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A premonition

Published June 7, 2017 by thinkinbout

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Have you ever had a premonition? I guess we all have at one point, but I mean a full blown, dreadful feeling of impending doom? I have…and this past Sunday, on which we celebrated the Day of Pentecost, reminded me of it. Now, I’m no holy roller. I don’t handle snakes and I have never had a laughing fit “in the Spirit,” or whatever, but I have had an experience that I can attribute only to the Holy Spirit.

In the summer of 2004 I was volunteering on a First Nations Reserve in Canada. It was a 7 week trip, so I really got to know the people with whom I worked. I worked with two other gals, one from TX, another from Canada, and our main job was to run a summer camp for the kids on the res. Two days a week we worked with the little ones and two days a week we worked with the teens. On one particular sunny, peaceful day, near the end of our trip, the three of us decided to take the kids (teens that day) to “the beach.” It was a lake, not an ocean, just so we’re clear. I had not packed a bathing suit, so I sat out and kept an eye on the other kids who didn’t want to play in the water either. There was a playground and some other fun stuff around.

And then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks.

Even though the sun was out, it was dark. There’s no explaining that, but it was. My chest felt heavy, I couldn’t breathe. I began crying and praying. I just asked God to please protect me, please, please protect me, something horrifying is going to happen, please, God, please protect me!!!!!!!

And then it was gone.

The drive back to the res was not on a paved road, but a gravel one, and our driver began fish tailing. She could not right the vehicle (a school bus), and the fish tailing became wider and wider, until I knew: this was it. I said it aloud: “This is it!!!” And flipped and we flipped, and we bounced, and my head hit a window. I was praying aloud the whole time, and one of the few who was not knocked out. When we landed, I was on the bottom of a pile of big teenage boys. My neck was positioned in such a way that it should have been broken. It was between the ankles of one of the boys, at an odd angle. But I was alive, and I was not knocked out, and, as someone responsible for these kids, I got up and got to work. I first made sure no one was dead or injured, and then helped to wake them up and get them off the bus. I don’t know who called emergency, but they eventually arrived. Some kids were thrown from the bus.

No one died. No one died!!!! Honestly, I have never heard of a crash that bad where no one had died. Someone had a concussion, and one girl broke her arm and collar bone, and nearly everyone needed a neck brace, but we were ok, after all.

That is one experience I attribute to the Holy Spirit; there really is no other explanation.

Living in these days…

Published February 26, 2017 by thinkinbout

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Times, they are a’changin. We have witnessed so many changes here in the USA, and across the world, and what I am most concerned with is the level of violence. And I mean the level of violence due to someone disagreeing politically. If it wasn’t so dangerous, it would be laughable. How could it have come to this in my beautiful country of America? Today I was reading 2 Thessalonians, and part of it hit home. I don’t even think I need to extrapolate on this, I’ll just write out the verses and leave it there as food for thought.

“For that day [the Day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy come first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction…For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing…The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working, with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders, and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved. For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false, so that all will be condemned-those who did not believe the truth but enjoyed unrighteousness.”  Sounds a lot like all the, quite frankly, absurd, foolish, and violent riots and demonstrations that are taking place right now.

Christ in the Passover

Published April 21, 2016 by thinkinbout

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The following was not written by me. It was yet another thing that I emailed myself and did not include who wrote it. I don’t know why I did that so much when I was younger, especially being a history major. I should have known better! Anyway, this is from 2008, or at least that’s when I sent it to myself. I thought it appropriate since Passover begins in another day or two.

1 Cor. 5:6-8
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Messiah our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. ”

Several symbolic clues during Passover are fulfilled in Christ. John the Baptist introduced Jesus by saying, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). The Jews had been celebrating Passover for 1,500 years. They understood the significance of John’s statements.

Isaiah 53, written hundreds of years before Christ, records the suffering the human lamb would experience.

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 was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand (Isa. 53:7-10).

Triumphal Entry of the Lambs

In the first century, a lamb was chosen by the high priest outside of Jerusalem on the tenth of Nisan. Then the priest would lead this lamb into the city while crowds of worshipers lined the streets waving palm branches and singing Psalm 118, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.”

