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Profiting from the Holy

Profiting from the Holy

In Exodus 30 the Lord gives Moses, in great detail, instructions about how to make the holy anointing oil (Ex. 30:22-33) and the incense (Ex. 30:34-38) to be used in the temple worship.  And He gives specific commands about each.  For the anointing oil He said:

Exodus 30:25-30 – “And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer.  It shall be a holy anointing oil.  With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and the ark of the Testimony; the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense; the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base.  You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy.  And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests.”

God then tells His people the importance of what He has just commanded them to do.

Exodus 30:31 – “And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations.’ “

But there’s a warning.  What has been deemed holy by the Lord is not to be used for personal pleasure or gain.  Man is not to benefit from what is reserved for God alone.  He said, “This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me (not to you) throughout your generations” (Ex. 30:31).

The Lord knew then, as He knows now, how easily we can turn worship into something we like and forget about the One it’s designed to honor.  We play the worship music we enjoy, preach the sermons that make us feel good, and anoint anything we feel like anointing.  Our times together to worship the Lord often digress into something that makes us feel better about who we are and not about Who we belong to.

Listen to the warning God gives about making a profit from what belongs only to Him.

Exodus 30:32-33 – “It shall not be poured on man’s flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition.  It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.  Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.”

You are not to pour My oil out on whom you desire nor make some for yourself using the recipe I have given you.  This is for Me and Me alone.”  He said, “It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.”

God gave the same command and warnings about the incense.  After detailing the specific combination of spices He desired, God then tells His children exactly where to place the incense and why.

Exodus 30:36 – “And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you.  It shall be most holy to you.”

This incense is to be placed where God has chosen to meet with His people, a most holy place.   And “it shall be most holy to you.”  It is not to be used in your home, sold on Amazon, or used in any other way God has not specifically prescribed.  Why?  Because its purpose is to prepare a place for God to meet with man – a most holy place.  And not to make your car smell better.

Again, there’s a warning.
 

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Stop Empowering the Fools

Stop Empowering the Fools

Today, I am amazed at how Proverbs 18 shines light on the current situation in this country.  Just turn on the news and you’ll find the truth of Proverbs 18:2 splattered all over your screen.  Does this sound familiar?

Proverbs 18:2 – A fool (dull, stupid, arrogant) has no delight (pleasure, desire) in understanding, but in expressing (venting, revealing, disclosing) his own heart.

We watch these pundits shoot their mouth off about any and everything that comes into their minds as if it dropped from the lips of God.  As if they, and they alone, had the keys to all truth.  They consider themselves wise in this age because of the platform we’ve given them.  That’s right, we’ve elevated them to where they are by giving heed and importance to the words that come out of their mouth.  We, by our continued involvement in watching them vent the foolish bile that flows from their heart, have given credence and credibility to what they say.  If we watch and listen to them, their platform inevitably grows.  And if we turn away from their foolishness, they will soon be gone.  We hold the power to their influence in our lives, not them.  Maybe it’s time we began to use it.

This proverb sums up their life and motivation quite well.  Their delight is not in understanding the issues of today or the truth of those issues.  Their delight and pleasure comes from venting what they think or feel or what seems right in their own eyes.  They tirelessly promote their agenda and twist the facts to support their talking points.  They assume that they alone are the standards of truth and we are too simple to understand the facts ourselves.  We obviously need them to tell us what to think and what to do.  Yet we forget the Proverbs call these type of people fools— dull, stupid, and arrogant.

As Forest Gump would say, “Stupid is as stupid does.”  But is he talking about us?  Or them?


Toxic Verbal Waste

The words that come out of a fool’s mouth are designed to stir up fights and foster controversy.  There’s no value in speaking truth unless it pushes forward the agenda.  Consider the following:

Proverbs 18:6 – A fool’s lips enter into (to go in, to bring) contention (strife, controversy, quarrels, disputes), and his mouth calls for blows (strikes, or a slap to correct insolent behavior).

