Taming the Digital Tongue

Thanks to the technology revolution the tongue is not only physical, but it is also digital. Texting and social media are the main forms of communication in today’s modern society. It has allowed for rapid and frequent connection with friends and loved ones alike. The exchange of ideas has become as quick as a click. Along with all the good it has also brought on a new way of slandering, gossiping, and criticizing others, by saying things we’d never say in front of others.

Anyone who will gossip to you, will gossip about you.

Brothers and sisters, we need to rise above the text message bashing and gossiping. We need to be among those who speak life not the criticism of others. We have to stop talking bad about people behind their backs. We say we love, but with the same digital and physical tongues we tear others down. Unfortunately, I know followers of Jesus who are so sweet outwardly, but on a phone, with certain people, they reveal a totally different side of themselves. We really shouldn’t say anything about someone that we wouldn’t be willing to say directly to them. And we should only say things to people that are encouraging, truthful, and helpful.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians‬ ‭4:29‬ ESV

The world has enough criticism, hate, and slander. As believers, we need to be set apart from all that. Jesus knows our hearts and He can read our text messages and social media accounts. If our phones were open to the world to see, would they bring Jesus honor or shame?

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalms‬ ‭19:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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The Bronze Serpent

1888931_orig

We are now in our fourth book of the Bible on our journey through the Old Testament looking at prophecies of the Messiah and how Jesus fulfilled them. For previous posts on this series look back at the Messiah tab on my home screen or click the hyperlink. This is post 14 in the series and it begins the book of Numbers. We aren’t starting from the beginning, however. We’ll jump in at chapter 21, with a peculiar story with poisonous snakes.

During the conquest of the promised land, the Israelites faced many challenges. But, the Lord was faithful at every step of the journey. He defeated enemy after enemy as He promised He would. Israel, on the other hand, was anything but faithful. Yes, they had their bright moments. But as a whole, Israel was a very stubborn, impatient, and discontent people. Sound familiar? Looking at Israel is like looking in the mirror. Israel’s sin is often our own.

And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.”

Numbers 21:5 (ESV)

After all that God had done for the nation of Israel, they spoke against Him. God had just won a decisive battle for the people of Israel not long before this scene took place. God’s victory on their behalf had less weight on their mindset than their own selfish wants. I’m convinced, that one of the things that displease God the most is being ungrateful and selfish. One reason I believe that is because of how God responded to their lack of faith and contentment.

Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.

Numbers 21:6 (ESV)

Pretty extreme right? The apostle Paul would later warn Christ’s followers about repeating the same mistakes as the people of Israel. In 1 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul says that the people put Christ to the test in the wilderness by grumbling and indulging in selfish behaviors. Because of that, they faced very severe punishment.

We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

1 Corinthians 10:9-11 ESV

Christ in this sense is used interchangeably with God. Remember back to the rock that gave forth water for the people to drink? The rock was both God and Christ. The role of the Christ is to save the people. God continually operated in that role throughout the Bible as a picture of when He would do that in human form in the person of Jesus. This story in Numbers 21 is one of those examples. Along with the wrath, God also provided a way to escape. That’s exactly what the Messiah’s mission is all about. The Messiah is God’s loving way of escape.

And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

Numbers 21:7-9 ESV

Humility is always met with grace. Once the people repented of their sin, they received mercy. This mercy was in the form of a bronze serpent lifted up on a pole for all of the people to see and live. Now of course, this serpent didn’t actually save anyone. Faith in what God did is what saved the people. And this act of God would be a powerful picture of what the Messiah came to do. Jesus Himself used this event in Numbers 21 to tell us why He came.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:14-17 ESV

Where there is wrath, God has made a way for mercy. His name is Jesus.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

The War of More

It doesn’t seem to matter what store we are in, my kids ask for something. They don’t even need to know what it is for them to beg and plead for it. It’s frustrating. Very very frustrating. I’m sure I did it as a child. In fact, I remember wanting to go to the stores with my grandma because I knew she’d get me something. My kids are the same way. As are the rest. Because humans are that way. Young and old, we want stuff. Most of which we don’t need. But stuff is fun, attractive, and entertaining.