Jesus our Messiah entered Jerusalem this same day, on a donkey (usually ridden by a king), probably right behind the High Priest’s procession. The crowds that had just heralded the entrance of the sacrificial lamb heralded the entrance of the Lamb of God. Accordingly, Jesus identified himself with the Passover sacrifice (John 12:9-19). The next day, as Jesus entered Jerusalem , His entry fulfilled prophecy.

Enthusiasm filled the air. All Israel knew that it would be in Jerusalem where Messiah would be enthroned as their King. Edersheim writes,

Everyone in Israel was thinking about the Feast, Everyone was going to Jerusalem , or had those near and dear to them there, or at least watched the festive processions to the Metropolis of Judaism. It was a gathering of universal Israel , that of the memorial of the birth-night of the nation, and of its Exodus, when friends from afar would meet, and new friends be made; when offerings long due would be brought, and purification long needed be obtained and all worship in that grand and glorious Temple , with its gorgeous ritual. National and religious feelings were alike stirred in what reached far back to the first, and pointed far forward to the final Deliverance.

The High Priest would then take the lamb to the Temple , where it would be tied in public view so that it could be inspected for blemish. In the same way, Yeshua sat and taught in the Temple courtyard for four days. He was inspected and questioned as the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the teachers of the law sought to trip him up in His words and entrap Him. They could not, because He was perfect and without blemish (Lancaster1996).

Passover pronounces redemption. To believers in Messiah, the Passover feast has a special meaning. Though we are not slaves, as God’s people in Egypt , we were slaves to our sin, our own wants and desires. Sin was our master until Jesus, the Passover Lamb, delivered us from our Egypt . The lamb slain during Passover is a foreshadow of the redemption we find in Jesus, the Messiah, our Passover lamb. The principle of redemption is the concept of bondage to the slavery of sin and freedom from its domination (John 8:31-36). To be “redeemed” means to be purchased from slavery. Jesus Christ purchased our freedom with His blood as the payment for the redemption (Ps. 34:22; 1 Peter 1:18,19; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; 1 John 1:7).

Jesus ate the Passover meal with eleven of His disciples (see Passover in Bible Times). Just as the priest was to teach, pray, and offer sacrifice, Christ, the High Priest, taught, prayed, and then offered Himself as our sacrifice.
After the Meal

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. (John 18:1).

Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane . The garden has many ancient olive trees today, some of which may have grown from the roots of the trees that were present in Jesus’ time. (All trees in and around Jerusalem were cut down when the Romans conquered the city in 70 a.d. Olive trees can regenerate from their roots and live for thousands of years.) The name Gethsemane comes from the Hebrew Gat Shmanim, meaning “oil press” (Kollek). Since oil is used in the Bible to symbolize the Holy Spirit, it may be said that the garden is where “the Spirit of God was crushed” (Missler 1995).

It was here that Jesus agonized in prayer over what was to occur. It is significant that this is the only place in the King James Version where the word agony is mentioned (Strong’s concordance). The Greek word for agony means to be “engaged in combat” (Pink). Jesus agonized over what He was to go through, feeling that He was at the point of death (Mark 14:34). Yet He prayed, “Not my will, but thine be done” (Terasaka 1996).

Of medical significance is that Luke mentions Him as having sweat like blood. The medical term for this, hemohidrosis, or hematidrosis, has been seen in patients who have experienced extreme stress or shock to their systems (Edwards). The capillaries around the sweat pores become fragile, and leak blood into the sweat. A case history is recorded in which a young girl who had a fear of air raids in World War I developed the condition after a gas explosion occurred in the house next door (Scott). Another report mentions a nun who, as she was threatened with death by the swords of the enemy soldiers, “was so terrified that she bled from every part of her body and died of hemorrhage in the sight of her assailants.” (Grafenberg) As a memorial to Jesus’ ordeal, a church which now stands in Gethsemane is known as the Church of the Agony (ibid).

