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!

The Year of Our Lord

I got to thinking about our calendar today.  We are here in the year 2022 A.D., with A.D. signifying “Anno Domini” or “the year of our Lord.”  It’s interesting to me that the3 calendar dating system is based on the birth of Jesus rather than His death, which was much more significant for us.  After all, we derive very little from His birth other than some wonderful stories and a rich Christmas tradition.  But from His death and resurrection, we are blessed with Salvation healing, deliverance and eternal life.  We are also blessed with the ability to become a new creation in Christ, putting away that old man in order to take on the new man that Christ will form within us as we grow and mature.  His death brings new life to whoever accepts this great sacrifice that He made.

It was not pretty, that’s for sure.  First, His best friends couldn’t even stay awake to pray with Him.  To give them a little credit, it was around 1 in the morning when they arrived in the garden.  But he had told them He was going away, and was going to die.  Certainly, that would keep them awake, wouldn’t it?  Then he was betrayed by a kiss from one of His closest disciples.  The Roman soldiers led Him to the Sanhedrin, where He was slapped and ridiculed by many.  Then top Pilate’s court, where he was ordered to be beaten with many stripes.  They ripped open His back with cat-O-Nine tails and it was oozing with blood when they out a purple garment on Him and a crown of thorns, which dug deep into His head.  They mocked Him and spit on Him before pulling the robe back off, opening again the stripes on His back.  He was rejected by the crowds that so eagerly welcomed Him just 4 days earlier, and they cried out to have Him crucified.  Through all this, He never protested or complained.  Then they made Him carry His cross uphill to Calvary, where they nailed Him to that cross, putting spikes through His hands and feet. 

Isaiah 53:7 says He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

He gave up His life – they did not take it from Him.   The ultimate sacrifice for our sins.  The sinless Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world.  This was foretold by John the Baptist (John 1:29).

He was placed in a borrowed tomb and a stone was rolled over the opening and sealed with a Roman seal.  Guards were placed at the door.  But three days later, the stone rolled away and he came out alive!  Alive for all to see.  Alive for you and me!  Alive to bring us the promise of eternal life.  What a glorious day that was.

I started to wonder why the calendar was not set to that date – the date he rose from the grave.  After all, that is the day we gained new life, a new beginning.  Why is that not the day we began a new era?  After all, all things were made new, right?  Jesus Christ had given the ultimate sacrifice so we could be free from this earthly life and all its entanglements.  God had given His only Son just so we could have a way to eternal life with Him, and a life free from condemnation here on this earth.  Shouldn’t this be the day we set as ground zero on the time line before and after Christ?

Then I started thinking about the other sacrifice Jesus gave.  We think about the sacrifice of the cross often.  But what about that sacrifice He made to come to earth in this place To give up His royal standing to come to earth as a mere mortal man.  He was used to unlimited power, yet he became powerless.  He was used to the praise of angles, yet he came to the praise of mere shepherds.  He was used to having dominion over all things to being dependent for everything.  He went from creator to created, from all knowing to knowing nothing, from being all places to being restricted to a mothers manger, from a throne to a stable.

When I think about these two sacrifices that Christ made, I think the first one was the more difficult decision for Him.  Giving up heaven for an earthly existence was harder then giving up earth for a heavenly existence.  I start to consider the humility it took to come here in the first place and realize that is a much deeper humility than the humility of the cross.  And I realize that new life began in the cradle, not in His rising from the grave.  If He had not decided to humble himself to the lowly human life he would face, He would never have found the strength to humble Himself to the cross.

Can I even begin to find this humility for my life?  Can I find a way to come down out of the clouds in areas like my financial state, or job expertise, or the vast knowledge I possess or wisdom I have gained?  Can I put aside the thought that I did some of this on my own, without God’s help?  Or thinking that this was just a fluke and filled with luck?  Can I bring myself to realize that I am nothing without Him, and all things I have accomplished I have done so because of Him.  He has guided and directed me to this point in my life, and I should not take the credit for any of it.  Instead, I should realize this new life that I have attained through His sacrifice is His plan, His wisdom, His guidance and His influence on my life.   I cannot come to this place of understanding except by humbling myself.  Humbling myself to new life being formed in me, just like it was formed in a manger tow thousand the twenty-two years ago.  He brought new life with Him when he humbled Himself in the manger, and allowed me to partake of it when he humbled Himself to the cross.  This is why the calendar says 2022 instead of 1983 today.

