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Matthew 13: Jesus and the False Positives


The Invisible WarThe Invested Life

I was teaching group of teenagers last year and I asked them to send in some questions before I came. Here is one of them and an answer that I gave right out of Matthew 13:

Question: If you accepted Jesus into your heart, but then go out and do really bad things and stop following God’s Word, will you still go to Heaven?

Answer: It depends! There are four types of people who hear the gospel but only one type is truly a Christian. If you were never a Christian in the first place then the behavior makes sense because continuous willful disobedience with no guilt is to be expected. If you are truly a Christian then you are a SAVED SINNER who will still sin but will experience a war within between the sin nature and your new nature. More importantly you will experience guilt or remorse once confronted by God’s Holy Spirit inside directly or indirectly if you are confronted by a loving brother or sister in Christ. Furthermore, if you are a true Christian know than you cannot ever ever ever lose your salvation for God does not want you to be in an insecure relationship with Him. The question is do you have salvation in the first place!

Below are the four types of people who hear the gospel. In this parable people labeled #1, #2, and #3 are not Christians but the ones labeled #4 are truly Christians. You will find 1 – 4 in Christian churches!

Matthew 13:3-9; 18-23 – Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

… “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When #1anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The #2 one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The #3 one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the #4 one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

So let’s break down the four people who hear the gospel and “say the prayer”:

#1 The Hearer – The word of God never penetrates the soul of this person so Satan snatches the word from the surface.

#2 The Stoner – A person who makes merely an emotional commitment to Christ as shown by their lack of commitment.

#3 The Thorny – A person who again makes a superficial commitment to Christ without repentance so he or she easily chokes on the love of money and worldly pleasures.

#4 The Christian – Truly makes a transaction with God! He or she moves from a creation of God to an adopted child of God who becomes a disciple and makes disciples.

If you are truly #4 the Christian then you must remain secure in your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This security and acceptance is what enables you to grow as a child of God. You work from your salvation not for your salvation!

John 6:28-29 – Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

There is a class that I teach at McLean Bible Church called “Christianity 101” that ends with the assurance of Heaven. The below information is taken from the course book:

(OF COURSE, THESE APPLY TO #4 ONLY)

In order to lose your salvation someone (including you) you have to be able to accomplish the following:

1. Someone would have to ___SNATCH_____ you out of God’s hand.

John 10:28-30 – I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

2. Someone would have to break the ___SEAL_____ of God’s ownership.

Ephesians 1:13-14 – And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of his glory.

3. Someone would have to remove the ____SPIRIT_______ of God in you.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

4. Someone would have to ___SEPARATE_____ you from the _____LOVE____ of Christ.

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

5. Someone would have to erase your ___NAME____ from the ____BOOK______ of Life.

Philippians 4:3 – And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life.

6. Someone would have to burn your ______ADOPTION______ papers!

Ephesians 1:4-7 – In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

RED-DAWN-WOLVERINES

Now you will experience a real war in your body between obeying God and disobeying God by following your sin nature. As you grow the war will increase, and you will win some battles! But the war is not over because our commander has not returned–yet! The goal in the teenage years as young men and women is to give your body God’s temple no territory so that you avoid a lifelong war! As adults your job is to fight and take back the territory that the enemy once accessed from the inside and now has to get to you from the outside!

Below is a very encouraging section of the Bible as the Apostle Paul describes this war that he experienced some 20 years after coming to Christ:

Romans 7:18 – 8:13

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members….Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did…For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

I did a deep dive into this war within earlier this year. You can find that post here

Maybe you are loosing because you don’t know how to fight. Take a look at the book that I recommend above called “The Invisible War”.

Get someone to disciple you and invest on how to fight, or invest in someone else! Some of you have reached your spiritual peak because you spend your time with others when God wants you to invest it.

Come Lord Jesus Come!

Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

 
 

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Why A Christian Shouldn’t Tithe!


Show Me The Money

I remember hearing the phrase “tithes and Offerings” many times when I first became a Christian at age 25. I know that many churches teach that the 10% tithe still applies today. I am convinced that if you pause, pray, and place the presuppositions about the tithe aside you will clearly see that it does not apply today. Furthermore you will see that we are to view 100% as God’s so our giving is to be even more generous!

Now before we begin I want to apply the classic method to teaching that I believe helps, especially when a topic such as this many people come with a belief that can cloud their understanding. At the end of this post at least if you disagree you know what it is that I put forward that you disagree with. The classic approach is this:

First, I am going to tell you what I am going to tell you. Then I am going to tell you in detail. Then I am going to tell you what I told you.

Here is what I am going to tell you:

I believe that our duty as Christians today is to be based on the principle that ALL we have is God’s and not ours. Then: (1) We do not legalistically tithe 10%; (2) We should never give to get; (3) Give generously; (4) give cheerfully; (5) give sacrificially (6) give according to your means.

