Long ago, in Old Testament times, people attempted to commune with God in various ways, even by offering up animal sacrifices. That system proved to be quite insufficient. For it never did take away sins (Heb. 10:4). Though it was insufficient, it did, however, and it does now, speak of Christ.
The tabernacle. Every detail of the tabernacle, with all its parts and in all the furniture, reminds us of who He is and what He did for us. It also speaks to us of His living temple, the church—the habitation of God.
The tabernacle shows to us, as it did to them, a “new and living way” by which to commune with God. It is the way of the living Christ, “which He consecrated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Heb. 10:20).
Furthermore, the tabernacle gives us a pattern (as a map) of how we…
In Matthew 7:1-5, our Lord has been preaching on judgment. He tells us not to judge others; and whenever we try to correct another we must first look at and purify ourselves, then we can see clearly to help them.
In the sixth verse, most bibles put this verse in a special paragraph on its own. But D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones suggests that that is not right, that it should connect to the previous five verses, that it is the final statement on judgment. Indeed, I agree. It tells the spiritual Christian how he must judge another—with “a spirit of discrimination.” So, Jesus says in verse six…
Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
What is meant here? First of all, pearls are the Christian message. And the dogs and the swine are all that is unholy and unclean, or all those who are unworthy to hear the Christian message. And we know that all of us have sinned, but in this context, Jesus was referring to those sinners who reject the gospel and the truth of God and those who hate Him and even snarl at the message of His truth.
So, Jesus is telling us that we ought not to just spread His word of truth to everyone, but only to those who are worthy of it—or who are seeking it. This may come as a surprise to some people. Some may say that since God loves all people, all should hear the gospel. But the end of verse six gives an explanation of why not. Jesus says that some who hear the gospel will “trample them [our words] under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” In short, they reject the truth and even do damage to it and to you.
If you need an example of this, we can look at Jesus teaching. First, we can compare how He answered Pilate with Herod, in Luke 23:3 and 9. With Pilate, in verse three, Jesus answered him; but with Herod, in verse nine, he answered him nothing. Why? Because Jesus judged Pilate to be a genuine seeker of truth, but He knew that Herod cared nothing for the truth. He knew it by his attitude. And there are other examples. Many times Jesus would not speak to the Pharisees, or at least answer their questions. He instead would go and minister to the Gentiles and to the sinners, as also Paul did.
In all our evangelism efforts and when we seek to teach the truth to people, we should always learn who we are talking to, to see if they are worthy of hear us. Here are three sets of instructions that may be helpful to you in your speaking to others.
Learn to know what to give each person in each particular situation.
Learn to know the way to present the truth to each person. Learn to assess people.
Learn which aspect of truth is appropriate in each particular case.
Also, know that our presentation to unbelievers must be different than to believers. An unbeliever only needs one thing, the doctrine of justification by faith. They need only to know of their sinful life and their need of salvation. Any other bit of truth will have no meaning to them; or we should say that they will take it wrong because of their unregenerated state.
To believers, some have a need for basic truth only—the milk of the word; others should be fed more solid food—the meat of the word.
This is our thirteenth study. Please click HERE for an intro to this study. Today we will focus on how Jesus responded to the Pharisees when they tried to trap Him.
Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
Both the Pharisees and the Herodians (mainly Sadducees) wanted to trap Jesus in His words as to paying taxes. If he said no to their question of paying taxes, the Herodians would charge Him with treason against Rome. And if He said yes, the Pharisees would accuse Him of disloyalty to the Jewish nation. His answer amazed them both. He said to pay the tax to Caesar because it was his anyway (according to the stamp on the coin), but all the things that are God’s should go to God, which would include the hearts and souls of people. Caesar cannot touch people’s souls. They have the mark of His image on them.
No one can touch a person’s soul. All are created in His image and belong to Him. We all have His mark on us and so all should give themselves to Him.
There seems to be two sides to Critical Race Theory. In one respect CRT is merely a broad study of race and racism. It is a changing package of ideas. It is a bunch of so-called race scholars trying to make sense out of our country as it is—a racist country; they are trying to understand how we got where we are. But another side of CRT is more dominant. These race scholars I think have a strategy: to infiltrate society and our schools with their ideas. But I’m not sure what their ultimate goal is. They may say it is to make society better; but at what cost? I fear it is at the cost of Socialism and even Communism.
