Tag Archives: Self examination

Making Room

It seems to me that many times we disparage the innkeeper in the Christmas story.  We think he was rude and uncaring to Mary and Joseph, and that he should have found a way to give them a room at the Inn.  After all, she was pregnant and obviously had travelled a long way to get to Bethlehem.  I’m sure they were dirty and tired from the long 80-mile journey they had just finished.  I’m sure Joseph begged with the Innkeeper for a while before he finally gave up begging.  It had to be hard for the innkeeper to turn them away because no good businessman turns away a customer

In defense of this man, he was a successful business owner.  His inn was full because he ran a good establishment and people wanted to stay there.  People want to go to a place that is run properly, and I’m sure his place was.  We only hear of this one innkeeper, but I am sure Joseph tried every inn in the city before this one.  He was turned down at every one.  The city was full because of the census Caesar had commanded.  Bethlehem was a small city with a small population, but because it was considered the City of David, all people who were of the house of David had to return there for the census.  This not only overcrowded people’s houses but all the business establishments that were in the city.  I can imagine this business owner was having his best business day ever and was quite happy about that.

So, when this couple came riding up on a donkey, and she was pregnant and seeking a room, the innkeeper simply stated the obvious.  He had no rooms available, and quite possibly a waiting list of people who would like a room if one became available.  As he turned the couple away though, he had a moment of compassion.  He showed mercy to them.  He had a stable in the back, and they could stay there the night.  He was not a bad man.  This innkeeper is mentioned in the Bible and all the others Joseph might have tried are left out.  Why?  Because he was a merciful person who wanted to help this couple out.  He had mercy on the one who gives mercy.  He had compassion on the one who showed compassion to all.  He provided shelter on the one who provides all our needs.  We should be applauding this innkeeper, not disparaging him.  Jesus found a place in his heart even before He was born, before all the miracles, before all the teaching, before He died for all the sins of mankind.  He really did make room for Jesus!

How about you?  What will you do with this man Jesus?  What will you do with the

one who came riding into your life in all humility, only seeking a place in your heart?

Have you allowed the cares of this life and your success make you blind to your need for Him?  Have you had too many other distractions to consider His life, His cross and His sacrifice for your sins?  Do you even know who He really is?  He innkeeper did not know, and yet he still gave him a place.  Being in a culture that is full of the gospel message, certainly you now more about who Jesus is than this innkeeper did!  At this time of year, we call Christmas, the message is everywhere we look.  The lights show to us the star that shone so brightly above His manger bed.  The tree shows us the vehicle that brought His death.  The manger scenes all over town show us that simple picture of a babe in a manger.  How can you miss it?  He is everywhere, humbly seeking for you to make a place in your heart for Him.  He calls to you in the songs of the season that we hear on the radio, or in the thrill of children opening the presents under the tree.

You see, He was the very first Christmas present.  He was given to us to show us the Father, to teach us mercy, to be an example for us to follow.  He appeared suddenly and made an immediate impression on some lowly shepherds in a field, and a busy innkeeper who found a place for Him.  Here was no fanfare, no far-reaching announcement of His coming.  He King of Kings c am quietly to most.  Only some shepherds in the field were given the announcement of who this baby really was.  Some wise men from distant lands saw a bright star in the sky and knew it was the sign of a great Savior being born.  But no one else heard the angels, and no one else recognized the star. Just like Santa puts Christmas presents under the tree in the middle of the night, Jesus came into the middle of an unknowing world.  A present for all of humanity.  A present that would not only change the course of history, but change a persons’ life.

How about you?  Are you a successful business person and feel like your life is full?  Or are you famous and rich and don’t have room for anything else?  Or are you just a servant of some other business, making money in the middle of the night of your life? Whatever your situation, you need Jesus.  He is the only one who can save you from eternal Hell.  He is the only one who can rid you of your sin and cleanse your heart and mind.  He is the only way to heaven.  He comes in meekness and humility and asks you to make a place in your heart.  Won’t you let him in today?  Won’t you make room?

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He Appeared to Put Away Sin

Hebrews 9:18-24

25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

It’s time for a reality check.  The question of the day is “Are you a sinner?”.  I am asking this using the definition of sin, which is disobedience to God.  It is not doing something wrong, or saying something wrong, or acting foolishly and harming others.  Sin is not an action that occurs between people, but it occurs between people and God.  When we do do wrong, it is sin against God, not against the other person, or dog, or tree.