I can’t despise my kids’ desires for things, because I have it too. Anyone that says they don’t is not being honest. I told my wife on the way home one day, “I don’t blame our kids for wanting new toys, because I have a list of things in my mind that would be fun to have.” The difference between being an adult and a child is that you have to get those things yourself and money is not always available. Also, you’ve learned to live without and the difference between need and want. While indulging still occasionally takes place, maturity overcomes most whims.

I had a serious talk with my children (one of many) about wanting things. I tried to explain that it’s a perfectly natural emotion, but it needs to be managed by wisdom. I also said that they wouldn’t be getting anything new until they were content and grateful for what they already had (which is a ton). They tried to ensure me that they were grateful, but their behavior far overshadowed any words they could speak. When the begging ceased I softly said, “you will know that you are content when you no longer feel you need anything new.”

When the Bible speaks of contentment, uses some extreme examples. Examples that are very convicting for child and adult alike. Here are some of those examples.

Food and Clothing

If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

1 Timothy‬ ‭6:8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

In our current situation

Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.

1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:20‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Our weaknesses and being insulted for the cause of Jesus

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

With what we have

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”

Hebrews‬ ‭13:5‬ ‭NASB‬

it honestly feels like a war most days. The pull to want change or new things, or to no longer have to deal with our weaknesses, or for people to just love Jesus and stop hating on Christians. But for those who love Jesus, nothing more can be given to us than that which we already possess…new life. The Christian is free, alive, new, and filled with hope and purpose. The Christian has been given the gift of eternal life. God has paid the ultimate price for humanity but all humanity wants is more.

There is nothing greater we can be given than what God has already done for us. We are so consumed with the temporal and material that we struggle to see our true need which lies in the spiritual. Once my kids get one thing that they feel they can’t live without, their thoughts are on to the next. Christians cannot be guilty of the same. The one thing we can’t live without has been given to us…Jesus…and our minds should remain on Him. That’s what I want to teach my kids. But first, as the war rages on, I have to make sure I’m living it too.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Wherever you find yourselves, may your hearts be at peace brothers and sisters.

The Invitation of the King

Christianity is an active faith. One that stirs the heart into motion. It moves the believer towards a community of love, not just with friends and family, but with the despised and destitute also. For the Christian, family has no skin tone nor nationality. Shameful pasts can be erased in a moment and acceptance is found when a humble heart kneels at the foot of a cross. No one is unwelcome and no one is too dirty for the cleansing power of God’s grace. The Christian sees everyone as equal because he or she has come to terms with their own brokenness and need. We are all light years from God’s perfection, even the best among us. That is why God has invited us all to go to those whom the world has beaten down and rejected. Three things should always remain open for the Christian: their home, their arms, and their hands. The good and faithful servant reaps a harvest of love no matter where they find themselves and no matter the cost.

Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.

Matthew‬ ‭25:34-36‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Jesus is waiting in every hurting heart and needy soul, to be loved by us; to be acknowledged and to be provided for however we can. Love that this pure and genuine is also boundless. Jesus is waiting.

Celebrate Bible-Style

1888931_origSeven Feasts

Year-long Celebration

God’s Redemption

One Messiah

 

This is the fourth and last post looking at how God chose to paint a picture of the Messiah through the book of Leviticus. In the three previous posts, I talked about the process of cleansing lepers, the Day of Atonement, and the significance of blood in the Old Testament system. This post will be a little different. In Leviticus, chapter 23 appears an outline of the Biblical feasts. Instead of doing seven separate posts about each one, I’m going to lay out simple historical, prophetic, and spiritual connections to all seven in this one post. For that reason, this post will be quite lengthy but also concise and organized. Let’s begin!

