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Here's one of my current favorites.

Mercy -

written by Amanda Cook and Steffany Gretzinger

VERSE 1

My past embraced

My sin forgiven

I’m blameless in Your sight

My history rewritten

 

CHORUS

Cause You delight in showing mercy

And mercy triumphs over judgement

 

VERSE 2

Oh Love, great Love

Fear cannot be found in You

And there will never be a day

You’re uncertain of the ones you choose

 

BRIDGE

So I will awake

And spend my days

Loving the One who has raised me up

From death to life

From wrong to right

You’re making all things beautiful

===

Thanks to Bethel Music for these lyrics.

BenHeadshotSee you again soon.

Worship today.

Ben

3

If she is a wall,
We will build on her a battlement of silver;
But if she is a door,
We will barricade her with planks of cedar.

Song of Songs 8:9 NASB

In Solomon’s day, an unwalled city was vulnerable to attack from anyone. Any army could march right in and take a city without a wall.

The wall provided much needed protection in times of war, or times of random terrorist attacks.

Remember the Bride is talking to the Shepherd King about how to mentor her little sister. If she is a wall, we will train her to care for the flock of God.

We will build battlements of silver.

The battlements were slits in the wall, where an archer could hide, and still attack the oncoming enemies.

We must teach her how to be a hedge of protection round about those she is covering. We must train her to love those she is protecting and demonstrate a love that lays down it’s own life.

After all, isn’t that what Christ has for us?

He has been a wall for us, protecting us from the onslaught of our enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil. He has also been a wall protecting us from the onslaught of the righteous wrath of God. He has been a firm foundation on which we are called to build our lives.

I know it’s a different metaphor, but it bares consideration.

In Matthew 7, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says this:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. - Matthew 7:24-25 NASB

The rain fell and the floods came. This is not a picture of life’s hard times. This is a clear picture of the wrath of God—as it was in the times of Noah, Christ was the Ark, Christ is the Foundation and Christ is our Wall—our great defense.

After the model of Christ, the one who laid down His life to protect us, to save us, we teach men and women to be walls.

We teach them how to build a hedge of prayer so the Father will not say of our generation:

"I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. - Ezekiel 22:30 NASB

We need walls today. We need those who are willing to lay down their lives for the flock. We need people who will stand in the gap and pray for their generation, for our generation.

Are there any Nehemiah’s in the room? Anyone willing to build a wall, against all odds?

benheadshot1I pray there are.

Ben

6

sin righteousness and judgment

And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; - John 16:8 NASB

But how?

I have heard this used as an excuse for all manner of condemnation – like:

Well – the Holy Spirit’s job is to convict the world of Sin and since He is in me, I need to get busy convicting the world of sin. So I am going to go to the sinners and start convicting them.

This passage does go on to talk in some more detail about what the Spirit will do in the life of a believer, but as I pondered how the Spirit might go about convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, I thought of what Paul said the Spirit would do in the life of a believer.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23 NASB

I know I have said this here before, but the word fruit here is a singular noun. From Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words we have this:

…"the fruit of the Spirit," Gal 5:22, the singular form suggesting the unity of the character of the Lord as reproduced in them, namely, "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance," all in contrast with the confused and often mutually antagonistic "works of the flesh." [i]

I like to say the fruit of the Spirit is a love marked by joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I am convinced that conviction will result as we live Spirit-filled lives, speaking as led by the Spirit and loving in a full-on fruit of the Spirit manner. [Tweet This] Jesus hammered away at the sin He found in the Church leadership – the Pharisees and Priests – but He tended to be more gentle and tender with those trapped in the hold of their unrighteousness. His love was compelling, and the outworking of the Spirit in His life brought many to the place where they were ready when the Church was born and the Spirit poured out at large.

He did not wink at sin, or downplay its dangers, but I believe He was helping get people to a place where they could see and receive the light He had to give. He preached repentance from dead works and faith toward God, and accompanied His preaching with works of compassion and provision.

John 16 goes on to tell us that the Holy Spirit will take what belongs to Jesus and disclose it to us. The basic idea is that filled with the Sprit, we will look like Jesus. As we walk like He walked (1 John 2:6) the world will be convicted of sin, righteousness and judgment.

Have you seen this in your walk? Have you seen your love for someone convict them? I would love to hear about it.

