Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the tag “Christ”

Questions: Who Can Answer?

One fact to keep in mind when deliberating on the crucifixion of Christ – Many a false prophet, false messiah, had come and gone before Jesus.

The Trial of Jesus in a nutshell:
The Sanhedrin, the supreme religious body in the Land of Israel, under pressure from Jewish leaders, accused Jesus of blasphemy because He likened himself to God. John 5, 18; “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” They were unable to pronounce Jesus guilty because witnesses were unable to get their stories straight to collaborate. By manipulation of Jesus’ rebuttle to the charges, the council had falsely, “condemned him to be worthy of death”. (Mk 14:64) The Sanhedrin, under Roman occupation  did not have the authority to inflict Capital punishment, instead, they handed Jesus over to Pontius Pilate on a trumped up charge of treason. Caring not a wit on a charge of blasphemy and knowing the charges of treason against him were false, Pilate did not want anything to do with a judgement on Jesus. Pilate realized he was caught between two diametrical outcomes. Sentence Jesus to death against his conscience, or, Let Jesus go free and bear the wrath of the Jewish authority, and, let Jesus go free and bear the wrath of Rome. Pilate’s way out was to have the Jewish people give proclamation on Jesus themselves by offering them a choice. Barabbas, the freedom fighter already judged, convicted and sentenced as a rebel, or Jesus, the pacifist King of the Jews, in his stead. We all know their choice.

Jesus before Pilate

Jesus Returned to Pilate
The American Passion Play, Inc.
Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts
Bloomington, IL
http://www.americanpassionplay.org/

Did Pilate take the easy way out, deny his conscience? Was Pilate’s hope in setting Jesus free?

Would there have been a crowd of Jews assembled at the palace of Pilate ready to condemn Jesus unless the Sanhedrin had first rallied them to the cause?

Was all this really the “Plan of God”? If so, is anyone ultimately guilty for who can change or alter the plans of God?

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).

This statement of Jesus on the cross begs several questions.

  1.  Was Jesus was referring to:
    • the Roman authorities – Pontius Pilate?
    • the soldiers who carried out the execution?
    • the Sanhedrin who had Jesus arrested and handed Jesus over to Pontius Pilate for trial?
    • the Jews who called out for Barabbas to be released instead?
    • perhaps all the above?
    • perhaps all people for all time fulfilling Jesus mission to be the sacrificial lamb for the sins of the whole world?
  2. Would they still have crucified Jesus if they did know what they were doing?
  3. If Jesus had been set free by Pontius Pilate, what then would be the consequence? Would prophecy have been fulfilled?
  4. What is the significance that Jesus was crucified between the two thieves, two tried and convicted sinners?
  5. What is the significance that Jesus was crucified in substitution for Barabbas, an enemy of Rome, a fighter for the Kingdom of Israel?
  6. Why did not Jesus’ disciples rally to His defense?
  7. Why did the learned leaders of the Jewish nation not believe that Jesus was the Promised Messiah?

The common belief in the Messiah at the time of Jesus ministry was that when the Savior came he would destroy all oppression and the Jewish people would live in the promised land of plenty and freedom. Even John the Baptist asked for positive assurance.

Jesus reassured John the Baptist by telling John’s disciples to explain what they have seen and heard:
Go and tell John what you have heard and seen. The blind are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People with leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. God will bless everyone who doesn’t reject me because of what I do.” (Matt 11:4-6 CEV)

Jesus own disciples were still very much in doubt until after the resurrection of Jesus and even then, Thomas still had doubts.

Many times when Jesus performed a healing he sent that person to the priest or the person was brought before the Pharisees. “But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.
John 9, A man born blind.  Matthew 8:1-4, Healing of leprosy.  Matthew 9:1-8, Jesus Heals and Forgives a Paralytic, scribes present.   Mark 7:31-37, Jesus Heals a Deaf Man.  Mark 5:37-43, Jesus raises the daughter of a Synagog leader.  Luke 4:31-37, In the synagogue of Capernaum Jesus drives out an evil spirit.