Time to tell you:

First, I want to provide you a very simple timeline to keep in mind whenever you read the supposed commands in the Bible about the tithe. When you do this you will clearly see that there is not one single command for us to tithe that applies today. In fact I will issue you a challenge! If you find one command that you think commands us to tithe today post it in the comments section. But before you get too excited to prove it, here is the timeline to use as a grid to place the Bible verse through:

Giving Timeline

Let’s use this figure as a grid and take a look at some verses in each giving phase in the Bible. Again remember that the Bible is 66 Books that cover a 1500 year span as noted in my post here and here on How We Got The Bible.

Pre-Law:

Exodus 25:1-3 – “The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.”

You can see here that the Lord moved in people’s hearts to give in order to build the tabernacle and pieces used in it before the Temple was built.

OT Law:

First note that the word “tithe” means 10%. So we see under the Old testament Law that the Lord gave to the Israelites that in order for them to live in the Promised Land He commanded the people to give 10% of everything.  And this “everything” was to be the “first fruits” and not the “leftovers”.

Leviticus 27:30 – “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord ; it is holy to the Lord”

This served as an act of worship to remember that the land is the Lord’s and He was the one that gave it and divided it among the 11 tribes of Israel. But wait weren’t there 12 tribes? Yes! The Levites did not get any of the Promise Land to own and live off of for their support came from a portion of the 10% offering:

Numbers 18:20-21 – “The Lord said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.”

As you can see anytime that you have a command by Jesus to tithe it is because He is fulfilling the law! If Jesus would have not tithed or not commanded to tithe than He would have not been sinless. Friends, He also gave animal sacrifices and commanded that as well and that does not apply today! Post resurrection verses about giving are the commands for us in the church age because that is exactly when they were given.

This continues throughout Israel’s history all of the way up to the last book of the Old Testament Malachi:

Malachi 3:8-11

“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 1

Ah, here is our phrase “Tithes and offerings” that I would often hear.

NT Command for the Church:

Below I am going to dive into this topic with reference numbers at the end of every sentence that corresponds to a list of Bible verses at the end of the post. So print this out or scroll and read each verse:

So with this background in mind, why is there so much confusion in the church today on the topic of giving and the Christian’s responsibility? Much of this confusion is due in a large part to the fact that there is much Biblical illiteracy in the church today. Add to this, false teachers[1] that act as if giving is tied directly to God “financially blessing the believer” even though the Bible teaches exactly the opposite![2] ; thus today the sad state of Christians giving not as an act of worship but an act of greed[3]. Listen to my teaching here on the False Teachers and you may be surprised who is on there!

Joel Osteen

There is another reason for confusion that is not that easy to detect at first, and is demonstrated by the timeline above. This has to do with the fact that the 66 books of the Bible is a library of God’s progressive revelation to His creation over 1500 years.

In the Bible the concept of the tithe[4] is taught in many places, so many Christians wrongly believe that this law applies to them. However, once I place the Bible in a timeline, you will clearly see that the tithe no longer applies to us today. As a matter of fact, you will not find the tithe taught in the New Testament!

The tithe was a tax on the Israelites to pay for the temple work of the Levites who were to serve the Lord at the tent of meeting and eventually the temple.[5] The Levites were the only tribe of the twelve to not receive physical territory in the promise land. The Levites were the only ones who were able to serve, and the High Priest was the only one who could enter behind the curtain in the most holy of holies once a year to make atonement for the nation of Israel.[6]

Now, enter the Lord Jesus who fulfilled the law and the prophets.[7] When the Lord Jesus died on the cross and said that “it is finished” the curtain that separated God in the most holy of holies from man was torn in two[8] for now Jesus is our high Priest making intercession for us daily.[9] Moreover, God no longer speaks through priests for we are all part of the priesthood of all believers if we profess Jesus Christ as our Savior![10] What’s more, in the Old Testament only the prophets the priests and the Kings would be temporarily filled with the Holy Spirit for service. But today, we are all filled with the Holy Spirit and given gifts for service the moment we accept Jesus’ payment for our sins on the cross with the expectation that we will use those gifts.[11]

So how are we to give? What are we to give? We are to give our time, our talents, and our treasures (1) Generously[12], (2) Sacrificially, (3) Cheerfully, (4) As the Lord leads, and (5) With Pure motives. All of these should have the goal of bringing praise to God.[13] In many ways we have more responsibility today in the New Testament then the Israelites had in the Old Testament. We have Spiritual gifts that we are expected to use and we are not to merely “pay a 10% tax” but hold out our hands knowing that God owns it all. Think about it. Can a man who makes $100 million a year with no debt giving $10 million a year really be giving sacrificially? What about the man’s time using his Spiritual gifts? But for someone who makes $30,000 a year, has debt to pay off as an act of obedience[14], and a family to take care of giving $3,000 a year can be very sacrificial. It can actually be an act of disobedience if he or she does not pay off debt, or take care of family needs[15], in order to obey a tithe that they are not called to obey! However, this person has Spiritual gifts to use and time to give, both of which are of great value to the Kingdom. In fact for this person 3% of his or her salary could be considered sacrificial giving! Moreover, giving of your time using your spiritual gifts is very sacrificial since time is one resource that is truly finite.

