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In this blog, I share what the Lord shares with me. I reference scripture a lot in support of what is being said. I realize that what is in each entry is NOT a complete 'word' (discussion) on what is being said, but is rather enough information to stimulate our spirits to dig deeper (remember the Bereans Acts 17:10-11) thereby gaining a fuller understanding for ourselves.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

9-16-2016        Herod’s Temple, Our Walk with the Lord

                                                                                                            The Holy PLace

How does our walk with God relate to Herod’s Temple? 

Back in December 2014 Father gave me a bible study to bring to the fellowship on the correlation between Herod’s Temple, Solomon’s temple and where Christians are in their relationship with the Lord.  He called it the “Comfort Zone”.  The comfort zone is ‘how close are we willing to walk with God?  Or, at what level are we willing to live for Him?
He has continually tweaked my understanding of the ‘Comfort Zone’ and now He’s saying it’s not just enough to understand where we are in our relationship with Him, but NOW is the time to start growing closer and closer in our walk with Him by putting what we know into action into our lives.
Our first shot is an artist’s depiction of what the temple may have looked like.  In the diagram, take note that all the courtyards were within the perimeter of the temple outer wall. The Court of the Gentiles surrounds the inner courts which include the Court of Women, Court of Israel, Court of the Priests and the Holy Place.  Anyone could enter into the Court of the Gentiles but only Jewish men and women could enter into the Women’s Courtyard and only men could enter the Court of Israel (to observe sacrifices).  Then the Priest’s Courtyard was just that, a place where only priests could go. The third picture is a depiction the Holy Place which contains the Sanctuary and the smaller, Holy of Holies which is also separated by a curtain or veil.  These various areas represent the levels in which Christians, the Church of the New Testament, can walk and become comfortable in their relationship with God.
The Gentile’s Courtyard, along with all areas outside the temple walls represents those who are unsaved, never having given their lives to Jesus.  Woe to those who are comfortable out here for their eternity is the lake of fire.

The women’s Courtyard represents a conglomeration of people who had confessed Jesus but perhaps better designated as sheep and goats (Matt. 25:31-46).  The sheep, because they did God’s will, enter into eternal life.  The goats are like Simon the Sorcerer as depicted in Acts 8:5-24.   Simon confessed Jesus and was baptized along with the others in Samaria yet Peter had to rebuke him because his heart was not yet right with the Lord.  Simon had gone through the motions but his heart was not truly converted.  In Matthew chapter 25, we see the goats going into everlasting punishment.
In Jesus’ time, only Jews (or proselytes, those converted to Judaism) could enter into the Women’s Courtyard, and today we might conclude that those who have confessed Jesus and been baptized come this far in their relationship with God, whether hypocritical or genuine.  They profess and appear to have salvation.  Here, the commitment isn’t great.  That is people may do what is necessary to maintain ‘salvation (see Paul’s letters where he describes ‘should at least … Acts 15:28-29.)  These would be the souls who have no real rewards in heaven though their souls are ‘saved’ (1 Corinth. 3:13-14).  Unfortunately, along with the sheep, there may also be goats and some tares (Matt. 13:24-30) where the enemy sowed tares in the field while men slept, but our enemy sowed tares (stumbling blocks)  in our churches while they sleep.

The Priest’s Courtyard is where the animal sacrifices were performed while the men observed from the Court of Israel.  The men were generally considered the heads of household and were responsible for others.  Christ is the covering for a man and a man is the covering for the wife (1 Corinth. 11:3-12).  More responsibility means a closer walk with the Lord in order to fulfill those responsibilities and in today’s world, responsibility becomes more important than gender and those with greater responsibility need to come, at least, as far as the Court of Israel.  A closer walk with God.    
The Priest’s Courtyard is for the priesthood and in today’s world he/she who desires and seeks a closer walk with our Father.  These are the souls who have a desire not to ‘just’ live for God but have a desire to serve Him (in some capacity) and in order to serve God effectively, we need to have some sort of reasonable relationship with Him – reading the bible to learn His ways better (2 Tim:2:15), praying more intently, earnestly, so we can find His direction (Eph. 6:17).  Maybe even fasting along with those prayers (Matt. 17:20-21), more than that to which we’ve been accustomed.  And remember, we are a royal priesthood, chosen by God (1 Peter 1:5-10)