But sin is more than just doing wrong.  Sin is indwelling in every man, woman and child.  We are born with it, and we will die with it.  It cannot leave us.  When Adam sinned in the garden, his seed became infected with sin, in a way. That sin seed travels down through time every time a person is born, and is transmitted by the seed of a man.  It is inescapable.  You and I will always be sinners.  There is no way to avoid having that seed within us.  There was only one who was ever born who did not have this seed of sin, because His seed came from the Holy Ghost.  That is Jesus, who was born of a virgin.  Therefore, He is the only one who can ever claim He is sinless, and He did walk a sinless life while on this earth.  The rest of us will be cursed with this sin seed the rest of our years.

The nation of Israel was no different.  They were sinners, and needed someone to make atonement for them to cover their sin before God.  Every year, only once a year, there was a solemn day called the day of atonement.  We have spoken of this before during this study on Hebrews.  The High priest would take two goats and let one go (the scapegoat) a symbol of sin leaving the camp.  The other goat would be sacrificed on the altar and the blood would be taken and sprinkled on the mercy seat, which covered the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies.  It was the only time anyone entered the Holy of Holies all year.  This ceremony took place every year to make atonement for the sins of the people.  Every year.  For centuries it had been this way.  The pattern was set (see my last post on the Pattern of Things).

Then came Jesus.  He was a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.  He was sinless, not having the seed of sin within His body due to the virgin birth. He was the only one who lived, or ever will live, a sinless life.  He was offered up on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin.  When He died, the veil of the temple rent from top to bottom, signifying the Holy of Holies was now available for all to enter.  The mercy of God, the law and the power were now all available to us on a personal basis.  No longer a need for anyone to stand between us and God.  The confessional in a Catholic church is so different than this picture.  I’m sorry, but I can go straight to Jesus with my confession, and he forgives me without the need of Hail Mary.  In fact, Mary can do nothing to cleanse me of the sin that so easily besets me.

Jesus is our mediator, as we looed at before.  He is the one who stands before God and makes supplication for us.  He is the one we go to for cleansing, for sanctification, for deliverance, for all things God has for us.  There is no one else in heaven or earth who comes close to the power and authority that Jesus has.  The promises of God are delivered to us through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  There are thousands of these promises throughout the scriptures, all for us.  The only thing we have to do is accept this offering that has been made for us, the offering of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

Paul said that he died daily.  What exactly was he talking about?  He was saying that each day he must get up and die to the sin that still is in his body, that seed of sin that causes us to have wayward thoughts, or do unholy things, or say words that can hurt and make others turn away from Christ.  Christ is our strength, and we can do all things through Him.  But in order to trust Him completely, we must give ourselves completely to Him.  When we start to trust in ourselves, that is when we will fall.  WE have no power against sin.  It is Christ who is the overcomer, and we must allow Him the authority in our lives to help us overcome also.  The only way we can do this is to die to ourselves, so that Christ might live in us.  A John the Baptists said “He must increase, I must decrease.”

The seed of sin has not left my body.  It is still real, and it is still affecting my daily actions.  After all, I am living in a fleshly body while on this earth.  As long as I do, sin will be in my being.  Jesus has eradicated my sin, but it is my obligation to make sure I confess that sin each day to God, and ask for His forgiveness. I also must ask forgiveness from others if I sin against them. Jesus places a high score on forgiveness.   It was one of the last things He said from the cross.  Jesus said if I don’t forgive others, God will not forgive us.  Unforgiveness is sin, and we must steer clear of this.  Sin will knock on our door constantly, trying to make us turn from God.  But God promises that no temptation will come into our lives that we are not strong enough to handle.

We have an appointment with God.  We have an appointed time with death, and none of us knows what day that will be.  Only God knows where this falls on the calendar.  He only opportunity we have to make things right with God is before this death appointment takes place.  Here is no purgatory where we shall be, and where God will give us another chance to accept His offering after our death.  There is only heaven or hell.  It is time you made your choice on where you will go.  Hell is reserved for sinners, for those who are disobedient to God.  We are all sinners until we accept the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on that Cross.  Have you confessed your sin to Him and turned away from it?  Have you trusted in Him as your Lord and Savior?  If your answer is yes, Praise the Lord!  If it is no, please do so right now, and Jesus will meet with you right where you are.  Be saved by His grace today!

The Mediator of the New Testament

Hebrews 9:15-17

15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

I work a few days a week at the local True Value hardware store. And I love this job.  It is allowing me to get connected again with my community, as for the last 30 years I have ben a salesman on the road and have not been around the town much.  Our small town has little business, but the hardware store is doing well, and many people come through every day.  They stand and talk to each other about the days’ happenings, and I get to join in on the conversation when not busy taking care of customers.  Part of my job is giving my time to the customers to just visit.  We even have 50 cent coffee, and two picnic tables for people to enjoy it on. There are three different coffee groups every week day.  It’s so much fun!