In Short, What did I just tell you?

We all have to give not out of compulsion or reluctantly[16] because God loves when we are cheerful givers giving back to Him a portion of the blessing He has given to us. Also, we are to give as we can and in accordance with our income to missionaries and the local church[17], while helping people in need[18].


[1]1 Peter 5:2-3 – Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

1 Timothy 6:3-5 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

[2]James 4:3 – When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

[3]Proverbs 28:25 – A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.

1 Corinthians 6:10 – nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Timothy 6:8-10 – But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Ephesians 5:5-6 – For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Matthew 23:25-26 – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

[4]1/10 or 10%.

[5]Numbers 18:20-22 – The Lord said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. “I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.

[6]Leviticus 16:34 – “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”

[7]Matthew 5:17-18 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

[8]Matthew 27:50-51 – And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

[9]Hebrews 10:19-22 – Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God…

Hebrews 4:14 – Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God,

1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…

[10]1 Peter 2:9-10 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

[11]1Corinthians 12 – 14; Romans 12; Ephesians 4.

[12]2 Corinthians 8:1-7 – And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

Proverbs 11:25 – A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

[13]2 Corinthians 9:11-14 – You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

[14]Romans 13:8 – Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…

[15]1 Timothy 5:8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

[16]2 Corinthians 9:6-8 – Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

[17]1 Corinthians 16:1-2 – Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

[18]Acts 11:29-30 – The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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“So That” The Ministry We Never Prayed For


Changes That HealCelebrate Recovery

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 – “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

The belief that God is a “God of all comfort” is an essential truth that every believer must embrace when life’s journey leads us through the valley.  In our scripture today God calls us to do two things with this essential truth.  First, God wants us to apply this truth in our own lives by letting Him into the deepest parts of our being to be comforted personally by Him.  Second, God wants us to serve others with the same “comfort we ourselves have received from God”.  Notice the so that in verse four.  God is comforting us not merely to benefit us, although that is certainly true, but with the intention that we will serve His people with the same comfort that we have received from the Father of compassion.  In essence we are called to give it away!  Notice that there is a correlation between the areas of your life that you allow God in to comfort and the type of comfort that you can give away.  Is there an area in your life that needs comfort that you have not allowed God into?

Every Sunday my Senior Pastor Lon Solomon makes theology both personal and practical by asking his famous question “So What”?  Throughout the Washington D.C. area, our Mclean Bible Church brothers and sisters are making this theology of comfort personal and practical as they serve the Lord in their own “So That” ministry.  Their ministry is an outgrowth of the comfort that they have personally received from God while in the midst of the valley experiences of their own lives.  For instance, we have couples who have experienced hope and healing in their marriage whom now have chosen marriage mentoring as their “so that” ministry.  We have other couples who have experienced the comfort of God through the touch of a community of saints who now serve as small group or community group leaders.  What is your “So That” ministry?

When are you going to start?  If not now, when?

Our “So That” ministry is our most personal ministry and one that can have the greatest impact for the Kingdom.   I call it the ministry that we never prayed for because I do not know anyone who prayed for addiction, prayed for abuse, prayed for a husband, wife, or child to leave this earth before we were ready.  What you allow God to do with these areas of pain and how far you let Him into the pain will determine if you are a space taker or a difference maker in this world.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus thank you so much for sending me the Comforter when you went to be with the Father; for you knew in this life that is exactly what I would need.  Father, I ask your forgiveness for and seek your comfort in ____________________.  Give me the strength to serve your people with the same comfort that I have received from you.

Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2013 in Suffering, Uncategorized

 

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The Church Age Begins With An Impatient Peter


colin hemer Book of Acts

I love the book of Acts! This post on the book of Acts will be just like the book of Acts–fast paced and quick! I will provide three thoughts for you as you read this wonderful book. First lets take a look at the New Testament Timeline. Pay attention to the book of Acts in Green on the picture below. We know that the Book of Acts was completed before 70AD and most date the book around 62AD. Why you ask? There are many reasons but one important reason is the fact that the Temple is still standing and the destruction of the Temple is never recorded in this history book. This is the seminole event in Jewish history and not recording it as a historian would simply not happen! Moreover, Jesus Christ predicted that the temple would be destroyed in Matthew 24 so not recording a fulfilled prophecy is highly unlikely.

