The Zeal of Phinehas

The Zeal of Phinehas

The New Testament, the law of God which applies to us today (Heb. 8:7-13), tells us that the Old Testament still has much value for the Christian.  The accounts of what happened to the Israelites provide instruction, admonition, encouragement, hope, and an example to us today (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:1-11).  Therefore, it is proper for modern seekers of God to study the Old Testament, because through it we can find out a lot about how our Creator looks at things.

Do we have the zeal of Phinehas in our life?

Do we have the zeal of Phinehas in our life?

For example, consider Phinehas (Num. 25:6-13), a little known man in the Old Testament who lived during the time of Moses.  While the Jews were wandering in the wilderness, one of them brought a foreign woman into the camp in front of everyone, presumably either to marry her or to fornicate with her.  While the idea of marrying a foreigner may seem trivial to us today – possibly due to the New Testament giving no prohibition between races (Gal. 3:28) – it was a sin under Old Testament law (Ex. 34:11-16; Deut. 7:3-4).  Phinehas apparently recognized this and was very upset that one of his Jewish brothers would so blatantly disobey his God, and so he picked up a spear, went into the man’s chamber, and killed both him and the woman.  As a result, God took away the plague he had thrown upon Israel, and even praised the actions of Phinehas.

What lessons can we learn from this?  First, let me make it clear that I am not advocating killing someone whom you see blatantly disobeying God’s Word.  While the Old Testament allowed that (Josh. 7) due to being the lawbook of a singular theocratic nation, the New Testament – the lawbook of Christians of all nations – tells us to deal with sinners among our brethren in a firm but non-violent way (Matt. 18:15-17; Rom. 16:17-18; 1 Cor. 5; Eph. 5:11; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15; 2 John 9-11).  Under the New Testament, only the various secular governments have the authority from God to use capital punishment to punish evildoers (Rom. 13:1-4), and anyone – including Christians – who would purposely take a man’s life outside of governmental parameters would be guilty of sin (Gal. 5:19-21).

That said, what I would like us to consider is the zeal Phinehas must have possessed in order to do such a thing as take a man’s life because that man was sinning against God.  We need to remember that Phinehas was putting his own life in danger by going into that man’s tent and attacking him.  The man could have defended himself and maybe even taken Phinehas’ own life.  Yet, Phinehas cared so much about God’s Word being obeyed that he would not allow sin to be in his presence for one minute…and God praised him for that attitude.

Do we have that attitude?  Do we hate sin that much?  When someone tells a dirty joke or uses foul language in your presence, do you have enough zeal for God to politely ask them to stop?  If your friends are involved in fornication, do you care enough about God and them to tell them that what they are doing is wrong?  Or do you look the other way and maybe even join in so that they won’t think you’re weird?  If that’s the case, where’s your zeal for God?  More importantly, where is God’s approval for you?

I hope we all can have Phinehas’ zeal for standing up for what is right in the sight of God.  It’s something to think about, and a goal for us to have.

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Funerals

Funerals

Funerals. Memorial Services. Call them whatever you’d like. Since my wife and I arrived in the sleepy, rural little town of Cleveland, Oklahoma, in the spring of 2009 to serve the Lord’s people as the preacher and his wife, I have been called upon to conduct some 19 of them, with countless others occurring in and amongst the lives of the congregation members, their family, and friends. Everyone from former preachers, to faithful members, to those who have never set soul in services have passed over that period – young and old, male and female, saint and sinner alike – many have passed on. Some died suddenly and unexpectedly, while others suffered long and unbelievably.

What will they say about you during your funeral?

What will they say about you during your funeral?

One thing that they all had in common was an obituary; a very short biographical sketch of the individual and how they had spent their brief time of life on earth before passing to the next phase of their eternal existence. Often included in such, were where they were born, attended school, and chose to live; whom they married, a record of their relatives, and the activities they enjoyed. Many other elements and decisions they made during their earthly lives might also be brought to remembrance in their obituaries, such as possible time spent in the armed forces, pursuit and acquisition of higher education, their preferred or performed occupation, and/or many other possible and potentially life-altering earthly choices – perhaps even what led to their departure from this plane of their personal existence in the first place.