Yesterday two guys were talking about a farmer who had recently passed away.  He had made the decision to sell off all his land after he passed, which was only about 80 acres, a very small plot by Iowa standards.  According to one of these guys, he did this to avoid the argument between the two sons of which got the better plot of land had the dad left them each 40 acres.  The story is that the sons fight over everything, and both think the other was favored among them in the father’s eyes.  What a terrible thing to have to think about before you die.

My mom recently passed away at age 97.  She was an amazing lady (I guess all of us would say that about our mothers!).  Her health finally gave way to her age, and she went gracefully.  She always had a keen mind, all the way to the end.  She would bring up things that we had talked about weeks, or even years ago, right up top the final months.  We talked three times a week by phone, as she lived out near my brother in Massachusetts.  She was always positive and always fun to talk to.  I miss those phone calls.  She had always wanted to leave a little something for my brother and I when she passed.  In fact, when she moved back to Massachusetts, she had to live in an assisted living facility.  My brother was heling her with her finances, and told her she had enough to last her 7 years in the assisted living before Mass care would have to kick in.   She said she wouldn’t last that long, and she lasted 5!

In her will she designated my brother to be executor of the estate.  He is a man of high integrity and would handle the financial end of it with grace.  One thing I never had to worry about was if he was being honest about the money she left.  He had enough on his own that he did not need to take any more than was his, as some would do.  I trusted him implicitly, and knew that if he said there was a certain amount of money left, it was the actual amount left.  As a result of this inheritance, I am in the middle of getting a project done to my house that my wife and I have been dreaming about for 5 years.  We took down a wall in the front of our house and are moving the kitchen in with the living area to make one large open-concept living space.  The project is moving rapidly, and we are so excited!

I have shared thee two tales of inheritance to because they are indicative of how an inheritance can be a blessing or a curse.  So many times, families fight and squabble over what is left behind by their loved ones, not even thinking about the fact of how sad that would make the one who died.  My wife’s sister-in-law passed away a few years back, and they are still upset about the way it all happened.  The executor seems to have misrepresented the funds left, and everyone is at odds with each other over it.  This I not unusual when someone passes.  Arguments over who got what, or that someone else was more favored and shouldn’t have received so much are rampant.  It often seems the will should have ben more specific about many things.

God’s will is very specific about so many things.  He has left us with over 8,000 promises of things that He will do for us.  Among these promises are:

            Forgiveness for all our sins

            Victory over our sinful nature

            The Holy Spirit, or Comforter, to come dwell with us and teach us

Resurrection from death

            Eternal Life in Heaven

            Healing for our physical, emotional and spiritual bodies

            Deliverance and protection from our enemies

Guidance and direction for our lives

Provision on a daily basis

Peace, Joy, Hope, Faith, and so much more.

These things and thousands more, are promises for our lives.  They are His will for our lives.  However, someone’s will does not come into force until the one who made the will dies.  I would not have the money left by my mom unless she had passed away.  As long as she lived, her things were hers, and nothing would change that.  She had to die for her will to be enacted.  That’s the way it works.

Jesus Christ came to die so that the will of God could be enforced for all of us.  His death made all the things, and so much more, possible for us to claim today.  The word translated mediator here is the Greek word mesos which is most often translated “In the midst.” It defines someone or something that stands in the middle of two things, like the sheep in the midst of wolves, or the tares in the midst of weeds, or the righteous in the midst of the wicked.  Jesus not only died to enact the will of the Father, but he also stands between us and the Father, making intercession for us (we will talk more about this later).  This is why we have to ask the Father in Jesus name!

God’s eternal plan was to bless us through the death of His Son.  Hi will could not be enacted without that, and sin would not be covered if blood was not spilled.  I am so thankful that Jesus came to this earth to give up all that He was and had to become a baby in a manger, live a human life, and die a horrible death so that I could be the beneficiary of God’s will.  He loved us that much, that he gave His all for all of us.  Hid will is now in force for all time, giving those precious promises to us each and every day.  We must let our loved ones, our friends, and our neighbors know this good news. So many are living in the will of the enemy and have no idea what Jesus has done for them.  We must let them know!

But Christ

Hebrew 9:11-14

11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:

14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Back in my late teen and early twenties, I didn’t have a care in the world./Life was just a party. I had a great job that I could do drunk, stoned, tired, whatever condition I was in. I had friends who liked to party around me, and even one who was a dealer and got me free pot. Life was good, or so I thought.

