Monday, February 27, 2017

Minnow Ministry?

When Isaac planted in that land, he reaped in the same year a hundred times what he had sown,
because the Lord blessed him.
Genesis 26:12 (NET)

The context of this verse is a foreign, unfamiliar land, filled with a mostly hostile people.  Because of a famine in his homeland, Isaac was told by God to go live in the country of the Philistines for a while.  Not the most comfortable of surroundings.  Still, Isaac obediently went where God sent him. Following that, he planted where God placed him.  And, then God did what only God can do.  In fact, the Philistines were so amazed at God's blessing on Isaac that they eventually threw him out of the country.  He had gotten too successful for his own good, lol!  What a testimony to Isaac's God!

It surely does feel good to be back in my office chair with this familiar Blogger blank screen in front of my eyes and the Bible at my side.  I do apologize for my 10-day hiatus, something I've not done since beginning Resplendent Daughter in mid-2014.

If you recall from the last post, on 2/16, a surprise was promised.  Well, here it is.

This is the new logo for RDM, and I've trademarked the name (a complicated legal procedure).  That seems like some to be a bold, even foolish move.  It is akin to a minnow applying for the position of the mind of some. And, make no mistake, by "industry standards", this is a "minnow ministry".

Yesterday at church, I heard some men talking about a woman in her mid-eighties who had visited both of the poles (North and South), with her last visit having been recently.  They were incredulous she'd attempt something of that magnitude at her age.  I wisely held my tongue.  But, privately, I thought, "How wonderful! She and I are kindred spirits."  Both of us want to skid into the end of life on two wheels, all disheveled and exhilarated exclaiming, "Wow, what a ride!"

It is a fact that those who never attempt great things for God certainly never receive them.  In the Scripture verse for today Isaac most certainly would never have gathered in a harvest of 100 times what he planted....had he never planted at all.  I don't know where God wants to take this ministry He has given me, but I for sure do not want to stand in the way of anything He wants to do.  Even more than that, I want to be ready in anticipation of Him doing extraordinary things.  Then, if He chooses to bless this minnow ministry "a hundredfold", so be it.  If not, so be it.

Tomorrow, I'm headed out-of-state for a religious broadcaster's conference.  Your prayers over this trip would mean so much!  Please pray for good health, safe travel, for spiritual discernment and for the connections God wants to be made at that event.   Thanks, and I'll see you in the next post!

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Hello Friends!

I will be off-grid for the next 10 days, but will have exciting news to share after returning!
I'd appreciate your prayers in the interim.



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is special at our house, for a couple of reasons.  First, it is my husband's birthday. And second, it is the day that we adopted our dog, Charlie.  I like to describe Charlie as having been a "Wal-Mart special".

It happened on Valentine's Day afternoon, four years ago.  Younger Son and I had gone to the Wal-Mart shopping center on an errand.  As we pulled into the parking lot he pointed out people milling around an old pick-up truck with a sign on it:  "Free Puppies".  He asked if we could stop and look. Our former dog, Max, had died a few months earlier.  Max had been quite the "handful", and I was not eager to get another dog.  I said, "Maybe on the way out."  After completing our errand, we headed home.  I asked, "Do you want to just stop and look?"  "I guess so," was the reply.

There were several puppies in the kennels, but I was drawn to just one.  As I gathered this Aussie shepherd/blue tick coon hound mix in my arms, I knew I never wanted to let him go.  On the ride home, I've never seen a more terrified dog.  He was drooling from anxiety (a habit he continued for several months).  Hubster was stunned to receive a puppy as a birthday present!  Younger Son had told me at the pick-up truck, "I bear absolutely no responsibility for this!"  Well, Charlie has become a tremendous blessing to all of us.  He is dearly loved.

This family story reminds me of my place in God's family.

4But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"…
Galatians 4:4-6

This is love!  Don't you see how adoption is at the heart of it?  We did not first love God, but He first loved us.  We were "mutts".  We were not His "natural-born" sons/daughters, or His "only-begotten" sons/daughters. We are His through adoption.  Hallelujah!  This is the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who Is The Best Valentine.

But God demonstrated His own love for us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

There is a rather erotic movie which opened recently.  It is the sequel to an even more sickening movie of similar name which premiered right around Valentine's Day two years ago.  In fact, both of these movies are an insult to true love.

But, God does not merely illustrate or typify love - - - He IS love, in all its beauty, in all its glory. His love poured out on us truly is "the greatest love of all".   You may be facing a lonely Valentine's Day. In fact, the holiday may itself be repugnant because of all the emphasis on romantic love when you are not "there" right now.