Screen Shot 2013-03-10 at 8.12.27 AM

But why date the book of Luke earlier than Acts? Luke wrote Acts and he starts off Acts by saying “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach…” So this puts Luke earlier than Acts.

Acts is an incredibly accurate book especially when you consider the technology and type of traveling done during this time. In His book The Book of Acts in Hellenistic History Colin Hemer confirms that Luke named 32 countries, 54 cities, 9 islands, and hundreds of details without making a single error! Pretty amazing, eh?

Second, look at this chart for context! Notice that the New Testament is being written within the years covered by the book of Acts. This is very important!!!!!!

Acts and New Testament

This book is an action packed history of the church and there is no other book like it in the New Testament. What is often missed however is the fact that this is a history book of the Holy Spirit’s new role on earth as Jewish and Gentile believers come together in one body, the Church. No longer is the role of the Holy Spirit to fill only God’s chosen Prophet, High Priest or King. These offices of old have been fulfilled by Jesus Christ whom is out High Priest, our King of Kings, and final Prophet. As the book of Hebrews puts it:

In times past God spoke to our forefathers through the Prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son…” – Hebrews 1:1-2

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Up Dag-SquirrelSquirrel Moment: The verse above is an excellent verse to use when a Mormon comes to your door claiming to represent the restored church with a “living prophet”. Show him this verse and ask the missionary of the counterfeit Jesus the following questions:

1. When was the times past that God used the office of Prophet? Answer: Before the arrival of the Messiah Jesus Christ

2. Now all have direct access to God through Jesus Christ, why would God restore the old office of Prophet that pointed to Him? Answer: He wouldn’t!

If you didn’t get the “Squirrel moment” joke click the picture 🙂

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Third, God demonstrates to the Apostles and the people around them that the Messiah has come, the old sacrificial system and priesthood is to end. Now the Holy Spirit is establishing a church of Jews and Gentiles together! Even the Apostles had to learn that the old way of doing things was gone as you will see in Acts chapter 1. The book begins with Peter deciding not to wait on God and use old methods to choose the Apostle to take the place vacated by Judas:

Jesus’ Command in Acts 1:4-5 is go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. Peter once again jumps the gun and instead of just waiting for the Holy Spirit he decides to pick Judas’ replacement. Peter points to the Old Testament to justify his actions by quoting Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 in order to demonstrate his need to replace Judas:

“For, said Peter, it is written in the book of Psalms, “May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it” and, “May another take his place of leadership.” – Acts 1:20

Peter then comes up with a criteria that Judas’ replacement must fit:

“Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” – Acts 1:21

Now here is the kicker: Peter is 100% correct in his use of scripture, 100% correct in the criteria above; however he is 100% disobedient! This will become clear in a moment. Jesus said go and WAIT for the indwelling of God! Instead Peter used an Old Testament method of casting lots during a New Testament period to make a choice that was not his to make. I ask you when you list the Apostles do you list Matthais? In fact this is the last time that you will see his name. Peter forgot one very important thing: the choice was not his to make. Jesus personally chose the Apostles and Jesus was going to personally choose Judas’s replacement.

Jesus chose Saul of Tarsus to take Judas’s place. At first The choice Jesus made seemed like trading one traitor for another. I believe that Jesus redeemed this position held by a traitor by filling it with a redeemed traitor. This is truly an amazing story of redemption as Saul the murderer of the first Christian (Acts 8) becomes the Apostle Paul who is himself murdered for being a Christian. Interesting fact that the Apostle Paul is the only Apostle both saved and called by the resurrected Christ. When I think about Paul I am reminded that I also am a traitor redeemed by Jesus Christ! Thanks Lord for redeeming traitors.

Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

 
 

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It Is 4th and Leviticus: Should I punt or Go For It?


Forth Down

Let’s be honest, most of us were doing well reading the Bible in a year until Leviticus. Some of you as you get this post your book mark is sitting between chapters 4 – 6. Leviticus, can be painful but why? I call this the 4th down Book because most people “punt” reading when they get into this book of the Bible. They feel bad because it is God’s word, but the thought of “why does this matter” takes over as the pain of every detail of moral, communal, and ceremonial life under the newly formed theocratic system unfolds before us. If we no longer live under this system then why does this book matter? This is a really valid question and I hope that this post will at least help you appreciate this important book of the Bible and its place in the history of God’s redemptive plan for mankind.