In my reading on this topic I ran across this interesting article that was very revealing to me: A Lesson on Critical Race Theory. Here are a few quotes from the article on what CRT is.
A practice of interrogating the role of race and racism in society.
It critiques how the social construction of race and institutionalized racism perpetuate a racial caste system that relegates people of color to the bottom tiers.
CRT recognizes that race intersects with other identities, including sexuality, gender identity, and others.
CRT recognizes that racism is not a bygone relic of the past. Instead, it acknowledges that the legacy of slavery, segregation, and the imposition of second-class citizenship on Black Americans and other people of color continue to permeate the social fabric of this nation.
CRT is an acknowledgement that racismis a normal feature of society and is embedded within systems and institutions.
CRT recognizes that racism is codified in law, embedded in structures, and woven into public policy.
CRT can be an approach used to theorize, examine, and challenge the ways which race and racism implicitly and explicitly impact social structures, practices, and discourses. (I used bold for emphasis)
CRT is an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States who seek to critically examine the law as it intersects with issues of race and to challenge mainstream liberal approaches to racial justice.
It is rooted in the desire to understand how a regime of white supremacy and its subordination of people of color have been created and maintained in America.
Critics often call the theory Marxist.
In plain terms, critical race theory holds that racism is part of a broader pattern in America: It is woven into laws, and it shows up in who gets a job interview, the sort of home loans people are offered, how they are treated by police, and other facets of daily life large and small.
I don’t have too much to says other than what I have already said. Overall, I would definitely say that CRT is a Marxist theory and a movement, and we should try to stop it. Some like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is doing just that and I applaud him. He said, “Teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other is not worth one red cent of taxpayer money.” Missouri, Idaho, and Tennessee have introduced bills aimed at barring CRT in the classroom. Good move! Also, former President Trump has tried to stop it. We need him back.
So many things, movements are leaning toward Marxism these days. BLM, for instance, is closely tied to CRT. They are on the front lines of it. But you need to know that Satan is the one behind it all.
The Real Answer to Racism
Let me say, in conclusion, that if you really want to combat racism in this country and in the world, you don’t need a CRT. You need to read and study the bible for the answers. If you choose to do that you will find that the bible says nothing about the different races or about different skin colors. Evidently, God cares nothing about skin color. But He does care that people learn to get along with each other and to love each other. I found two words in the bible that will address racism: favoritism and partiality (or in the KJV it is “respect of persons”). Hence, we are not to show favoritism to people. We are to love and respect all people. Here are two verses to look at.
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Now let me say as a final conclusion that, according to the bible, the key to not being racist is not to somehow change your behavior, because we can’t do it on our own. We need a heart change—a new heart. And Jesus can do that for us. If we give our lives to Him, He will give you a new heart, and all things will be made new. 2 Corinthians says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” That means that all racist tendencies will be gone! He will give you a new desire to love all people—whatever color.
I think it is good every once in a while, for a blogger to stop and evaluate what he blogs on, especially for a Christian blogger, because he has a grater responsibility before God to present the truth before God and others.
Here are four different blogging themes I would like to evaluate.
1. Blogging on the evils of our day.
2. Blogging on the necessity of fellow believers to be grounded in the word.
3. To expound on the great truths of Scripture.
4. To present my own testimony and the testimony of others.
Blogging On the Evils of Our Day
Every once in a while, I am compelled to do this, both for my own understanding (through my research) and to inform others. As Christians and as good citizens I think we need to be aware of what’s going on in the world. How can we be discerning unless someone warns us? And how can we be protected from evil unless we know what that evil is? And how can we pray against evil unless we know what we are praying about?
But though I think it is important to be warned of certain evils, I caution myself and others not to spend too much time on it. As a Christian our meditation and delight should be on the word of God and His truth. Also, we would not even understand what evil is, and we would not have a healthy warning of it unless we were informed of it from the word and by the Holy Spirit.
Blogging On the Necessity of Being Grounded in The Word
It is always good to remind myself and others to be grounded in the word—to be constantly reading and meditating on and memorizing the word. The Psalms are especially good for this; verses like Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
Blogging On the Great Truths of Scripture
This I think is most important; but at the same time, we have a greater responsibility to get it right—to expound the word correctly. We should always take our time and make sure we speak the truth. Sometimes I think it is better to just quote the Scriptures instead of trying to explain it in our own words. In my writing I often depend on a good commentary—someone trustworthy.