Some of these feasts I’ve already posted about like Tabernacles, TrumpetsPassover and the Day of Atonement. But before I go more into each feast I’d like to make a few statements as to why I believe this is important for all Christians to know. Not only is it my opinion as a follower of Christ, but the Bible itself provides some powerful reasons for studying, understanding, and celebrating the Seven Festivals. Here are twelve of those reasons:

  1.  The Feasts are in the Bible, and all the Bible is inspired by God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  2.  The Feasts are a shadow of things to come that teach us about the Messiah. (Colossians 2:16-17, Hebrews 10:1)
  3. God gave the Feasts so we could learn and understand God’s plan of redemption for the world and our personal relationship to Him. (Romans 15:4)
  4. All of the Festivals are, at the same time, both historical and prophetic, and mean more to Christians than Jews.
  5. All of the Festivals teach about the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
  6. All of the Festivals teach about your personal relationship with God and how you are to walk with Him as you grow in the knowledge of Him, from being a baby believer to a mature believer.
  7. We are “grafted in” as God’s people through Christ, called to follow God’s word. (Romans 11:19)
  8. These are God’s Feasts, not the Jewish feasts. (Leviticus 23:1)
  9. Christ himself celebrated all of them as well as the 1st-century church. (Gospels and Acts)
  10. The feasts bring about knowledge of what God has called His people (not just Jews) to do to celebrate and worship Him.
  11. God’s Holy Feasts can take you deeper in your relationship with God. They have such significant meaning and unlock the meaning of scripture in an incredible way.
  12. God is a “calendaring” God, which is demonstrated by major events in Biblical History occurring on or around Feasts and how they reveal God’s redemptive plan for mankind.

The Festivals of the Lord found in Leviticus, chapter 23, were given to us by God so His people could understand the coming of the Messiah and the role that the Messiah would play in redeeming and restoring both man and the earth back to God following the fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. The Festivals are divided into two major portions, depending upon whether they occur in the spring or the fall.  The Spring Festivals teach about the First Coming of the Messiah, and the Fall Festivals teach about the Second Coming of the Messiah.

The Apostle Paul, in Colossians 2:16-17 refers to the Feasts as a “shadow of things to come.”  The first four Feasts or Festivals, which are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost, primarily teach about the significant events in the First Coming of the Messiah and why these events were an important part of God’s redemption of man. Pentecost marked the beginning of the Church (body of Christ).

The last three Feasts, which are the Feast of Trumpets, also known as Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths (Sukkot), give us a fascinating insight concerning important events that surround the Second Coming of the Messiah.  God gave the Festivals to teach about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, the empowering of the believers by the Holy Spirit, the resurrection of the dead, the coronation of the Messiah, the wedding of the Messiah, the Millennium, and much more.

I want to demonstrate the incredible relevance of these feasts in three ways. First, I’d like to give a simple (and I mean simple) quick reference chart showing the meanings of all seven feasts. Second, I’ll provide some more scripture references for your own personal study if you so wish to join the journey. And third, I’ll break down three Hebrew words connected to the feasts.

Feast Historical meaning Messianic meaning Spiritual meaning
Passover Israel’s deliverance out of Egyptian bondage Death of Christ on the Cross Repent and trust by faith in the shed blood of Jesus. Saved by the blood
Unleavened Bread The going out of Egypt in haste after the tenth plague The burial of Jesus along with our sin Sanctification and separation from evil
First Fruits Crossing the Red Sea The resurrection of Jesus and ascension to heaven Walking in newness of life
Pentecost Giving the Commandments at Mount Sinai (Commissioning Israel) Pouring out of the Holy Spirit and birth of the Church (Commissioning followers of Jesus) Immersion (baptism) in the Holy Spirit and faith in God
Trumpets Jewish New Year The resurrection of the dead and Rapture of the believers Hear the calling of God for our lives just as Jesus’ sheep hear His voice
Day of Atonement The priest entered the Holy of Holies and Cleansing of the people’s sins The day of Christ’s Second Coming Surrendering ourselves to God so that we may live in His Presence
Tabernacle Entering the Promised Land/Great Rejoicing and when Jesus became the tabernacle of God’s fullness here on earth The Messianic Era/Millennium where we will live in the presence of Christ again after He returns A daily and eternal rest in the Messiah.