Regardless of your present circumstances, on this Valentine's Day, you can reach out and experience God's love.  It is never-ending and always available.  Don't turn away.  Whether you would be reaching out to Him for the first time today for eternal salvation or whether you are already a disciple of Jesus Christ and needing a reminder....He is there for you.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Dear Father, thank you for the gift of Your Son, Who is Love personified.  Today, I celebrate Your love, which is incomparable.  No one can ever or will ever love me like You do.  To be loved, adopted, cherished, made new by the God of all the Universe is both inconceivable and unfathomable.  I don't pretend to understand what caused you to do what you did for me.  My love for You is paltry in comparison.  Give me a Valentine's heart - - a Christ-like heart. Help me to love more like You do, precious Savior! It is in Your name, Lord Jesus, I pray, amen.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dual Citizenship

There is "much ado" these days about legal citizenship in my Earth country, the United States of America.  At the beginning of my life, the requirements for entering this country were quite strict. People who were not natural-born citizens of the USA, yet who sought legal citizenship, had to go through a lengthy, difficult process.  It was ingrained in the process that the legal immigrant would assimilate him-or-herself into the culture, laws and moral fabric that distinguished this nation for its first 150 years.  Over the past 75 years, or so, that process has severely eroded, bringing about much civil unrest in this formerly gleaming nation.

Google defines "citizenship" as follows:  "the position or status of being a citizen of a particular country".1  To have dual citizenship, then, means that a person possesses citizenship in two countries. Now, generally speaking, since a person can only be in one place at any given time, the person resides most of the time in one of those two countries, perhaps visiting the other country on occasion. In most cases, the person had one citizenship conferred at birth, but went on later to earn a second citizenship from a different country.

In some cases, the two countries involved have many similarities.  The citizens of each may speak the same language.  The forms of government may be similar.  In other cases, the similarities may be few. Often, people of Earth escape from one country of citizenship to seek asylum/refuge in another.  They do this because of persecution, famine or other adverse living conditions in the "home country".

All living Christians have dual citizenship.  Their first "country" is planet Earth; their second, and more true, citizenship is in a "country" they have yet to visit: Heaven.  Although Christians possess citizenship in Heaven, they walk by faith to embrace it while dwelling physically in a realm that walks by sight.  Heaven is a place the Christian eagerly anticipates, even longs for, because he/she believes what the Bible declares about it.

The other day I was reading a blog by a college classmate of mine who has for decades taught Bible in a Christian school.  He was describing the most precious and wonderful moment of his teaching career.  The lesson was about Heaven and that most splendid moment was the one where, without prompt, his students got so psyched about their heavenly country they began to cheer boisterously. You'll be blessed to read about it later.

The writer of Hebrews uses the concept of "sanctuary" to illustrate the Christian's dual citizenship. He does this because God did it first.  Warren Wiersbe did a masterful job of describing these beautiful parallels; so, be advised I will be borrowing heavily from his commentary in my meditations here and in posts to follow on this topic.2

The heavenly sanctuary, aka the throne room of God, and the various meeting places of the Hebrew people are two powerful evidences of the Christian's dual citizenship.  When God gave the "specs" for creating the earthly places of worship, He mimicked his own heavenly sanctuary.  Let's look at some of those specs today, and we'll continue with our investigation of these "buildings" tomorrow, lest I get too long-winded here.

1.  Inferiority vs. Superiority
The old covenant "sanctuaries" were (as has been mentioned in this blog) first a series of fancy, portable tents (Tabernacles), and then later Temple buildings in the city of Jerusalem.  When the Hebrews were nomadic and for a time after they settled into the Promised Land, a Tabernacle was erected by the Levitical priests (or under their direction).  See Exodus 35-40. Years later, King Solomon was approved by God to direct the construction of the first Temple in Jerusalem, according to plans God gave to his father, King David.  That Temple was destroyed when Babylon conquered the Hebrew people around 586 B.C.  Nehemiah, Ezra and their contemporaries began to rebuild that structure around 515 B.C., and it stood until the time of the Herods, when that structure was significantly remodeled, greatly enhancing its splendor.  This grandiose temple stood for less than 100 years, because it was razed when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Ok, history lesson over.  The point is that these structures were inferior because, although they were copies of God's heavenly sanctuary, they were made by humans (Heb. 8:2, 9:11).  At times, the glory of God filled the earthly structures.  But, He did not make them His permanent residence.  These physical structures were limited by time and space, neither of which limits our limitless God.
Still.....type.  Here is a graphic of the major components of the earthly Tabernacle and Temple:3

The earthly structures were "types", representations of the heavenly. We are told this in Hebrews 8:5 and 9:23-24.  Each of the furnishings in the picture above was specified by God, and imbued with its own special meanings. The heavenly temple is clearly referred to several times in the book of Revelation.  For instance, in Revelation 8:3, we see the golden altar of incense and also God's throne.  In Revelation 11:19, the apostle John refers to God's ark of the covenant within His heavenly temple.  I won't digress and go into more of these Revelation ... er, revelations, at this point.