Again, in the Priest’s Courtyard we have a myriad of souls at various stages of growth in the Lord, but nonetheless, growth, a call to service.  I don’t mean just helping out with the Sunday School class or one of the ‘helps’ ministries.  It can start there but there is a hunger to understand that which Father has called us to do, a specific task, and we are growing in understanding to what that task is and then pursuing it.  This could range from being the church Janitor, the secretary, a Sunday School teacher, a youth minister, minister of music, pastor or evangelist, or prophet or an apostle, all serving God at various levels.  To what level?  Do the names Billy Graham and Benny Hinn mean anything to us?  I mean, neither Billy nor Benny started off as great preachers.  And this is a call to service, no matter what level it starts at or reaches.

Whoa!  If that’s what it takes to enter into the Priest’s Courtyard, what does it take to get into the Holy Place?

The Holy Place is a place of personal commitment – to Jesus.  It supplements, increases and/or intensifies any area of service which we enter because whenever we seek to walk closer with the Lord, He enhances whatever we do.  It doesn’t matter in what level we are serving God, entering the Holy Place reflects our personal relationship with Father.  How close are we walking with Him?  How much closer are we willing to walk with Him?  This is where Father would like ALL His children, in the Holy Place (at least) no matter at what level of service they abide.  How deep a relationship do we want with the Father?  One may ask “Do I have to have some sort of ministry to get to this level?”  No.  But I take the liberty to say that when you seek a closer walk with God, He will give you a ministry.  We can only take so much into our cup before we have to pour some back out in order to take in more.

The Holy Place contains the Sanctuary.  This where the priests offer that sweet aroma of incense to God.  The priests offered lambs, etc. for the people’s sins and healing on the altar in the Priest’s Courtyard, but in the sanctuary he lets the odor of that sweet smelling incense rise into the heavens offering up that sweet savor of true praise and worship.  When we offer true, genuine, heartfelt praise and worship to Father, He pours His love back upon us.  We touch His heart and He touches ours because when we worship Him as the only true and living God, thank Him for who He is and what He has done for us (already) and we praise Him for the same, He inhabits our praises and becomes one with us (Psalms 22:3) because we have become one with Him (John 17:15-26).    

We talk with Jesus, we walk with Jesus, we live for Jesus (because He lives in us) and we abide in Jesus and as we abide in Jesus, He and the Father abide in us (back to John 17).  Amen. 
Our personal relationship with the Lord is growing at this stage but there is one more step to take in that growth.  Every soul who has confessed Jesus, Father wants to come through that torn veil into the Holy of Holies and sup with Him.  Just as Father communed with Adam and Eve in the garden before the fall (Gen. 3:8), He wants to commune with us (His children) not just when we get to heaven, but here and now.  When we are in our personal, private prayer time with Him, He desires us to come in and sit down and commune.  Not just ‘talk’, but share our hearts with Him and then listen to what He has to share with us.  Here, the Holy Ghost interprets our feelings to our Father and the response back to us.  This is what He does (in part) (Rom. 8:26-27).

When Father brings me into His ‘zone’, that’s when He shares the things with me that He wants me to know and understand.  It’s an anointing for me because this is when He is communing with me.  It’s kind of crazy, because I don’t usually know when I enter into the “zone”, but when He has finished sharing with me, I know that I am indeed in it and it will take a while to come back out of it.  He gives me glimpses of where He’s taking me.  How the ministry He has bestowed upon me is going to unfold so I can function at the level He is calling me.  John the Baptist was a voice crying in the wilderness,  PTL!  I’m just a pebble on the beach and because I’m just a pebble on the beach I can confidently say that what Father has done and is doing for me , He’ll do for anyone simply because He loves our obedience in His Word and His will.  He loves our returning our love to Him, no matter how feeble our attempts may seem.  He wants so much to commune with us, individually. 
The veil is torn.  The door is open.  All we have to do is walk in.  Are we willing to enter the Holy of Holies and sup with our Heavenly Father?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

9-3-2016          WHERE ARE MY ROOTS?