Even with all this evidence, coupled with “Preaching with Authority”, that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, Jesus was still crucified and yet many still did not believe even after the resurrection.

There are many accounts and interpretations of what is to come at the end of this “Age of Grace”. If the learned in scripture and prophesy could not (or would not) connect Jesus to prophesy and recognize him as the promised Messiah, – How should we therefore view the end times prophesies given in the Bible when “Christ will come again to judge both the quick and the dead“?

Oh No, More Snow, Again

Got up this morning, let the dog out and there it was. A “freshly fallen silent shroud of snow”.
I have always remembered that line. A perfect example of alliteration. Beautifully written to capture the very essence of a quiet Sunday morning after a snowfall. Written by Paul Simon for a song called “I Am A Rock”.

After enduring quite a long winter this year we in Northern Alberta haven’t seen the ground or grass for over three months now. During the past week, the winds have blown pine needles and other debris over the surface of the snow making it quite an ugly sight. Now, a fresh inch of snow has fallen and the landscape is clean again. Pure white, a symbol of Christ. The morning sun has poked through the clouds and the rolling mounds in the fields next door are really beautiful. Praise the Lord for small blessings.

Lyrics; I Am A Rock

Lyrics; I Am A Rock

I know little about Paul Simon, the author of the poem and he has never explained the meanings behind these lyrics. Like all good poets, he has left the interpretation to the reader. Many see a darkness here, prospects of loneliness, of suicide, of shutting out the world. Perhaps they are right. Perhaps it is about pining over lost love or opportunity. There are countless people we encounter every day who are trying to shut out the world and life. They are hurting, they are lost. They see only the dark side of life They are in need of a Savior.

OK Paul Simon, you left the interpretation to the reader, here’s mine:

I have my books
(The collection of books known as the Holy Bible. I have access to the truth and I am free.)
And my poetry to protect me;
(Poetry is harmony, there is harmony in a life with others in Christ)
I am shielded in my armor,
(The best shield we can don is the armor of God)
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
(We are hidden in Christ’s Temple room, safe, but ready for a rebirth from this womb into a whole new life and work each and everyday.)
I touch no one and no one touches me.
( I can reach out to the one in need, but I need not come into contact with his demons. They can’t touch me, I am Christ’s)
I am a rock, I am an island.
(Jesus has told us all, “I am the Rock of your Salvation, the safe island in the storms of life.)
And a rock feels no pain;
(Jesus is our healer, He has taken all our pain.)
And an island never cries.
( In God our tears shall reap in joy, our mourning shall be changed into dancing)


Upon being met with a fresh snowfall some may say, “Oh No, More Snow, Again.” But, in every turn, in every season, there is a reason, an underlying beauty to all God has given and created. Give thanks and enjoy for the Lord is Good.

Where Can We Run To?

“You can overcome all life’s demons, because no matter what you are confronted with, it’s not something that isn’t common to man.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) paraphrased

It matters not what social group you belong to or frequent, be it church, sports club, charity foundation, school, whichever, if you are making meaningful or personal relationships you are coming into contact with people with problems. Most people are seeking a confidant with whom to confide in or to relate their problems to. They are in need of help. Not all social groups are able to, are willing to, nor can they, have the resources to mentor every problem that face today’s society. There is only one social grouping which can, or should be able, the Church, the agent for Christ.

There may be a few mega-churches that have the resources and ministries to directly handle near all societal problems, but that is not the norm. Most churches are of the under 500 member size. Is it unrealistic for smaller Churches to be the end all mentor? The main jobs or purpose of the Church is to worship Christ, to bring souls to Christ and disciple the members in Christ.