In 1975 I want to my high school 5th reunion, and there ran into me best friend from younger years. He had been in Vietnam and we lost contact. He told me he had gone from Vietnam to Germany for a bit and there had some kind of religious experience with Jesus Christ. He said he had been saved and wanted me to know about it. I wanted nothing to do with that. I was having too much fun. He was heading to Florida from here to the beach, and I wished him safe passage as we committed to keeping in touch. I heard his words of faith, but ignored them.

But Christ had planted a seed, and my friend watered it over the next year. My friend kept watering that seed in letters we exchanged over the next 12 months or so. He would put a scripture address in those letters forcing me to look them up to see what he was referencing. A year later, I decided to visit him in Iowa, and there I met Jesus myself. I got saved sitting on his couch, in his living room. Christ knew my need, and he met it. I thought I was happy, But Christ gave me a new joy I had never known.

Two years went by, and my friend and I stayed in touch. I decided to go visit him again in 1978, not knowing what God had in store. I came to visit my friend and had no intention of meeting anyone else, But Christ knew better. He always does I shared this whole story a few weeks ago, and you can read it HERE. When I thought life was going one direction, God had other plans, better plans. He had plans to keep me blessed for a lifetime, and for 44 years, His plan has been wonderful. I thought life was good But Christ knew how to make it better.

In 2008 I was wallowing in a sea of pride. M wife tried to tell me about it, but I didn’t listen. I was taking advantage of my position at work to do things I knew were a serious violation of company protocol. I was steeped in sexual sin, but kept leading worship, being a deacon and showing everyone I was someone special. My wife even tried to tell me I was full of pride, and I didn’t listen. Instead, I told her I was humble, very humble. But my pride got the best of me, and I got fired from my job. I had to tell my wife and my pastor what had happened, and they were so mad at me. I had betrayed my Pastor’s trust, and he had helped me pay through this sin once before, 5 years earlier. But I hid it from everyone, and he was ready to kick me out of his church. He found out about a place called Pure Life Ministries, and told me I needed to go there if I ever wanted to set foot in his church again. I said I would.

I had been sent there to deal with what I thought were sexual sin problems. But Christ had other plans. Instead, they dealt with my pride, which was enormous, At one point I remember being proud of the pride I had! I came to realize that my wife was right all along, and that I had a serious pride problem. They dealt with it by revealing it to me, and showing a way out. I had been sent there to deal with this blatant pride and arrogance and that’s exactly what God did, He dealt with it!

But God had other plan as well. When I left there, my counselor told me not to do any type of ministry for two years, so I did not. I watched over my grandkids at church while my wife played the piano. I told my wife that it was her decision when I would start top enter back into ministry. hen, through a series of events I will share at some other time, God started to give me songs – lots of them. I heard His voice, and I heard the melody. I wrote them down and recorded them on my phone. I thought God had done all He planned to do after Pure Life, But Christ had better plans that I was just entering into.

In 2016, after two bouts with pneumonia, my doctor did a CT scan, and they found Multiple Myeloma lesions. This type of leukemia was pretty rare and I was sitting there in stage two out of three, facing two stem cell transplants and 2-1/2 years of chemo treatments. his meant over 40 days in a hospital bed and a long recovery/. This was an attack of the enemy that would put me on my back and out of ministry for many months. But Christ had other plans. In that hospital bed I started this Bible Study blog. I also wrote poem after poem after poem, with songs mixed in. Through a little advertising, my poetry Facebook page grew to over 3,000 page likes, and I had hundreds, sometimes thousands, reading these poems sent from God every day. I was laying in a hospital bed, But Christ used that time to teach me to listen even closer. He had a better plan.

The nation of Israel was looking for a Messiah. They longed for Him to come, but when He came they did not recognize Him. They thought He would come to free them from the Roman and had no idea He came to set up an eternal Kingdom. They thought he would win battles with weapons of warfare, and had no idea He would win souls by the power of His words. They thought eh sacrificial system was there way top find peace with God. But Christ had other plans. He sent Jesus, who was a priest after the order of Melchizedek, to offer Himself as a sacrifice for their sin. He became that perfect lamb whose blood was spilled to give the people remission from their sins. And not only for the Jews, but for all mankind. For you and for me.

This world thinks they have it all figured out But Christ knows better. he is our creator. He knows what we need. Our biggest need is for a Savior because we all have sin within us. It is in our souls from our very birth. It is in the seed passed down from generation to generation since the time of Adam. Only one person in all of history has ben born without that seed of sin, and that is Jesus Christ. He was born of a virgin, through the Holy Spirit. There was no sin in Him – ever. Only He can save us from our sinful ways to serve a holy God. Only He can turn us from wretched sinners to righteous saints. Only Jesus!