But then, at the end of the memorial service, what usually becomes of those funeral flyers with that person’s entire record of their life-long likes, pursuits, and priorities printed on them? Ultimately, even though they may in some cases be saved for a day or two, they will eventually and inevitably get thrown into the trash – some sooner, some later, but they will all surely suffer the same fate. The printed record of every priority that person had, pursued, and/or held dear as treasured and precious during their brief time here, will join their entire stash of gathered possessions that the family will be forced to filter through and for the most part, discard out of hand. While this might sound cold and harsh to some – and while I do not mean to alienate or offend – it is the cold, hard, harsh, life and death reality of this entire, and yet fleeting, earthly existence. You really “can’t take it with you when you go.” And we know that. But then, knowing that, why do so many people, waste so much of their very brief but precious earthly time, pursuing so many pointless things which simply cannot, do not, and will not profit them when their last breath is taken and their own obituary is written? Jesus told the story of just such one individual in Lk. 12:15-21:

And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ‘But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

 Numbers don’t lie. To determine what are actually the top and most precious priorities in your present earthly existence, simply add up the amount of time, energy, effort and resources you are devoting to the acquisition of, or involvement in, them. And then ask yourself, “Do these numbers truly reflect that I love the Lord my God with ALL my heart, and with ALL my soul, and with ALL my strength, and with ALL my might; and that in my earthly life, Christ has the absolute and top priority and pre-eminence in and over everything else (Mk. 12:30; Lk. 10:27; Col. 1:15-23) …or not?”

Because you see, when the day comes that you take your last earthly breath and your own obituary is written, the one person in the entire universe which all of those life-long earthly pursuits, pleasures, priorities and elements – other than seeking and spending time with the Lord your God that is – contained in that obituary are going to mean the absolute least to – are going to mean far less to than even the people that arbitrarily discard that funeral flyer before they ever leave the building – is YOU. That’s right – YOU! The person who spent – yea wasted if I may be so bold – their entire earthly life in pursuit of things that do not, cannot, and did not profit, and who must now face the almighty and all-knowing God whom they neglected to get to know and develop the deepest and most personal, intimate spiritual relationship possible with; and Whom they minimized, marginalized, disobeyed, disavowed, and sought to distance themselves from by pursuing earthly pleasure and treasure with every breath He so lovingly gave them, while discarding the heavenly gift of eternal life He died to give them at the cross!!!

How will your obituary read? What will it reveal about you? It really doesn’t matter; nor will it to you whatsoever when it is read – that part and portion of your life will be through. And so, the better question by far is the only one that WILL Matter: Will God really find and read your name, on that final day, in His family album, known as the “Book of Life” (Gal. 3:26-27; Rev. 2:10, 20:10-15) …or will your eternal soul wind up as duly discarded as an earthly funeral flyer, only in a lake of eternally burning fire? That depends on what you do with each day of the life He gave you here, doesn’t it?

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MALTRATO ANIMAL

MALTRATO ANIMAL

En este pasado mes de Marzo del año 2016, los medios de comunicación han publicado un espantoso video de unos jóvenes arrestando a una tortuga viva con su automóvil del lado del caparazón a lo largo de una calle en Limón Costa Rica. Tal video circuló al rededor del mundo como uno de los actos de crueldad en materia de maltrato animal jamás visto he indigente. Por cierto en los últimos meses en este país se ha n presentado una serie tremenda de crueldad animal, solamente en ese mismo mes de Marzo poco más de 30 perros fueron envenenados sin razón alguna, y las historias de crueldad animal continúa una y otra vez a lo largo y ancho de este planeta.

Gran cantidad de personas han pensado erradamente que los animales son seres inanimados, que no poseen ningún tipo de sentimientos a partir del hecho que no pueden hablar. Quizás pase fugazmente por su mente, amado lectora pregunta como;¿Que relación tiene este tema con las grandes doctrinas Bíblicas, con la salvación eterna de nuestras almas o  con ayudarme a ser un mejor cristiano? Con este articulo espero lograr establecer ciertos principios totalmente Bíblicos.   ¿ Que dice Dios al respecto?

En la historia de la humanidad sobre la faz de la tierra uno de los más emocionantes y cautivantes eventos es el del diluvio universal. El cómo un hombre llamado Noé fue salvo junto a 7 personas más de una catástrofe mundial. La narración inspirada de Moisés sobre el diluvio cita lo siguiente : “ Y todo lo que vive, de toda carne, dos de cada especie meterás en el arca, para que tengan vida contigo; macho y hembra serán.” (Gen 6:19). Evidentemente Noé salvó y preservó la raza humana, pero Dios estaba interesado en la preservación de los animales también. Dios tuvo cuidado y misericordia de los animales ya que para salvar a Noé se hubiese necesitado un arca mucho más pequeña para él y su familia. Entonces al pensar en la magnitud de ésta arca, el tiempo y el recurso que invirtió nos queda únicamente escalar hacia una sola conclusión… tal magnitud fue debido a los animales.