We are not left shocked and tongue tied

We are not left shocked and tongue tied

Within those three disciplines of the Church though, will lay all the problems society faces. The marital problems, the family upheavals, persons with disabilities, drug and alcohol abuse, money management, sickness, care of the dying, bullying, home assistance, income assistance, to categorize several. A Church who are evengelizing, bringing souls to Christ, and is discipling the members will have to face and mentor to these needs. The only way for the Church to avoid these problems is, do not evangelize, do not disciple. But then, are they truly in Christ?

No Church should expect the pastor to mentor or handle these incidences, challenges or cases on his own, although many a pastor is left to do so. Peoples struggles and difficulties and circumstances and various needs is why the Church has lay ministries and Spirit lead talents and gifts within each member of the congregation. That we may minister to each other as the Holy Spirit leads us so to do.

A local church will not, dare I say, cannot grow without the members exercising the ministry of of each of these gifts and talents. God, through His Holy Spirit, has placed these in His church. (I Corinthians 12:28) Are we not to encourage, generously, with all diligence, cheerfully, that which God bestows? (Romans 12:8) ” to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness in the hope of eternal life,” (Titus 1:1-2)

Are we not to take the ministry of these gifts and talents out into our neighborhoods, our work places, our recreations? “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, … So wherever you go, make disciples of all peoples:” (Matthew 28:19) Did not Jesus minister in the streets and in the hill sides and on the sea shore? Was not Jesus confronted with all of societies problems and the demons of the age? If so, why then should not we be, if we are of Christ as we profess, be likewise so confronted? We have Christ; why then would we be afraid?

One final question. It is Saturday evening, you have a family problem. Whom do you call? To whom do you turn for counsel?

“I can overcome all life’s demons, because no matter what I am confronted with, it’s not something that isn’t common to man and Jesus has already won the victory for me.”

God’s Work In Litter

Many Christians, many Churches live self isolated from the reality of mission in their own neighborhood. Believers are ready to get involved in almost any activity that appears spiritual as long as it allows them to escape their responsibility to the Gospel. They will give to foodbanks, mission work to the homeless, mission work overseas, maybe even deliver hampers at Christmas; how many are willing to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to their neighbors?

Is that not the Great Commission, be the Good News to our neighbors? “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10: 29 in The Parable of the Good Samaritan. V 37, Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Near all Christians know The Prayer of St. Francis

The Prayer of St. Francis

The Prayer of St. Francis

Here’s a modern version for many today’s Christian:

I pray each eve that I might be
a channel for God’s might.
Dear Lord show where my burdens be,
My guide to put things right.

If I could mend one broken dream
Bring ease for one more pain.
Play my part in God’s great scheme
Help one soul for Christ to gain.

A hundred souls I’ll pass today,
each one begs to say hello.
I’ve been conformed to go my way,
and never take this chance to grow.

I know not this man with sad worn face,
This lady with her arms so full.
So I pass by and hold my place
in case rejection takes it’s toll.

I’ll admit, that is a little harsh. For most Chistians it is having the opportunity to witness which is lacking. Modern culture prevents us from foisting ourselves upon an unsuspecting public. We need a method of introduction. Being brave enough to go door-to-door is not a good option for most. The answer though, could be right before us, under our feet. It’s called Litter.

Litter is a problem in every community, in every neighborhood. I have found that in walking the neighborhood twice per week picking litter, I have become a familiar figure to many of my neighbors whom I would never have met otherwise. Most will give me a pleasant hello and many want to stop and chat. My neighbors have come to trust me. I am performing a civic duty. Over the past year, I have helped mothers with babies unload their cars, helped a man build a stairs, fixed the chain on a child’s bike, intervened twice in bullying situations and captured a runaway puppy. Twice I have been called to the ministry of consoling, to just be an ear or a comfort for one in distress. Through conversations with those I have met, two couples have joined our house church.

This is much the same with the other four “litter pickers” from our small church. Not to boast, but, 8 new souls for Christ to a congregation of 60 is a better average than most week long visiting evangelical crusades. Yes it takes time, and commitment but, is not that what we are called to do? Give our time and commitment for Christ. “Go ye out into all your neighborhoods and make disciples.”

