Author Archives: Pete

About Pete

I love the Lord. Each day, he gives me words of praise and encouragement, and asks me to share them with you I pray that they minister to you as you read them, share them, or ponder on them. Have a blessed day!

Are You A Meat Eater?

Hebrews 5:10-14

 

10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Am I dull of hearing?  Has the preaching in my church, or the radio sermons I hear, or just reading my bible daily become like wrote practice that I just do and don’t glean anything from it.  The voice just goes on and on with nothing important to be said to me because I already heard it or read it.  In fact, I think I could give that preacher a pointer or two.  They missed this scripture or that and those would add so much to their message!  Why would they leave that out?  This is boring!  I’m not going to listen to a sermon where I know the outcome.  Dull – boring!

If I really sit back and think about my reaction to messages I hear, this statement is not far from the truth.  I have always had a quest for knowledge, and in my younger years as a Christian, I read the Bible like a person with a voracious appetite.  Three years in a row I read the Bible cover to cover., I underlined, did word studies and topical studies with my Thompson Chain Bible and my Strong’s Concordance.  I wanted to know all I could know so I was ready if I ever had to apply those scriptures to my everyday life.  This activity was all well and good, to a point.  It became a routine.  Just another thing I did each day.  After those first three years, I did the yearly reading again a couple times.  I had become dull of hearing in a way, because the reading was not as exciting as it once had been.

But my quest for knowledge did not cease.  I still did word studies, topical studies and other things that made the scripture seem more palatable.  The King James can be hard to read, and I was pretty full, or so I thought.  I wasn’t sure there was much more for me.  The problem was that I thought I knew it all and had a tough time when people tried to tell me about the scripture.   I already knew it!  This brought me to a point where I stopped digesting the word and making it a part of my life, deep down inside myself.  I started to just drink it like water or milk, just enough to get me by, but certainly not enough to sustain me.  And that’s when I started to get into trouble.

I started chasing after sin.  It was not enough to have sin come calling at my door – I chased after it in places I should not have gone.  I looked at things, read things and did things I had no business doing as a Christian.  I was a worship leader, lay minister, deacon, and Sunday School teacher.  I should not have fallen to the tempter like I did, but here I was, steeped in private sin, doing things in the dark I should not being doing.  This went on for years until one day my daughter found out and told my wife.  Consultation with my Pastor brought many tears and a period of remorse set in, but the problem came back harder then before.  The second time I was caught it cost me my job of 20 years.

But I had a wise Pastor, and he put down the law on me.  He told me I needed to go to Pure Life Ministries in Kentucky or I would never set foot in his church again.  So, I went.  The place as all about Bible study, and so I got back into my old habit of word studies and topical studies.  When my counselor found out I was doing that, he got after me.  I had enough homework to do, and he did not want me to do anything outside of that.  He said something I will never forget.  He said I had way to much head knowledge and it had not made it into my heart.  No more studying of any kind outside the structured study they gave me.  I learned at that time that all the studying I had done previously was in vain unless it became the way I lived.  Unless it became meat to my body instead of just milk or water.  The meat that I needed was already inside, I had just not chewed it slowly and digested it properly, and it was going out in the draught.  It wasn’t as profitable for me as it should be.

This is exactly what Paul is talking about here.  The Hebrews were so familiar with the Bible and the story of Jesus, that they simply glossed it over and did not make it a priority in their lives.  They needed to listen more closely and allow the Holy Spirit to make it real to them.  They needed it to come into their bodies and go through the blood stream just like nutrients do.  When we eat meat, our body has top break it down to its basic elements for us to gain any good nutrition from it.  We have to do the same with God’s word.  I am not talking about taking anything out of context, but merely to read the word more slowly and apply it to our lives as we go.  That is why I do these studies in short pieces of scripture – because I want to absorb what God is saying to me.  Don’t read them fast.

A other way to do this is to write out the scriptures in your own words.  If you really want to have a good time with this concept, go to Psalm 119.  Write out what each verse means to you in your own words.  I know, it’s 176 verses long.  But you will find treasure in there that you never knew existed in that Psalm.  I did this experiment a few years back, and right now our men’s group is going through that study.  This tactic can really be used with any scripture, but Psalm 119 is often skipped over because of its length, and I think you will find this an excellent growth experience. I pray that you are at a place where you are eating the meat of the word, and not just drinking at the fountain.  There is so much more to this Christian walk than simply being dormant.