Remember the Bible is the most unique book in the world in that it is a library of 66 books, covering ~1,500 year span as God progressively reveals His plan of redemption as I detail here. Leviticus is literally the 3rd book of the Bible so imagine the time the people of God are in. This is the third book of only three books that God has revealed thus far. These newly redeemed former slaves have before them Moses, and a newly formed priesthood. There is Genesis where God reveals the creation then ruin of man, Exodus that plays out the miraculous redemption of the children of Israel (some of them remember fresh), and Leviticus is the picture of God’s expectations of a redeemed people. Remember these people have been slaves for over 400 years and have no idea how to govern themselves.

Although we do not live under the Old Testament theocratic system that the Jews lived under before Christ there are some principled “nuggets” in the levitical law that carry over to today, especially as we get focused on some of the moral laws that still apply.

There are three types of laws in Leviticus that can be broken down the following way:

1. CeremonialFulfilled by Christ [does not apply today]

2. MoralCarried by Christ [does apply today]

2. CommunalAbolished by Christ [does not apply today]

Let’s take advantage of the fact that we have the complete canon in our possession today and allow the New Testament explain why this book is so important. First, as far as the Ceremonial laws why was God so specific not only with the details of the ceremonies that the Levitical priests were responsible for. but the pages and pages of details regarding the tabernacle? The book of Hebrews helps us here:

“They [Levitical priests] serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” – Hebrews 8:5-6

Ground hog dayBut why did it seem like the Levitical priests were stuck in the movie “Ground Hog Day” doing sacrifices over and over and over again? Again the book of Hebrews in the New Testament helps:

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming — not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” – Hebrews 10:1-4

Here again we have the word “shadow”, these all were a shadow of the reality of the future Messiah whom would fulfill and thus do away with this old system. Jesus died once for all and as God in human flesh He literally joined God and man together on the cross. This is why He alone is the only bridge to cross to gain access to heaven and why all other bridges are literally a bridge to nowhere. Ask yourself what bridge are you on? Who built it God or man?

Second, we have the moral laws that were carried by Christ on the cross and still apply today for these reveal the heart of fallen man and woman and the very reason that Jesus Christ came to personally redeem us. The ceremonial laws that were fulfilled by Christ that were part of the sacrificial system of priests are early forms of God’s grace because God knew then what we know now that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” – Romans 3:23. We need forgiveness! But we need to be aware of what God considers sin so that we can seek forgiveness and repent (turn around 180). Again the New Testament the we have in our possession elucidates this:

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” – Romans 3:20

Third, we have the communal laws that were abolished by Christ. These are the punishments for sin that were carried out by the community for the sake of the community of God’s people. Some of these punishments are harsh to us today and the punishment for especially the sexual sins listed in Leviticus 18-19 of death seem over the top to us. Well for us today these punishments are! (I will address this in a future post) But, although the communal punishments are not applicable, the natural results or natural consequences for these sins follow as night follows day. You cannot break moral laws without moral consequences. Get this message: There is a difference between the sin and the punishment for the sin. The punishments for the sins under the theocratic system do not apply today and were abolished by Christ, but the moral sins that brought the punishment do apply today and is why they were carried by Christ on the cross. Jesus took the punishment for us and paid the penalty for us.

Jesus on the cross

In conclusion, today we have moral sin, natural consequences (ex: disease), but not theocratic punishment. Christians are not, never have been, and never will be under, or demand to be under, a theocratic system of government until the return of Jesus Christ.

I hope that you can see with clarity the next time a person confuses the punishment for moral law and the reality of it. Most know the reality of it because of the natural consequences that follow. In our supposedly “sexually free” society where we are slaves to sexual sin have over fifty sexually transmitted diseases when before the sexual freedom movement in the 1960’s there were only two. We have become a culture of empty selves living for the pleasure of the moment all while chasing the ever elusive “happiness”. The ancients and the founders of our country considered “the pursuit of happiness” the movement toward a moral and virtuous life. Happiness is never found when it is a goal, it is only found as a result–the result of a virtuous life. We are slaves to our feelings today, but feelings are wonderful servants but terrible masters.

We live as god and then blame God for the results:

“A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord” – Proverbs 19:3

Think about it! We have everything but we have nothing. We try and medicate the results of living for pleasure that leave us as empty selves. A pill will never fill that void. We have psychotic drugs galore trying to make our empty selves “feel better”. What will make you feel better is if you actually get better. You cannot medicate guilt, you have to allow God to place Himself in that void and live according to His purposes. He is an amazing Father because He loves on you as you continue to get it wrong as you move toward Him. Guilt belongs on the cross and it is an important internal alarm warning that something is terribly wrong. What is the remedy:

“Repent then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” – Acts 3:19

I am a slave that was freed by Jesus Christ!

Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.
Founder
http://www.MansUltimateChallenge.com

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Jesus Christ, Uncategorized

 

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Was Mohammad Called by Gabriel? [Luke 1]


12th Iman

Tehran Inititive

Answering Islam

Let me provide a little backstory before we get to today’s topic. I wanted to do something to get the family around God’s word every day and have tried many things that have failed or have been semi-successful. We live in the crazy Washington, DC area which makes it worse when trying to plan something. We probably get dinner as a family together 3 times during the weekdays so I decided that something, some times is better than nothing at no time. A few months ago I started getting my Bible for what I call “Proverbs at Dinner”. Beginning in the book of Proverbs, I will read a few Proverbs and then ask each of my kids to put it in their own words and tell me what they think it means.  Through this process we have had quite a few Spirit filled conversations together as a family. This has been really great and is something that any Dad can do, or Mom if Dad is not around. You don’t have to be “The Bible Answer Man” to do this either!

During one of these “Proverbs at Dinner” discussions we were discussing good fear verses bad fear since “Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom-Proverbs 9:10”. My youngest asked me, “Dad would be ok to be scared if an angel appeared to you?” I said “absolutely but do not worry because the first thing that an angel from God would do is tell you to not be afraid”.  You see faith and fear can never occupy the same territory in Christian’s heart, so remember that. This got me thinking about Mohammad the founder of Islam so I explained to my family his experience and explained that it was not from God. How do I know and how can you know?

One of the sure tests if a Prophet is or was called by the one true God is to test that person’s experience by what we already know to be true.  Below is a brief history of the prophet of Islam taken from a slide of a class that I teach called “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up-The Jesus of Islam”.  Mohammed came on the scene ~ 580 years after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 3.47.23 PM

Now that we have a little historical context let’s turn to the story of Muhammed’s experience with an angelic being as recorded by Ibn Ishaq the earliest biographer of Mohammad:

“When it was the night on which God honoured him with his mission and showed mercy on His servants thereby, Gabriel brought him the command of God. ‘He came to me,’ said the apostle of God, ‘while I was asleep, with a coverlet of brocade whereon was some writing, and said, “Read!” I said, “What shall I read?” He pressed me with it so tightly that I thought it was death; then he let me go and said, “Read!” I said, “What shall I read?” He pressed me with it again so that I thought it was death; then he let me go and said “Read!” I said, “What shall I read?” He pressed me with it the third time so that I thought it was death and said “Read!” I said, “What then shall I read?”—and this I said only to deliver myself from him, lest he should do the same to me again. He said: “Read in the name of thy Lord who created…”

Muhammad was deathly afraid of the source of his newly found revelation, believing that he was possessed by a jinn or evil spirit. But he found in Khadija a great source of comfort and encouragement. Khadija is also said to have relayed this incident to her Christian cousin Waraqah, who upon hearing her descriptions reassured her that Muhammad’s source of revelation was the same as that of Moses. What is interesting is the fact that Muhammad himself was not assured of the source of his revelation! Not only that, his initial belief was that in the cave of Hira he was possessed by an evil spirit.  Here is a summary of his experience:

(1) He was gripped with Fear

(2) Thought he was visited by a demon or a Jinn

(3) Every revelation brought pain and suffering

Now how does this square with other visitations by Gabriel God’s messenger:

Daniel 10:12-13 – Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.

Luke 1:12-14 – Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel [Gabriel] said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias

Luke 1:26-31 – Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary….The angel said to her, ” Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. “

Look at the way that Gabrial assured these men and women personally to not be afraid.  Fear was a natural reaction, and even modern psychology knows that we do not think clearly when we are gripped by fear. Gabriel addressed each person by name and said “do not be afraid…”. So what are we to make of Mohammad’s experience in the cave of Hira? I have no doubt that Mohammad was visited by an angelic being, but it was not from God! When Satan fell he took 1/3 of the angels with him who are now called fallen angels or demons.

So the next time that someone tells you that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship the same God reflect back to this experience and share it.  What we have in common is that we are all monotheists meaning that we all believe in One God. This is where the commonality begins and where it ends. In fact, the only unforgivable sin in Islam is called the sin of shirk which is attaching partners to God. This sin was aimed at Christianity and the doctrine of the Trinity, thus, Jesus being God! If Jesus is not God friends than none of us who embrace Jesus as Savior are forgiven of our sins. And friends, the sin of shirk is also why my Muslim brothers and sisters who come to Christ have a death sentence on their heads; most of it declared by their own father! So, think of them in prayer and remember that coming to Christ cost them their very life and this same conversion only cost you broken relationships in your family as we spoke about in the last post here.  Yes those breaks are painful but they are not deadly.

