Sunday, January 26, 2014

Grapes, Hops and Happiness

It was an unpleasant outcome to a marvellous day. The sons of Aaron, with their dad had just been set apart for their duties. Seven days of instruction preceded ordination. Part of their teaching dealt with doing things by God’s word. God had stressed the importance of holiness and how to approach Him.

Nadab and Abihu thought they knew better. They made up their own incense and fire believing it was good enough for God. (Leviticus 10) The Lord God struck them down. What caused these two sons of Aaron to disregard the teaching and treat lightly the character of Yahweh? Leviticus 10:8–10: ‘The Lord spoke to Aaron: “Drink no wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons, when you enter the tent of meeting, that you may not die; it is a statute forever throughout your generations. You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean.”’

The bible doesn’t condemn wine or alcoholic beverages. It does condemn drunkenness. Part of the reason can be discerned in Nadab and Abihu’s attitude and behaviour. Such drinks befuddle the mind and takes control by making the person uncontrollable. Another statute about strong drink applied to the King. Proverbs 31:4-5 ‘It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or the rulers to desire strong drink; or else they will drink and forget what has been decreed, and will pervert the rights of all the afflicted.’

Drunkenness is a killer. It destroys the mind, relationships and careers. Its curse affects children until the third or fourth generation in numerous ways. Then people blame God for a baby affected by the scourge of a parent or grandparent more addicted to beer than to holiness. In Australia binge drinking is so rife and assaults with crippling even killing punches are now so common that Governments are concerned. However apart from penalties what can be done to change the causes for such behaviour?

I’ve known many over the years in the ‘grip of the grape’ or ‘handcuffed to hops.’ They succumbed to peer pressure because they would not accept abstinence or moderation. Others looked on life as meaningless and God, if He existed, didn’t care. Hopelessness was drowned through the bottle or glass. Trouble was it kept coming back. However I’ve also known of men and women who in their desperation and desire to break free from this evil force cried out to the Lord Jesus for help. Today their testimony is about being set free, of knowing forgiveness, cleansing, meaning and hope. Some still wear the scars of their yesteryears. However the radiance of their faces, their integrity of character and faithfulness in relationships is awesome.

The reference to priests and Kings when on duty not to be affected and infected by wine or strong drink has a spiritual lesson. This is for Christians to heed. The bible tells us that followers of Christ Jesus are ‘kings and priests’ with Him. As such we are on duty 24/7 and all year round. For me, that’s a good reason, a strong incentive and a personally satisfying motive to avoid that which would otherwise destroy my mind and body.
What Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth still applies. ‘Do you not know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.’ 1 Corinthians 6:19–20.

Holiness is the call of God to His people. Health and happiness is His gift to those who take His word seriously. One of the many great things about the Lord Jesus Christ is this! He is always ready to give your life His heavenly make–over. Why not ask Him to accept your application right now!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Vandalsing Marriage

Vandal: A person who destroys or damages beautiful or valuable things on purpose. Defined by the World Book dictionary.

Marriage: No longer definable.
Once so easily understood and easily explained has now been defaced beyond meaning. Cut loose from its primary reason for existence it has mutated into a hideous non–descript caricature.

Originally marriage was associated with creation according to Genesis 1–2. There is a uniqueness and a mystery it its presentation. When the Lord created Adam the man was a solo creature. He needed a helper, a soul mate. God performed the first surgery when He drew out from Adam’s side the first female. It was love at first sight and he named her Eve.

Why did God go about this relationship in what at first appears a back to front manner? For it is the woman who gives birth, not the man. What was the Lord God’s purpose in doing it His way? He was presenting future generations with the mystery undergirding the marital and sexual relationship of a man and wife. Adam prefigured Jesus Christ and Eve foreshadowed the Church. On the cross we are told when the Roman soldier speared the side of Jesus out flowed blood and water. What was not seen then but realised later was from the pierced side came the Church. Every–time a marriage was to be celebrated it was to point to this eternal, majestic and spiritual meaning.

Fifty years of knowing the meaning of marriage

Also, when Adam and Eve came together in sexual intercourse it portrayed oneness, a unique wholeness. The beauty, the wonder, the mystery of marriage is expressed in this physical act. For in this union the man and the woman in their body, soul and spirit become ‘one flesh’. This is the reason the scriptures so oppose pre–marital or extra–marital relationships. The ‘oneness’ is debased, dishonoured and disfigured morally, spiritually, emotionally.