Litter Picking is not only a support for the community, it can also be used as a Christ lead tool for evangelism. As one person said on a site for volunteering, “It’s (volunteering) a commitment to live/work/play/support/ and regrow our community not just as a “neighborhood” but to support our neighbors in compassionate ways as people.”

The major need for most Christians is training in relating the Gospel message. Being able to answer questions on God, Christ and Salvation.

Who is God?
Who is Jesus?
What is Salvation?
Why do I need to be saved?
Saved from what?
Why should I go to Church?
Why Baptism?
Etc., etc.

Every Church must have a continuing course in Evangelism, the fundamentals of Faith. Sadly, fundamentals are the most neglected part of most congregational teaching. Without the basics of Faith, how can we grow? How can we Evangelize?


Prayer of St. Francis image from: brenda-turner.tumblr.com

Embarrassed For Christ

FMV James Sinclair

FMV James Sinclair – Only photo I could find.

Several years ago I worked as the Chief Steward, cook, on a small ship. The whole crew knew of my Christian beliefs and I did have many conversations with crew members, mostly they tried to test or disprove my theology. Never-the-less I persevered and prayed for the crew every morning and night asking for wisdom or a word that I could share with them.

One morning it came. There it was, a Bible scripture that I absolutely knew was from God Himself and God also told me where and when I was to deliver it. The Captain and Engineer both stayed after lunch in the galley where they talked of many things, mostly gossip and worldly topics but, knowing my place I would never butt in and give an opinion unless asked. Today I would seize upon the opportunity knowing that God had my back.

Lunch came and was over, The Captain was there, the Engineer was there and after I had finished my cleaning the moment arose. They even called me over to deliver an extra cup of coffee. How perfect was that? Coffee pot in hand, I confidently strolled over and blurted out the scripture message I was to deliver to them.

They both glared at me, turned to each other, and basically laughed.

Very embarrassing!! Not what I expected.

Um, God, you have let me down here.

I finished up the last of the clean-up and retreated back to my cabin to have a little deliberation time with God. What happened here? Did I get the message wrong? Wrong persons? Wrong time? Did my over exuberance get in the way? Please, I need an answer.

After about an hour, still feeling a bit dejected, I made my way to the rear deck to take in some of the grandeur of the North B.C. coast. I was joined after several minutes by another crew member.

“Do you really believe what you said to the Captain in the galley earlier?” he asked.

Apparently, just as I sashayed over to the Captain’s table with the coffee, he had entered the galley behind me and I didn’t even notice he was there. The message was for him.

I was able to share the Gospel message with him but, at that time I wasn’t able to lead him through the sinners prayer and lead him directly to Christ. It wasn’t till our next tour, some three weeks later, that he came to me and said that during his time off he gave his life to Christ and was baptized.

A little embarrassment is but a very small price to pay for another man’s salvation and glory for Christ. Could the message have been initiated in another way, perhaps, but, this was the way of God’s choosing. For me the lesson was, be obedient but, don’t take God for granted. It is all God’s work and God’s timing, – not our own.

For we are God’s own handiwork, His workmanship, recreated in Christ Jesus, born anew, that we may do those good works which God predestined and planned beforehand for us, that we should walk and live in them.
Ephesians 2: 10 (Paraphrased)

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, for our failures, and find grace for appropriate and well-timed help, coming just when we need it.
Hebrews 4: 16 (Paraphrased)

Living prudently and with discretion in your relations with the non-Christians of the outside world, making the very most of the time and seizing the opportunity to work God’s blessings.
Colossians 4: 5 (Paraphrased)

Greatest Book I Ever Lived

It has been often said of the Bible, “The Greatest Book I Ever Read”. So very true.
Better for every Christian to make the Bible, “The Greatest Book I Ever Lived”.
Better yet; for the Church to say, “The Greatest Book We Ever Lived“.