That’s exactly what happens with the media today.  They pour out the anger and hatefulness in their heart, criticizing everyone and everybody who does not think like they do, and create contention for the sake of stirring up controversy.  But, as the Proverbs say, what they need is a punch in the mouth, a fist in their face, a belt in the chops.  A classic John Wayne moment.

But maybe we need the same thing.  Maybe we need a slap in the face for listening to the dribble that comes out of their mouth.  Maybe we need a wake up call.  Maybe we need someone to slap us back to reality.  Maybe we’ve become just as arrogant and stupid as they are by listening to the arrogant and stupid things that come out of their mouth.  Maybe we also delight in contention, quarrels and strife.

Maybe we’re no better than they are.  Maybe we’ve got blood on our own hands.
 

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Day Fifteen:  Proverbs 15

Day Fifteen: Proverbs 15

These are just a few of the encouraging truths found in Proverbs 15.  I pray they will be a blessing to you today.


Truth One: God is Sovereign

In your times of trouble, remember these encouraging words:

Proverbs 15:3 – The eyes of the LORD are in every place (He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and so much more), keeping watch (beholding, guarding as from a high tower) on the evil and the good.

After all, He is sovereign. And nothing catches Him by surprise.  As someone once said, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing ever occurs to God?”  Rest in this truth today.


Truth Two: Actions Matter

How important is prayer and a life of striving to live righteously before Him?  It’s the key to becoming the beloved and delight of the Lord.  Consider the following:

Proverbs 15:8 – The sacrifice (offering) of the wicked is an abomination (disgusting, unclean, wicked, horrendously offensive) to the LORD, but (by contrast) the prayer of the upright (straight, just, pleasing, in a moral and ethical sense) is His delight (pleasure, will, deemed acceptable).

It gets more intriguing.

Proverbs 15:9 – The way (path, journey, manner of life) of the wicked is an abomination (disgusting, unclean, wicked, horrendously offensive) to the LORD, but (by contrast) He loves him who follows (to chase, run after, pursues) righteousness (blameless in conduct, integrity).

Note the distinction.  The difference between becoming His delight or being horrendously offensive to the Lord is the condition of your heart.  Wickedness brings pain and rejection.  Living upright, holy and righteous, as He is upright, holy, and righteous, bring His pleasure and delight.  And He loves the one who pursues, in both actions and attitude, His righteousness.  You see, actions do matter.

And just in case you’re not yet convinced your actions and attitudes have eternal consequences, look at who gets their prayers heard:

Proverbs 15:29 – The LORD is far (distant, remote, far away) from the wicked, but (by contrast) He hears (to listen, have regard for) the prayer of the righteous (just, those blameless in conduct both morally and ethically).

God hears the prayers of those who live like Him.  But for the wicked?  He’s moved on, out of town, not interested.  That’s scary.


Truth Three:  We Don’t Have All Day

Looks like it’s a choice we make to determine which team we want to play on:  the righteous or the wicked.  I don’t know about you, but my desire is to live righteously for Him and to become His delight.  Is that your desire also?  Are you chasing after Him in hot pursuit?  Then let’s get to it.  We don’t have all day.

Maybe this will give you something to shoot for this week.  After all, nothing else really matters, does it?
 

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Is Your Heavenly Father Like Your Earthly Father?

Is Your Heavenly Father Like Your Earthly Father?

In my devotion time today, I discovered some words of wisdom I would like to share with you:

Proverbs 5:1-2 – My son, pay attention (listen carefully, give heed, obey) to my (not the world’s) wisdom; lend (extend, stretch out) your ear to my (not the world’s) understanding, (why) that you may preserve (watch, keep, guard) discretion, and your lips may keep knowledge.

The Proverbs are all about wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.  And the key to living in these blessings is to forsake the wisdom of this world, which is moronic (mōría) at best, and embrace the wisdom that only comes from God (1 Cor. 3:19).  It’s a daily choice, sometimes an hourly choice, we can make.

So how ’bout it?  Are you up for the challenge?

And one more:

Proverbs 5:21 – For the ways (path, journey of one’s life) of man (each man, you and me) are before the eyes of the LORD, and He (the Lord) ponders (to make level, to weigh, to guard or watch carefully) all his (each man, you and me) paths (goings, the circle of a camp).