If you would like to learn more about Islam and do it in a fun way I highly recommend my friend Joel Rosenberg’s thrilling fiction series listed above.  And hurry book 3 comes out next month and I cannot wait!  Though this is fiction Joel cleverly weaves in Islamic theology and eschatology (end times) throughout the story as the characters quote Islamic scholars and the Qur’an. If you would like an excellent deep dive I would turn to Dr. Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb’s book “Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of The Cross”. This book was actually highly recommended by the Washington Post after 9-11.  For on-line reference see the following links:

www.thespiritofislam.com                        www.jihadwatch.org                                         www.memritv.org                                    www.joelstrumpet.com                         www.answering-islam.org

Until His Precious Return,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

 
 

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Romans 12:18 – Broken Relationships God’s Way



Safe People
Changes That Heal

Does the title of this post surprise you? Let’s look at our passage and go from there:

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on YOU live at peace with all men” – Romans 12:18

The “if” makes this a conditional sentence meaning that it is not always possible to live at peace in your relationships. Why? Because in any relationship there are two people involved that have a part; therefore, by definition, true biblical peace is not always possible. “You” in this verse means that you have your part that God wants you to focus on while the other person has his or her part. There are three relational scenarios played out by Christians that this verse addresses and only one is biblical. Let’s take a look:

(1) The ‘co-dependent’ takes on both parts and has (sometimes demands) a false peace.

As a recovering co-dependent myself I know that this verse is uncomfortable to us “fix it now” people. A codependent does not know emotionally where they end and the other person begins. Trust me I know not just through biblical knowledge alone but I know existentially through experience!  Now, when I was a codependent I not only had my own relationships, but I took on the added burden of someone else’s relationship and “fought for and on the behalf of” the person that I was codependent with. For me, I was codependent with a few people and this was exhausting. Like all codependents my heart was in the right place because I thought that I was helping, but at the end of the day I was causing more damage than I thought because I was getting in God’s way by playing God myself.

Seriously, I would literally “feel” the wound of the other person through misplaced pity and sense of responsibility and “fight others for them” as if it was me that was injured.  I “took on” the “injury” of the other, inserted myself in their place, and caused more relational damage as I tried to fix the relational damage for them. The problem was that I, with limited knowledge, was playing God whom has unlimited knowledge. In addition, my “knowledge” was often times filled with lies and ½ truths as my desire to help was taken advantage of, on the other hand God’s knowledge is all truth and nobody takes advantage of God! Many of my rescue operations failed even the ones that I thought were a success because I am not God and I never let a person feel the consequences of his or her actions. I remember the thought coming to my mind from the Lord one day, “Pete, please stop jumping in and stepping on my nail torn toes! I cannot heal what they cannot feel.” It was as if I was reminded that I was putting healing balm on a cancer. Cancer needs removed not covered!

This was an important revelation for me. Think about it for a moment, what makes a person realize the need for Jesus Christ? It is when he or she first realizes that “I am a sinner.” Only sinners need saviors! If a person never feels the relational consequences of their sin because someone jumps in to the rescue them then they will never feel the real need for a savior. How can a person desire to be justified before God through Jesus Christ when they feel justified before me a fellow sinner?  Having no consequences for sin leaves a person to feel justified in their sin and ask: “what sin?” Tough love is tough stuff!

My first opportunity to not be codependent was a difficult test, but I passed and the Lord gave me more and more difficult tests in this area to which I can happily report that I am completely healed from codependency. God has provided me many opportunities to help others in this area that is epidemic in our culture as the family continues to be torn apart and the children become parental pawns. One of the books outside of the Bible that helped me a lot is “Changes That Heal” by Dr. John Townsend.  It is in the Kindle store for $4.74 and would be a crime for you not to purchase this book!  Click on the link above and it will direct you to Amazon.

The church is a magnet for the codependent, and a codependent Pastor is a Pastor that will fall and fall hard. They are “people pleasers” and not “God pleasers”. This is an absolutely dangerous reversal of what Jesus Himself said was the proper order of the entire Bible: (1) Love God; (2) Love people.

“He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Luke 10:27

If you reverse the order then you are in the dangerous position of arrogantly telling God “I got this one because I know how to love better that you Lord”.  Tell the codependent Christian worker that and they will be shocked! I am so grateful that I allowed God into this painful area for healing before I went into ministry.  I couldn’t imagine feeling overly “responsible” for failed marriages under my care when one or both spouses did not care to reconcile and heal. This is a suicide starter kit. I am glad that God gave me the wisdom to invest in the right people. I will work hard in partnership with the couple that wants to first partner with God and I will not work with the couple who themselves do not care about God or their marriage. A codependent Christian worker on the other hand would overly care for them and be exhausted and feel frustrated and like a failure when the divorce goes through as if it was his fault asking “if only I…”

Ok, off to scenario number two

(2) There is the ‘independent’ who is prideful and never does their part, through ownership of sin by asking forgiveness.