For although Faith is personal, Faith can only be of value if demonstated in community within the whole of society.

James 2: 14-24 on Faith and Deeds:
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

The Chistian life is one of action, a life of ‘Doing’. Doing What? Doing the will of God.

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. …”

The action therefore is in doing the will, discovering the will of God  for our lives is the important factor. The verse goes on to say,

“… Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’”.

Just professing that we believe in Jesus is not enough. Jesus says we must do “the will of My Father in heaven”, if we expect to be with Him in Heaven. Our faith must be an obedient faith by doing the will of God if it is to be a saving faith; otherwise it is not a saving faith.

A Holy Experience

A Holy Experience

What Does a bit of Radical Christianity Really Look Like?

This was asked by Ann on her blog, “A Holy Experience” (Logo Right) and who goes on to say:
“The poor have made me rich and telling the stories of those who need a voice — has changed mine.”

She was relaying the story of Katie – kissesfromkatie.blogspot.ca

“Katie is with the dirty and lovely in Uganda — forsaking the American dream for God-sized dreams. .. everyday she simply wakes up and just says yes to what God gives her wherever she is ”

“Because all radical Christianity is first rooted in relationship Christianity — with Christ and His children. Right where we are.”

Matthew 28:16-20, The Great Commission

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.”

Jesus has spoken to His disciples, GO. Are we not all His disciples? Do we not all desire to be disciplined by Christ? To say yes is to be one who is committed to spreading the Word of salvation to all people. That can only be done by doing, doing in faith; doing because of our faith.

Because of our faith in the salvation that Christ bought for us, we are partakers of salvation and therefore doers of the Will of God. The main will of God being that all people worship Him in spirit and in truth. The second job, actually in conjunction with worship, is to love. Love who? Our neighbors. As James is saying in chapter 2, We show our faith by our deeds.

“observe all things whatever I have commanded you:”

The Sermon On The Mount (Matthew 5-7), the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), and Parables make up the bulk of Jesus’ teachings for us to be advocates for.

First Jesus asked each of us to be fully ware of our limitations, put God then others first, and purify our hearts and minds.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught about: comforting, feeding, showing mercy, peacemaking, fair wages, unjust trade, oppression of widows, economic injustices, political corruption, morality, adultery, divorce.

Matthew 5: 16, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Not only are we, the Christian Community, to be advocates, we must be seen for what we believe in. Involved, Active and Vocal.

Matthew 5: 24, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

For too long we have allowed secularism to steal God’s Thunder.

Step Out In Faith

Taking a Step

Words and music by Richard Tilley

Psalm 119:133, “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.”
Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Exodus 15:2 “The LORD is my strength and my song, he has become my salvation.”
Thanks be to God we don’t have to be brave or bold on our own. Our strength is in the Lord.


Taking a step, going out,
Show the world that Jesus loves you,
Reflect the love of Jesus in your life
Taking a step, you must be brave,
To live the life Christ leads you,
Letting Jesus be the master of your life.

You will be brave, for God will lead you;
You will be strong, for God will feed you;
You will be bold for God will never let you fall.
Step out in faith, the Lord has told you;
Step out in faith, the Lord will hold you;
Step out in faith as you answer Jesus call.

Taking a step, you’ve been called
To be the Lord’s disciple.
Carry His Word to the world far and near.
Taking a step, walk in faith
as one of God’s own people;
The Lord has blessed your life
and now you hold Him dear.

You will be brave, for God will lead you;
You will be strong, for God will feed you;
You will be bold for God will never let you fall.
Step out in faith, the Lord has told you
Step out in faith, the Lord will hold you
Step out in faith as you answer Jesus call.

Taking a step, now go in peace
as one of God’s own chosen.
What God has bound, He will never part.
Taking a step, filled with love,
The Lord’s own joy your token.
He gave His life for you, give Him your heart.