Called Of God

Hebrew 5:1-4

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:

Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron

The writer of Hebrews now starts to explain the role of the High priest.  This is essential to our understanding of our salvation.  God’s plan started way back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned.  It was not just a haphazard thing God threw together as He went along. In the garden, God had to cover Adam & Eve with the skin of an animal, and sin has had to be covered by a blood sacrifice ever since.  Abel offered from the flock and his sacrifice was accepted.  Cain did not and his was not.  Abraham offered sacrifices to the Lord, and was willing to give his son if God required him too.  Moses listened to God in the wilderness and set in motion the reason for and type of sacrifices at God’s command.  The book of Leviticus spells this out.  But even before that, God required a blood sacrifice to keep the death angel from destroying the Israeli first born during the first Passover.

Once the nation of Israel was in the wilderness, God gave Moses the design for the temple and the types of sacrifices needed.  The book of Leviticus spells these out in great detail.  The burnt offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering, the peace offering and the meat offering were all required from the people.  I won’t go into detail on these, but it would be good for you to read about them if you have not.  The first 10 chapters of Leviticus are hard to read, but so fundamental in our understating of the price Christ paid.  Jesus fulfilled all of these sacrifices for us on the cross.  What a Savior!

Then Moses gave instructions for the high priest, his garments, his anointing.  This was Aaron at the time.  His job was to oversee all the sacrifices given, and there were plenty.  It was a bloody place all the time, and the aroma of the sacrifices went up through the camp at all times.  He had the rest of the priests and the Levites to help him carry out this task.  These priests were chosen out of the tribe of Judah because the firstborn was spared in the land of Egypt.  God required the firstborn, yet He allowed the Israelites to offer the Levites instead of their firstborn.  Thus, the tribe of Levi became the priests and servants of the temple.   This was there calling from the day they were born until the day they died.  And one man was chosen high priest, for he was the one who would offer that special offering on the day of atonement, which we will discuss at length in a future study.  The duty of the priest was to have compassion on all and to accept their sacrifice to God for whatever reason they were giving it.  He offered for all the people and for himself.

This position was not one that the priest just one day decided he would take up.  It was a calling from God.  In Old Testament times, the priest was from the tribe of Levi.  Today, the priesthood is a calling from God as well.  In fact, any ministry is a calling from God.  We tend to look at some ministries as les important than others, but God only looks at faithfulness to what He has asked us to do.  Are we doing what he asks us to do?  This was the duty of the [priest then, and it is the duty of every Christian today because Peter tells us we are a royal priesthood.  It is our duty to bring the gospel to others, and to let them know their sins have been forgiven by the bold of Christ.  As we continue through Hebrews this whole picture will unfold. What are you called to do?  Some are sowers of seed, and pass out tracks, and witness endlessly.  Some are worship leaders, or Sunday School teachers or VBS helpers.  Some are janitors, or cooks, or dishwashers.  Some sell, some make things, some fix things, some observe things.  No matter what your calling is, you were given the ability and the desire by your creator, and should always keep that in mind when carrying out your duties.  We could do nothing without Him.  The more we can tune into His voice, the more He can show us the way through the problems and adversities that will come up while we carry out our calling.  They are bound to come.  Jesus told the disciples that in this world they would have tribulation.  He knew they would face difficulties and would be rejected and laughed at.  But then He said that He has overcome the world, and that we should not be afraid to do what He asks us to do.  What am I waiting for?

Come Boldly

Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

We have a great high priest, and his name is Jesus.  As we continue through Hebrews, the importance of this statement will become more and more evident.  The writer is talking to people who knew the role and position of the high priest. This high [priest is not just any priests.  He is the one who anoints and swears in all the other priests.  He is the one who instructs the priest on how to do the sacrifices correctly.  They did not just kill the animal, but there was a sequence of events that took place that contributed to the transference of sin from the one giving the animal to the animal.  There was a specific way to kill the animal; The high priest had to make sure this was done properly all the way through, an oversee you might say.

