) to tell the invited guests the feast was ready. The invited guests mistreated His slaves and ignored the invitation. The King sent his slaves out to invite everyone they could find for the wedding feast of His Son (Yeshua). And they did…both evil and good. (That’s our call to share the gospel with everyone…whether they listen or not.)

So, the guests arrived and the King came into the banquet and noticed a man that was not dressed in the proper attire. When He questioned the man, the man was “speechless”…without excuse. I wonder why the man came without the proper clothing. He knew he was going to a wedding…if he didn’t have the proper attire, I think he would have told that to the king…he didn’t have an excuse. Maybe he just thought he could go to the King on his own terms, and not the terms the King had set forth.

The invitation goes out to everyone (many are invited), after all, it is not the King’s will that any should perish, but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But not everyone answers the call…and sometimes those that do accept the call aren’t willing to meet the King on His terms (few are chosen).

When the king threw the man into the outer darkness, it made me think of Yeshua’s words in Matthew 7:21-23, “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.’

Are we willing answer the call and meet the King on His terms? Do we know Him? Does He know us?