Immediately thereafter, He was betrayed by Judas (Mark 14:43), and captured by the high priest and taken for trial before Caiaphas (Luke 22:54). Consequently, Jesus was crucified between two thieves, fulfilling His own prediction that “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” (John 3:14). Most of His disciples fled at His arrest; only a group of women and one disciple, called “the disciple whom He loved,’ were present at the cross when He died (John 19:25-27; compare Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:40; and Luke 23:49).
Jesus’ Trial, Death, and Resurrection

Many of us have a hard time grasping the pain and suffering Christ went through on the crucifixion day. Television today has de-sensitized our feelings pertaining to the horrifying violence of the torture and slow death of Jesus.

The following is just a portion of an article by Dr. C. Truman Davis, M.D., M.S., titled: “The Crucifixion Of Jesus: The Passion Of Christ From A Medical Point Of View,” which explains some of the agony of Christ:

In the early morning, Jesus, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, is taken across Jerusalem to Pontius Pilate. The prisoner is stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. A short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs.

The condemned man was forced to carry the patibulum [cross bar], apparently weighing about 110 pounds, from the prison to the place of execution. Without any historical or Biblical proof, medieval and Renaissance painters have given us our picture of Christ carrying the entire cross. Many of these painters and most of the sculptors of crucifixes today show the nails through the palm. Roman historical accounts and experimental work have shown that the nails were driven between the small bones of the wrists and not through the palms. Nails driven through the palms will strip out between the fingers when they support the weight of the human body. The misconception may have come about through a misunderstanding of Jesus’s words to Thomas, Observe my hands. Anatomists, both modern and ancient, have always considered the wrists as a part of the hand. A titilus, or small sign, stating the victim’s crime was usually carried at the front of the procession and later nailed to the cross above the head. A small bundle of flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp. The heavy patibulum [crossbar]of the cross is tied across His shoulders, and the procession headed by a centurion, begins its slow journey along the Via Dolorosa. In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross.

The crucifixion begins. The legionnaire drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes and the titulus reading, Jesus of Nazareth , King of the Jews is nailed in place.

Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber; then another agony begins. A deep crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

The body of Jesus is now in extremis, and He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. This realization brings out possibly little more than a tortured whisper, ‘It is finished.’

His mission of atonement has been completed. Finally He can allow His body to die.

With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Truman 1965).

Jesus died as the lambs for the Passover meal were being slain. Not a bone was to be broken in these sacrificial lambs (Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12). Jesus, the Lamb of God, was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world (1 Cor. 5:7).

During the Passover time, a sign hung on each lamb’s neck, bearing the name of the owner of the lamb. Jesus was crucified with a sign hung over His head with the name of His Father. Studies have shown the Tetragrammaton probably appeared over Jesus when He hung on the cross. During Bible times, messages were commonly written with the first letter of each word. An example in English: UPS, stands for United Parcel Service. The phrase ‘Jesus of Nazareth and King of the Jews’ was written in three languages on a sign above Jesus as He hung on the cross (John 19:19). The Hebrew initials for ‘Jesus of Nazareth and King of the Jews’ was YHWH. That is why the priest asked Pilate to change the writing. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written (John 19: 21-22).

The story does not end with the death of Jesus. His body was placed in a new tomb that belonged to a man named Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42). The greatest event that separates Jesus from all others is the fact that He overcame death. In three days He rose again and lives today. He arose from the grave on the Feasts of Firstfruits!

On Nisan 17, when Israel emerged from the Red Sea , this emergence was a shadow of the fulfillment of the day of Firstfruits (Lev. 23:9-14). This was the first of God’s people to emerge from sin ( Egypt ). It was fulfilled 1,478 years later on Nisan 17, 30 a.d. when Jesus was resurrected and ascended to heaven as our high priest, the Firstfruit of the resurrected (John 20:17).”

Blog 8 of Lent, and, Why understanding the history, culture and language of the Bible is important!

Published February 27, 2016 by thinkinbout

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This is an important one. This is one that I have often heard twisted maybe more than any other piece of Scripture, and one in which people claim shows St. Paul’s sexism. They couldn’t be more wrong.

First, I’ll copy and paste this email I sent to myself a decade ago (don’t know who wrote it), and then add my thoughts. I have also heard a sermon about this from Michael Youseff, but unfortunately I do not know the title of that sermon. Anyway, the sermon and this piece concur.

“Should Christian women avoid wearing jewelry or braids?