We'll examine the various components of the sanctuaries in the next post.





Thursday, February 9, 2017

Draw Near

"Restoration of fellowship with God has been the divine purpose and the often-unrecognized longing of humanity since its loss in Eden." 
Gareth Lee Cockerill

God drawing near to us and us drawing near to Him is the heart of the gospel and one of the key themes of the book of Hebrews.

Have you ever pursued someone?  I don't mean in a weird, stalker kind of way, but in a healthy pursuit, such as when a boy courts a girl, or when a girl flirts with a boy?  Have you ever felt the devastation of rejection when the object of your pursuit gives you "the cold shoulder" or stops you dead in your tracks?  Believers in Jesus Christ need never fear God will respond to us that way!

The new system (covenant)  we've been studying radically displaced the old, relegating it to merely a "type" of the covenant that was to come with the advent, ministry and finished work of Jesus Christ.
The Greek translation of the OT (LXX, the Septuagint), differentiated between how Levitical priests could draw near to God and how the people could draw near to Him, in prayer and worship.1  The The Septuagint's word "draw near" for the priests was different than the one for the people, who could only "come before" God in prayer and worship.  Under the new covenant, however, the NT believer's access to God, through Christ, is greater than even that experienced by the Levitical priests! Hebrews 10:22 makes the invitation clear:  "come with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (ESV).  And, what enables us to draw near to God in this way?  The certainty that Jesus Christ is ever-living to intercede for us before God the Father.  Jesus represents His own before the Father.

What are some reasons we "draw near"?
a.  to worship, from a thankful heart (Hebrews 2:3)
b.  to hear from God and deepen the intimacy of our relationship with Him
c.  to receive mercy and timely help in our moments of need (Hebrews 4:15)
    **confession of and cleansing from sin
    **grace to overcome temptation
    **supernatural power to win spiritual battles
    **petitioning for the needs of others

When we hunger for God, long for a closer relationship with Him, we can be assured that our desire is a prayer He will always answer.  We are promised (James 4:8) that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.
But, HOW do we draw near to Him?  The writer of Hebrews assures us we have permission; James tells us how:

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 
(James 4:8 ESV)

Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet. 
(James 4:8-10 The Message)

I can't tell you how many times I have approached my God in prayer or worship without a shred of confession, repentance or even declaration of allegiance.  Most of the time, I just plunge into prayers of thankfulness, or petitions for myself or others.  As pendulums are wont to do, it appears we have in our contemporary Christian culture become so enamored with the "I am a friend of God" aspect of intimacy that we have jettisoned the "sinners in the hands of a holy God" aspect.  

Most of us, given an opportunity to interact with someone we greatly respect, choose to honor that person with our courteous words.  We interact with him or her according to our understanding of his or her character.  Does not our perfect, holy and loving God deserve even more?  Let's be sure to remember to Whom we speak, when we "draw near" and call on His name.

And, let's not live lives of double-mindedness, sometimes serving our God and at other times working against His purposes (whether intentionally or not) ... even pursuing sin!  James calls this being "double-minded".  This kind of schizophrenic living never works, never achieves anything of everlasting value. Do you truly want your life to have been spent accomplishing little in light of eternity?  Stop trying to "ride the fence" into the kingdom of God!2

Speaking of eternity (of which this life is just a practice and a prelude), the believer's "drawing near" will ultimately culminate in dwelling in the presence of God forever. (Hebrews 12:22-29 and Psalm 100:5).  In that glorious day we will no longer have to hunger for God's presence or long to be with Him.  We will be able to proclaim with absolute authority, "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere!" (Psalm 84:10)


1     Cockerill, Gareth Lee. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2012. Kindle edition, pp. 326, 335. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Covenant People

Recently, my family has helped to plant and subsequently joined a new church.  It has been an exhilarating, emotionally-fraught experience.  We left a church body we loved to set out into the unknown, to spread the gospel in a local community without a strong, evangelical church present. God is abundantly blessing this new congregation.

One of the conditions of becoming a member of this young fellowship is to read and sign a church covenant.  I remember as a child seeing a large framed print of my home church's covenant, as it hung conspicuously on the front wall of that small, country church.  Not once did I read it.  Not once did I hear a sermon about it.  It was merely there, hanging precipitously in front of the congregation. Perhaps that little church body was guided by it?  I really can't say ...

But, back to this new gathering of believers - - - as the new church was founded, it was believed important that those joining have common beliefs, goals and desires to bind them together in mutual agreement, and that that agreement be formalized by each member signing of a copy of the covenant.  In addition to that, all new members are required to attend an orientation at which time the church covenant, among other things, is discussed in detail.

I'm blogging about these contemporary matters because of Hebrews 8, in which the author contrasts the "old covenant" God made with the Hebrew people (the covenant with The Law as its centerpiece), with the "new covenant" brought about by the finished work of our high priest, Jesus Christ.

One commentator, Barnes1, notes that we actually don't have an English word to properly describe the agreements God made in the Old Testament and this new one here in the Hebrews 8.  The English word "covenant" commonly describes an agreement between two equal parties.  It's not hard to realize that "covenant", then, is not the best word to describe such God-man agreements.  God and man are most certainly unequal!  But, there again, it is the best word the English translators could employ.

Going deeper, in the "covenants" God made with men down through the centuries (Adam, Noah, Abraham, David and others), God did not negotiate the terms of the covenants.  He simply told the men how things would be and (this is important) what He pledged to do.  He obligated Himself with promises to men and/or people groups.  For man's part in the covenants, there were obligations; but, God decided for them what was best, what those obligations would be.

A church covenant today is designed to bring its members closer to God and to each other.  In that respect, today's church covenants mimic the two covenants described in Hebrews 8, as the purposes for each are the same.  When you think about it, all Bible covenants were put in place by God to bring His people closer to Him, and to each other.2

Let's look more closely at these two covenants in Hebrews 8:8-12 (ESV)

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,

when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
9not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
11And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”

In verse 9 the author of Hebrews focuses on the Mosaic covenant (Exodus 20:1-26; 31:12-17), the one that God made with the Hebrew people when He brought them out of their slavery in the nation of Egypt.  Although the people were given The Law in the desert, they were unable to keep its precepts.

In the new covenant, brought about by Jesus Christ and through Him, God not only set the terms of the new covenant, He gives people who turn to Him in faith the Holy Spirit, Who empowers them to keep this covenant.  See verse 10:  "I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts."

What a beautiful promise God makes to His own!  Think about the Christians, not the CINOs (Christian in Name Only), but the real ones.  They live as though the ways of God have been branded on their hearts and implanted into their minds.  That is because, when conversion happens, the Holy Spirit makes His home in the heart of all true believers, filling them with the ardent desire to follow Jesus Christ, to pursue His perfection and make it their own.

Let's not miss one more precious, magnificent aspect of this new covenant.  Contrast verse 10 with verse 12.  Verse 10 sounds to me an awful lot like ... well, like true Christians must be "perfect people".  But, we all know that we can never achieve Christ's perfection in this life.  Even Christians are not immune to the beguilement of sin.  They don't wallow it, but they sometimes fall into it. What a mark of God's love that He is merciful toward our iniquities.  He "remembers that we are dust", made from the earth's own elements (Psalm 103:14). And, in His mercy, He remembers the sins of His people no more.

No more - - - "as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) so far has He removed our transgressions from us!"
King David, who wrote Psalm 103, was unknowingly looking forward prophetically to the new covenant, which would be revealed through David's earthly descendant, Jesus Christ.

What a blessing to take part in this new covenant, as part of Christ's Bride, the Church!  And, what a joy to "covenant" with our brothers and sisters in faith, to worship with them and minister together for the sake of Jesus Christ's good news, the gospel!

But, you say, isn't this passage concerning the Hebrew people, the spiritual nation of Israel, the Jews? Yes, the old covenants did apply in largest part to the Jews, although there were some non-Jews who were included (Rahab, Ruth, etc.) . And, although the new covenant applies to the followers of Jesus Christ from every nation on Earth, some of those followers are of Jewish descent.  The Church today is part of "spiritual Israel"; yet, the Jews have not been disdained by God.  Verses 10-12 also have a futuristic, prophetic meaning for the Jewish people on Earth, as a whole.  In the last days, God's Spirit will once again be poured out upon the Jews.   In that day, huge numbers of Jews will recognize Jesus as Messiah and know the fullness of this new covenant.  What a wonderful day that will be!