The Family Tree

Where are my roots?  Alex Haley with his 1976 epic novel “Roots” got much of America wondering exactly what were their roots.  My mom and dad were apart by the time I was ten so I had to ask my parents separately to find out my heritage.  No, I wasn’t prompted by the TV miniseries I was already in my thirties).  So I asked years before that hit the small screen in 1977.  However, my mom was easy.  I had known my grandfather was Finnish (Finland) but during my inquiries, I discovered that my grandmother (his wife) was Swedish and their ancestry followed normal national lines.  My dad was another story.  I knew he had grown up in a corner of the country where Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky come together.  Now when I asked him about our ancestry, his ‘knee kick’ response was “Heinz 57 variety”.  As the years passed, I concluded that he was primarily German and English but he avowed that there were many nationalities intertwined over the centuries on his side of the family.  In his later years he did come up with an English coat of arms for the family, but to be honest, I think the outfit he went through, once you paid your fee for discovery, they found you a coat of arms.  BUT, I’m not talking about these ‘roots’.  Well, not completely.  

A couple of months ago I was doing the bible study at church and during the course I mentioned that if everyone thought about it, we are all (that is the world) descended from Noah.  I was quickly challenged “No, we’re all descended from Adam.   Adam was the first man!”  And so he was.
Ten or twelve years ago Father had me do a project we called “The premise”.  It was initially for my personal knowledge of who God is – Father, Son & Holy Ghost and how the Godhead is one God.  Father also had me explore some basic concepts on heaven and hell, salvation and living for and through Christ Jesus.  He also had me do an overview of many of the major religions and Christian denominations examining similarities and differences for both areas.  Here He peaked my interest, on world religions, because I was surprised at how many things in common most of those ‘pagan’ religions had with Christianity.  Since then, as I continued to read the bible, Father has been playing with my little pea-pickin’ brain.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that the primary difference between Christianity and other religions is “Jesus” and I picked up pretty quickly on this one (I amaze myself sometimes-do I need to add the “LOL” [laugh out loud]?). 

Tuesday AM during my prayer session, Father took me on a little trip – through the ages (in review) from Adam to the present.  No, I didn’t literally (bodily) tour the ages.  No I didn’t translate into the spirt and take the trip.  Instead, Father started replaying what He had been recording into my little brain over the years and connecting the dots, bible truths with various religion’s concepts.  Over the years, He’s shown me connections but lately, He’s been pulling it together for me into a better understanding.  That’s what I want to talk about now so perhaps (by the grace of God) we might come to a clearer understanding of our ‘roots’.

 In the beginning, God made His created Son, Adam in His own likeness (Gen. 1:26-28) and his mate (Eve).  God gave them freedom over the garden and the earth (Gen. 2).  He gave them a task to perform, to keep or maintain the garden (Gen. 2:15) and only one commandment, “not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17)”.  Until the fall we can see that God fellowshipped with Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:8-11), He walked in the garden with them (Gen. 3:8).  Adam and Eve operated in love and trust in their relationship with God until they disobeyed Him and ate the forbidden fruit.  God’s trust had been breached and He had to do what was right, put them out of the garden and separating them from Himself so they couldn’t live and eternal life of evil (Gen. 3:12-24) and separated them from the tree of life (v. 24). 