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
—1 Timothy 2:9-10, NIV
These verses might throw you for a loop if your Bible-reading plan calls for an arbitrary number of verses a day. But if you read the Bible a book at a time and you have the ten minutes it takes to read this epistle all in one chunk, you notice two things: First, that the entire second chapter deals with the worship service, so Paul is not talking about how women should dress when they go grocery shopping. Second, that Paul addressed this epistle specifically to Timothy, not to us. We are reading this epistle, so to speak, over Timothy’s shoulder:
To Timothy my true son in the faith
—1 Timothy 1:2, NIV
Therefore, if we apply this passage directly, without taking the context or Timothy’s immediate needs into account, our interpretation isn’t biblical.
Every time I go to the mall and see how the people are dressed, I wonder how we could have had a shipwreck this far inland. But even in this age of fashionable grunge, clothing says a lot about you. For example, it is fairly safe to presume that a man dressed in a tuxedo is probably not on his way to the harbor to unload a ship. And a woman who is standing on a street corner in a bad neighborhood at night in fishnet stockings, a clear vinyl skirt, and too much makeup, is not likely to be a nun. So if I were a modern apostle writing to the pastor of a church located near a red-light district, I would say, “your women should not be wearing fishnet stockings and clear vinyl skirts.” By that I would not mean that if fashion changes and fishnet stockings become respectable, you should still not wear them, I just mean that however the entrepreneurs of the horizontal industry should happen to dress, you shouldn’t.
However, the situation wasn’t quite that extreme for Timothy. In those days, braids and jewelry were ostentatious, beauty-pageant type things. Paul’s concern was not about braids and jewelry, but about vanity and ostentatiousness. It’s important not to turn the worship service into a beauty pageant, because women would spend all their time competing and none of it worshiping. It can send the poor women home in tears and puff the rich women up with pride, and this is not supposed to be the outcome of Christian worship.
So I think we should interpret Paul as giving specific instructions to Timothy that were applicable to his immediate needs and circumstances, from which we should derive the principle that Christian women should dress appropriately—neither too severely, nor too wildly. Paul did not speak of men, not because the principle does not apply to them, but because men’s clothing wasn’t the problem in Timothy’s church and Paul’s immediate purpose was to address Timothy’s needs. We should apply the same rules to men, because the underlying principle is applicable everywhere and to everyone. We should all dress modestly and appropriately, not sticking out in one extreme or the other.
Well, that’s what Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:9—what we should not wear. In 1 Timothy 2:10, Paul talks about what we should wear. And this brings to mind the popular saying that you are never fully dressed without a smile. I suppose that would be true for us if we were secular people, because we live in a shallow society that shuns people who are sad. If we are secular people, concerned only about getting ahead, we should always smile, so that we won’t suffer any disadvantage. But if we are Christians, we have something better than cheerfulness—we have the love of God, which is so strong we don’t need to plaster our faces with fake smiles, and we do not need to avoid sad people. In fact, Jesus sent us to seek them out and lift them up.
A doctor is never fully dressed for work without a stethoscope, nor a mason without a trowel, nor a carpenter without a hammer. A Christian is never fully dressed without the good deeds that are appropriate for those who profess to worship God.”

The people who claim that Paul was sexist do not understand this passage, and that is too bad. In fact, in high school especially, this was brought up and flung in my face to make me doubt my faith, or to show me that my religion was one of oppression of women. But they didn’t understand the times. They didn’t understand that these particular women to whom Paul was writing were dressing up for one another and that was taking focus off worship. Women like to dress up. If I could wear a ball gown and glitter everyday, I would. But church is not a time for dress up, it is to be a time of focus on God. Attention should be on Him and Him alone.

Blog 7 of Lent: Being Born Again

Published February 27, 2016 by thinkinbout

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As I sometimes do, I am again blogging someone else’s words. Unfortunately I cannot give credit where credit is due because I emailed this to myself 8 years ago and neglected to copy and paste the name of the author.

“To be Born Again is not an exclusive “New Testament” Message, this was already been revealed by YaHWeH in the “Old Testament” (Tanakh in Hebrew).

To understand this better let us refer how John (Yochanan in Hebrew) narrates the discussion between Yeshua HaMashiach and Nicodemus regarding how a man can enter the Kingdom of YaHWeH .