BN Writers Page 150Thanks for stopping by.

See you again soon.

Ben

 

 

[i] Vine, W. "Dictionaries :: Fruit (Bear), Fruitful, Unfruitful." Blue Letter Bible. Sowing Circle. 24 Jun, 1996. Web. 22 May, 2014. .

We have come to the end of our statement of faith, and I thought I would share it with you here. There is a lot of scripture here, and I probably could break it into bite-size pieces and use if for all of next week. But I am just going to give it to you here and now. For those of you who love to read – here you go. For those of you who like it short and sweet – there will be other posts on other days. [smile] Here is the last element in my home church’s statement of faith.

We believe in the bodily resurrection of the believers and the unbelievers, the everlasting blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting punishment of the lost.  John 5:28-29; Revelation 20: 10-15

I like to break things down into bite size pieces, using questions and answers help me process. So here are my five questions:

Is everyone resurrected?
What kind of body does man get in the resurrection?
How is our eternal destiny determined?
What is ‘everlasting blessedness?’
What is 'everlasting punishment?'

Here goes:

Is everyone resurrected?

Let’s start with a simple question. Is the resurrection limited to only those in a covenant relationship with Jesus, or will all men live eternally?

John 5:28-29 NASB - "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

1 Corinthians 15:20, 23 NASB - But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. ... But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,

It appears from most of the scripture we are going to look at today, that one of the first things that will happen after the resurrection of the dead is a time of judgment, so we are going to spend a fair amount of time talking about that today, but first a few details about your new body.

What kind of body does man get in the resurrection?

When Christ rose from the dead, he had a body of flesh and bone, but there were a few things that we can observe about His body that give us clues to the nature of resurrected flesh. He could be touched and held

John 20:17 NASB - Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'"

John 20:27 NASB - Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing."

Though the text does not say that He ate with them, He made breakfast on the beach. There is much talk of a wedding feast in heaven, so I am hoping we will be able to eat in our resurrected body.

John 21:13-14 NASB - Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.

Though much will be similar, much will be different. Jesus shows up in locked rooms.

John 20:26 NASB -  And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, “Peace be with you.

The fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is about resurrection from start to finish. First Paul talks about the resurrection of Jesus, then about what our resurrection will look like. Let’s take a look at that second part.

1 Corinthians 15:35-58  - NASB - But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O  DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

How is our eternal destiny determined?

There is much said about the judgment we will face on the last day. Some speak of the following as two different judgments – one for believers and one for unbelievers. I am not sure that is a required understanding. Paul speaks of a day when believers will be judged, at what is often called the ‘bema seat.’ The Greek word ‘bema’ simply means judgment seat or tribunal. Because the passage from Revelation below speaks of a great white throne, some make this out to be two different judgments, but I don’t see the necessity. I see in the Revelation account all men standing before the Lord.

Revelation 20:10-15 NASB - And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

It could certainly be true that these following accounts of the judgment of believers are after they are sent from the above judgment. Either way, it is important to understand that all men will be judged, and what we do in this life matters for eternity.

2 Corinthians 5:10-11 NASB - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 NASB - Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

What is ‘everlasting blessedness?’

There is not a huge amount in the Bible about what comes after this life. You hear all kinds of theories and ideas. At funerals people say things in order to comfort the grieving that have no real basis in biblical teaching.

Here are some things that are not true about life after death.

People become angels.
We will be doing nothing but going to church.
We will have wings and play harps (ok – I guess that is the same as the angel one)
We will spend the first 100 years sleeping then …
I am going to ask God about …

Here is a smattering of what the Bible teaches about life after the first death.

1 Corinthians 6:2-3 NASB - Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?

This tells me we will not be sitting on clouds strumming harps.

Revelation 21:1-4 NASB - Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

John 14:2-4 NASB - "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. "And you know the way where I am going."

Ephesians 2:4-7 NASB - But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

What is everlasting punishment?

The fact is that Jesus referred to hell more than he did to heaven. Jesus spoke much about the kingdom of heaven, but the kingdom of heaven is not our future, but our present. We are now part of the kingdom of God, if we worship Jesus as Lord. Hell is a concept that might be hard to grasp in this day of tolerance, but Jesus spoke about it, not as an idle threat, but as a real fact. Some of His descriptions are fairly vivid.

Matthew 18:8 NASB - "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.