Genesis chapters four and five give us the family of man.  Adam and Eve brought forth Cain, who slew his brother Abel and we see God gave Eve a ‘replacement’ for Cain with Seth.  The order in which everything happens is a bit obscure but we know man started calling upon the name of the Lord after Seth’s son Enos was born and that Adam and Eve had more sons and daughters (Gen. 5:4).  In chapter five we see that Adam was one hundred thirty years old when Seth was born and Enos was born when Seth was one hundred five years old.  Bear in mind that Cain and Abel were both born sometime before Adam reached that hundred thirty mark.  My point is that man was out of the garden and populating the earth for nearly two hundred thirty-five years before they began to truly acknowledge God (Gen. 4:26)!  They knew Him because Adam and Eve had an early relationship with Him and Cain pled his case for killing his brother before the Lord (Gen. 4:4-15).  Up to this point the only “law” God gave man was to “not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge good and evil (Gen. 2:17), and they (Adam & Eve) couldn’t even do that.

As we continue reading Genesis chapter five, we see that there were men who sought after God.  We have the brief account of Enoch (Gen 5:18-24) and we see that he walked with God, then he was not for God took him.  As we read on, Enoch begat Methuselah and Methuselah begat Lamech and Lamech begat Noah.  In Genesis Chapter five, the bible follows those who would seem to have had some sort of relationship with God from Adam to Noah (read chapter five) and were approaching one thousand years (965 following birth to birth from Adam’s fall to Noah by adding the years).  Moses was yet to come so God was yet to give the ‘law’, as such,  for man to go by.  So what rules did man live by?  By the time we hit Genesis chapter six we see God was beginning to regret creating man and was ready to destroy him – except Noah (and his family), who found grace in His sight (Gen. 6:1-8) and were given refuge in the ark when God brought the flood waters upon the earth (Gen. 7:6-24).  For forty days and forty nights it rained and the fountains of the deep were opened up (Gen. 7:11-12) and the water as upon the face of the earth for a hundred and fifty days (Gen. 7:24) before any land even began to emerge. 

Man was allowed to live by his own recognition of God and man’s thought became continually evil (Gen. 6:5), so that didn’t work out very well.  In Romans 2:11-15 God tells us that those who have sinned without the law shall perish without the law and those who know the law shall be judged by the law.  Paul also cites that when we do the things contained in the law, those things become a law to us because the works of the law are written in our hearts and our conscience confirms this (Romans 2:11-16).  Nature itself declares God’s existence (read Psalms 19).  So we may conclude that the men of faith before the law looked at nature and saw God and honored Him.  Those who didn’t honor God were too blind to see.  From many ‘primitive’ societies, we know that ‘family traditions’ were handed down orally from generation to generation and we might assume that this was true back in those days.
We know that Noah pleased God (Gen. 6:8).  However, that didn’t stop God from destroying every living thing on earth (Gen. 7:21-22).  So what happened to Noah?  Who do you think was left to repopulate the earth?  The animals after their own kind and Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth and their wives – eight souls.  Because Noah found grace before God and as demonstrated when they set foot back on dry land worshipped Him (Gen. 8:20-21).  We might conclude that his sons learned to do the same by following dad’s example and passed that tradition down through the generations.  But the law still hadn’t been given so man still lived according to his own heart, what he though was right.  There was no established code of conduct or law dictating how one should act.  Anarchy?  Spiritual anarchy, save where men were led by the Spirit of God.  For truly man had rulers in those days and assuredly man could ‘get along’ as much as we do today.  Man also had ‘religion’ but they weren’t seeking God as God, but rather as how they ‘saw’ God.  God was relegated to an image as devised by man.  So as time passed beyond Noah, we find man doing just like before the flood.  Some saw God for who He is and others just couldn’t quite hold on to what they were taught as children and drifted away.