John 3:3-7: “…Yeshua answered, Amein, amein, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water and the SPIRIT, he cannot enter into the kingdom of Elohim . That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is BORN OF THE SPIRIT is SPIRIT. Do not marvel that I said to you, YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN. The SPIRIT breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice, but you do not know from where He comes, and where He goes; so is everyone who is BORN OF THE SPIRIT.Nicodemus answered and said to Him, How can these things be?”

Notice how our Messiah replied to Nicodemus in John 3:10 “Yeshua answered and said to him, ARE YOU THE TEACHER OF YISRAEL AND DO NOT KNOW THESE THINGS?” As a teacher of Israel , Nicodemus should have recognized what the Messiah meant about how one is to be born again, for this is what the Prophets have written long ago in the Tanakh (Old Testament)

We are Born of the Spirit when YaHWeH gives us a NEW HEART and a NEW SPIRIT. “And I will give them one HEART, and I will put a NEW SPIRIT within you. And I will remove the stony HEART out of their flesh, and will give them a HEART of flesh, so that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances (TORAH, Word of YaHWeH), and do them. And they shall be My people, and I will be their Elohim.” Ezekiel 11:19-20

Deuteronomy 30:6 “Moreover YaHWeH your Elohim will circumcise your HEART and the HEART of your descendants, to love YaHWeH your Elohim with all your HEART and with all your Soul, SO THAT YOU MAY LIVE.” Circumcision is a covenant. In the Hebraic culture, to be in covenant means to have a relationship and agreement. YaHWeH desires to have a relationship with us – He desires to Circumcise our Hearts, and with this Covenant Relationship we gain LIFE.

Through this Covenant Relationship we shall know YaHWeH and His Word: “Behold, the days come, says YaHWeH, that I will cut a NEW COVENANT with the house of Yisrael, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which covenant of Mine they broke, although I was a husband to them, says YaHWeH; but this shall be the covenant that I will cut with the house of Yisrael: After those days, says YaHWeH, I WILL PUT MY TORAH (WORD OF YAHWEH) IN THEIR INWARD PARTS, AND WRITE IT IN THEIR HEARTS; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people. And they shall no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know YaHWeH; FOR THEY SHALL ALL KNOW ME, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says YaHWeH. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34

Furthermore, having faith in the Word of YaHWeH is part of this Covenant Relationship as Prophet Jeremiah wrote, and according to David, the Word of Elohim converts a person, “The TORAH/Law of YaHWeH is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of YaHWeH is sure, making the simple wise.” Psalm 19:7

Rabbi Cephas (Apostle Peter) concurs: “having been BORN AGAIN, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the living WORD OF YAHWEH ELOHIM, and abiding forever.” 1Peter 1:23

And so to conclude, the Message of being Born Again is as old as the Tanakh (Old Testament), it is not an exclusive “New Testament” Message.”

Blog 6 of Lent: Worthless Religion

Published February 22, 2016 by thinkinbout

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Today was the first day in months I’ve actually been able to attend a church service because I wasn’t scheduled to work. And it was glorious. Besides the fact that my 11 month old made a lot of noise and had to be taken out of the sanctuary a couple times, just sitting in the pew listening to the organ music was exactly what I needed. In my teens and 2os I preferred contemporary worship, but now I enjoy that “old time” music, and a choir that wears robes.

Today I actually won’t be writing about anything in Jeremiah, but a passage from the first chapter in Isaiah.  Today at breakfast my husband asked, “Would you walk non-stop for 24 hours to reach [a place of pilgrimage]?” I knew what he meant, since he has told me about his journey before. He is from a country in which there has been a “Marian apparition” (a place where Mary has appeared to a person or persons, and where a miracle has supposedly occurred. Note that not all places that claim to have Marian apparitions have been approved by the Catholic Church).  Anyway, hubby has made this pilgrimage twice. He told me he walked all day and night to reach it, and he told me of the many pilgrims who even walked there on their knees as a sign of deep devotion. Now I am not Catholic, so I don’t know if that means deep devotion to Mary, God, or maybe it’s considered devotion to the whole Church as one, I don’t know.