Did you catch the meaning of this proverb?  Our life’s journey, our life’s choices are laid out before the Lord.  Nothing is hidden from Him.  He sees all.  Everything.  Good and bad.

Is that a good thing that nothing is hidden from God?  Or not such a good thing?  That depends on your view of God as your Father.


What is Your Heavenly Father Like?

There are two ways to look at this proverb.  And they are basically determined by our perception of what God the Father is like and how we choose to interpret the word, ponder (pālas).  One way is to focus on the part of the definition that means “to make level, to weigh.”  The image would be of a large legal scale, with our actions on one side and God’s righteousness on the other.  We would then see God as a great Judge with a mighty hammer waiting for us to cross the line, to do something disappointing to Him, something embarrassing to His character.  And once the scale becomes unbalanced towards our sin and not His righteousness, WHAM! – down comes the hammer.  In essence, “All our lives are before the Lord and He is waiting, just biding His time, until we mess up.  And when we do, geez, out comes His iron fist.”

This is a picture of an abusive father who is head over a dysfunctional family.  This is not what our God is like.
 

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Jude:  How Can Grace Become Sin?

Jude: How Can Grace Become Sin?


How Can Grace Become Sin?

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation,
ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the
only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:4

In this verse, Jude tells us four things about these “certain men who have crept in unnoticed” in the church: (1) their condemnation or judgment was determined long ago, (2) they are ungodly, (3) they turn the grace offered by our God into a license to sin, and (4) they deny the Lord Jesus Christ.1

This is the inevitable outcome of someone who only sees one side of God’s character— grace.  When we only believe the nature of God is grace alone, we tend to see Him as an all-forgiving Father who puts up with the sins of His children and is either too afraid, weak or insecure to confront their behavior.  He becomes nothing more than a Get Out of Jail Free card whose only purpose is to clean up our mess, pay for any damages, and continue to give us access to His unlimited American Express to fund our carefree lifestyle.

He becomes, in effect, a bad parent by showing only grace to the willing sins of His children and not demanding repentance, accountability, responsibility, and retribution.

But God is anything but a bad parent.

When Jesus confronted the woman caught in the act of adultery, He first offered her grace, then repentance.

John 8:10-11 – “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said to her, (grace) “Neither do I condemn you; (repentance) go and sin no more.”

Grace is only one side of the character of Christ.  The other side has to do with the consequences of rejecting grace.


Wrath of the Lamb

There is a chilling verse in the Revelation that should strike fear in those who take the grace of God for granted and use it as an excuse to sin.  This verse shows a different side of Jesus.  There’s no more “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild” as the children’s song goes.  Jesus, referred to as the Lamb of God, now comes with something we’d never expect from a lamb— wrath.

Revelation 6:15-16 – And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!”

Did you catch that?  Those under condemnation for the sin and rejection of the truth were trying to hide from the wrath of the Lamb, the wrath of Jesus. In fact, Jesus said, “the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).

Jesus, with His judgment, also brings wrath.
 

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Jude:  We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

Jude: We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us


We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation,
ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the
only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:4

Churchill once said, borrowing from an old African proverb, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”  While there is much truth to that proverb, the opposite is also true.  “When the enemy is within, the enemies outside can hurt you.”  And they can hurt you bad.  Often permanently.

This was the situation Jude was warning the church about in his letter, and the same situation we find ourselves today.  The enemy has breached our walls and is now inside the camp.  What are we to do?


Who Are These Certain Men?

Jude, after calling believers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), begins to tell us why it’s so imperative to defend our faith.  He says, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed” (Jude 1:4).

There are several words that need further scrutiny.

The first of these is certain.  The Greek word is tis and means “a certain one, some person whom one cannot or does not wish to name.”2  In other words, “It’s one of those guys.  You know who they are.  I don’t even need to call them by name.”

These certain men have crept (pareisdúō) into the church unnoticed, or by stealth.  The word means to “enter in craftily, under cover of darkness, like a thief.”3  They, like a terrorist sleeper cell, blend in with the others waiting for a time to attack from the inside, from the unprotected underbelly of the church.  They are most sinister.