So that you don’t take my word for anything in the first chart, I’d like to provide you with another chart with scripture references from the Old and New Testaments. Bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive study and there are so many more verses and stories in the Bible that unlock the importance of these feast days. But this will get you started.

Feast Scripture…Old and New Testament
Passover Exodus 12:14, 28-50                                 John 2:23 and 3:1-17

Leviticus 23:4-8                                         Luke 22:7-20

Joshua 5:10-11                                          Mark 14

Ezra 6:14-22                                               Matthew 26

Numbers 9:1-2, 15-23

2 Chronicles 30 and 35

Unleavened Bread Leviticus 23:4-8                                         Romans 6:1-23

Exodus 12, 13, 23:15, 34                         1 Corinthians 5:1-8

Numbers 28:16-18

Deuteronomy 16

 

First Fruit Leviticus 23:9-14                                       1 Corinthians 15

James 1:18

Pentecost Exodus 12:6,12 and 19:1, 11                   Acts 2:1-4

Leviticus 23:15-22                                     1 Corinthians 16:7-8

Acts 20:16

John 14:15-26

Trumpet Leviticus 23:23-25                                     Revelation 8:6-11:19

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

Yom Kippur Leviticus 23:26-32                                     Revelation 17-20

Leviticus 16

Tabernacles Zechariah 14:16                                        Revelation 7:9-10 (Lev 23:40)

Leviticus 23:33-44                                    John 7:2-11

1 King 8:2,65                                             Revelation 20-22

Nehemiah 8:1-3

Ezra 3:1-5

General Bible Verses 1 Kings 19:18                                             Mark 7:6-9

Ezekiel 8:13-14                                         Colossians 2:8

Deuteronomy 12:3-4                               1 Corinthians 10:21

Ezekiel 20:18-21                                       Matthew 5:17, 18

The third and last thing I’d like to give you is a word study. Below are three important Hebrew words and what they say about these Holy Feasts.

 

Translating the word “FEAST” in Leviticus 23

MO’ED

In verse 2, the word for feast is the Hebrew word ‘mo’ed‘- “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, concerning the feasts (mo’ed) of the Lord…” The word ‘mo’ed‘ means an appointment, a fixed time or season, a cycle or year, an assembly, an appointed time, a set time or exact time.  By understanding the Hebrew meaning of the English word “feast”, we can see that God is telling us that He is ordaining a “set time or exact time or an appointed time” when He has an appointment with humanity to fulfill certain events in the redemption.

CHAG

In verse 6 is another Hebrew word translated as “feast”- “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast (chag) of unleavened bread…”  The Hebrew word ‘chag‘, which means a “festival”, is derived from the Hebrew root word ‘chagag‘, which means to move in a circle, to march in a sacred procession, to celebrate, dance, to hold a solemn feast or holiday.  God gave the Festivals as cycles to be observed yearly so that, by doing them, we can understand God’s redemptive plan for the world, the role that the Messiah would play in that redemption, and our personal relationship to God concerning how we grow from a baby Bible believer to a mature Bible believer.

MIQRA

In Leviticus 23:2 it is written, “…the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations…”  The Hebrew term translated as convocation in Leviticus 23:2,4 is ‘miqra‘, which means “a rehearsal“.  God gave the Festivals to be yearly “rehearsals” of the future events in the redemption.  Because God gave the “rehearsals” to teach us about the major events in the redemption, if we want to understand those events, then we need to understand what God was teaching us by these rehearsals.

God is so awesome to tell us the full story of His redemptive plan! Through the feasts, we get to celebrate grace, redemption, God’s goodness, and the Messiah all year long! What a great New Year’s resolution. To go deeper with Jesus through His feasts.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters