Posts Tagged ‘honor’

1 Samuel 4:1b-11 (Part 1 of 3)
The Phillistines Capture the Ark

Yesterday morning, I found out as soon as I returned from my usual morning 1 hour and 40 minute walk (usually between 4:20am and 6:00am weekday mornings) that my Michelle (my stepdaughter) lost her paternal grandfather to the Lord this morning. He had been lingering on in hospice care for the last few weeks. This grandfather is Michelle’s biological father’s dad. Although Michelle’s mom and dad divorced long ago, Elena still has fond memories of her ex-husband’s parents. Michelle was close with her paternal grandparents so you can understand that she is distraught this morning. But from what I understand of Michelle’s grandfather, he was a devout Christian and a caring man. Just and old school Southern man that loved the Lord and did things the right way and a man of honor, dignity, and morality. You might consider him backward or boring by today’s standards. He saved his money, lived modestly, gave generously and quietly, and provided for his family. From what I know of this man from the glowing reviews that my wife gave him, there is no doubt in my mind that at 5:55am this morning, Michelle’s grandfather made the transition from his earthly shell of a body into the presence of the Lord and is no longer wracked by the pain of being a soul in an earthen vessel that was incapacitated. Michelle can take comfort in knowing that her grandfather is now in heaven and is free of pain and is celebrating the joy that is living in the actual presence of God in heaven. She can take comfort in knowing that her grandfather was not one to fake his faith. He lived it out quietly and unassumedly each day. He was, from what I understand, the real deal. What he was at church on Sunday is what he was on Monday-Saturday, every day. The fact that this man lived out his faith every day is something to take comfort in. There is joy in knowing that someone you loved is dancing in heaven right now and will do so for eternity.

For what shall we be known when we die? Will we be known for being a man of God? Will we be known for being a man whose word you can count on? Will we be known for being a man of integrity? Will we be known for being a man of morality of doing the right thing even when it costs us something? Will we be known for being a man who would give another person the shirt off their back if necessary? Will we be known for being a man who was generous to a fault? Will we be known as a man who lived by biblical principles? Will we be known as a man who shared his faith whenever the opportunity was presented?

Or will God be our fallback position? Will we love God only in times of crisis? Will we love God only when the chips are down? Will we love God only when we have no other option? That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through this passage, 1 Samuel 4:1b-11 – how there are people who treat God as a fallback position or as a last resort. Let’s read the passage now:

At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines. The Israelite army was camped near Ebenezer, and the Philistines were at Aphek. 2 The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing 4,000 men. 3 After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it[a] will save us from our enemies.”

4 So they sent men to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were also there with the Ark of the Covenant of God. 5 When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake!

6 “What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, 7 they panicked. “The gods have[b] come into their camp!” they cried. “This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before! 8 Help! Who can save us from these mighty gods of Israel? They are the same gods who destroyed the Egyptians with plagues when Israel was in the wilderness. 9 Fight as never before, Philistines! If you don’t, we will become the Hebrews’ slaves just as they have been ours! Stand up like men and fight!”

10 So the Philistines fought desperately, and Israel was defeated again. The slaughter was great; 30,000 Israelite soldiers died that day. The survivors turned and fled to their tents. 11 The Ark of God was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were killed.

In this passage, we see that the Ark of the Covenant, as you may know, contained the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. The Ark was supposed to be kept in the Most Holy Place, the most sacred part of the Tabernacle that only the High Priest could enter only once per year. Hophi and Phinehas desescrated the room unlawfully by entering into the Most Holy Place and removing it. Not only were they not the High Priest and not only was it not the proper time of year for the room to be entered, they did not enter for the right reasons. The only reason that the High Priest was to enter was either to prepare the entire Tabernacle to be moved or to enter at that one time per year that he was to intercede on behalf of the people of Israel for their sins during the past year. It was always to be entered into in humility and honor. I bet most likely Eli’s horrible sons probably just ran in there slammed things around and took the Ark out without paying due honor and respect for where they were and to God himself.

Here, we see these men, the sons of Eli, who were immoral, greedy, lecherous men. They seduced women and had sex with them because they had loose morals. Sex was a recreation sport to them. Stealing was a way of adding to their wealth and power. Taking advantage of people was the way they accumulated wealth and showed their power. A relationship with God was not a part of their lives. They were out to satisfy their lusts for power, money and sex. And they were destroying Israel in the process. They were causing distrust of the Tabernacle as a place of worship. They were breaking down the honor and integrity of the priesthood. They were all about getting what they could get and as much as they could get. It did not matter who they hurt in the process. However, when the chips were down and Israel was about to be crushed. They went “oh, yeah, there is God. He will help us!” Living all their lives thumbing their nose up at God but now when they were about to lose their wealth and power, they fall back to God. Sound familiar? Are you and I out for ourselves and God is the farthest thing from our minds until something doesn’t go our way and THEN we cry out to God? Don’t we live our lives for ourselves more often than not? Doing things and wanting things and not caring who we hurt to get what we want? Are we not Hophni and Phinehas? Are we not arrogant in the face of God thinking we know better and thinking we can do it all by ourselves? Do we not try to get all we can get when we can get it? We know of God but we don’t care about Him until something goes awry? We think we can fix our relationship with Him later? You know later in life when we get older? You know! Some time before we die! God is our fallback position. That was me before I met the reality of my eternal destination of the night of my salvation. That was the way I lived my life before Jesus. I am not perfect post-salvation for sure, but I do love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I want to please Him now. He is front and center in my life. He is part of my everyday life. He is part of everything I do. He is no longer my fallback position.

Hopefully, when I die, people will speak of me as I have been hearing about Michelle’s paternal grandfather. God was not his fallback position. He lived it and breathed it when it came to his faith. Because in the end, it is when we meet our Maker that we want Him to say to us “well done, good and faithful servant! You have run the good race. You have fought the good fight!” Welcome to your mansion that I have prepared for us. When we only use God as a last resort, Jesus said that there will be many running around saying “Lord! Lord!” but he will say “away from me for I never knew you!”

The choice is yours. You can be like Hophni and Phinehas that used God as a good luck charm for bad times or you can have a real relationship where you love Him and put Him first in your life and obey like Michelle’s paternal grandfather, Paw-Paw.

Are you going to be Phinehas or Paw-Paw?

Amen and Amen.

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Ruth 3:1-18 (Part 3 of 3)
Ruth Follows Naomi’s Plan

Sometimes in our lives when we look back on the person that we were before we came to know Jesus Christ as our Savior, we go “wow, how could I have been that kind of person!” How could I have been that kind of person and think that it was OK to be that kind of person. I grew up in the church. I heard the gospel. I knew the Bible stories, in general. My dad was a preacher. So, it wasn’t like I was a person who did not grow up knowing right from wrong, moral from immoral, and so on. But growing up in a parsonage does not guarantee that you will be immediately a follower of Jesus Christ. Don’t get me wrong, I was not necessarily a bad kid or bad seed. I was just a regular kid. I did well in school. Rarely got in trouble. I was just one of those kids that was a good student but wasn’t a nerd. I was a kid who danced on the edge of getting in trouble with parents and teachers on occasion. My trouble in life was always feeling less than. My trouble was always feeling like an outsider. My trouble was always feeling like the guy who got to the party but just went the party was about over. Never felt like I was in the know.

It was these feelings of being an outsider, a step behind, late to the party, catching a trend just when everyone has moved on to the next trend that kind of defined my pre-salvation days. I was always trying to fit in. I was an approval seeker. I wanted validation that I belong and that I matter to other people. It is still something I struggle with even after salvation but not like in my pre-salvation days. In those pre-salvation days, I would do whatever it took to win approval of others to the point of committing sins that grieve my own soul now. My moral compass fell off the table and broke into pieces over the years. And my word became worthless as I shucked and jived so as to keep all the people happy in my life from who I desired approval. My finances were a shambles from all of that too. So my word meant nothing when it came to financial matters and certainly my creditors probably felt my word meant nothing. My self-image of myself as a decent, moral person was far different from my daily practices of situational ethics. Then, there comes a day when you look at yourself in the mirror and say who have you become. There was a time when people thought you were a good kid and respected you for being a young man of your word. Now, look at you. You would lie to save your ass in a minute. You would lie to get out of trouble. You would lie to make yourself seem more important than you are. Looking in the mirror, who is this man? I don’t know him anymore. He acts as though there is no judgment because he lives according to his own gospel which is not the canonical Gospel of Mark. The ends justified the means for this guy looking in the mirror.

When I look back at the man I had become in the months and weeks before I accepted Christ as my Savior, I didn’t think of myself as a desperate sinner in need of a Savior. I thought I had become something that I didn’t wanna be but I thought I was still good enough to get in heaven if God made a few exceptions for me. I thought I was good enough to get in if God look at my good deeds vs. my bad ones. I figured that being a martyr in my divorce, trying to keep two families happy (my exwife and my daughters on one hand, and my second wife and her boys on the other) and feeling like a martyr in that, working hard, etc. All that would make up for my moral failures and my situational ethics. It was not until that play that night at Abundant Life Church in December 2001 where my life was lived out in a play right before my eyes on the stage at church. The central character thought the same kind of mindset. It wasn’t until he spent 30 minutes in hell during that one hour play that he realized that his sins no matter how small are enough to sentence him to eternity there. No matter the good deeds we do to make up for our bad ones, our sins prevent us from living with our Father in heaven in eternity. That was the final mirror in my face. The Holy Spirit broke my soul that night. Since then, it has been a long and winding road and a difficult job for the Holy Spirit to sanctify me and He still has a ton of work to do.

However, one thing that is important to me now is my word. I want to keep my word even if costs me something. I want to do what the Bible says is right no matter if it costs me something or not. I desire to please God in this way. I want to be a person who honors his commitments. I want to be a person who is known to tell the truth. I want to be a person that is known to have integrity. I want to a person that will give the cashier at the Wal-Mart the money back when she mistakenly gives me too much change. I want to be a person who does not try to return goods that I broke and pass it off as defective goods. I want to be a person of honor. In many ways, I am getting better at that each day because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in my soul. I look back at the man I was before salvation and I am disgusted at him. In the process of being sanctified by the Holy Spirit, when I look back even in the years after salvation, I am disgusted by the man I was a the day of my salvation. I am disgusted by the man I was 10 years ago and even 5 years ago. I know too that as I progress deeper in my walk with Christ that the man that I am right now will disgust me in 10 years. As we grow in Christ, the Holy Spirit wins battles with the sins and habits and thoughts that we think are OK right now. Over time, though, the Holy Spirit shines the light of God on those things in our lives that are not holy. It takes a lifetime for the Holy Spirit to do this and He does not have his final victory over our ego-driven selfishness until we arrive in heaven and join our Savior there. As a Christ follower, sometimes we really do need to sit down and think about the person we used to be compared to now and marvel at the work, the tireless work, of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Are you not disgusted by the person you used to be before Christ, about the person you were just after salvation, and the person you were just a few short years ago? It’s funny how we think we are at the apex of our spiritual maturity until the Holy Spirit shines the light on something that we thought was acceptable all along til then.

Let us always remember who we used to be before Jesus Christ. Let us remember who we are now and where we will be in just a few short years down the right. We are a work in progress under the construction of the master remodeler, the Holy Spirit.

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning when I read through this passage for the second of three times that we will write about it – how Boaz and Naomi had reputations as being trustworthy and upright people to the point that people took them at their word (when they said something you could trust it like gold in the bank). Let’s read the passage together for the last time this morning, Ruth 3:1-18, before we move on:
3 One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. 2 Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3 Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”

5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.

7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. 8 Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! 9 “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”

10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman. 12 But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”

14 So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” 15 Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops[a] of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he[b] returned to the town.

16 When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?”

Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, 17 and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

18 Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”

In this passage, we see that, as a foreigner, Ruth may have thought that Naomi’s advice was odd. However, Ruth followed the advice because she knew Naomi was kind, trustworthy, and filled with integrity. Each of us knows a parent, an older friend, or relative who is always looking out for our best interests. Be willing to listen to the advice of a person who is older and wiser than you are. The experience and knowledge of such a person can be invaluable. And then there was Boaz. Naomi knew that Boaz would follow through on his promise at once. He obviously had a reputation for keeping his word and would not rest until his task was completed. Such reliable people stand out in any age and/or culture. Do others regard you as one who will do what you say? Keeping your word and following through on assignments should be high on anyone’s priority list. Building a reputation of trustworthiness takes many years but losing your reputation can take just minutes.

I want to be like Naomi and Boaz. I want people to be able to trust what I say. I want to be a person who says what he means and means what he says. If I make a promise to you, you should be able to bank on that promise. I want to be that guy who is seen as one who has integrity. I want most of all to be an honorable representative of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I want the person that I am on Sunday morning to be the same person who, when given the opportunity to do something unethical, will do what is right even if it costs my success or advancement according to earthly treasures. I want to be a guy like Boaz where it is known that I will not rest until I have kept my promise. I want to be a person like Naomi where, even if you think my advice is strange or odd, you will follow it anyway because you consider me a completely trustworthy source. I want to continually look back at my life and see growth in Christlikeness. I want to be a big kid Christian someday. I want to be like Christ. I also want to remember what that man in the mirror looked like in the months before salvation back in 2001. I never want to be that man again. I want to be God’s man. Again, as I said just a second ago, it is my desire more than anything else to be an honorable, trustworthy, reputable, representative ambassador of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I don’t ever, never, never, never, never, ever want to go back to being the man that stared in the mirror in 2001 and had that meltdown moment of horror at the person that I had become. Thank God for my salvation. Thank God for the joy that I have found there. Thank God for the Holy Spirit and His kicking my butt around these last 16 years. Thank God!

 

Amen and Amen.

Joshua 14:6-15 (Part 2 of 2)
Caleb Requests His Land

Elena and I have a running bet each year. She is a University of South Carolina Gamecock fan. I am a Clemson University Tiger fan. As you may or may not know, depending on where you live when reading this, the Gamecocks and Tigers are archrivals. Tiger fans and Gamecock fans typically don’t like each other for the simple fact that the other pulls for their hated archrival. In a state as small as South Carolina is, you never have to go too far to find the enemy. Sometimes, like in our case, the enemy lives in the same house. In other larger states, the two rival schools have specific following in particular areas of the state. South Carolina is different in that your neighbor or even your own spouse in your own house can be a fan of the other team. And, in this state, Tigers and Gamecocks are competitive in everything. Some say that if the Gamecocks and Tigers had chess teams, the games between them would be heated. But regardless of what sports the two schools play against each other, nothing compares and nothing matters more than the results of the annual Palmetto Bowl football game. Clemson holds the edge in the series that dates back to 1896 with 68-42-4 record against the Gamecocks. The series was stopped briefly from 1902-1909 due to the fact that after the 1902 game a riot broke out after the game. It has been continuously played every year since 1909 and is currently only behind Minnesota vs. Wisconsin as the longest continuously played rivalry football game in the country. So, with that background, Elena and I started a tradition back in 2009 when we first became a couple.

Each year beginning with the 2009 game, the loser of the game has to wear the colors of the winner’s team to church the following day. When we started the bet, Clemson was a real tear in the series. From 1976-2008, a period of 32 seasons, Clemson had won 23 games, lost 8, and tied 1 in the series. In fact, in the overall series, Clemson, on average, wins 2 games to every 1 game won by the Gamecocks. So, the bet seemed a pretty safe one to me. Clemson was coming off two straight victories in the series in 2007 and 2008 and like I said, from 76-08, Clemson just had Carolina’s number. What happens? Carolina starting that year goes on a five-year run in the series. They win five straight in the series – 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. I had to wear a Gamecock sweatshirt that is that hideous combination of garnet and black. It is just not in my color wheel! Five years in a row! Even Clemson with its overall advantage in the series (68-42-4) has never won more than 4 consecutive games in the series. This was egregious! Order has been restored in the series with Clemson winning in 2014, 2015, and 2016. But those five years in a row still are a wound that Tiger fans alive during it will never forget. For me, it meant keeping my word for five consecutive years. Pictures of me in five different shots in a Gamecocks sweatshirt can most likely be found on my wife’s Facebook page somewhere. It was humiliating. I am the biggest of Tiger fans. Everyone who knows me knows that I am a Tiger fan. My mood on Sundays in the fall is directly correlated with how the Tigers did on the gridiron the day before. Wearing Gamecock attire is akin, to me, to wearing a scarlet A on my clothing in colonial New England. It was embarrassing and degrading. Oh the pain! Oh the agony of it all! Five straight years! But during that five year stretch (when it got progressively harder each year to put that dreaded Gamecock sweatshirt on), I never failed to keep my word and wear the sweatshirt so my wife could take my picture, several in fact. Oh that fourth and fifth year, I was so hurt by the Tigers losing, that I almost did not wear the sweatshirt. But your word is your word. You have to do it to keep your honor and integrity even if it means having to wear that dreaded garnet and black. Because I did not call off the bet and kept my word, my wife has not been able to get out of wearing that beautiful combination of burnt orange and white for the last three years. Sometimes, it takes a while for having to keep our word to be an advantage for us, but it will always have a positive long-term effect. Oh how I pray that my wife will have to wear orange and white again this November!

 

That was the thought that came to mind for some reason this morning. I think it is because the passage is about God honoring a 45 year old promise. God never breaks a promise. Like during that five year stretch where Clemson lost to Carolina five years in a row, I had to keep my word. It was a small, insignificant thing. A humorous little bet between a husband and a wife. We would think any less of each other if we did not keep our word heading into the 2017 college football season as we are now. The results of the 2017 Clemson-Carolina game (in Columbia, SC this year) will determine the “winner” of the 9th Annual “Sunday After” Shirt of Shame. We do not have to keep our word on this but it is just a small matter of integrity. To us, if we roll back against the bet, just a little tiny shred of integrity will be lost. It’s not like it an earth shattering thing but it is about integrity and reliability nonetheless. That’s what I think about when I think of God and his promises. Let’s read Joshua 14:6-15 together this morning with that thought in mind:

6 Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’

10 “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)

Then the land had rest from war.

When Joshua gave Caleb his portion, it fulfilled a promise God had made Caleb 45 years earlier. God has integrity and reliability. Do we have the same integrity and reliability? Would we honor a 45 year old promise? God would and does. Even today, He is honoring a promise that He made thousands of years ago. There are promises God has yet to fulfill, but with His integrity and reliability we have no doubt that He will keep His promises.

That’s the takeaway this morning. God always keeps His promises. God promises will always come true. If He says in His Word that I am saved when I proclaim with my mouth and believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and that He was bodily arisen from the dead, then, I must trust and rely on that. If God takes 45 years to fulfill a promise made to Caleb, then, I can rely on what God’s Word says and on what God says to me through the Holy Spirit, even if it is not happening as fast as I want it to. God has an eternal view and I have a temporal one. What seems like an eternity of five years to me is just a whisp of wind for a fleeting millisecond to God. I must trust that He has my best interest at heart and trust and obey Him. I must trust that He will only give me what is best for me. I must trust that sometimes the best kept promise of God is not to give us what we want because our desires are often not what is best for us. Sometimes, we may desire something that is perfectly in line with God’s will but He may seem to be delaying on keeping His word to us, but He is God and He knows when and where and how and what we need. He sees the big picture and we see only what is right in front of us.

Sometimes, God wants us to not get so caught up in the promise that we forget to enjoy the journey to the promise. Along the way, God is teaching us things that we need to know and need to experience so that when He does grant His promise to us, we will be ready for it. Would Caleb have really appreciated the land that he was given if it was just, bam!, given to him 45 years earlier. Think of all the things that Caleb had to go through in those 45 years. I bet he was beyond thankful to God for the land to be at rest once he conquered his land. I bet he was oh so thankful just to be in one place and building a life after all that wandering. I bet he was thankful to God for even the smallest things about his land that he would not have even cared to notice 45 years earlier. So, if you think God is not answering your prayers or keeping some promise to you. Think again. God is a promise keeper. He is truth so He cannot lie to you. He will keep His promises to you. You must simply trust that this period right now where the promise seems unfulfilled is a time that you must learn to trust in the almighty, eternal God who will fulfill His promises to you when He deems that you are ready to appreciate and understand what He is doing for you. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey to the promise. Let go and trust in God that He is developing you and moving you to that place of promise on His timetable. Trust in the Lord for He is reliable, trustworthy, and true. He is a God of His word. He is integrity.

Amen and Amen.

Joshua 5:13-15

Joshua Meets the Commander of the Lord’s Angels

 

Today, the message is simple. No fancy illustration to weave. Usually, I give a glimpse into my life and its history. An illustration from my life as a set up for the passage we are about to read each day. At first, it will make you wonder what it has to do with the passage we are about to read and then after reading the passage, I will tie it altogether with a truth from God. That is what good pastors do in their sermons. Take a truth of God and express it a way that people can relate to. When they can relate to a truth of God in a personal way then they can put it into practice in their lives. It’s my formula and I thank God for letting me see the connections between my life and His Word – the way that I am completely flawed but perfectly forgiven.

 

However, for this passage, I had writer’s block yesterday morning when I tried to write about this passage. My wife suggested that I set it down and come back to it. The message that came through loud and clear yesterday as I was doing my Saturday things (this week it was washing both cars) was that there is no illustration for this from your life. There is nothing that can instruct us on the power, majesty, and glory of being in the presence of the Lord. I just kept thinking about what that would be like. Moses got to be in the presence of the Lord. Joshua is now in the presence of the Lord. What would that be like? It would be indescribably awe-inspiring would it not? However, most of the time, we treat God like He is one of us. Like a pal. Like the guy next door. That was the thing. How do I treat God? How do I treat the Creator of all things? So let’s read through the passage, Joshua 5:13-15, and think about that concept as we do:

 

13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

 

14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

 

15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

 

Because of the Hebrew words used, when it translates in English “near Jericho” it loses some of its meaning. Literally it means that he was standing right next to the walls of Jericho. It had to have been at night. That would be the only way he could have snuck up to the wall without being detected. While he is there by the wall, the Commander of the Lord’s Hosts, Jesus Christ himself, appears to him. Most normal people would have high-tailed it out of there and would have had less than white underwear after being startled. Joshua, though, being a man’s man, an action hero of sorts, and a man with full faith in God just goes right up to the man appearing before Him. He does not realize that it is an appearance of God in the flesh before him so he seems a little cocky at first. When the theophany of God speaks, though, Joshua quickly loses his bravado. As a sign of respect, Joshua goes facedown, prostrate before the Lord. Although Joshua was the leader of Israel, he understood that he was still subordinate to the Absolute Leader, God. Awe and respect are the proper responses due to our holy God.

 

The first way that Joshua shows respect and honor to God was surrender. Although he was initially arrogant in a way as “he went up to Him”, he quickly realized that he was in the presence of God, something far superior to Him and he surrender to him. To lay prostrate before someone was to surrender to them back in the day. Joshua realized that he was not ten feet tall and bulletproof. He realizes that he is in the presence of God and surrenders to Him. No longer was proud and arrogant. He was humbled before the power and presence of God. He might have thought he was something for going right up to the wall of Jericho without being detected but in the presence of the Lord he felt weak and in the presence of greatness far superior to His own. He recognized his servile position before the Lord and surrendered to Him. We often try to bargain with Jesus as if He is an equal or a friend. Jesus if you do this or if you do that, I will do this in return. Jesus is not our equal. He is God in the flesh. He is the master of the universe. He is the commander of heaven’s armies. We are but a wisp of wind compared to Him. We must surrender to Him who is mighty.

 

The second thing that we notice here is that he follows. What message does my Lord have for his servant. Joshua realizes that God is His rightful leader and is willing to do whatever His Lord asks of him. He is not the leader of three million people here. He is the servant of the Lord. So we have Joshua prostrate on the ground and asking what message the Lord has for His servant. He is willing to do whatever the Lord commands. The old song, Trust and Obey, comes to mind when I think of this scene. Joshua is willing to do whatever the Lord commands. He knows that God does not need him for anything. God could knock the walls of Jericho down by Himself if He wanted to. But He comes to Joshua and will use Joshua to demonstrate faith in God and the might of the Lord through His people so that the world will know Him through those people. Are you willing and able to do what God says? Are you laying prostrate before the Lord to asking what message He has for you? Are you willing to do what He says? Do you trust God enough to obey Him even if what He asks is for you to walk around your Jericho seven times without firing a weapon or doing things your way. Can we follow God even when what He asks is something odd or different or difficult? Or do we stand up from our prostrate position and try to negotiate with God, the Master of the Universe.

 

The third thing that we notice here is that Joshua is asked to take His sandals off because he is on holy ground, the ground on which God stands. He does so without question. He worships. Surrender. Follow. And now worship. Joshua realizes that He is in the presence of God and that he must worship. Now, we have him lying prostrate on the ground, asking what God wants him to do, and now with his sandals off. He is as subjugated as you can be. He is as worshipful as he can be. When we go to church these days, I am not sure that we understand how humbled we should really be. We are worshiping the Lord. We are worshiping the Creator of the Universe. We are worshiping the God who knows our every thought. We are worshiping the God who knows all things. We are worshiping the God that spoke, get that – spoke, the universe into being. We are worshiping the God who transcends all time and all space. We are temporal beings in the presence of an eternal God. We are worshiping the God that wants us to worship Him and love Him and be in relationship with Him. We are worshiping the God who wanted us to be in a holy relationship with Him so much that He sent His Son to restore our relationship with Him through His death for our sinful nature. Worship we should. We should worship God with reverence and awe. We should worship Him as the mightiest of all things not as our equal and our buddy. We must lay before Him in awe and wonder that He would speak to us.

 

In this short passage, Joshua shows how we are to be before the Lord. God does not need us but he allows us to be a part of what he is doing. He chooses to work through us. It is a mystery as to why. Maybe it’s because the Lord wants the world to worship Him not as robots but as free-willed humans. He chooses to demonstrate to the world who He is through us and through our faith in Him. He does still do miracles but He allows us to participate in them. Yes, He loves us. He is a God of love and wants us to worship Him by our own choice. He works through us. But let us not forget that He is God. He is not someone we bargain with. He is not someone who we treat like our buddy. He is our leader. We are subject to Him. We are not equal to Him. We must surrender our will to His. We must follow His lead. We must worship Him. He is God. We are not. He is superior. We are inferior. He is God. We are His subjects. He is King. We are prostrate before Him. He leads. We follow. He is the receiver of worship. We are the givers of worship.

 

 

Amen and Amen.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21

Dealing with a Rebellious Son

Have you ever thought in your mind, “Man, I just wanna kill that kid!” Many of us, even as believers, have become exasperated with our children that we have used this term as a hyperbolic statement, though we do not mean it literally. This passage is another one of those harsh Old Testament passages that we, as maturing Christians in the 21st century would just as soon ignore as to have to explain it to less mature Christ followers or, at worst, to non-believers. To stone a rebellious child seems excessively harsh. It is in complete contrast to what we often see today in parenting.

 

Often times today, we see parenting in public or when visiting friends with young children where you see the parents trying to be “enlightened” in their parenting. They want to negotiate their children into good behavior. They treat their child as if to anger the child could be the worst possible thing. They tolerate temper tantrums as they try to reason with their child. You often see children of such parents become just little brutes that are incorrigible. Children of such parents can sense their parents’ disciplinary weakness early on and take advantage of it. Children who do not respect their parents often grow up to be insolent and disrespectful adults. And, watching this enlightened parenting just misses the whole fact that children actually do desire their parents to give them guidance and boundaries. Children are wired to want their parents to be parents to them. It has been statistically proven that children who grow up in homes where they were not disciplined are more likely to become criminals. Children need their parents to be authoritarian and set rules and boundaries that are intended to make them become responsible adults and that there are real consequences for bad behavior. When you see parents try to reason with their 4 year old while he or she is having a meltdown, you just wanna go over to them and just say, “you iiiiidiot!” (reference to Ren & Stempy Show). There are times that we need to discipline our children to teach them that there are consequences for bad behavior. We must teach them to respect us as the final authority in the home.

 

My dad, the man who I could write about his oft-repeated sayings, had a saying about this, “as long as you push your feet up under my table, you will do what I say!” He meant that as long as I am living in his home, I will obey his directions. There was no negotiation. He was dad and I was son. I knew where the limits were. I knew who was in authority. I did not always like and he would make me so angry sometimes with all his rules and consequences. But one thing is for sure when I was growing up in my dad’s house was that I respected him. I knew he was the boss and I was the subordinate. It is ironic that I write about this today. It is my dad’s 78th birthday today. After living these 54 ½ years of my own, I do appreciate that my dad had expectations of my behavior. I do appreciate that he had boundaries for me growing up. I do appreciate that he was consistent in his application of those rules. He was always very clear where the boundaries of behavior were and was consistent about consequences being applied when those boundaries were crossed. I am thankful that my dad was just as much a disciplinarian as he was the dad that would play football with us, wrestle with us, and do fun stuff with us. I have told my dad on several occasions that I had no complaints about how he raised me. He made me into a man who could function and survive and thrive in the world. That’s all a dad wants for his kids – for them to be able function, survive, and even thrive in a rough world out there that is “not all about them!” The world is a no-excuses, suck-it-up-buttercup kind of place and a dad wants his kids to make in that world.

 

18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

 

In this passage, disobedient and rebellious children were to be brought before the elders of the city and stoned to death. There is no biblical evidence that this punishment was ever carried out. However, the point of the passage seems to be that disobedience and rebelliousness against one’s parent in the parental home was not to be tolerated or allowed to go unchecked. This passage was not a license to publicly or privately abuse children.

 

Note that it requires the agreement of both the mother and father. Both the father and mother must take hold of the child and bring him to the public place of justice. Have you ever met a mother than would be willing to have her child publicly stoned even in the worst of circumstances? Fathers may have a lower threshold for the disobedience of children but mothers, by nature of how they are wired and by the fact that giving birth to another human being and nursing them, are the unconditional lovers of their children. Therefore, to have a mother who is willing to take hold of her son along with her husband, there must have been some longstanding, longsuffering point that has been reached in the parents’ relationship with this child. And, too, even though dads are often tougher on kids that their moms, would a dad really want to see his son stoned? It must have had to be a really, long series of problems with a son that parents would have come close to even considering this remedy and it took them both being in complete agreement on it.

 

I think back to raising my girls over the years. Often the threat of “the black spirit of power”, what I called my belt (a term I borrowed from the master of sayings, my dad), was as much a deterrent for bad behavior as the actual use of it. I had to whip both my girls on a handful of occasions only. The threat of punishment though was used many, many times. I think this passage acts in that vein. Parent, instead of saying, “you better chill out! You don’t want a whipping, do you?” Back then, they could have said, “You better chill out! I could take you to the city gates and have you stoned, you know!” So, before we start talking about how harsh God is in the Old Testament, let us remember that there is no biblical evidence that this requirement was none other than for deterrent’s sake.

 

God wanted the household to be a model of our relationship with Him. Parents should be the ultimate authority in the home just as God is the ultimate authority in our lives. Rebellion against parents should have consequences, just as our rebellion against God has its consequences. We are destined for hell because we are rebellious children of God. It is only when we accept God’s authority in our lives through accepting Christ as our Savior and Lord that our rebellion is wiped away. In the absence of accepting God’s authority in our lives through Jesus, we are destined to pay the price for our sins – an eternity cast out into the fiery pit of hell. We are cast outside the city gates of heaven. We are willful children having a meltdown when we do not obey God’s commands and submit ourselves to His authority. Let us, as parents remember the consequences of our rebellion against God and how long it took so many of us to come to our senses. Let us then raise our children to respect us so that they will respect God. Let us raise our children to understand that there are consequences to bad behavior so that they will be more readily able to understand the consequences of sin and about submitting to the authority of God in their lives.

 

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 4:1-20

Duties of the Kohathite Clan

Have you ever noticed that some parents want to be their children’s friend rather than be a true parent to their children? Some parents are afraid that they will lose their “friendship” with their children if they take a hard line on disciplining their children. They are afraid that their children will hate them or cause their home to be a difficult one to live in if they discipline their children. They want to be buddies with the kid. As a result, such parents end up having unruly children and end up hating their parents anyway. As parents, we were not put on this earth to be, contrary to 21st century sensibilities, our children’s friend or buddies or pals. We were put on this earth to raise them up to be responsible adults. We were put on this earth to teach them the ways of the world so that they can survive in it and even flourish in it as adults. We were put on this earth to teach them right from wrong. We were put on this earth to teach them about actions and consequences. We were put on this earth to teach them about hard work and rewards and about the lack of rewards for laziness. We were put on this earth to, yes, love and protect and provide for them but never at the expense showing them the way to adulthood. Being buddies with your child never produces the intended results. Being the cool parents to your kids will often lead to children who grow up thinking that they are entitled to a certain kind of lifestyle without having to put forth any effort. It can lead to disastrous results. You can end up with a child in their twenties that lives in your basement and doesn’t see the need to “get a life” of their own among other unintended results of being buddies with your kids.

 

I know that with my father and mother, I knew that they loved me. They sacrificed greatly so that my brother and I could have what we needed to survive. Some of the best times that I had growing up was with my family. Some of my most unique and funny memories are things that I did with my mom and with my dad. One of my favorite memories was when I was about 10 years old and my dad and I were traveling back from Columbia to our home, at the time, in Anderson, SC. We stopped to get a soft drink after getting outside of Columbia and from that point forward until our soft drinks were gone, we had a burping contest. The contest was to see who could have the longest burp or who could say the most syllables of a word or words while burping. It was a priceless father-son moment. However, I respected my dad beyond belief. That was what made the fun moments most fun was because I knew who the boss was. Dad was not a tyrannical father but he was the authority in our house. I knew what the boundaries of behavior were and I knew there would be consequences for bad behavior. He never wavered in our consequences. If he said this is your punishment, that would be your punishment. There was no negotiating our way out of the consequences of bad behavior. I hated his consistency and his willingness to stay the course at the time, but looking back I am glad he did. I knew that my parents loved me. Without question, I knew this! They showed us love with hugs and kisses and hanging out together and playing sports with us. However, I knew my place as child and their place as parents. There was an understanding that I was not equal to them. The roles were properly defined. There was no blurring of the lines between being a parent to me and being a friend.

 

It was that proper relationship between a parent and a child that was the thought that came to mind when I read through today’s passage. It might seem odd to think of that in a passage about the duties and responsibilities of the Kohathite clan within the tribe of Levi at the tabernacle. As you know, the tribe of Levi was assigned responsibility for the Tabernacle and as we open Chapter 4 of Numbers, we see that God gave specific assignments to each clan within the Levite tribe for the care of the Tabernacle. After you read it, you may wonder how I came to this thought of proper relationships but I will, I promise, tie it together when we finish reading the passage:

 

4 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 2 “Take a census of the Kohathite branch of the Levites by their clans and families. 3 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.

 

4 “This is the work of the Kohathites at the tent of meeting: the care of the most holy things. 5 When the camp is to move, Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the shielding curtain and put it over the ark of the covenant law. 6 Then they are to cover the curtain with a durable leather,[a] spread a cloth of solid blue over that and put the poles in place.

 

7 “Over the table of the Presence they are to spread a blue cloth and put on it the plates, dishes and bowls, and the jars for drink offerings; the bread that is continually there is to remain on it. 8 They are to spread a scarlet cloth over them, cover that with the durable leather and put the poles in place.

 

9 “They are to take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand that is for light, together with its lamps, its wick trimmers and trays, and all its jars for the olive oil used to supply it. 10 Then they are to wrap it and all its accessories in a covering of the durable leather and put it on a carrying frame.

 

11 “Over the gold altar they are to spread a blue cloth and cover that with the durable leather and put the poles in place.

 

12 “They are to take all the articles used for ministering in the sanctuary, wrap them in a blue cloth, cover that with the durable leather and put them on a carrying frame.

 

13 “They are to remove the ashes from the bronze altar and spread a purple cloth over it. 14 Then they are to place on it all the utensils used for ministering at the altar, including the firepans, meat forks, shovels and sprinkling bowls. Over it they are to spread a covering of the durable leather and put the poles in place.

 

15 “After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, only then are the Kohathites to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the tent of meeting.

 

16 “Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, is to have charge of the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the regular grain offering and the anointing oil. He is to be in charge of the entire tabernacle and everything in it, including its holy furnishings and articles.”

 

17 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 18 “See that the Kohathite tribal clans are not destroyed from among the Levites. 19 So that they may live and not die when they come near the most holy things, do this for them: Aaron and his sons are to go into the sanctuary and assign to each man his work and what he is to carry. 20 But the Kohathites must not go in to look at the holy things, even for a moment, or they will die.”

 

The Kohathites along with the other two clans to be mentioned in this chapter were family clans within the Levite tribe who assigned special tasks for the maintenance and care of the Tabernacle and in Israel’s worship of God within it. They were expected to carry out their duties in exacting detail as described here. Failure to do so would result in death. This contrasted greatly with the culture from which they were enslaved, the Egyptian culture. There, worshipers of the Egyptian gods could purchase amulets and potions related to their gods. The idols of their gods could be touched and handled and thus reduced to common everyday elements. This is because their gods were not real. Man makes up his own rules when he creates gods of his own making. However, our God is a holy God. He is separate and distinct from His Creation. Therefore, Israel was being taught proper respect for being in the presence of a perfect and holy God. Since He was and is far greater and far better and more awesome than anything in His creation, He is teaching the Israelites how to take great care so as not to be consumed and die in His presence because we are imperfect and He is perfect and He must make sure that we take care when we have the opportunity on this side of heaven to come into His presence. Since He is the Almighty God who is perfection itself, we would be consumed, burned up, would die in His presence because of being imperfect. I don’t quite think that we grasp that, but it is really a thing. Imperfection cannot exist in the presence of perfection without being burnt up. Think of iron ore being smelted. Imperfections are consumed and burned up in the smelting process. It’s kind of like that.

 

Too often in our 21st century sensibilities, and this is where we tie this though of parent-child relationships into what we have read about the special care of the objects in the Tabernacle, we try to make God our friend. We even sometimes say we are co-pilots with him. In the 21st century, we like to think of ourselves as in control of our world and of our own destiny. Therefore, we have elevated ourselves and demystified our God. We want to be buddies with Him. We want to be pals with Him. Even in my own Bible from which has footnotes to help explain the passages and in other biblical materials nowadays, we have made subtle changes to the relationship. Hardly ever (and I one of the few that still does) do you see pronouns referencing God capitalized anymore (instead of He, Him, Himself, and so on, we now use he, him, himself and so on). We want to be buddies with God. He is our pal. We even pray to Him like he is our buddy. We do not take time to properly prepare for prayer. We just talk to him as we are doing other things. We do not prostrate ourselves in prayer. We do not have alone time for prayer. I dare say that most of us do not have a quiet, special place where we go to have quiet prayer time with the Lord. We do not honor Him the way He should be honored. I am not saying that we should not talk to Him throughout the course of the day. We should! However, we do need those times where we approach Him in humble reverence. We need to treat God like He is God.

 

He is not our buddy. He is God of the Universe. He is the Creator of all Things. He is Almighty. He is Perfection. He is God of Strength. He is God of Infinite Wisdom. He is God of All Knowledge. He is Holy. He is Mighty. He is Perfect. He is Everything. We are, by contrast, like a grand of sand in His Presence. We have forgotten how holy God is. We have forgotten the reverence with which we should treat Him. He is All and we are nothing. He is not our buddy. He is our Father. He is a good, good Father. We should know, yes, that He loves us with unbounding love. He loves us so much that He gave us away to exist in His presence even with our imperfections through the perfection of Jesus Christ. So, yes, He loves us intimately and pursues us relentlessly. But He is God. Let us remember our place in this relationship. We are the sons and daughters of God. We are not His equal. He has no equal. He is God. We are His children. Let us always remember to approach Him with the reverence and awe that He deserves. He is not our buddy.

 

Amen and Amen.

1 Corinthians 11:17-34 — Today, we take our final look at the Lord’s Supper passage found in these verses. In closing out the passage, Paul talks about how we are to approach the Lord’s Supper. There are two things we must discuss about it. First, how we as Christ followers should approach the meal and, second, should those who have not accepted Christ as their Savior participate in the meal?

Like so many things that we do repeatedly in life, they can lose their meaning. It’s kind of like your commute to your job every morning. The first day on a new job you remember every moment of the drive to work. It was a new path to your daily grind and it was a new job. Now, after a few years on the job, you sometimes get to work and wonder how you got there. You were on auto-pilot mindlessly driving to work. It’s like being in the shower and you are about to get out and dry off and all of sudden you can’t remember whether you washed your hair or not. You are pretty certain that you did it but you can’t remember with 100% certainty that you did. That’s how many of us approach the one of the two rituals ordained by Christ for His church. Baptism is one and what we are talking about here is the Lord’s Supper. We often approach it without any care. It’s become routine. We take the bread and eat it and we take the wine and drink it and we don’t really think about what we are doing. It has become religion instead of a wonderful rite that we get to participate in. It has become habit instead of glorious remembrance of what Christ has done for us. It become your daily commute instead an adventurous drive to work. It has become washing your hair and not remembering it five minutes later. That type of approach to the Lord’s Supper was not what Christ intended it to be.

Paul tells us that we are not honoring the body and blood of Jesus Christ when we approach the meal unworthily. When we do not approach, as Christ followers, the Lord’s Supper with honor and reverence we miss its meaning. Paul implies that we should approach the meal with great introspection about our service to our Lord and Savior. We should think of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us and compare it to our own level of commitment to our Lord. We should approach the Lord’s Supper with examination of our sins and repenting of them and seeking forgiveness from God through Christ. We should approach the meal with examination of how well we are loving our friends, neighbors, our enemies, and strangers. We should never approach the Lord’s Supper with hatred or angst toward another in our heart. We should seek to resolve and reconcile relationships before participating in this meal. We should consider any barriers in our life that get in the way of our relationship with Christ and with other believers. Awareness of our sins should drive our preparation for the Lord’s Supper. After all, it is where we honor Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that He made to set us free from the penalty of sin and death. It is where we honor Him for stepping in our place and taking the punishment for sin that we deserve. The meal itself imparts nothing to us. The wine and the bread do not have any special properties because they are used in the meal. They do not give us salvation. But, Jesus Himself said we should do this in remembrance of Him. The meal is an honor to our Lord and Savior. It is where we say in a symbolic way that we thank you Jesus. It is here that we symbolically say that we are one with Christ. It is here that we say symbolically that we accept the grace of His sacrifice for us. It is here at the Lord’s Supper that we identify ourselves with Jesus Christ. It’s here that we remember that death was not the end and that Christ will one day return to claim His people and judge the world. This is not just a meal. It is an honor that should never become habit. We should always consider it an honor and a privilege and approach it with the reverence that it deserves. Christ gave us this remembrance to strengthen our faith in Him.

When you consider these things, it then brings up the question as to whether those who have not accepted Christ as their Savior should participate in the meal? Because of the gravity of what the Lord’s Supper represents and Paul says we should not approach it without reverence, then, in theory, it should be closed to only believers participating. However, that presents a problem for church leadership when serving the Lord’s Supper. How can we as leaders of the church know whether a person is a true believer or is just in church for the heck of it? Therefore, I think that is why Paul addresses this part of 1 Corinthians to the believers themselves not to the leadership. He is telling believers that they should approach the meal with honor in their hearts for what Christ has done for them. If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, then, you should consider that yourself and show respect to those who do by not participating in the meal. Paul puts the onus on us individually. He is saying that believers should examine their amount of reverence for the Lord before they partake in the meal and thus it goes without saying that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ cannot show honor for what He has done for them if they have not accepted it as their own. How can you honor what you do not believe in? Paul gives warning to the Corinthian believers if they approach the meal with irreverence that they invite God’s punishment upon themselves. It stands to reason then that non-believers would do invite the same punishment upon themselves.

I am not saying these things to create some us vs. them thing between us Christ followers and those that do not believe in Him. The Lord’s Supper is an honor and privilege that we have as Christians to thank Jesus Christ for the sacrifice for our sins that Jesus made and thereby making us right with a righteous and just God. That non-believers should respect what that means to us and respect that by not participating is what I am saying. It is also a call to us as believers to spread the gospel. The Lord’s Supper is an opportunity to witness to others about what Christ has done for us. It is a call to evangelize. It is a call to serve Jesus Christ. It is a call to go make disciples. Jesus called us to make disciples so that all my one day with right hearts and minds join us at the banquet table of the Lord’s Supper. It is our job to live a life that draws non-believers to us and it is our job to teach them of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for them on the cross so that they can come to know Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior and so that they can have a place at the table for the Lord’s Supper. We are all unworthy sinners made worthy through grace and that is what we remember at the Lord’s Supper. It is not routine. It is not a checklist thing. It is deeply personal between you and Jesus Christ. Do this in remembrance of Him!