But who are these guys?

Jude describes them as those “who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4).  But we’ll look more into this at a later time.

They are, in effect, pastors void of holiness.

Businessmen, masquerading as pastors, who see the church as their next current startup.

They’re entrepreneurs, building their own product, brand, and empire within the church.

Jesus called them “false prophets”— ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15).

And we don’t seem to care they’re among us, spreading like kudzu.
 

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Jude:  Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith

Jude: Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith


Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation,
I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jude 1:3

We are engaged in a bloody war.  It’s a war taken to us, laid on our doorsteps— a war we cannot afford to lose.  To the victor goes the heart and mind of the church.

In the past, Satan has attacked the church both outwardly and inwardly with mixed results.  In Acts, for example, the external attacks from the religious establishment were countered by the church speaking “the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).  And the internal attacks only led to “great fear came upon all the church” (Acts 5:11) and increased ministry to others (Acts 6:7).

In each of these, the church only grew stronger.


A Single Voice

In its early history, the church would meet in authoritative councils to define truth or orthodoxy and address heresy.  When a falsehood would arise that became popular among the people and threatened to lead them away from the truth of the gospel, church leaders from all over the world would gather to examine the heresy, compare it to Scripture, and issue a binding statement that would define Christian belief for the church at large.  These binding statements became known as creeds. Some of them, the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed for example, codified for us the doctrines we often take for granted.

But today it’s different.

There’s no authoritative voice for the church and little accountability.  With the internet, pretty much anything goes.  And with most Bible-believing Christians not believing the Bible, the spread of heresy and false doctrine is rampant.
 

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Jude:  The Non-Negotiables of Salvation

Jude: The Non-Negotiables of Salvation


The Non-Negotiables of Salvation

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation,
I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jude 1:3

Jude’s intention was to write about their common salvation— the salvation believers share together.  One of the definitions of the word common (koinós) means “belonging to several, of which several are partakers.”  Jude’s letter was originally designed to talk about the salvation they shared and what it all means.

But something changed.  Now the Holy Spirit has moved Jude on to a related, yet new topic.  He finds it now necessary to encourage those who share this common salvation to learn how to contend or strive or fight earnestly for the faith on which their salvation was built.  It’s as if the object of their faith was under attack, which it was.  To “contend earnestly for the faith” implies it’s a single, finite faith. It’s a faith that isn’t fluid or breathing, or doesn’t change with the whims of each generation.  This is the faith “which was once for all (final) delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

And the faith that undergirds their common salvation is what we call the gospel.


Look What We Done With the Gospel

If the faith, the gospel, is unchanging and finite, why do we see so many interpretations of the gospel within the Christian church?  At last count, it has been reported there were over 33,000 Christian denominations worldwide, which reeks of chaos.  No single entity now speaks authoritatively for the church at large.  If the world, for example, wants to know the Christian view on homosexuality, they can ask ten different pastors and get seven different answers.  But our faith, like prophecy, is not open to private interpretation (2 Peter 1:2).  It’s a faith that was delivered from Jesus Christ based on His rules and standards, and accountable only to Him.  We didn’t secure the way to salvation through consensus. He paid for it with His own blood.

What we’ve done to His church is splinter it into a million different fragments all separated by personal nuances that seem to work with our personalities.  If someone preaches holiness too much for our taste, they’re legalistic.  If someone is more licentious than we feel comfortable with, then they’re liberal.  We judge everything by ourselves, creating God in our image and according to our personal likes and dislikes.  Assuming, of course, that God feels like we feel and thinks like we think.  Which He doesn’t (Isa. 55:8-9).
 

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Jude:  Why is Diligence Such a Neglected Discipline Today?

Jude: Why is Diligence Such a Neglected Discipline Today?


Why is Diligence Such a Neglected Discipline Today?