Do you have But Christ moments in your life? I could share many more, but want to leave room for yours. Please put them in the comments, and invite your friends to do the same by sharing this post.

The Second Tabernacle

Hebrews 9:7-10 

But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

I find it interesting that Paul relates here to the second tabernacle.  Here was only one tabernacle in Old Testament times.  Or should I say that God instructed them to build one tabernacle.  Within that tabernacle were three distinct areas.  There was a common place, where all the people brought their sacrifices to the priest and they offered those sacrifice upon the altar, washing in between offerings in the laver.  Hen there was the holy place, which was behind a veil.  His is where the priests ministered daily to the Lord by keeping the candles lit, renewing the shewbread on the table, and offering incense on the table of incense.  Last of all there was the Holy of Holies, which was not only behind a veil but had a roof over it as well.  His is where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, which was regarded as the very presence of God.  It is the Holy of Holies that Paul is referring to here as the second tabernacle.

A tabernacle is defined as a fixed or movable habitation.  It was considered a dwelling place for God.  He Cloud by day and the fire by night appeared over the Holy of Holies when the people of God were stationary, and moved to the front of the masses when the people were moving.  Hat is because the Ark was always at the front of the people, carried with gold poles that were put through gold eyelets on the side of the Ark of the Covenant.  Since the Ark represented the very presence of God, it could not be touched.  We all remember the story of the man who touched the Ark when it was being brought back from the camp of the Philistines in 2 Samuel 6.  That is because the Ark was the holiest of all things, and would be defiled by anyone touching it.  The Ark was the very prewe3nce of God amidst the people.  The dwelling place, or tabernacle for the Ark was the Holy of Holies, which Paul calls the second tabernacle here.

In Leviticus 16 God established the Day of Atonement.  It was the tenth day of the seventh month, and it was a special day.  No one was allowed to work, and all the people were to be in an attitude of repentance.  On this day, the High Priest alone would bath himself completely, put on the linen garments of the High Priest, and make a special offering.  His offering consisted of a bull and two goats. The bull was offered as a sin offering for all the people on the altar, and some of the blood was sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant.  He then separated the goats, and one goat was let go.  It was the scapegoat, and signified the sins of Israel leaving the camp.  The other goat was offered on the altar, but this time the High priest would take the blood into the Holy of Holies and offer the blood directly on the mercy city atop the Ark of the Covenant.  While this offering is taking place, there was to be absolutely no one else in any part of the whole tabernacle.  Only the high priest. Only once a year.  This was the offering that was made for the sins of all the people to have those sins forgiven by God.  All known and unknown sins.  All sins of omission and sins of conscience.  All sins.  It was the most special day on the Jewish calendar., the tenth day of the seventh month.  I urge you to go back and read about it.  Leviticus 16!

All of this was done because there was no other way that the sins of the people could be atoned for, and even this day could not make the perfect, because even the one offering the sacrifice upon the mercy seta was not perfect.  The priest had to sacrifice for himself also, because he was a sinner.  All were sinners.  They were using sacrifices that God intended, but even God knew that these types of sacrifices could not clear their conscience.  God knew that sin would still come back again and again and again.  he blood of bulls and goats, sheep and doves, would suffice for the journey through the wilderness and the appointed time, but it was not a ritual that would make a person perfect.

I find the ark most fascinating, and the items that were in it even more fascinating.  Inside the ark was some manna, the rod of Aaron that budded, and the tables of the law, the Ten Commandments.  These represent God’s provision, God/s power and the word of God.  Manna, when left for more than a day, just plain stunk.  It was not made to last more than a day.  Aaron’s rod was but a dead stick of wood, but it budded on command.  The Ten Commandments had to be heavy and burdensome to carry.  But they were in the Ark, preserved for all time.  However, they were covered by the mercy seat.  They were covered by the mercy of God.  The law, the power and the provision are all under the mercy of God.  We must remember this when presenting the Gospel.  Whether we use the law, the power or the provision of God in our witness, we must be sure it is all done under the umbrella of mercy.  His mercy is protected by the angels, represented by the Cherubim that sit upon the Ark with their wing outstretched.  God covers all things with mercy, and we should be sure to have mercy on all others, Christian or not.

Are you showing mercy everywhere you go, but making sure the law is also covered with your witness?  Are you praying for healing and seeing those prayers answered because you called on God to have mercy on them?  Are you helping people out and providing for their needs, both physical and emotional, while showing mercy to them.  It’s all about mercy, my friend.  It’s all about mercy.