This often occurs when a person is seriously injured by someone and reacts to that hurt in an unbiblical manner. No matter how “small” it appears when compared to the sin that caused the response, there is almost always something that you will need to ask for forgiveness for. This is important as it does a couple of things.

First, it activates the grace of God as you, by example, demonstrate how to own your sins by seeking forgiveness for your part. I say for your part because you must resist #1 above by trying to have “peace at all costs” which costs you your very self in the process and sets you up for the stacking effect of injury. What I call “stacking” occurs when one unresolved sin stacks onto another, then another, and so on.  This is how walls are created brick by brick and walls close you in and always leads to bitterness. You cannot own or blow off the sin that is not yours to own.  I will deal with the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation in a later post because there is much confusion in Christian circles regarding this important issue. Why the confusion? No investment. No time spent in the Bible leads to no Bible spent in time. (Hey I’m Irish so I am a sucker for making limericks)

Second, it removes you from the equation so that you do not block the light of the cross, unless of course a codependent jumps into the mix blocking the light of Christ. Let me use an illustration.

Here is what the person sees: Person –> You –>Cross

Imagine the person seeing your face as they focus on your reaction and not their initial action that caused it. Ever had that happen? Now let me meddle a bit and reverse the question: have you ever done that to someone?

If you ask for forgiveness for your reaction then your face is removed from blocking the light of the cross. Now you ask for forgiveness for how you reacted and be specific!!!!!! I do not let my own kids get away with a lame “ah, em, I’m sorry” and our heavenly Father will not let you as an adult get away with it either.  For example, please forgive me for saying _______________.  Make no excuses.

Now here is what the person sees:  Person ———->Cross

Now off to scenario number 3.

(3) There is the ‘God-dependent’ whom does their part by taking ownership and asking forgiveness and waits patiently in FAITH for God to do His part no matter how long it takes.

 

Here is an important step: controlling expectations! I would recommend that you have low or no expectations levied on the other person. It is important that the only expectations that you have are for yourself before the Lord. For instance, I have personally asked for forgiveness for my reaction, sometimes over-reaction, only to have it met with complete silence. I had a false expectation that clearly this would be reciprocated and we can move forward. It was not, so I felt angry and upset about it then I left.  I realized my mistake and asked the Lord to forgive me.  Be ok with it because you must answer to God for your part. When you stand before the Lord upon your death He will be judging you on your part “as far as it depended on YOU did you live at peace with all men”. I could not imagine staring at His wounds and saying “But Jesus he or she hurt me by __________.” Something tells me that my wounds will look extremely small by comparison as I look upon Him who was pierced, beaten, and crucified unjustly and without cause.

Folks, no matter what, as a Christian, you have to do your part no matter how hurt you are or what percent you believe that you own. If it is 5% your fault, pray and the number will increase I promise. You have to answer to God and nobody else.

In all three scenarios, there is a dangerous temptation to take revenge, which is why verse 17 is before verse 18

            “Do not repay evil with evil…” Romans 12:17

But verse 18 is followed by verse 19 promising that God will step in eventually and He will take care of it His way:

            “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath…” Romans 12:19

In conclusion, try to avoid scenarios one and two above due to impatience by you waiting for the Lord and remember the Lord has a lot of broken relationships Himself. Ah, surprised?  Let me ask you a question: Did Jesus Christ offer forgiveness to the whole world?

Answer: Yes

Is the whole world reconciled to Jesus Christ?

Answer: No

So if Jesus Christ cannot force people to be reconciled in relationship with Him then how can you believe that you can force people to be in a reconciled relationship with you? As a matter of fact, a relationship with Jesus Christ will cause incredible dissension and relational turmoil for you as it did for him. Actually, relational turmoil is a promise! (Click here and see Matthew 10:32-38)

Take these steps, pray, and accept reality:

Step #1: While you wait on the Lord, do not force the issue due to lack of patience but be approachable and graceful when you see the person.

Step #2: Make sure that you owned you part with clarity and humility.

Step #3: Avoid the temptation to slander or try and force the person again about how they need to “be reconciled and own their stuff”. They know!

Step #4: Remember that you have the responsibility for your relationships not everyone elses:

            “Like one who takes a dog by the ears is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him” Proverbs 26:17

Note: If you are a third party “passer by” close to the situation do not assume that you know who should do what because you heard one side of the situation. “The first to plead his case seems right until another comes along to question him” Proverbs 18:17

Step #5: Be in community with other godly men or women that can support you and hold you accountable for your part.

May God richly bless you as you continue to discover God’s will through the power of the Word of God!

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Merry Christmas Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

www.MansUltimateChallenge.com

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 9, 2013 in Relationships, Uncategorized

 

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