En Levítico  17:11 la Biblia declara que “la vida de la carne en la sangre está…”  por este pasaje aprendemos entonces que los animales poseen un alma.  La diferencia entre los animales y los seres humanos es que nosotros poseemos un alma pero también un espíritu (1Tes 5:23, Heb 4:12) y el espíritu es la única parte que trasciende(Ec 12:7), es decir; cuando un animal muere, hasta ahí llegó toda su existencia. El alma entonces es la parte que contiene las emociones (dolor, tristeza, hambre, alegría, amor, placer…etc). Amigos míos los animales pueden experimentar cada uno de estos sentimientos por los que nosotros también atravesamos. Paradójicamente no logramos comprender como algunos seres humanos son tan “inhumanos” para pensar que NO existe dolor alguno en aquellos pobres gallos que se desangran a muerte en tantas peleas ilícitas o las tantas apuestas a perros que brutalmente pelean, siendo manipulados por dueños mientras sus acciones únicamente obedecen a sus instintos naturales.

Otro de esos relatos Bíblicos con el que nos hemos sentido intrigados es Balaam  y el asna. Números 22:21-40, relata la insensatez con la que obró este hombre entre muchas otras lecciones espirituales prácticas. Sin embargo no podemos obviar el maltrato administrado al asna. Sobrenaturalmente parte de la replica del asna fue ¿he acostumbrado a hacerlo así contigo? (Números 22:30). Cuando los ojos de Balaam fueron abiertos y ve al ángel de Jehová, el primer reclamo del ángel fue: ¿Porqué has azotado tu asna estas tres veces? (Números 22:32). Parece ser un acto injusto, tanto que si el ángel tenía que escoger a quién matar, hubiese matado a Balaam y dejado con vida el asna. Sí amigo lector, Dios tiene cuidado por los animales, esto es algo que establece el mismo Señor Jesús (Mateo 6:26), la razón, porque somos parte de misma creación.

Jonás, profeta del Antiguo Testamento que tuvo como trabajo predicar a Nínive, nunca estuvo tan contento con la idea de salvación para esta ciudad. Al término de este bello libro,leemos una de las frases más impactantes en relación a este mismo tema de poca relevancia para muchos. Dios mismo en su diálogo con Jonás y su deseo de salvación para la ciudad expresó lo siguiente : “¿ Y no tendré yo piedad de Nínive, aquella gran ciudad donde hay más de ciento veinte mil personas que no saben discernir entre su mano derecha y su mano izquierda y muchos animales?” ( Jonás 4:11,Enfasis  nuestro). ¡Oh cuanto amor de Dios para con su creación!, estuvo él dispuesto a detener un juicio por amor a las personas y por amor a los animales. Si El creador a tenido respeto y amor, ¿no cree usted que nosotros debemos actuar en la misma dirección?.

Estas evidencias no significan que no podemos matar ningún animal, o ningún insecto. El punto central es el de no actuar en pro del maltrato y el sufrimiento de los animales, estoy seguro de que existen muchas maneras de sacrificar aquellos animales de los que consumimos sus carnes constantemente sin que ellos tengan que sufrir “inhumanamente” antes de morir.

Cada cristiano serio respetará todo aquello que sea parte de la creación de nuestro Padre, seria muy deprimente entrar en la gran corte del trono blanco, pensando que hemos hecho todo lo que debíamos de hacer, pero por crueldad, maltrato e irrespeto a la creación, se nos aparte de la presencia del Señor por una eternidad. Vivamos intachables en esta vida buscando siempre la santidad y la integridad.

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Repentance or Perish

Repentance or Perish

As children grow, parents teach them to say, “I’m sorry.” Yet, children learn to say their sorry before they understand what it really means. Some children intentionally do something they know is wrong, then immediately say, “I’m sorry” thinking that those magical words are the cure all for the deed they just did. All children have a bad habit of this at one point in their lives. Yet, somehow we must instill in our children an appreciation and understanding of what it means to be genuinely and godly sorrowful for wrongful deeds done. Yet, this is also something that adults need to practice.

Repentance is a choice of heart and action.

Repentance is a choice of heart and action.

Repentance is one of the most basic biblical concepts and an integral part of the salvation process. Yet, the subject is often ignored due to its simplicity and because it is by far, the hardest of all God’s commands. It is the most difficult thing in life because repenting has a convicting, pride swallowing effect. It is interesting that when Christians neglect the worship services for a time and then slowly start coming back around, they think that this is repentance. This is not repentance. Repentance involves more than restitution of the sin which makes it the hardest step in the plan of salvation. In fact, repenting is the hardest thing we will ever do because we turn away from that which is most comfortable and sinful and begin looking toward God.         Before one can determine what Biblical repentance is, we must define what Biblical repentance is not.  It is not simply being sorrowful or regretful about something because Judas was sorry for betraying Christ, but he never changed his heart (Matthew 27:3-5). Repentance is not being fearful you will get caught for Felix was fearful and trembled about the judgment to come, but never repented (Acts 24:25). It is not godly sorrow because the apostle Paul said, “godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation . . . ” (2 Corinthians 7:10). It also is not some type of positive change in your life because many make positive changes to their lives and still will not repent of sins. It is not confession nor is it being in attendance at the worship assemblies (Hebrews 10:24-25). Repentance is not just stopping the sin. Now, it is good when one stops doing wrong, but that sin is still charged against one in heaven until he or she repents of their wrong. Repentance is not feeling the Gospel prick your heart for those on the day of Pentecost experienced this, but still had not repented (Acts 2:36-38).