Blogging My Own Story or the Story of Others
We all enjoy hearing a good story. Sometimes a testimony will encourage another more than anything else, because it is something that can’t be denied. It is what happened to a person.
I think I should use this blogging method more than I have. It is easy and it is effective.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has been suspended from uploading videos to YouTube for seven days and had a video of a speech talking about early treatments to COVID-19 removed by the video-sharing giant.
The video removal and upload ban came after two videos of Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearings he led on early experimental treatments to the novel coronavirus, such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.
Johnson told Fox News that “YouTube’s ongoing COVID censorship proves they have accumulated too much unaccountable power.”
“Big Tech and mainstream media believe they are smarter than medical doctors who have devoted their lives to science and use their skills to save lives,” Johnson said. “They have decided there is only one medical viewpoint allowed, and it is the viewpoint dictated by government agencies. How many lives will be lost as a result? How many lives could have been saved with a free exchange of medical ideas?”
“Government-sanctioned censorship of ideas and speech should concern us all,” Johnson added.
Intercessors are the workers of the prayer ministry. We can have great leaders and organizers, great groups, and wonderful prayer conferences, but without intercessors there would be no prayer ministry. Intercession is what makes the prayer ministry happen.
There are always some faithful souls who are eager to pray that will volunteer to sign up as intercessors. Most of us, however, are just too independent and too occupied with our own affairs. Therefore, we need to be reminded to pray, and recruited to intercede for others.
You who are leaders in the prayer ministry are the recruiters. You need to stand in the gap for the prayer ministry that God has called you to (Ezek. 22:30). Here are some ideas on who you should recruit as intercessors.
Recruit those who are attracted to your ministry. Your ministry will be of a certain type; likewise, your personality and your way of doing things will be unique. If someone comes along and likes what they see, and senses that they are being called by God to join you, that is the person you want on your team.
Recruit your friends. Recruit those who are on all different levels of friendship to intercede for you and your ministry. They will be as circles around you. You may have two or three close friends to pray for you; they will be as tight circles around you. You will usually have ten to twenty casual friends; they should be as a larger prayer circle around you. Then there will always be a greater number, sometimes hundreds, who are your acquaintances; they should also pray for you, guarding your parameter.
Therefore, we should think of our friends as those who pray for us. And if they are truly our friends then they will prayer for us. But we should also recruit friends for our friends. This is part of the hard work of the prayer ministry.
Recruit those who seem to be more gifted as intercessors.I don’t know if I believe that God has given a spiritual gift of intercession to some people more than others. But we do know that there are some Christians who enjoy prayer more than others, and pray more.
Peter Wagner is one who believes that God has gifted some with a spiritual gift of intercession. He has said in his book, Prayer Shield that 5% of the average congregation has the gift of intercession. He states that those who have this gift “pray longer,” “pray with more intensity,” “enjoy prayer more and receive more personal satisfaction from their prayer times,” and, “are acutely aware of hearing quite clearly from God.”9
As I said, I am not ready to say that these people have a special spiritual gift; but I do accept what Peter Wagner has observed. Anyway, these are the type of Christians that you need on your prayer team. These are the people that we need to seek out and recruit—for ourselves and for others. Many of these great prayer warriors I have a feeling are not signed up to pray for as many people as they would like to pray for. I think many of them would be tickled if someone asked them to be an intercessor for them—because, after all, that is what they feel they are called to do!
Okay, now that you have an idea who to recruit, the question now is how to recruit? Basically, I would say, you will look for those who show an interest in prayer. Recruiting is just keeping your eyes open to see and find those whom God has prepared and given a heart for prayer. But since each type of ministry is different we must apply different methods of recruiting for each of them.
If you are part of a state, national or worldwide prayer ministry you may want to start by seeing who has subscribed to your prayer magazine, or who has purchased any of your prayer materials. Those will be some of the ones who are more interested in prayer. From that interested list you can send a letter asking them to sign up as an intercessor.
If you are part of a small group ministry or a church ministry you may want to call those whom you think are interested in prayer or approach them in person.