Matthew 25:41, 46 NASB - "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; ... "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

It is significant to note that this word eternal is the same Greek word in both places, and is the same word as you find in John 3:16 for eternal or everlasting life.

2 Thessalonians 1:9 NASB - These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

2 Peter 2:4 NASB - For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;

Revelation 19:20 NASB - And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.

Revelation 20:10, 14-15 NASB - And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. ... Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:5-8 NASB - And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

This is a pretty sobering topic. As we look at the fact that we will follow Christ in the resurrection we also find that every man woman and child who walks this earth will one day stand before God. This is actually one of the most important things we can teach our children as they grow up. We need to teach them that they will one day give an account of their life. Not that we should teach them to live in fear.

There is no fear in love. What I mean by that, is as we walk in covenant with the Lord Jesus, and as we live our lives guided by His precepts and teachings, we have a confidence that comes from relationship. A healthy marriage is not based on suspicion and fear. I know that I know that I know that my wife loves me. I don’t suspect her of undermining me at every turn. I know she is on my side, and wants my best, and she knows the same about me. As we live in relationship with Christ, we know that He want our best, that He is on our side, and that He is not inspecting our every move, looking for a chance to inflict us with some disease or calamity. If you life in communion with Christ, you can face judgment knowing that He is the one who stands beside you as your lawyer, your advocate before the Father.

1 John 2:1 NASB - My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

And finally we know this:

Jude 24-25 NASB - Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Jesus has the ability to present us to the Father without fault. There is no more comforting thing in the Bible than this when we study the judgment of the world. I pray this helps establish you in the word, and gives you at least some basic understanding of what is to come. I believe God intends for us to live in the present, but gives us these glimpses, not so we can spend our lives in speculation, but that we would not be hopeless like those who do not know Him.

Ben Nelson

 

Blessing as you follow Him.

Ben

2

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? - Matthew 7:15-16 NASB

Is Jesus confused?

Didn’t He mean to say, judge him by his creed? …his denomination? … his credentials? 

Fruit? 

[Tweet This]

We are talking false prophets here!

Shouldn’t we examine every word and try to catch him (or her) in a mistake, and error, and foul heresy?

Don’t get me wrong. I hate it when folks twist scriptures. I hate it when people spew false doctrines.

That’s what makes me crazy about this scripture.

Jesus says, “you will know them by their fruit.”

Well then…

Hey – thanks for coming by.

It is a red letter day – let’s listen to the red letters today.

Ben NelsonShine in the darkness in which God placed you.

Ben

9

 

The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. - Matthew 12:42

It strikes me this morning that Jesus is a big deal.

I am sitting here, honestly in a bit of a funk, and I hear the voice of my Wonderful Savior whisper sweetly in my ear:

It’s not about you.”

Jesus speaks of a judgment in this scripture that I have not considered before.

We know that every man will stand, on his own before the throne of God and his deeds will be judged – your life reduced to a crazy heap of wood, hay, stubble, gold silver and precious stones, and the Word of the Lord which is like fire (Jeremiah 23:29) will consume all the combustibles and purify (Malachi 3:3) all that remains.

But Jesus speaks of a couple other judgments.

Matthew 25 describes nations or people groups being separated like sheep and goats. Apparently we have a responsibility to be an influence of righteousness in our nation.

But here Jesus speaks of the judgment of a generation.

I have not really thought too much about this before, but Jesus tells us here that the age when He walked the earth would be judged, and those who worshiped Him in the past would testify against them.

How is it with our generation?

Does our age stand in danger of condemnation from the Queen of Sheba? Will Rahab who turned against her own nation and generation and chose Christ, will she stand in judgment against our nation and our generation for making it all about us and not considering it all about Jesus?

I hear the voice of the Lord calling me to re-focus on Him.

Will you turn your eyes upon Jesus today?

Lord, forgive my selfishness, forgive me for making it about me, forgive my self-pity, and help me see Jesus today.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

I’m gonna’ follow Jesus. You coming?

Ben

photo credit: mandolux via photopin cc
photo credit: mandolux via photopin cc

I am sitting here taking another read through this last paragraph of the Sermon on the Mount, and a phrase jumps out at me.