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation,
I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jude 1:3

There seems to be a difference between those whom God uses in a mighty way, and the rest of Christianity.  It’s not their skill or education that makes them most likely to succeed in the kingdom of God.  It’s certainly not their pedigree or upbringing that matters.  For 1 Corinthians teaches that “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise” (1 Cor. 1:27).  God can take anyone, of any background and experience, and turn them into a D.L. Moody or a Billy Graham.

It seems the single attribute that separates those who serve Him with reckless abandon and those who just go through the motions, is commitment.  Or, to use the words of Jude, being very diligent.


Some Background

It appears Jude had a different intention for this letter.  He begins by saying he wanted to “write to you concerning our common salvation (Jude 1:3).  But in the span of the same sentence, Jude pivots by saying something has changed.  “I find it necessary (as the Holy Spirit changes his focus) to write to you exhorting (helping, encouraging) you to contend (strive, struggle) earnestly (not casually or haphazardly) for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).  In other words, what began as a letter exploring the nature of our “common salvation” has now changed.  The Holy Spirit is moving in a different direction.

It’s this new direction, the warning and rebuking of the apostates within the walls of the church, that gives Jude a special place in the New Testament.  But we’ll talk more about that later.


Very Diligent

The phrase Jude uses, very diligent, means “speed, haste, earnest in accomplishing something, zeal.”  It implies someone who is totally committed or single-focused with tunnel vision aimed at completing the task set before them.

It’s a trait we honor in every area of life except the spiritual.  Michael Phelps, for example, won more Olympic Gold Medals than anyone in history.  Do you think he was able to accomplish that feat with a haphazard attitude towards his sport?  Of course not.  We applaud his commitment, his diligence, and the obvious sacrifices he made to achieve success in his field.  But do we applaud the same in other Christians?

For some reason, we see diligence and commitment as a necessary element of success in every form of life except in our relationship with Christ.  We admire those who make sacrifices to attain certain levels of success, like Michael Phelps, yet we assume the same is not required of us.  When we study the lives of great men of God, we see that’s not true.  Those who accomplished great things for God also sacrificed great things for God.  They were very diligent about serving Him.  As Jim Elliott said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
 

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Jude:  Mercy, Peace, Love, and Multiplied

Jude: Mercy, Peace, Love, and Multiplied


Mercy, Peace, Love and Multiplied

Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
Jude 1:2

It looks like this verse presents us with a few more Greek words to define.  First, there’s the three-word salutation Jude employs: mercy, peace, and love.  In Paul’s general epistles, his opening salutation usually only involves grace and peace.1  In the pastoral epistles and 2 John, mercy is added to the mix.2  Now, in Jude, love replaces grace.  We then find the Holy Spirit choosing to amplify the blessings of mercy, peace, and love by using the word multiplied instead of given or added— which is breathtaking in its implications.  Let’s take a look at each of these.


Mercy

The word mercy (éleos) refers to “compassion, kindness or goodwill towards the miserable and afflicted; it’s a state of active pity, accompanied by a sense of piety and innate goodness.”3  It’s not getting what we deserve, which is pretty much the opposite of justice.

Some teach that mercy is just another word for grace.  But that’s not true.  There’s a gulf of difference between these two words.  Mercy is when God chooses not to punish us for what our sins rightly deserve (Rom. 6:23).  We are spared the chastisement we’ve earned.  And grace, on the other hand, is when God chooses to go a step further and bless us in spite of our sins.  One is the removal of just punishment, and the other is the pouring out of divine blessings.


Peace

Next, the Greek word for peace (eirḗnē) means “to be in a state of tranquility, harmony, and accord; it’s the opposite of war and dissension and arises from the reconciliation with God and a sense of divine favor.”4  Psalm 7:11 says “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.”  But not with us.  We are at peace with God due to the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf.

But Jesus spoke about another peace.  Jesus promised us this peace when He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace (eirḗnē) I give to you” (John 14:27).  Note, it’s His peace.  It’s the very peace He experienced in the midst of His pain and suffering, that He now gives to us.

A few chapters later Jesus said the only peace that can overcome the tribulation of the world is found in Him (John 16:33).  And this is just a taste of our inheritance as children of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17).
 

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