Obeying to Perfection

Hebrews 5:7-9

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

The Garden must have been a gruesome ordeal for Jesus.  All His life, He had done what His Father had wanted Him to do.  He said so on numerous occasions.  His mission was to show us the father and He did so with compassion and grace.  For three years, he healed every sick, lame, blind, dumb and deaf person that came to Him.  Constantly “He healed them all” appears in the word.  He taught us great lessons that have and will endure the test of time.  He was loved and followed by thousands everywhere He went.  He got away to pray several times on His own, and this strengthened Him for ministry.

But now He was really alone.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, early in the morning (it is guessed around 1 am) He went there to pray, knowing the fate that lay ahead of Him.  He knew that Isaiah said he would be like a sheep taken to the slaughter and that He would be wounded and would take stripes.  He knew that they would mock Him, gamble for His garments and nail Him to a cross.  He knew this road awaited Him.  He desperately wanted His closes friends, Peter, James and John, to pray with Him during this troubling time.  But they could not stay awake.  They slept each time he woke them up.  He was alone.  Terribly alone in prayer.

It was a simple prayer.  “Not my will, but thine be done.”  But it was a big battle for Jesus.  All his life He had done the fathers will, never questioning.  But now, he really wanted this cup to pass from Him.  He really, in His flesh, did not want to go through the agony that lay ahead.  He knew he must, but he asked the father if there was any other way, to make it happen.  But there was no other way.  The father’s will would prevail.  He would do whatever He needed to do.  He would be obedient through the suffering.

I can’t help but think of another Garden experience so prominent in the Bible.  In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve are in the garden and they are faced with the same dilemma.  Should they obey God or listen to their flesh.  The enemy made giving in to the flesh real tempting to them.  But they knew what God had told them – they should not eat of that fruit.  It was the only thing they were told not to do.   They had to make a decision, and they made the opposite decision that Jesus made.   They decided to listen to the flesh instead of listening to God. Because of that decision sin entered the world.  Sin was passed on from Adam to all me through His seed.  It was a real bad decision.

But Jesus made the right decision.  “Not my will, but thine be done.”.  What a different world we would live in if Adam and Eve had made that decision.  Because of Jesus decision, he suffered unbelievable torture and pain, all for us.  But he was also perfected, and became salvation to all who will believe in Him.  He affected the lives of every person who every lived by making that one decision.  I’m so glad he chose obedience in the midst of the most difficult trial a man has every faced.  He saved us all!

What a different world we would live in if we would make that decision every time.  To do the will of the Father above our own will.  To obey no matter what the outcome might be.  Those of you who read my writing all the time know that I live by a verse and do my best to abide by that verse all the time, in good and bad. It is Proverbs 3:5-6, which says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your path.”  This verse has saved me from worry, sorry, storms, trials, troubles and all manner of things the enemy has put in my way.  It has also saved me during times when I have been the master of my own disasters.  I know that no matter what comes my way, no matter what trouble or storm, I can trust in Him.  I don’t try to understand why I made that dumb decision, or why this test has come to me, I just trust Him.  I acknowledge that he is working in my life even when I can’t see Him working.  I acknowledge He is there, somewhere, working on a better plan for me – His plan. I can praise Him in the midst of the storm because he will show me the way out of that storm.  In fact, I would not be surprised if this verse was in Jesus mind that night. James 1:2-4 tells us that we are made perfect by the troubles and temptations that come our way.  These verses have also become central to my philosophy.  Paul says that for the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross.  We must look at our troubles that way as well.  He works all things for our God – always.  Romans 8:26 tells us that we must know this.  When we know this, we will see our obedience to Him through our suffering will perfect us in the end.  And he will be exalted which is just as it should be.

Through the Cross

The following is a sermon I preached three years ago on Palm Sunday. it came to mind this morning as I was walking and praying. I trust it will bless you this Easter!

In the 5th century BC, the Greeks started some games at Mount Olympus.  An olive branch was twisted as a crown, and onlookers waved palms for the victor.  Palm branches were a symbol of victory. Olympic medals still have palms on them today!

There was excitement in the city.  Jesus was coming.  They had heard of his miracles, of people healed, of demons cast out, of his run-ins with the Pharisees.  The discussion about the coin with Caesars image on it and whether we should pay taxes or not.  The story of the Good Samaritan and the prodigal son.  Lazarus had been raised from the dead just days prior.  And now he was coming to Jerusalem!

He was really coming.  He was the King, the Messiah, in their minds.  They believed he was coming as a victor to bring His kingdom to reality.  They saw victory over the Romans coming to pass so they gave Him a victor’s welcome.  They waved the palm branches and laid them down at His feet in victory.  They even laid their overcoats down in homage to Him.  They praised the one who came riding in on a donkey, just as the prophecies said He would. Of course, the religious leaders were aghast!  They derided Him for accepting the praise of the people.  But He told them the rocks would cry out if the people did not.  They were incredulous, I am sure

Then he walked into the temple and saw the money changers there, cheating the people and lying to them.   They would take a lamb from one family, saying it was not clean enough, and they would sell that same family a lamb that had been taken from another family, supposedly because it was not clean enough.  There weights were not accurate and they cheated the people one after another.  Jesus came in, and as He had done before, he started dumping the tables over, causing a huge commotion in the entry of the temple.  Once again, the religious leaders were furious and said this man has got to go.

The next two days he spent time in Jerusalem, teaching the people with stories about ten virgins and ten talents.  He pronounced woes on the Pharisees in a tone none had seen from Him before.  He told of the end times, and what they would be seeing at the end of the age.  He talked about the value of a widow’s mite, and His feet were anointed with very costly oil by Mary. He told Peter he would betray Him three times.  A lot happened on those two days that we rarely read about.

But then Thursday came.  He sent His disciples into the city to prepare for the Passover, telling them to take someone’s donkey and tell them the Master had need of it.  The disciples went and prepared the feast, and as soon as they were all there, Jesus washed their feet.  The Master washing His followers’ feet – quite a sign of servanthood.  He told them one of them would betray Him, and sent Judas away on His mission.  He told them the bread was His broken body, and the cup was His blood spilled for them.  They were trying to figure out what he was talking about.  I am sure the atmosphere was solemn and sobering.  Not a typical Passover fest, which were usually joyous and celebratory.

Around midnight, they took a walk to the Garden of Gethsemane.  He told them he was going to prepare a place for them, that he was giving them His peace and would send the comforter to teach them.  He told them he was the vine and they were the branches, and they were to be fruitful.  He said the Holy Spirit would convict people of sin, righteousness and judgment.  He told them to pray in His name, and he pronounced a blessing on the disciples, all during that short walk.  Those words can be talked about forever.

When they got to the Garden, He took Peter, James and John a little further in and asked them to pray with Him as he went aside.  But they fell asleep, not once, not twice, but three times.  He told His Father that he was ready to do the Fathers will, and not His own.  He would face the cross.  Judas came and betrayed Him with a kiss and the soldiers took Him away in the middle of the night.  A mock court awaited Him. It didn’t take long for them to convict Him as peter was outside betraying Him.  Pilate listened to the case and washed His hands of the whole thing after the crowd cried crucify Him.  He was beaten, bruised, spit on, scourged, given a crown of thorns and made to carry His cross.  He fell under the weight, weakened by the loss of blood.  A man helped Him carry the cross the rest of the way.  They laid Him on it and put the nails through His hands and feet.  Then they raised the cross and dropped it in the hole with a thud.  The pain in His body must have been immense, the sight of Him almost grotesque. 

Then He asked the Father to forgive them, for they did not know what they were doing.  He put John in His place to care for His mother.  He asked for a drink and got vinegar.  Then he cried it is finished and His life left Him at three in the afternoon.  He gave it up, they did not take it.  All of a sudden there was an earthquake.  The veil of the temple ripped from top to bottom.  People came up out of their graves and walked in the streets of Jerusalem.  It was an incredible series of events.  They took His body down and laid it in a borrowed tomb, wrapped in a cloth.  They out a huge stone at the entry of the tomb, sealed it with a Roman seal and placed a guard at the door so no one would steal the body.

Saturday was quiet.  The people mourned His death.  They seemed hopeless because they had such high hopes.  Now He was gone, and their dreams of a Messiah were gone with them.  The disciples were in hiding, afraid of the Romans, who thought they might steal the body so they could claim he rose again as He said He would.  I can’t imagine the tears that were shed that day.

Then Sunday came.  Mary came to the tomb to anoint the body, but when she got there the Roman guard was asleep and the stone was rolled away!  She went into the tomb and Jesus was gone.  She wondered where he was, and Jesus appeared to her, telling her He had risen just like He said He would.  Se ran to tell the disciples. Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves.  They were amazed, and suddenly Jesus came into the room and talked with them.  The victory had been won.

You see, the cross was necessary.  Jesus had to win the victory by going through the cross.  And we win the victory by going through the cross as well.  We don’t ant to stay on the front side of the cross, and see the agone and defeat that is there.  We need to get to the back side of the cross and see the victory that Christ won for us.