And the rain descended, and the floods came, ~ Matthew 7:25

These are the words of Jesus in Matthew 7, describing the house built on responding to the words of Jesus, the house built on the Rock. Here is the whole verse:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. ~ Matthew 7:25

But that little chunk carried my mind back to the account of Noah and the Ark he built for the Lord.

It was probably about 20 years ago, and I was reading through the book of Genesis in “Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible” and I learned something truly fascinating. When Noah was told to build an ark, there is one detail that is striking (plenty others too, I am sure, but for today – one detail.)
Noah was told:

Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. ~ Genesis 6:14

The only details we get on the ark are these 2 materials, the overall size (which, by the way because it was in Hebrew is something about cubits, but if it were in American it would be like 1 ½ football fields, our favorite unit of measure) and the fact that it had a door and a window.

Today I want to talk about pitch. What is pitch? I am guessing it is something like tar, which Noah was instructed to smear as a waterproof coating all over the inside and the outside of the vessel.

Here is what is fascinating. The Hebrew word for pitch (Kafer) is a variant for a word you will no doubt recognize – Kippur – or atonement. You have heard this word used today when the Jewish community celebrates Yom Kippur! This word – Kafer – is only translated pitch in this one place in the entire Bible. Most often it is translated “ransom.”

Just as in Noah’s day when the rains came down and the floods came up, the only safe place was in the Ark, so it is today. [Tweet This] The only safe place to be is in the Ark, and that Ark is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God slain before the foundations of the earth.

The only reason you will be able to stand before holy God on the day of judgment is because you are in this Ark, which is covered within and without with perfect pitch, the blood of Jesus.

Today is the day of salvation. Get in the Ark!

Jesus said you do that by acting on what He said. Do not be a hearer of the Words of life, and be left outside the Ark when the flood comes.

Surrender your life to Him today.

BenThanks

Ben

photo credit: spleeness via photopin cc
photo credit: spleeness via photopin cc

Let me just start by saying, I love to talk about happy scriptures, but Jesus said some hard things and some strong things, and to skip them because they are uncomfortable or because they don’t fit our picture of an always smiling Jesus, would be a huge mistake.

That said – here we go:

Friday, I told you that I have a slightly different take on this little parable Jesus uses to close out the Sermon on the Mount.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.

And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall. ~ Matthew 7:24-27

We have seen that building your house is acting on what Jesus said. This is again borne out by the Great Commission:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ~ Matthew 28:19-20

But today I want to focus on the Storms.

All my life, I have heard that these storms are the trials we walk through in life, and that a life based on Christ and His words would serve me well in the storms of life, the hard times we go through.

That is a great comfort, and very true, but I don't think it is what Jesus was getting at in this parable, or at least it’s not all of it.

[So you are probably saying to yourself at this point – just say it Ben – get to the point!]

Let’s take a second to notice the context of the parable. Jesus is talking about the day you face Him, and many will come expecting to get heaven’s ‘all access pass’ and find they are holding a counterfeit ticket. [Tweet This] This is the day Paul talks about when he says:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:10-11

Here is another description Paul makes of that day:

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire. ~ 1 Corinthians 3:11-15

This is the storm Jesus is talking about. The day our works are tested. Paul uses a picture of testing by fire, Jesus uses waves on the shoreline – each parable using the most powerful and destructive forces we can understand.

You can be ready to stand before this onslaught of the Judgment of God, but there is only one way.

Give your life to Jesus, and live for Him.

Jesus is not an add-on to your busy life. He demands to be the center – the hub.

Sounds harsh? Not really since the wheel of your life was created to have this hub. It's a perfect fit, and with Jesus at the center – life just works! Picture a spoked bicycle wheel with a square hub. Life would be an uncomfortable ride – but hey – at least you get your own way right? This is a huge mistake.

You are not designed to be the center of your own universe.

Don’t delay.

BenI am glad you stopped by today.

See you tomorrow.

Ben

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc
photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

I have heard dozens of jokes that start out – So a guy dies and goes to heaven, and St. Peter ask him…

We all know these are jokes, but they stem from a deep-seated understanding when we are talking about heaven; not everyone get’s in.

I have met people in a few different categories regarding their own heaven readiness.

Some consider themselves too cool for heaven – “I am going to hell with all my friends and we will party for eternity.”

Then there are those who say – “all roads lead to heaven. I can follow any spiritual leader – Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna.”