Medjugorje

“Would you walk non-stop for 24 hours to reach [a place of pilgrimage]?”  No.

Hubby: “I did, and when I reached The Virgin (statue), I promised her I would never do it again [because it was so grueling]. Then I did do it again and I promised her one more time that I would never do that again.”

To my ears, that sounds funny, promising a statue something. I understand that he didn’t see himself as making a promise to the statue itself, but to the Mary herself in a prayer, or something, but that’s not the point.

He continued, telling me that making that trek, volunteering in a various places, doing “good,” left him feeling empty after the fact. Walking that distance, not once but twice, certainly is an accomplishment-a big one! Talk about devotion-to good works! That left me thinking about Isaiah, specifically about worthless religion and good works that are nothing but “rags.”

Isaiah 1:11-15 (CSB): ” ‘What are all your sacrifices to Me?’ asks the LORD. ‘I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams and the fat of well-fed cattle; I have no desire for the blood of bulls, lambs, or male goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires this from you-this trampling of My courts? Stop bringing useless offerings. I despise your incense, New Moons and Sabbaths, and the calling of solemn assemblies-I cannot stand iniquity with a festival. I hate your New Moons and prescribed festivals. They have become a burden to Me; I am tired of putting up with them. When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will refuse to look at you; even if you offer countless prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.’ ”

God instituted these festivals and sacrifices to Himself in years past, and you can find guidelines for those in Exodus, Leviticus, and probably Deuteronomy, though I’m not going to check at the moment due to time constraints. The footnote in my Bible says this: “The Lord directed the people of Israel to build the tabernacle (Ex. 26-31), established the theological significance of the sacrifices (Lv 1-6), and appointed the nation’s festivals (Ex 34:18-26; Lv 23). But here Isaiah, speaking in the Lord’s name, appears to condemn these God-ordained institutions. Israelite prophets typically expressed themselves in extreme language, so attuned were they to the Lord’s sense of betrayal by the people He had chosen. The institutions of Israelite worship were designed so that the people could sense God’s presence in their midst, confess their sins, and renew their covenant relationship. They were to participate in these feasts in a heart-felt celebration of His past acts of grace. But the nation had grown careless; its worship had become shallow, carried out as popular custom-a casual ‘trampling’ (v. 12) of the courts of the Lord. There was a profound disparity between the people’s professed loyalty to the covenant and the ‘iniquity’ (v. 13) and injustice (v. 15) they tolerated in violation of that very covenant’s precepts. Under such conditions, it is hardly surprising that the Lord found their offerings ‘useless’ (v. 13) and was disgusted by their prayer, incense, festivals, and other religious practices. God does not condemn the practices of worship He, Himself, has instituted, only the false motivation that distorts them. He welcomes worship from those who repent of their sins and come to His house to glorify His name.”

I wanted to mention one more verse of Isaiah before ending this post. It is Isaiah 64:6: “All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us with like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.” The footnote says: “Isaiah strikingly compared the ‘righteous acts‘ of the people to a polluted garment…ritual uncleanness kept a person from entering the place of worship or from beholding the face of the Lord…Even despicable human beings can do a few good things for people they care about, but God does not look on their good deeds with favor because their motivation is corrupt and self-centered. In this passage, the people were confessing their sins, admitting they did not listen to God (v. 4) or call on His name (v. 7). They realized that the good things they did- their own righteousness- could never compare with the righteousness of a holy God, which is infinitely greater.”

If you’re not in right relationship with God, “good works” are not looked upon by God as righteous acts. He Himself has paved the bridge for that right relationship and those good works through Christ alone.

 

 

 

Blog 5 of Lent: Tattoos, and why understanding the culture of the Bible is so important.

Published February 17, 2016 by thinkinbout

How much do you love these uncreative titles for these blogs? 🙂

I don’t have any tattoos, but in my 20s, I sure did want a bunch. I never could afford one though, so it never happened. Of course, I always had Leviticus 19:28 (NIV) in the back of my mind: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” So maybe that was a deterrent too, but I think mostly it was because I couldn’t afford it.

I found this video that explains the verse and, again, why understanding the culture of the Bible is so important.