Saturday, March 31, 2012

Passover--Our Reason to Celebrate!

This Friday evening, April 6th, is Passover, the first of the three Spring Feasts God commanded Israel to keep annually.  Passover has been celebrated for 3500 years and provides the Jewish roots for our remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and the celebration of His resurrection. 

I Cor. 5:7-8:  “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened.  For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Jesus perfectly fulfilled the prophetic actions Jewish homes re-enact in the Passover Seder.  He is the Passover Lamb slain on the very day the priests were sacrificing the lamb to commemorate God’s deliverance from the slavery of Egypt.  Four cups of wine are served in the Seder, based on the four declarations God made to Israel in Ex. 6:6, 7.  God told Moses to tell the people:  “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out (Cup of Sanctification)....I will deliver you (Cup of Deliverance)….I will also redeem you (Cup of Redemption)…..Then I will take you for My people (Cup of Marriage).” 

Jesus also is the sinless Bread of Life pictured in the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Jewish homes will thoroughly clean their homes from top to bottom this week in preparation for the week long celebration of Unleavened Bread.  This is a wonderful picture of the work each of us should do daily in separating ourselves from sin.  “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Jesus also fulfilled the third Feast, First Fruits, by rising from the dead—the first fruits hope for resurrection that we all, as believers in Jesus, hold as our own glorious hope.  Because He defeated death we too have the hope of resurrection.  Paul sums it up clearly in I Cor. 15:  “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins…But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”  We proclaim to the world the Good News.  He died and took away your sins.  But the grave is empty!  He is Risen!  Hallelujah!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

One Thought At A Time

Ps. 132 speaks of David longing to find a place for the dwelling of God on earth.  Later in the Psalm, God promises that David will not lack to have a descendant sitting on his throne.  But there is a provision:  If your sons will keep My covenant and My testimony which I will teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forever.”
            The sad fact is the history of Israel as recorded in Kings and Chronicles shows that they did not keep God’s covenant.  David’s own son intermarried with pagan women and they led his heart astray.  David’s grandsons divided his kingdom between the Northern kingdom of Israel and the Southern kingdom of Judah.  The Northern kingdom had nineteen kings, all of which were evil—they refused to follow God’s covenant.  Finally God judged Israel, the Northern portion, by sending them into exile in 722 BC.  Less than half of the twenty kings of Judah were considered godly, but they too became so corrupt that Judah was sent into exile in 586 BC, not to return to the land for 70 years.
            How did this happen?  One choice at a time.  We my think our daily choices have much bearing on the direction of our lives, but every day we make choices that set the direction of our lives.  The decision to skip prayer and Bible reading one day.  The rationalization that one look at pornography won’t hurt anybody and it just feels so exciting.  The choice to ignore the promptings of Holy Spirit and just do what I want to do.  All these small choices, though seemingly isolated and insignificant, begin to deaden our sensitivity to God’s voice.  These micro decisions begin to add up and set us on a path of destruction that we usually don’t recognize until we are caught up in some large sin that is obvious to all and brings great embarrassment to us and our family.
            I used to worry when I heard about the fall of another pastor or great spiritual leader into immorality.  I questioned in my heart:  “If that person everyone has looked up to can’t hold his spiritual life together, what hope is there for a sinner like me?”  But then the Lord showed me this spiritual truth:  “EVERY EXTERNAL SIN BEGINS WITH A SMALL THOUGHT THAT IS AGAINST GOD.”   The progression is from thoughts to attitudes to actions, followed by habits that end in a lifestyle.  I have drawn it as a simple chart thus:
            Thoughts yield Attitudes yield Actions yield Habits become Lifestyle
            The battle ground is our thought life.  We make choices in our thoughts what to dwell on.  If you think about lust long enough, it won’t be long before your attitude toward lust will break out into actions of viewing pornography. 
            We can be forgiven by confessing our sins.  Jesus will forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. 
            But the secret of victorious living is to take every “thought” captive to the obedience of Christ.  II Cor. 10:3-5.  By submitting our thought life to Christ and asking Him to sanctify it, we set our minds and hearts to follow God and our attitudes and actions reflect godliness and holiness and integrity strengthens our character.