The mystery and the magic of marriage have been vandalised. Its beauty and meaning weakened, broken and trivialised over an extended period. The Christian Church must take its share of the blame. It has failed to teach the significance of the mystery of Marriage. Rejection of the Genesis account has cast marriage adrift from its moorings.

Into this void has rushed a whole bunch of unchristian ideas and practices. It began taking fidelity in marriage lightly and loosely. De–facto relationships and adultery spread from celebrity pastimes to a common practice. Along comes modern science with a real boon for marital couples, contraceptives. Sex lost one of its ‘dangers’ that of becoming pregnant. Sex education was mandated to be taught in schools. Result! Sexuality aroused without boundaries. The urge to experiment becomes almost overwhelming. Before long why wait for a civil or religious wedding service, let’s live together anyway. It isn’t any longer a husband and a wife relationship, they’re ‘partners’ a business arrangement. All this paves the ‘vandal road’ for recognition of same sex relationships.

Devotional book on Marriage.

People call it marriage because they have no idea of the meaning or mystery undergirding that term. Even evolution would hide its face from that term for evolution is concerned with the continuation of the species. This is something so called ‘gay marriages’ cannot produce. How long before society accepts multiple partners and other forms of living together and vainly, falsely calling it marriage?

Christians can wring their hands in horror at the state of marriage. They may write and protest but are they living out the meaning, majesty and beauty of the biblical definition of marriage? The early church faced bigger obstacles than we do in more areas than simply marriage. Its view of marriage and morality ultimately won the day. How? By living out their faith and by being different from the rest of pagan society! For many it was at great cost but it was counted a privilege to pay for the cause of Christ Jesus. Perhaps that is something we might have to expect and to do.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sexual Relationships - any barriers

Sex occupies a lot of media news, books and debate. The escapades of celebrities fuel our self images as whether we are a ‘James Bond’ or the ‘Femme Fatale.’ Same sex supporters and their Mardi Gras images are constantly bombarding and influencing society’s views. When others, in particular Christians, take a stand against such relationships out pours cries of homophobia and narrow mindedness.

Part of the problem is an ongoing clash of worldviews. Both look at life from their particular belief systems, their sense of absolutes and their life’s experiences. For Christians their framework for relationships, lifestyle and ethics flows from the Bible. The reason for this is because Jesus Christ is the Lord and Saviour. Those outside of the Christian faith are governed by other religious systems such as the Koran with its Sharia law. The other major influence is the religion called Atheism with its creed of Evolution.

The Christian worldview is actually a dangerous outlook. Why this should be is perplexing (from a purely rational point of thinking). Why would anyone want to crush a Faith promoting faithfulness, grace, purity and ethical behaviour? Could I suggest it is because such views, including salvation, forgiveness, judgement and the nature of God, require absolutes and accountability. Sharia law knows little of such matters. Evolution rejects any ground for any accountability to God and any framework for absolutes. Yet by declaring there are no absolutes destroys their argument because they are making an absolute statement.

How does all this come into play with sexual relationships? This is important for Christians to understand. Why? For they are under pressure to accept the view of tolerance which opposes absolutes. In Leviticus 18 is an uncompromising framework for sexual restraint and holiness. In this section you will be confronted by God the Creator and Redeemer’s view on the most sacred expression of marital fidelity and love. To break through the barriers the Lord has established has consequences far beyond the sexual moment. There are emotional, physical, psychological, relational and eternal health matters at stake.

What does the list reveal as contrary to the nature of God and His purposes for safe, satisfying and secure sex? (Next week I will blog what the Bible defines as marriage and why it is a relationship between a man and a women) Leviticus 18 lists no–go areas which I’ve summarised as: adultery, pre–marital sex, incest, fornication, paedophilia bestiality and same sex relationships. Our society is harassing Christians and the Church to accept same–sex relationship as normal because the ‘couple’ are in love. Society without any absolutes cannot understand or tolerate the Christian Faith because it has them.