The high priest had another duty as well.  It was the high priest who went into the Holy of Holies once a year with a blood sacrifice for the nation of Israel, to atone for all of Israel’s sin. Only the high priest could do this on the day of Atonement.  No one else dared enter the Holy of Holies lest they die.  In this place was the ark of the covenant, which was the most sacred item in all of Israel’s history.  The tablets of stone with the ten commandments, Aaron’s rod and some manna were in that ark, and they remain there this day.  It would be an archeologists dream to find that Ark. Jesus has atoned for our sins in this same way as we will discover.

Jesus also faced the same earthly temptations as we do.  Some of them are written.  In Matthew 4 we read about his temptations in the wilderness.  He was tempted to walk away from the cross when praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I have no doubt there were many other temptations that came across His path as he walked this earth.  But He never gave in to any of those temptations.  This goes to prove that there is no sin in being tempted, as even Jesus was tempted.  Those who teach temptation is a sin deny that Jesus was w sinless sacrifice.  The key is that we don’t give in to those temptations that would cause us to sin.  We must walk away, using the word of God to strengthen ourselves against those temptations.  Jesus sued 3 verses out of Deuteronomy and the devil left him!  We should know the promises that God gave us as well.

Verse 16 is one of the most widely mis-used verses in the Bible, in my humble opinion.  It is often quoted by those who believe in a prosperity gospel message.  They say we can come boldly before the throne of God and claim things are ours, as if God is a magic potion or gift giver of all that we desire in this world.  They say we should come boldly and ask for that Cadillac, or that vacation home, or to have riches or fame.  They say we should boldly hold God to His promises to bless us and give us the desires of our heart.  They say we should boldly proclaim that we can ask what we will and it shall be done.  After all, each one of these is a scripture promise that he has given us, right?

But the writer makes a big distinction in this verse about why we should come to the throne with boldness.  It is not to ask blessing on ourselves, or for worldly goods, or for material things.  It is to ask for mercy and grace.  We come boldly before His throne to obtain mercy.  Mercy for sins, trespasses and iniquity in our lives.  Boldly means confidently.  Paul was telling the Jews that they could come to God’s with confidence when they need to obtain mercy in their lives.  And who among us does not need His mercy.  I need it every day.  There are words that I say and things that I do every day that are displeasing to Him.  But as a Christian, I do not have to worry about those things.  I can confess them to God, come boldly asking for mercy, and He will supply that mercy.  That is one reason to come boldly.

The second reason is to find grace in time of need.  We have no business asking God for grace because it is a free gift.  It was given to us at the cross 2,000 years ago.  It is given ti us every day in the sunrise, the rain, the air we breathe.  Grace is always all around us.  His grace is not what we are asking for here.  We are asking Him to give us grace toward those who have needs.  Grace that we can give out, not Him to us.  As a society in the US, we have such a sense of privilege that we think we need things other countries only dream of.  I need a big screen TV!  I need cable.  I need a great car.  I need, I need, I need.  We confuse need for want way too often.  Then we cry out for God to shower grace on us so we can get these wants. Instead, we should be asking Him for grace so we can bless others with these things!  Let this be your prayer: “Lord, give me the grace to deal with that person who offended me”.  “God give me the grace to offer to help that person financially.” “God, let your grace be apparent in my life to that neighbor who is lonely and full of sorrow.”  These are prayers we can come boldly with! Let us always remember whop God is.  He is not some slot machine where we can pull an arm and have Him give us what we want.  He is the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God of the universe.  He has no obligation to grant our prayers on our timetable or in the way we want Him to.  He will always do what is best for us.  When we come boldly before His throne, We should come in all humility, down on our knees in deep reverence.  Remember, He loves the one with the broken and contrite heart, and He hates pride.  Always keep this in mind when approaching His throne.

The Two-edged Sword

Hebrews 4:10-13

10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

When we enter into the rest of the Lord, we will cease from our works just as God ceased on the seventh day.  Obviously, we are not there yet.  As the last post said, we have much work to do.  We cannot just sit back and relax, waiting for that day to come.  Even Jesus as a twelve-year-old boy knew he must be about His Father’s business.  So many times, Paul tells us to continue working, continue ministering, continue the mission God has for us.  Our job is not done until we pass from this earth, whether by death of our flesh or by the rapture.  We have to work ‘til Jesus comes, as the old song says.  Be vigilant in your calling to do all you can to reach the lost, heal the sick, deliver the captive and make disciples of those you come in contact with.  This is the labor we have for God.  These things need to be done, or we may fall because of unbelief.  Don’t let that happen to you!