You will be brave, for God will lead you;
You will be strong, for God will feed you;
You will be bold for God will never let you fall.
Step out in faith, the Lord has told you
Step out in faith, the Lord will hold you
Step out in faith as you answer Jesus call.

I will be brave, for God will lead me
I will be strong, for God will feed me;
I will be bold for God will never let me fall.
Step out in faith, the Lord has told me
Step out in faith, the Lord will hold me
Step out in faith as I answer Jesus call.

I have a MIDI file with the music. WordPress won’t allow me to place it on the page.
Leave your email and I will send it to you then cancel your reply so your email won’t be visible.
MIDI can be opened in a program called: Musescore – http://musescore.org/
The program allows printing in sheet music.
Best of all, it’s free.

Clean Fridge – Clean Faith

The proverb “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” a common theme of the Bible although not a direct quotation.
We cleaned our fridge this morning, – so big deal, it’s a standard chore for every household.

After 3 months of collecting all the crumbs, drips and spills of everyday use, our fridge was a mess. What looked like dried milk or juice had become encrusted into shelf crevices after they became coated with crumbly bits of something. Could barely see through the glass shelving, the top of the shelves is self evident but, how stuff gets stuck to the underside –. The bottom crisper drawer we use for meats, if left any longer would have looked like a slaughterhouse floor. It is amazing how dried blood sticks to plastic. It takes a lot of soaking before coming loose.

Somehow, our regular cleaning plan had become disrupted. The fridge should have been cleaned at the end of November, but with an earlier snow that month and Christmas coming on and through December, things just got put off and fridge cleaning was one of them. We left this job to near the end of January knowing that the fridge would have the least contents at this time.

Just to empty out the fridge, where to put all the stuff. Got to realize how short of counter space there is in our kitchen. Some stuff that came out of the fridge, I don’t even remember when we last used that ingredient or that it was even in there. Surprising what can hide in plain sight. Was it worth keeping the dregs of the salad dressing? Who knew that hot-dog mustard separates in the container when not used since our last barbeque some 4 months ago or more?

The inside of the fridge is a chore in itself. Since the fridge is empty, why not pull it out and clean the back, sides and the floor underneath? Tell me, does the top of the fridge become everyone’s favorite utility shelf? There is no order to what is placed on this convenience. The box of Christmas cards we didn’t send. wrapping paper. scissors, pencil, scotch tape, 2011 calendar, ooh, so that’s were that bill got misplaced. A pair of gloves, container of brown sugar – and dust – yes dust. In winter?. Don’t you ever clean up here?

Now it is rather obvious that manufacturers don’t make fridges to roll forward. Wiggle, wiggle, jostle, jostle, back and forth until finally, get enough grip and leverage to yard the beast from its lair. OOH NO. How did all that crap and crud get under there? Why is it always a surprise? It’s the same old crap that was there last year when you pulled the fridge out.

Now that the fridge has been cleaned and some of the old contents have been turfed, everything gets put back in orderly fashion. It will stay that way through the weekend until Tuesday, pension cheque day which is the next time we get to cram that cooler with a fresh load of edibles.

I was contemplating on fridge cleaning. What is the lesson for cleaning out the dregs of secular society that get entangled into our walk with Christ? Especially over the Christmas season just past. All the trappings associated with ‘Xmas’, from Santa Claus, secular carols, compulsion to overspend, the busy-ness. All the decorations of the season are designed to distract us from Christ and celebrate the holiday instead. Too often we allow the “gods of Xmas” into our homes and lives. We all need a good cleaning out. How much have we unknowingly allowed our faith to become tarnished?

How many Christians found the Christmas season tiring rather than a rejuvenating of faith? Has Christmas left you exhausted, feeling like you’re going nowhere, out of routine, need to re-energize? Perhaps we all need a sabbatical. I know I do. “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy,” The only one of the Ten Commandments that tells us to “Remember”. God knew His people will forget. Most of us even forget to take a day from our regular routines and we treat our Sabbath day as though it is just as any other. The pressures from society all too often don’t allow us to “Rest” in Christ so we can “cleanse our faith“.

