Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mansions of God

I have always read, viewed, heard, etc.; John 14:1-3 as the time when I go to heaven. Mansions being these magnificent homes to live in when my time on earth is done. I have heard that these mansions are literal from some preachers; and, figurative from others. I have also heard that we could “add to” our mansions by the good we do down here and “take away from” if we do wrong. But I have never heard or understood until recently, the truth of this passage…

John 14
1 ¶ “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
2 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

The word for ‘house’ is-- oikia (oy-kee’-ah)
1) a house
1a) an inhabited edifice, a dwelling
1b) the inmates of a house, the family
1c) property, wealth, goods

The word for ‘mansion’ is--mone (mon-ay’)
1) a staying, abiding, dwelling, abode
2) to make an (one’s) abode
3) metaph. of the God the Holy Spirit indwelling believers

So, it seems that the Father has a ‘house’ with many ‘dwellings’ or ‘abodes’. A house with many who ‘abide’.

Concerning the house: We know from 2 Cor 5:1 that God’s house is not heaven itself; but it is heavenly; or, eternal.
2Cor 5:1 ¶ For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

But the main thing that I am learning is this: Jesus was not talking about a later time when I go to heaven but later when He sends the Holy Spirit to abide with us. The word ‘mone’ (mansion) only appears twice in the whole Bible.
John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions <3438>: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode <3438> with him.

How it got interpreted as mansion, I do not know…unless mansion meant something totally different back then. But the important thing is that Jesus was not talking about a mansion as we know it. He was talking about eternally abiding with us. He was talking about preparing a place for us by his death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and sending the Holy Spirit. He was talking about being the Presence our midst; both now, and forever…with the climax being the great Marriage Feast of the Lamb.

One author paraphrases it like this: “If I and My Father come and make our home in you, you will understand what I meant when I said that My Father's house has many dwellings. You are our dwelling place, our mansions. My Father and I make our home in you; yet, you have your dwelling place in us. Thus, our house is in you and your house is in us. This is not a funeral service scripture. It is a present day reality expressing how I am the Presence in your midst.”

You can read the whole chapter here. (it’s not long)

I think I need to re-read John 14 with this in mind...

Friday, July 21, 2006

How Long?

19 How long? Will You not look away from me, And let me alone till I swallow my saliva?
20 Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have You set me as Your target, So that I am a burden to myself?
21 Why then do You not pardon my transgression, And take away my iniquity? For now I will lie down in the dust, And You will seek me diligently, But I will no longer be."
Job 7:19-21

2 Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled; But You, O LORD––how long?
4 Return, O LORD, deliver me! Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake!
Psalms 6:2-4

1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4 Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against him"; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
Psalms 13:1-4

3 Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!
4 O LORD God of hosts, How long will You be angry Against the prayer of Your people?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears, And given them tears to drink in great measure.
6 You have made us a strife to our neighbors, And our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!
Psalms 80: 3-7

13 Return, O LORD! How long? And have compassion on Your servants.
14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
15 Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, The years in which we have seen evil.
16 Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children.
17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalms 90:13-17

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Judge Not

Luke 6:37 ¶ “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

(This concept of judging can be quite confusing. And I am not sure if I have it right. Even while I was studying this, I came across one scripture where Paul instructs us to judge within the church. Then, I found another scripture where James is explaining that the wrong type of judgment is “speaking evil” of a brother. However, the heading for James 4:11 in one of the Bibles (inserted by well-meaning men) is “Do Not Judge A Brother”. The inserted text is not the Bible, but most people will not study this out. If they did, they would find that we are indeed supposed to Judge a Brother; and, that there is a wrong way and a right way to do it.)

One of the terrible things that has slipped into the Church: The idea that we are not to confront evil in the Body of Christ. Nor are we supposed to speak out against sin in the world, because then, we would be ‘judging’.

About 10 years ago, while I was working at Northrop, there was a general conversation about homosexuality. Sometime during the course of the conversation, someone stated that particular lifestyle is immoral and wrong. (Keep in mind that it was not mean, belligerent, crude, or demeaning.) I was surprised to hear other Christian people say things like, “Whoa, the Bible says, ‘Don’t judge’. Just because you don’t agree with someone, does not give you the right to judge.”

I wonder why we have a book in the Bible called ‘Judges’?

I have been thinking about this for years and watching how, in churches, we let good Christian people slowly destroy their lives because we are afraid to speak to them about a sin in their life. Then, I went to a church where a phrase (in my opinion) got way out of hand. “Accuser of the brethren”. I cannot remember how it first got started, but it produced an atmosphere such that if anyone pointed out wrong in another Christian’s life, they were lining themselves up with ‘the ministry of Satan’ as 'accuser of the brothers'

(I think that this started out being a sermon on gossip. The pastor was teaching that we should no go around just pointing out everyone’s faults…which is very true. But there ended up being an atmosphere where people stopped saying much at all and would overlook the obvious wrongs in peoples lives. Of course, there is the other extreme where people go around simply pointing out everything wrong in people’s lives! Both are wrong.)