From Noah to Moses God still let man try to figure things out for himself.  There are many variables on how much time elapsed between Noah and Moses, so depending on what you read, (the expert’s numbers and explanations don’t all agree) the parameters seem to be between @900 to @1500 years from Noah to Moses (maybe someone out there is burdened to do more research than I).  There is also variance between the ‘experts’ as to when Moses actually lived putting the receipt of the “law” probably between somewhere between 1446 BC (most agree) to 1411 BC.  Point is that God probably got tired of waiting for man to figure how to live so He decided to give them some guidance through Moses on the mount (Exod. 20:1-17) with the Ten Commandments.  As we see in the Old Testament, Israel had problems here too.  Even after the law some kings did well (for God) while others were so far off base, they probably asked the question “God, who?”

Finally God did what He promised Adam and Eve (speaking to the serpent) “Because you have done this (tempted my children causing them to fall) you are cursed above all creatures that walk the earth.  You shall crawl on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life.  I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed it (her seed) shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:14-15).   Note that the Hebrew word used in both cases is “shuwph” (Strong’s 7779) which means to break, bruise or cover.  I think that history defines which definition fits which individual.  And God kept His promise, He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus to redeem us (Titus 2:14) approximately 1400 years after the law was given.  With Jesus all we have to confess Jesus with our mouth and believe in our heart that God indeed raised Him from the dead and we attain salvation (Romans 10:9). 

But now we have another turn of events.  We are no longer bound by the Law of Moses, but through Jesus we find ourselves bound by a greater law.  The law of love (Romans 13:10).  If we live in God’s love, then we are led by His Spirit whom He puts into our hearts (John 14:16-17).  Now several things happen here: 1) The Spirit testifies of our salvation (Romans 8:16), 2) will lead us into all truth (John 16:13), 3) Gives us power (we need to live this life) and to be witnesses (for Jesus) (Acts 1:7) and 4) give us direct communication with the Father (Romans 8:26). 
So what does all this have to do with my family “roots”?  I’ve shared that my roots are found in English, Germanic, Finnish and Swedish heritages along with a few other nationalities tossed in to make it interesting.  But, that is my natural family roots.  I am also a member of the “family of God” which contains both natural and spiritual roots.  In the natural I can claim Adam and Noah then the rest becomes obscure.  Spiritually, my roots (heritage) goes directly back to Jesus AND the Father.  Why because Jesus and the Father are one (John 17:16-21) and Jesus desires us to be one with the Father through Him. 

Because everyone was eliminated before Noah (the flood), everyone who is alive today has roots going back to Noah.  All of mankind in existence today goes directly back to Noah.  Of course, because Noah’s roots go back to Adam, our do also, but there is only one descendant of Adam’s which any man can trace back to – Noah.  Now, Lord help us if we try, and are able, to discover our roots as they branch out from Noah to now, or rather try to trace them back to Noah.

Now, my spiritual roots flow back through all those men of faith, who sought after and followed God.  Men like the pastor who led me to Christ, the authors of books I have read which Father used to pen my understanding, those men who started the Pentecostal movement, those men who were instrumental in the Holiness movement, the Reformers of the 16th century, the apostles (like Paul), Jesus (obviously) and all those men of faith whom we read about all the way back to Adam, God’s first created child.  AND, by the way, my spiritual roots go back beyond that!  My spiritual Father knew me before I was born (Jeremiah 1:5).  For He has ordered my steps (Psalms 37:23).  I am ordained of Jesus (John 15:16) because I am His friend and I know that I am His friend because He share things with me (John 15:14-15).  And I do as He asks because He abides in me and I in Him (at least I try) (John 15:1-11).  My spiritual roots keep me striving to walk closer with my Lord and Savior and I’ve drawn from all these sources and resources to help me in my walk.

Yes, it is nice and sometimes can be very interesting to know our heritage, our roots.  Yet, I must admit that I can’t go any further back than my grandparents (congratulations [and PTL] to those who have been able to go back centuries), but I CAN go back to the beginning of creation with my spiritual roots.  In the beginning God (Gen. 1:1) and I know who my BIG brother is (Romans 8:29), Jesus, I know who many siblings, in my family tree, are or have been and I have crossed paths with many brothers and sisters over the years.

Can we all say “I know my roots”?