An Australian Senator was castigated for saying acceptance of same–sex relationships opens the way to other forms of sexual license as listed in Leviticus. What would stand in the way of acceptance of paedophilia or bestiality or multiple wives/husbands? Public opinion! If it has no absolutes or a Christian worldview then public opinion will yield to the coercion and bullying tactics of vested interests. The Biblical stress upon maintaining a holy and God ordained sexual relationship is for the welfare and health of individuals, children and society. Even a casual glance is able to discern the horrible price being paid for rejecting God’s absolute code for sexual relationships. One day the eternal God will hold accountable those who smash His no–go zones to pieces. The judgement is that they are unacceptable to be in His presence.

While we have breath it is the right time to step over and into the God ordained and holy worldview according to Christ Jesus and the Bible.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Palestinian Jesus?

Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority gave a Christmas message. This sounded rather strange knowing that Abbas is a Muslim, hates Jews and Christians. It is due to the P.A’s encouragement that Muslim pressure has meant an exodus of Christians from such places as Bethlehem.

However as Abbas spoke about Jesus two things became apparent. The man didn’t know what he was talking about and secondly Chairman Abbas was using Jesus as a ‘Poster boy.’ The reason for this was to make Jesus out to be a Palestinian (the term means Philistine in the bible) who was the original freedom fighter. Such a ploy has been used many times by cults, gay rights activists and anti establishment groups. To make Jesus Christ a mere ‘poster boy’ for a cause is ridiculous to the facts and scurrilous to the person. How such leaders from Arafat to Abbas try to use the Church as a political platform while seeking its extinction is beyond comprehension. Still hypocrisy has no shame.

The apostle Paul has called such endeavours as an attempt to create another Gospel and thereby another Jesus (Galatians 1:6–9. 2 Corinthians 11:4). His verdict upon such promoters is that they are cursed.

I wondered how the Islamic world would have reacted if the Pope had twisted the history of Mohammed in a similar fashion. What if it was said that the founder of Islam was a secret admirer of Israel and supportive of their right to the God given land. What if Mohammed was seen as a freedom fighter against the forces that occupied the land of Israel when he lived. Oh boy there would have been a jihadist uprising to put things right as they understood it. Here is a big difference between the two belief systems. Christians are called by their Lord Jesus Christ to pray for their enemies and the ignorant leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas. Islam says ‘kill them!’

In Matthew 24 Jesus gives some insights into what precedes His promised return to earth. Part of His message included a warning about pretenders to His name and authority. In verse 23 the Lord said ‘If anyone says to you “look! Here is the Messiah!” or “there he is!” – do not believe it.’ Such expectations are built upon similar delusions as to who is Jesus and denying what the bible reveals about Him. Chairman Abbas’ comments fall into that arena.

When you look at all the founders of religious belief and enterprises one thing stands out. You can take all but one of them out of their faith system and it would roll on as if nothing happened. However should it be possible to do that to the Judeo–Christian Faith and remove the Messiah Jesus everything falls apart. On top of that the Christian Faith actually becomes meaningless. The same applies to the person, work and promises of Jesus in the life of His followers. Why?
Because He is their Lord and Saviour! He is the Way the Truth and the Life. It is by Him and with Him that we enter into the Father’s kingdom. Without Jesus there isn’t any message of amazing Grace. There isn’t any foundation for sin’s penalty paid and forgiveness available. Without Jesus there is a desperate groping around to be good enough for a god you can never know. For where would you look and how would you know such a god if you found him or her, or it? Humanity, you and I, needed God to come seek us and present Himself with verifiable proof from a previous record able to be checked out. Such information must then be tested as to whether His life and history matched the prophesies. That is the purpose of the Old Testament and its history. It is the claim of Jesus in the Gospels to check Him out (John 5:39). It is the testimony of the New Testament writers to what they saw in this Jesus. It is the beauty of God’s amazing, transforming and sustaining Grace that Jesus fulfils all the requirements.

That is Jesus. He is from the tribe of Judah, a Jew, not a Palestinian.He is the Messiah! Jesus fulfilled scripture even to dying on the cross (check Psalm 22. Isaiah 53. Palm 110.) He is risen from the dead and is coming again. Don’t settle for counterfeits or the ‘cover boy’ of terrorists.