We NEED loving, Biblical judgment in the Body of Christ. I need it. You need it. We are a Body that is supposed to be working together. At times, we should boldly confront sin in another part of the Body, helping them to make it right; and, we must also remain humble and open for others to point it out in our lives. We all have blind spots where we need another’s help.

Here is some commentary to better explain:
“[Judge not, that ye be not judged] This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. Romans 2:1, Luke 6:37 explains it in the sense of condemning. Christ does not condemn judging as a magistrate, for that, when according to justice, is lawful and necessary. Nor does he condemn our forming an opinion of the conduct of others, for it is impossible not to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil. But what he refers to is a habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without an allowance for every palliating circumstance, and of expressing such an opinion harshly and unnecessarily when formed.

I think that 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 explains true Biblical judgment. We are instructed to judge, avoid, even “put away” someone “named a brother who is sexually immoral, covetous, an idolater, a reviler, a drunkard, or extortioner,” who is unrepentant and refuses to change.

James 4:11 explains wrong judgment--speaking evil of a brother.

There is a big difference between judging by speaking evil of another member of the Body of Christ and judging to help them.

In our heart, if we genuinely want to help someone to see where they are wrong, and lovingly & tenderly confront the issue, we are not the accuser of the brethren, but a true friend. However, if we only point out the faults of others, but never actually do anything but talk about them, then we are in the wrong.

May the Holy Spirit give us understanding in all of this.

Help...At the Break of Dawn

1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.

Psalms 46:1-5

Friday, July 14, 2006

Arise For Our Help

23 Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arise! Do not cast us off forever.
24 Why do You hide Your face, And forget our affliction and our oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; Our body clings to the ground.
26 Arise for our help, And redeem us for Your mercies’ sake.

Psalms 44:23-26

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Where is My God?

1 ¶ <> As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, "Where is your God?"
4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.

Psalms 42:1-5

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Trap of Offense

My little world is being blown away. But I don’t think that I will be able to communicate with the same intensity that I feel. In reading The Bait of Satan, I am deeply convicted as the Word of God is being revealed. It is forcing me to re-live some moments in my life…

I am realizing that my current problem is that I was greatly offended by people that I call brothers; and, the trap of offense has held me in it jaws. Like David said in Psalms 55:12-14 “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. 13 But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.”

In my situation, I have been focused on how it all happened. While that may be a legitimate issue, that is not the root of my current problem. What happened, how it happened, etc., should most certainly be addressed if it was wrong, but that does not make it okay for me to get caught in the trap of offense. And because a trap, by its very nature, is hidden and deceiving, I have not realized it until now.

I have also realized the danger of being offended and how difficult it is for an offended brother or sister to recover. Matthew 24:10 says that being offended leads to betrayal, and betrayal to hatred…that is dangerous. Proverbs 18:19 compares restoring relationships where one was offened, to the difficulty of taking over a fortified city.

With those verses, at least I am beginning to understand why this has been the most difficult time of my life.

John Bevere begins with Luke 17:1--but look at the different ways that the word ‘offenses’ is translated in 4 different versions. ‘Offenses, stumbling blocks, temptations to sin, things that cause people to sin.’ I guess I see each of these words slightly different, and after further study, I see that offenses is the best word. It involves the concept of being in a trap, and a trap has the ability to immobilize you, not just make you stumble-or tempt you in some way.

The Greek word used is-skandalon skan’-dal-on ("scandal"). The first definition of skandalon is: “the movable stick or trigger of a trap, a trap stick” The word originally meant the part of the trap to which the bait was attached. Being offended, especially during times of ‘scandal’, is the deceitful bait on the trigger of a trap. When we become offended, and hold on to that offence, we trigger the trap, and are immobilized until we let go…something a lot easier said than done.

The second definition, by the way, is “any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall, (a stumbling block, occasion of stumbling) i.e. a rock which is a cause of stumbling”. So, I can see why it is translated the way it is in the different versions. But, in the context, we see that Jesus is saying things like, “...if he [your brother] sins against you seven times in a day…”

[On a side note, after studying this word ‘offense’, I think that I will stick to my NKJV. Just think how misled we would be if we taught about stumling blocks instead of being offended. It’s a world of difference, to me. The KJV and NKJV seems much more accurate. But I will keep a couple of other versions nearby for comparison. However, the most important thing is to study…]

So, I am currently meditating on Luke 17:1-5. There is a lot there.
Jesus warns us about the trap of being offended
Jesus warns the one through whom the offenses come
Jesus says that the offender would be better off with a huge stone tied around his neck, and thrown into the sea, than to offend
Jesus explains the first steps when we are offended by a brother or sister: Bring it to their attention in a God-Honoring way, and forgive them as often as necessary.

And I love the apostles’ reply. There is no way for me to know exactly, but based on the way I feel after studying this, I see them sort of shaking their head in amazement, wondering how in the world they are going to obey this teaching. Then all they could say to the Lord was, “Increase our faith.”

And all I can say at this point is, “Lord, forgive me for holding on to offense. I forgive those who I perceive offended me. Help me to never be the offender, and always aware of the trap of offense. Most of all, Increase my faith.”