In doing these things, it is so important that we point people to the word of God.  It is His word that will bring in the lost.  Not Billy Graham’s words, not John Hagee, not David Jeremiah or any of the great orators of the gospel.  It is God’s word that does the work in a man’s heart.  The reason it does it explained in verse 12.  Paul gives 6 ways the word of God works on our lives.  These ways are not just evident when someone gets saved.  These are things the word does even to the most mature Christian if we allow it to.  We have to be soft and pliable, and not have that hardened heart that we discussed a few posts ago.  God is not a task master.  He will not force His will on us, but rather, by gently prodding, He will lead us along His path.  Whether we follow or not is our choice.  Let’s take a closer look at these six ways the Word will work on us.

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First, it is quick. What a fascinating word this is the KJV.  In almost every other translation, the Greek word used here is translated alive.  From the same root word comes the KJV word quicken, which also means to make alive. Quicken is one of my favorite words in the KJV.  I have always taken it to mean that He makes our spirit come to life. This is what the word of God will do.  It gives life!  In so many ways it in our eyes to the truth of what life is supposed to be like.  This world we live in is full of turmoil, strife, sorrow, sadness and bad news.  But His word brings peace, joy, love, hope, healing and Good News to us every time we open the pages and start to read.  This is Life!  Our lives are not supposed to be only lived in the valley, but on the mountaintop as well, and the Bible brings us there.   This word is alive!  We can read the same passage one day after the next, and each day God can speak new life into our spirit each time. It never ceases to amaze me how much God loves us, that he would leave such a precious letter to us, as written by faithful servants through the centuries.  What a wonderful; God we serve, and what a wonderful resource for life we have in His word!

Second, it is powerful.  As we speak the word of God, and pray the promises that He has given us, amazing things happen.  These words can heal the sick, deliver the captive, make the demons flee, drive the craziness out of us.  It is powerful enough to defeat the enemy just by speaking the word.  It is powerful enough to move mountains and part seas.  The power that comes from praying the word of God cannot be matched by anything else.  He stands behind His word and executes the promises contained in it.  He will never fail to keep His word to us, and the power that is within it.  We can trust, that no matter what may come, His word has a solution, if we will just seek it out and then pray it over the problem.  Amazing power comes from such a prayer.

Third, it is sharper than any two-edged sword.  Back in Jesus time, the sword was the primary weapon.  The person wielding it must keep it sharp or it will be useless.  A two-edged sword is sharp on both sides. It can cut coming and going. A sword like this, when sharpened, is a dangerous weapon that one should take seriously.  The word of God is a similar weapon, only it does not cut flesh and blood.  It cuts into the soul and spirit of a man, making Him see himself in light of God.  When we see that, we tremble.  But this sword can also be used as a weapon when we wield it.   Paul explains this when he talks about the armor in Ephesians 6.  He says the word is the sword of the spirit.  It is the only weapon we have against the enemy.  We must know i.t well to use it like this, though.  You don’t want to go into the enemy with a sword that is dull!  Have your sword sharpened by knowing the scriptures.  These are the words that will bring victory in any circumstance.

Fourth, dividing the soul and spirit.  To me, this is the most profound part of the power of the word.  It divides the soul, which represents our fleshly life, and the spirit, which represents our life with God.  The word of God helps us see the struggle our flesh has in letting go of control over our mind.  The word lifts up our spirit, while trying to suppress our flesh. It is the word of God that helps us see ahead to the narrow path we must take to get into the Kingdom of God.  It is the word of God that will turn us from following our flesh to walking in the Spirit.  If we neglect the word, we can be sure that our life will start to slowly sink into fleshly desire and want to get further away from God.  We must be diligent to keep the word fresh in our minds, hearts and souls.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us while we are reading the word so we know how it should be considered, It will bring a meeting of the minds within us, and determine whether the soul or the spirit will win. I pray that in my life the spirit will always win.