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sketch and Shadow

When I was a child I would see in magazines this exercise:  the reader would be asked to copy a drawing presented there in the magazine.  If he or she could take a pencil and accurately reproduce the drawing, so that the rendition closely resembled the original, the reader/imitator was supposedly had artistic ability. (And, could purchase an art course, lol!)  I was a dismal failure at such tasks, because I possess not one iota of visual art talent!  My sketches did not bear more than a shadow of resemblance to the original!

In Hebrews 8:1-7 (ESV), our main text for this morning, we are reminded of a similar relationship between the Temple of God in the third heaven and the earthly Temple(s) here on earth.

1Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2a minister in the holy places, in the true tenta that the Lord set up, not man. 3For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.4Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6But as it is, Christb has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

First, a clarification:
What is this term "third heaven" I mentioned just now?  Paul referred to the dwelling place of God as the third heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2.  Our earthly atmosphere is the first heaven.  The universe beyond the earth's atmosphere is the second heaven.  What Christians generally refer to as "Heaven", and the "heaven" mentioned in verse 1 here, is the "third heaven".

Verse 1 reminds us that, when Jesus ascended to Heaven, He ultimately sat down at the right hand of God the Father, referred to here as the Majesty, where He began to carry on as our High Priest.  But, do we have a scriptural record of that occurring?

And, what's all this about tents?  Verse 2 refers to "the true tent", and goes on to remind the Hebrews of how Moses was given the "specs" (as builders say) for the first "temple" when he was spending all that time on Mt. Sinai with God.  You can find this in the book of Exodus, ch. 24-31.  The first "temple" was actually a grandiose tent, which the Hebrews called the Tabernacle.  (All of the Hebrews lived in tents in those days, as they were vagabonding it across the desert on a regular basis.)  The Tabernacle was the first place that the people of God met together WITH their God, as His presence, the Shekinah Glory, came down to meet with them, filling the tent (Tabernacle). However, the true tent, "the original", is now and evermore in Heaven.  Later on, when the people were established in the Promised Land, a more permanent structure was built by King Solomon, a Temple based on "specs" given by God to Solomon's father, King David.  In both the Tabernacle and the Temple, the structures were built to God's exact specifications.

The writer, in Hebrews 6-13, spends a great deal of time examining the importance of the heavenly "tent", the Tabernacle and so forth.  We'll look at this theme in more depth as we move on through this amazing book of the Bible.  But, this morning, let's hone in on this point.

It was not until our Melchizedekan high priest, Jesus, finished His work on earth and presented Himself before God the Father in Heaven that mankind was finally granted access to the Heavenly Tabernacle.

I just went and read Revelation 5 again, end-to-end.  It depicts Jesus Christ presenting Himself, immediately after His ascension, before His Father's throne, having been found worthy to take the scroll and break its seals.  Look at verses 5-10 (The Message)

One of the Elders said, “Don’t weep. Look—the Lion from Tribe Judah, the Root of David’s Tree, has conquered. He can open the scroll, can rip through the seven seals.”
6-10 So I looked, and there, surrounded by Throne, Animals, and Elders, was a Lamb, slaughtered but standing tall. Seven horns he had, and seven eyes, the Seven Spirits of God sent into all the earth. He came to the One Seated on the Throne and took the scroll from his right hand. The moment he took the scroll, the Four Animals and Twenty-four Elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb. Each had a harp and each had a bowl, a gold bowl filled with incense, the prayers of God’s holy people. And they sang a new song:
Worthy! Take the scroll, open its seals.
Slain! Paying in blood you bought men and women,
Bought them back from all over the earth,
Bought them back for God!
Then, you made them a Kingdom, Priests for our God,
Priest-Kings to rule over the Earth
We can rejoice in this, Christians!  We can exclaim with the writer of Hebrews (6:19-20) that we have this "hope", this steadfast expectation, as an anchor for our souls:  a certainty which reaches behind the separating curtain in the heavenly Temple's Holy of Holies, where Jesus our forerunner entered on our behalf, since He became a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

And, as our forerunner, He opened the way with the payment of His blood, to redeem us, to buy us back - - Believers of every tribe and from every nation - - not only giving us an eternity in Heaven with Him, but also making us into a Kingdom of priest-kings, who are empowered to walk in spiritual victory here as mortals, yet who will one day rule over the Earth.

I really cannot even grasp that with my finite mind.  Paul stated that our understanding of such things in this earthly plane is like looking into a cloudy mirror.  But, in that day, when we leave this mortal life, we will "know even as we are known".  The original Greek of that verse, 1 Corinthians 13:12 puts it like this:  "I will know fully, as also I have been fully known."

No more "sketch and shadow" in that glorious day!  Hallelujah and amen!