On the front of the cross is agony on the back of the cross is peace

On the front of the cross is sorrow on the back of the cross is joy

On  the front of the cross is weakness on the back of the cross is strength

On the front of the cross is doubt on the back of the cross is faith

On the front of the cross is pain on the back of the cross is healing

On the front of the cross is deceit on the back of the cross is honesty

On the front of the cross are lies on the back of the cross is truth

On the front of the cross is bondage on the back of the cross is freedom

On the front of the cross is darkness on the back of the cross is light

On the back of the cross we are lost on the back of the cross we find the way

On the front of the cross is sin on the back of the cross is forgiveness

On the front of the cross we are stained with sin

on the back of the cross we are white as snow

On the front of the cross is defeat on the back of the cross is victory

On the front of the cross is death on the back of the cross is eternal life

If we stay on the front of the cross, hell will be our destination

When we go through the cross, and come to the back, our destination is heaven

All is only achieved if we go through the cross.  Have you seen Him on the front of the cross, blood stained, nailed, in agony? Have you accepted Him as your sacrifice for your sin? If you have, then come through the Cross for victory.  Come to the back of the cross and realize all God has for you.

The Third Night

A question was posed to me a few weeks ago that I have been pondering ever since.  Do you ever have those biblical questions that you just want to sit on for a while and contemplate, wondering what it really means.  You think you know, but you are not sure, so you seek the Holy Spirit to guide you to an answer because it is He that will guide you into all truth.  You ask God for wisdom and your faith doesn’t waver so you know He will give you the wisdom you asked for.  This was one of those questions.  I gave my friend a quick thought, and the more I ponder it, the more I think the Holy Spirit spoke tome in an instant and gave me those words I shared with him.

In Matthew 12:38 the Pharisees come to Jesus and ask Him to show them a sign.  I found this a little funny, since he has already been ministering for over a year, healing the sick, opening blind eyes, making the lame to walk and the dumb to speak. Certainly they had heard of these deeds and maybe, upon giving them the benefit of the doubt, they had never been present to witness one of these miracles.  They wanted to see for themselves, much like Thomas did the night of His return from the dead.  After all, it would be much easier to believe Him if they could see and actual sign!

Jesus knows their hearts though. He tells them an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.  WOAH!  Wait a minute!  How often do we seek signs?  How often do we need a miracle to happen in our lives in order for us to believe he is the good and merciful God we have heard about?  I hear a lot of people praying to God for miracles all the time and when they don’t get them, they question God.  They wonder if He really hears their prayers, if He really cares about them.  Even though His word tells us He does, they still question.  Does that make us an evil and adulterous generation?  We should worship God for who He is, not for what He will do for us.  There is a huge difference there, and we should make sure we are praising Him for the right reasons.  That way our praise can be unceasing and our love will never die.  But that is not the point I am writing this about.

The next thing Jesus says is even more intriguing.  In Matthew 12:40, He says:

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 

Let me check my math here.  Jesus died on Good Friday and rose on Easter Sunday, right? Friday, Saturday, Sunday – that’s three days.  But Friday night and Saturday night are only two nights, right?  He says three nights.  My friend misquoted the verse by saying Jesus was three days in the heart of the ground.  But it says earth here.  So, what happened to the third night?

I think Thursday night was the third night – the night of the Last Supper and the Garden, the several trials also.  It was then that He gave Himself up, that he was no longer a man of this earth.  How could any earthly man endure the suffering he went through?  How could anyone not want to atop Jonas from leaving the upper room and betraying Him?  How could any man not call upon all the power He had to dispel the Roman guards that came to take Him away?  How could He face the Sanhedrin and Pilate without defending Himself before the sun even came up?  My thought is that no living human could.  Only a person who had fully died to himself could go through this chain of events that happened Thursday night into Friday morning.  For all intents and purposes, Jesus really died Thursday night.  His power, His anointed preaching, His ability to call on His Father – all gone.  From that moment on, nothing could kill Him because he had already consigned himself to death.  Three nights in the heart of the earth.

We can learn a valuable lesson from this.  This world is going to come at Christians more and more in these last days.  We are seeing it now and will continue to see the persecution rise.  It started back in the 70’s, with the Bible and prayer being taken out of our schools.  But today it is so much worse.  Today, there is an all-out assault on the church by the LGBTQ+ coalition.  They are splitting churches wide open and are perverting the scriptures with their misinterpretation.  They are winning even the dearest of saints over to their side and indoctrinating our children even as young as kindergarten age.  Free speech will be next as they seek to stop us from reading certain parts of the Bible.  Oppression will hit us all eventually, and we must be prepared.