Baptism – Not To Be Taken Lightly

Before I go on I want to say that this post is to clarify what I said about baptism in my previous blog post, Covenant: Signed, Sealed, Delivered; I’m Yours.

Many have described baptism as, “The outward sign of an inward grace”. Yes, that is true but—. The problem I have with this connection of the two is; the ‘Outward Sign’ of baptism is of our volition. The ‘Inward Grace’ is of God. Let us look at these in reverse order, actually, the proper order.

The Inward Grace

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

It is at the Cross of Christ, Christ’s death and resurrection, where we were saved, when we were saved, not when we were immersed in or sprinkled with water. We were saved long before we turned to Christ in faith. That salvation, which is for the whole of the people on earth, is granted to us by the Grace of God. It is God’s most precious gift. What we care to do with that gift is up to each of us. It is the salvation earned for us by Christ that is the entry pass to the Kingdom of God and the receiving of the Holy Spirit that we may become part of God’s ‘Royal Priesthood’.

Christ’s death and resurrection is God’s guarantee of the covenant between Him and the people of His Kingdom to build up “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”, see Exodus: 19:5,6.

Cross, Empty for Christ is Risen

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Colossians 2:12, “..having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Colossians 3:1-4, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Acts 2:38-39, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.”

As Matthew-Henry Commentary says on Acts 2:38-39:

“This was the same duty that John the Baptist and Christ had preached, and now that the Spirit is poured out is it still insisted on: “Repent, repent; change your mind, change your way; admit an after-thought.’’ (2.) Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ; that is, “firmly believe the doctrine of Christ, and submit to his grace and government; and make an open solemn profession of this, and come under an engagement to abide by it, by submitting to the ordinance of baptism; be proselyted to Christ and to his holy religion, and renounce your infidelity.”

Because God has bestowed upon us the most precious gift of salvation through Christ Jesus, our spirit felt realization of this blessed truth of the Grace of God brings us to repentance and as a sign that we accept His gift we commit to Him in the ordinance of baptism.

We make a statement in our baptism: “I was crucified and buried with Christ and raised up to newness of life.”

Does our act of baptism bring us the gift of salvation? No! It is in response to our salvation that we commit to being baptized.
Does our baptism bring us the gift of the Holy Spirit? No! We are infilled with the Spirit of God upon our acceptance of the gift of salvation, the obedience of Christ Jesus to death on the cross and his glorious resurrection.
God is one, undivided, all aspects of God, all benefits and gifts and ministries are combined into that single package, SALVATION.

So what is the purpose of the outward sign of baptism?

The physical act, the outward sign, of baptism is a public display testifying to all in attendance that, “I have accepted the salvation offered through Christ and am from this day forward I am a reformed person. I know the one true and living God and I promise that I will in every way be a reflection of Him. Go ahead world, – judge me according to His standard.”

I now live for Christ. “But God forbid that I should boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” Gal. 6:14

How much more powerful a statement would the act of baptism be if baptism was performed in public instead of within the private confines of a church.

Covenant: Signed, Sealed, Delivered; I’m Yours

We are a people of covenant, a nation of covenants. Whether we buy or rent a house, buy or lease a car, even the contract you signed for your cell phone activation or for an internet provider is dependent on covenants. The list of covenants you or myself have signed goes on and on and covers most areas of our lives. Even to vote in an election which is a right guaranteed by constitution is under covenant, you make a statement of who you are and a promise to obey the election laws.

What is a covenant?

An old paper scroll with quill pen and inkwell

An old paper scroll with quill pen and inkwell

A covenant is a binding agreement; a contract which is guaranteed in writing under seal, and may include a clause as to performance under such contract. A covenant usually includes the action to be taken in which damages are sought for breach of the signed (sealed) agreement. Often a lawyer or notary public will place a seal as witness to the signatories.