Fifth, dividing the joints and marrow.  Our life is in the marrow.  The marrow is where the blood cells are formed so that they can carry nutrition to the rest of the body.  When the marrow is bad, the whole body suffers.  I know this because of my cancer journey.  Bone marrow biopsies are a standard when checking for leukemia or lymphoma type caners.  These are cancers of the blood, and the marrow is the manufacturing center for our blood.  The joints make our body be able to perform the way it does.  If the joints give way, the body will not function properly.  Arthritis typically forms in the joints, causing pain with movement. My feeling is that the intent of dividing the joints and marrow is to bring our flesh under subjection.  We must do this in order to follow Christ. He has given me free will, and I need to sue that will to ward off the advice of y enemy and listen to the word of God.  He will tell me right from wrong, and it may take a lot to get me to turn away from our flesh and its desire.  But God’s word can do it!

Sixth, the word of God discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart.  This is where we get into trouble. Our thought life can steer us wrong every time.  God’s word can go straight to the heart and help us see what we are really thinking.  It not only knows, but discerns the intent that we have.  This is why we have to be so careful with out thoughts.   It is of the utmost importance that we transform our minds and renew them in the word.   It is important that we think on things that are good, honest, true, just, lovely, or good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.  Don’t every think God does not know what you are thinking and what your intent is.  He does, and His word will bring you to that point where you are face to face with that intent.  I think this is why many people turn away from God.  The enemy takes God’s word and twists it so we feel condemnation instead of the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus did not come to convict us He came to save us. Never allow the word of God to condemn you! The word of God is our lifeblood.  We must spend time in it because it is the meat that sustains our spiritual life.  It will lead us down the right oath every time.  Get to know His word and you will see His plan!

There Remains a Rest

Hebrews 4:4-9

 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

According to the Pharisees, I am breaking the Sabbath by typing this study on the Sabbath day.  That is not the only thing I will do that is against the Sabbath, according to Pharisee rules.  Today I will carry the lectern to the aisle of our church for Sunday School,  turn on the sound system, turn off the lights,  cook,  and drive. I will do many things that would be against the Sabbath according to the laws set forth by the Pharisees.  I found an article that listed 39 different kinds of work that were prohibited. After all, God rested on the Sabbath – shouldn’t we?

This is an area of contention for many. In Exodus 20, the 4th Commandment says:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Why is this commandment so disregarded by the church today?  Do we think that the Old Testament laws were made null and void by Jesus’ sacrifice?  That is hardly the truth.  In fact, in His teachings Jesus made the law even harder in most cases.  When asked about adultery, He said if a man looks at a woman with lust in his eyes, he commits adultery.  He said that if we are angry with our brother, we are in danger of judgement, linking it with murder.  He said we should pay our tithes, but said the weightier thing in the law is mercy and faith.  He said if we do not forgive our brother, God will not forgive us!  Jesus made the law harder, not easier.  So, would not He have regarded the Sabbath just as highly?

Then again, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath.  He also told a man to pick up His bed and walk on the Sabbath.  His disciples went through a field and picked corn on the Sabbath.   They were mad about this as well. and His disciples went through the fields and picked corn on the Sabbath.  They were reproached by the Pharisees for these supposed violations.  After all, wasn’t this work?  The truth is that if Jesus did break the Sabbath in the Father’s eyes, then he did not live the sinless life He had to live to be our sinless sacrifice.  What is eh answer to this dilemma?

Jesus explains this very simply.  He says man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made fort man.  It was made to we would not work, work, work and not take time for God.  We have a natural tendency to be busy with something.  For some, it’s sports.  For other sit’s taking care of their yard.  Others work too much or play too much.  We do all these things and forget to make time for God, and for His house.  The Sabbath was about taking time for God.  We can all take more time for God.  Maybe not a whole day, but an hour here or there never hurt anyone.  My time is in the morning.  When is yours? The other part of this group of verses again talks about entering into the Lord’s rest.  This is a bigger picture than just the Sabbath.  This rest is the eternal rest we will find as we faithfully serve Jesus.  There were many in the early church who thought since Jesus had come, they could rest from the spiritual work.  The time was here for the rest God had talked about., That is not even close to the truth.  In fact, we now have more work than ever to do.  We have a mission now, and Jesus has given us marching orders.  Preach the gospel, heal the sick, deliver the captive, make disciples of all men.  These are things we are supposed to be doing on a regular basis.  And we still have to do our utmost to live holy lives and work on being as perfect and mature as we can be.  The rest we will experience in Jesus is yet to come.  Until then, let’s be vigilant to be obedient so that we can enter into that rest eventually!  And that day may be closer than we think!