Others believe they have not done anything so heinous it deserves eternal flames – “I don’t do anything that hurts anyone else, I am sure I will be OK when I get to heaven. Hell is for pedophiles and evil dictators, not for suburban soccer moms and guys with great lawns.”

Still others figure that their regular attendance in Church, and busyness doing Church stuff will surely get them in – “I am in Church every Sunday, not like the Joneses, they never darken the door of a church except Christmas and Easter, weddings and funerals.”

Some take a balanced approach, a sort of pass/fail life standard  - “My good deeds out weigh my bad deeds, so the scale is definitely in my favor”

Another group looks back at a point in time – “I prayed a prayer when I was in VBS and my leader told me I was going to heaven.”

Jesus said:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ ~ Matthew 7:21-23

I want to spend a couple days (or however long it takes) digging into these strong red letters.

Let’s start with who Jesus is not talking to.

Jesus’ is not talking to that first group I mentioned – those who are planning on hell. They are not the ones standing at the pearly gates expecting to get in.

Likewise He is not addressing folks who follow Buddha, or Mohammed, or Krishna.

He is talking about people who call Him (Jesus) ‘Lord.’ We know from many other things Jesus said, that He (Jesus) is the only way to the Father.

But even among those who recognize that Jesus is the way there are vast numbers who have not given their lives to Him. He is not addressing this SMO crowd. (My dad’s term for folks who only showed their face in church on Sundays – AKA Sunday Morning Only.)

So who is Jesus talking about? Who is it that will hear those most horrifying of all words "Depart from me?"

BenDon’t miss tomorrow!

I will share my own story of standing at that gate and hearing those words.

Ben

Photo Credit - http://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/dont-throw-your-pearls-to-pigs-matthew-76/

Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. ~ Matthew 7:6

What is Jesus talking about here?

I have heard this used as a reason not to preach the gospel to folks, as though telling someone about the amazing grace and love of the Father toward them would constitute not only a waste of time, but a breach of the Master’s will.

Though the gospel clearly qualifies as something holy, and would be a candidate for “pearl of great price” status, we know this can’t be the case since Jesus said “Preach the gospel to every creature” this would clearly include the aforementioned dogs and pigs.

So what is He talking about? A prophetic word? Some deep revelation? That is the way I have taught this in the past, but today I noticed something.

Context! Every translation I have looked at has this in the paragraph, the same train of thought as His discourse on judgment.

It flows like this:

Don’t judge unless you are ready to be judged.

Before you point out someone else’s faults, inspect and correct your own life.

Don’t try to correct the dogs and pigs.

In this context let’s take a fresh look at how we might apply this.

First, in this context who are the dogs and pigs? I am thinking – dogs and pigs are a different species.

Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. ~ 1 Corinthians 5:17

When you receive Christ, you are changed completely right down to your innermost being – you are a new species. No longer a dog unable to understand, no longer a pig, addicted to every sort of filth.

You are a God man with the Spirit of the creator at work on the inside.

The second big thought here is that godly correction – a brother or sister coming along side you and helping you to get the speck or plank out of your eye – is not just helpful. In the context, it is holy and precious.

David said it this way

Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; It is oil upon the head; Do not let my head refuse it, For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds. ~ Psalm 141:5

This is a big deal. We need to understand this. So many Christians get their nose out of joint because someone was picking at their lifestyle, or choices, when in reality it is a healing balm.

Clearly we need to learn to administer such holy and precious ointment in a way that brings no harm.

I believe what the Lord is saying is that when we try to correct the behavior and habits of those who don’t know him, we are putting that which is holy before those who can’t understand, and we are tossing the precious pearls of correction down where they will not only be misunderstood, but they will create offence, and the pigs will turn and attack.

I believe the body of Christ (me in particular) could be helped immensely if we would learn to give and receive godly mature advice in a way that is non-toxic.

One last gleaning from this verse. Don’t be surprised when you criticize the world for being, well, worldly, that it turns around and goes on the attack.

The Lord calls us to bring the light and life of the gospel to every creature, but He does not advocate trying to bring moral conformity to them.

When we attempt to change the actions of people without changing their hearts, we end up either with them turning and tearing us apart, or we get a culture of morality which will cause the lost to feel saved, and miss Christ entirely.

What do you think about this? Do our efforts to curb bad behavior backfire on us?

BenSee you again soon

Ben

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