The word repentance means remorse, to regret accompanied by a true change of the heart toward God. It means to know and therefore, repent after knowledge. It signifies a change of mind after understanding what was wrong. It is a change in will brought about by a deep sense of godly sorrow, knowing that our sins have offended God, which leads to a reformation of life, turning away from sin and evil and turning unto God and his righteousness while restoring things as must as possible to the way they were before the sin.  Repentance is a must for salvation and therefore, one cannot be saved without it!

We read in the Bible how Peter denied the Lord in which he later repented (John 21:15-17). It is hard to face the facts that people that love the Lord are still those who can deny him and need to repent. Paul shows us that he repented when he realized he was wrong about God’s Word (Acts 9-28). Therefore, if, “godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation . . .” (2 Corinthians 7:10), it is a divine requirement which Jesus confirmed saying, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Repentance is mandatory for all mankind and because no one wants to perish meaning, to spiritually die. Yet, repentance is necessary because everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Therefore, one repents so they can move toward salvation because that is what God requires.

Now, Those who are Christians, know this: you can fall from grace! It is possible to be an erring child of God which requires repenting and we do the erring child of God no good, when they need to repent and we just accept them with open arms not holding them accountable for their sins. The Church cripples itself each time this happens. The apostle Peter assured Simon that his Christian heart was not right in the sight of God and needed to repent of his wickedness (Acts 8:20-24). Congregations can be lukewarm (Revelation 3:15), lose their love with Christ (Revelation 2:5), be spiritually dead (Revelation 3:1), accept false doctrine (Revelation 2:14), permit sin who have been seduced by it (Revelation 2:20-21) and still not even know themselves that they are lost!

It is terrible when this fact is presented because people are quick to justify and rationalize themselves while attempting to remove their guilt that involves themselves. But you know, king Saul tried this by seeking to defend himself by his excuses (1 Samuel 15:13-22). It did not work. The fact is, the goodness of God should motivate an individual to repent (Romans 2:4). Why? Because it is a command from God and the coming judgment should motivate individuals to repent (Acts 17:30). One should be motivated to repent if they are at risk of eternal spiritual death (Revelation 2:5).

Those who are shamed, those who have done wrong, those who need repenting should think very seriously about doing so. The Scriptures tell us many will die and live eternally in torment (Colossians 3:5-7; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Revelation 21:8). Is it finally time for you to repent in your life? The story of the rich man and Lazarus emphasizes the importance of repentance (Luke 16:19-31). The tortured unrighteous, who had died physically, strongly desired to return to their physical family in order to convince them to repent. If the unrighteous dead could speak to us today, they without a doubt, would tell us first and foremost to repent. And once you are there, no person in this world or out has the authority to remove one from it! Once you are there, it is permanent! Jesus said, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Lk. 13:3). Do what is right.

Robert Notgrass

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Rest from What?

Rest from What?

Everyone wants rest, but there is a time and place.

Everyone wants rest, but there is a time and place.

There is a rest for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9). But just who are these people. Satan would have religious minded people believe that all who claim faith alone in God are the people of God. This lie has been extremely successful! No one faithful to the Word of God would teach or believe that folks could earn their salvation. But the truth is no one faithful to the Word of God would teach that there is nothing you have to do either.

Just as God ceased from His work in order to rest he offers rest for us from our own works (Hebrews 4:10). Does this sound like God doesn’t expect us to do anything? The fact is, it means just the opposite, we must stop liv-ing for ourselves and strive to do those things that are pleasing to God in order to receive His rest (Hebrews 4:11). Jesus left us the prime example by being made perfect through his obedience to the will of the Father and not his own. He then becomes the author of eternal salvation to all who likewise are obe-dient to Him (Hebrews 5:8–9).

When we are obedient and faithful to Christ he becomes an anchor to our souls (Hebrews 6:19), and we find rest. Do you enjoy that rest today? Do you rest in the assurance of eternal life? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31), repent of your sins (Acts 17:30; Luke 13:3), confess the name of Jesus with your words and your works (Matthew 10:32–33), and be baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38). Once you have done these things you must then be a good steward (1 Co-rinthians 4:2), must be faithful in all things (Revelation 2:10), and labor in anticipation of the rest to come (Revelation 14:13).

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