What are Biblical covenants?

First we must understand that God is one God, from the beginning, now and always, God eternal. The same God in creation as to the peoples of the old covenant as to those of us covered by the new covenant, one God. In Biblical history we read of several covenants.

The covenant given to Noah which applied to all humanity and to all living creatures. God promised never again to destroy all life on Earth by flood. Genesis: 9:11 God created a rainbow as the sign of this “everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth”. Genesis: 9:12-17

The destroying ‘flood’ and the sign of the ‘rainbow’. Both hijacked in the ‘modern’ society and church. I will leave that commentary for another day.

The covenant of circumcision. Circumcision to be practiced on every male child to be the permanent sign of this everlasting covenant with Abraham and all his male descendants. They will be God’s people and “I will be their God”. Genesis 17:9–14

The Kingdom covenant. The Mosaic covenant found in Exodus: 19, is God’s promises contained in both the written Torah and the Oral Torah. In this covenant, God promises to make the Israelite his “treasured” possession among all people. Exodus: 19:5,6 God will build “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” providing they follow God’s commandments. This was a covenant under law.

A New covenant. Jeremiah 31:30–33, God makes a commitment that one day a new covenant, a new agreement between God and mankind will be revealed or written. What isn’t really explained is; does this new covenant replace the previous one or is it to be an extension to the old with a greater level of commitment to Holiness. One reason for ambiguity is because the Mosaic covenant applied only to the people of Israel, the Jews and converts to Judaism, where the new covenant is extended to all peoples.

In the Gospel accounts of “The Last Supper”, Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:18-26, Luke 22:7-23, where Jesus celebrates the Passover with his disciples, Jesus foretells His crucifixion and blesses the wine as the blood of the covenant. In translation, many have added the word “new”.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25;
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

What is important is Jesus words, “This cup that is poured out for you is the (new) covenant in my blood.” Christ Jesus has signed the covenant in His blood. Christ’s death and resurrection is God’s guarantee of the covenant between Him and the people of His Kingdom. Is this not a new realization of the old?
The replacement to the covenant given to Abraham is Baptism over Circumcision, now both men and women are independently covered. We are all God’s people.
Under the new covenant, God manifests his word to build; “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. Under the ‘Moses’ covenant the ‘Kingdom’ was a rule by law. The new covenant is by rule of the “Holy Spirit” and the law is now written in our hearts. No one can claim ignorance of the Truth of God.
The transition from the old to the new was prophesied through Jeremiah. The transition from an earthly kingdom with an eye toward heaven to heavenly kingdom revealed on earth by His Church through Faith.

A point in law is that a binding agreement must be signed using the same ink, the same pen, as proof that both parties were present together and are each witness to the others signature. In like manner, since Jesus signed the covenant with His blood, by His death, so must each of us. How? By baptism. That is what our baptism is, our signature to the Covenant, our death. A signing by each of us unto death that we are in agreement with the covenant. Our old “man” is put to death. We are no longer as we were, sinners, ignoring God in our lives. As Jesus arose back to life, so then will we. Jesus became one in Spirit, a Spiritual reality, in confirmation of the covenant. By faith, we become born again in the Spirit of God.

Baptism Dove

the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” -Luke 3:21-22 The stained glass window art was photographed inside Saint Mary’s Church, Denville, NJ. Copyright 2009 Loci B. Lenar

Our lives, upon baptism, are to become one with Him in Spirit. We are now placed under God’s control not our own. God’s control, our acts of faith, are the visible confirmation to the world of the covenant between each of us and God. The law, or commandments are still in effect but, are manifest in Jesus’ words, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27.

Compare with the words given to Moses, Deuteronomy 6: 4-9,
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

I welcome your thoughts on my views of the covenant.

PS; Although I am not a Roman Catholic, I do appreciate a lot of the art work in their cathedrals.

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