In my mind, the only way to be prepared is to die to ourselves.  We are supposed to crucify this flesh, let it die, so the Spirit can live within us in this world.  We are supposed to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  If my body can be offended and made weak by the attack of the enemy, what good will I be to the Kingdom of God?  We cannot allow ourselves to be offended, but rather to stand on the word of God when the enemy comes roaring in like a lion.  And he will come, you can depend on that.  He came against Jesus!  He certainly has no fear coming against us.  If we react in the flesh, we are doomed.  But if we react in the Spirit, as Jesus did, we will be victorious every time.  Jesus trusted God in the middle of the assault, and we should as well.   The third night shows us that.  It was in the third night, which actually came first, that all the enemy’s arsenal was used against Jesus.  He did not flinch.  He did not get offended. He did not complain.  He just did what God called Him to do.  And we should do the same!

The Order of Melchizedek

Hebrews 5:5-6

So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

There are some things that I just don’t understand.  Well, to be honest, there are many things I don’t understand.  I am a simple lay person whom God has given the gift to write, both these studies and poetry/songs.  He can craft a sermon using my mouth, but most of it comes from Him, not me.  I learned at one point in my life to listen to His voice and that is where the words come from.  People ask me all the time how I can write such beautiful poetry, and I ay that I don’t.  he speaks it to me and I just put it on paper (Or type it on my computer).  It flows like a brook that flows down a mountain after a rain.  I certainly don’t understand why He chose me to write these words, but He did. By the way, if you are not familiar with my poetry blog, you can find it HERE (psalmistpetegardner.com)

I don’t understand why everyone did not follow Jesus and leave John the Baptist the day Jesus was baptized.  After all, an audible voice came out of the heavens saying “This I my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11).  If I heard that voice from heaven, I would have followed Him right into the wilderness and been there for Him when He needed something.  I doubt I would have left His side for anything.  But He went into the wilderness alone right after that proclamation.  I don’t understand that.

Imagine if you will if that would happen today and you were present.  You see a man come forward to the altar in your church.  You’ve never laid eyes on him and you know he is a visitor here that day. But your Pastor looks at Him and sees something special about him.  Maybe he feels the anointing on the man – that is definitely possible.  Maybe there is some thing in the way he looks at the Pastor that grabs his attention.  Whatever the case, the Pastor believes something special is happening.  All of a sudden. A voice booms out of heaven and says “This is my anointed messenger, in whom I am well pleased.”  What would you do?  Me – I would be skeptical.  In todays’ society, with the high-tech sound systems we have, this could come from a sound system.  But you know the sound system, and this voice definitely did not sound like it came from there.  My tendency would be to listen to the man if my Pastor allows him to speak.  Hopefully, the pastor has enough discernment to now be distracted by the voice.  Hopefully, he will ask the man what he wants to say and weigh it against scripture.  And hopefully, I will weigh my response by that same standard.  If the words spent by any man do not line up with the scripture, it should be rejected.  In these times especially, we must be vigilant and know the word of God well enough to judge sound doctrine.

That is why Paul uses scripture to back up the claim that Christ is our high priest.  This was difficult for the Jews (Hebrews) to comprehend.  After all, Jesus never served in the temple as a priest.  He was not in the Levitical line, but the line of Judah.  He had no right to be a priest according to the literal translation of Old Testament law. Paul has to build His case that Jesus came as our high priest.  Jesus never claimed this position.  Jesus never claimed He would take away sin either.  But the scripture tells us these things about Jesus.  They tell us who He was and why He came.  They tell us the ministry that He represented.   He did not glorify himself.  He let His Father do that.  Even on holy week, he asked the father to glorify His name and God said (again in an audible voice) “I have bopth glorified it and will glorify it again” (John 12:28)

So, to help the people understand how Jesus could be a high priest, he draws back into the Old Testament and a man named Melchizedek.  This goes way back to Abraham’s time, before the law, before the priesthood was even thought of. The story is in Genesis 14:18-20.  Melchizedek was the king of Salem, but it also says he was the priest of the most High God.  The Levitical priesthood was not even established yet, so the priesthood of Melchizedek was directly from God, not from a human perspective.  Abraham, the Father of the nation of Israel, and the father in faith of all who claim to be Christians, paid tithes to this Melchizedek.  And Melchizedek blessed Abraham in return.  Paul equates the priesthood of Jesus to that of Melchizedek, and uses the prophetic words of Psalm 110:4 to make his case.  This verse would be familiar with the Jews, as they had all been taught from their youth that this verse was about the Messiah.  He would be their high priest forever.  But still to this day many do not believe. Paul gives us a great example here of backing up His preaching with the scripture.  We should always make sure what we written, say or do lines up with scripture.  That is the purpose of Gods word – to teach us and train us in God’s ways.  It escapes my why so many can be drawn away from the word be the deceitfulness of a false prophet or false teaching.  It has to be that they do not know the scripture well enough to discern the truth.  Don’t let that be you!  Know the truth of scripture, and the truth shall set you free!