In whatever way you approach your interested people, make sure you communicate to them exactly what they will be required to do. For instance, tell them how often you will be sending them prayer requests, and tell them how much you expect them to pray. I think the more you make things clear to them the more they will be motivated to intercede.
Why all people need intercessors, and why some need them more than others
All of us who are human need someone to intercede for us because we all have needs and problems and we are all subject to temptation. If each of us had friends around us, interceding for us, we would all be better off—we would all have a better chance at overcoming temptation, and being protected.
Pastors and evangelists, I think need prayer more than others; therefore they need more intercessors interceding for them. Here are…
Three Reasons Why Pastors and Evangelists Need More Prayer
1. They receive a stricter judgment (James 3:1). Since God holds teachers and leaders more accountable, they need more prayer protection and prayer power.
2. Satan will be after them more. Pastors and evangelists preach and teach the Word more and proclaim the gospel more than others. Therefore, Satan hates them more and will temp them more than others.
3. Pastors and evangelists have more influence on others. They need prayer more than others because they have more responsibilities and they influence more people. If Satan overtakes a pastor, for example, the whole congregation is affected. Therefore, when we pray for a pastor we are in effect praying for the whole church.
I don’t think there has ever been a great preacher or evangelist that did not have faithful prayer warriors interceding for them. Peter Wagner in his Prayer Shield tells of two great evangelists, Charles Finney and Billy Graham, who each had their faithful intercessors praying for them. Finney had one known as “Father Nash” who frequently traveled with him; and Billy Graham had Pearl Goode, which Graham himself has attributed much of his evangelism power to.10
It is a shame that more pastors don’t try to recruit more intercessors for themselves. As we have seen, they certainly have a need to. Nonetheless, we should make it our aim and duty to intercede for them, and to recruit others to do the same.
Encouraging intercessors. Intercession is hard work. And sometimes, especially if answers don’t come quickly, the work is discouraging. If you are a leader in a prayer ministry you need to take time to encourage your intercessors. I suggest that you communicate regularly to let your prayer partners know that you appreciate their service to you.
In this seventh chapter of Matthew, in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about judging others—or criticizing and condemning others.
“Do not judge lest you be judged. 2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 “And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Just previously (in chapter 6) Jesus spoke on worry. Now He turns to judging others. This is an interesting transition—from worry to judging others. But I think this is what we tend to do in our sins. At first, we think inwardly at all we have to do and worry about it; then we will turn our sins and frustrations outward toward others. Thus, when we get tired of looking inwardly at ourselves, we try to console ourselves and make ourselves look and feel better by condemning others. How sad.
But Jesus sets us straight as to what is going on. First of all, He tells us that whenever we point the finger at others, the same judgment will be pointed back at us—by others, and also, more importantly, by God.
His judgment will come to Christians in three ways:
1. There will be a final and eternal judgment to determine if you are really a true believer or not. If your name is found in the book of life then you are saved from eternal hell; if not, then you are not really a Christian at all and you will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
2.There is a judgment for disobedience and sin. Scripture tells us that some are judged with sickness and even death; and in some cases, God will deliver them to Satan to let him carry out His will (1 Cor. 5:5).
3. When He comes to take believers to heaven there will be a judgment of rewards, whereour works will be manifest (1 Cor. 3). And this judgment is so important because it will affect us for eternity.
So, we should be careful about judging others, because God will certainly judge us. And that judgment will be just. And interestingly, it will be measured to us by the same standard we use on others (v. 2).
Romans 2:1 says, “In whatever you judge another you condemn yourselves; for you who judge practice the same things.” Isn’t that interesting. Paul is saying that whatever we are guilty of, we tend to condemn others of.
James 3:1 says, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. Here, similarly, God judges us with the same judgment we set for others.
Looking at verses 3 and 4 of Matthew 7, we see that we, in many cases, should not be judging others at all because we are incapable of doing it. We can’t do it because we are not right in ourselves. If we were really concerned about righteousness in others, we would deal with that same sin in ourselves.
What Is True Judgment?
Yes, there is a true or correct judgment. What does it look like?
1. In true judgment there is no prejudice or personal element. It is an objective judgment based on principles of truth, not on personalities.
2.In true or correct judgment the one who judges will first judge himself. A great singer oractor is always more critical of himself than others. A good judge sets the correct standard for others. In fact, one who is good at his game, say a Mikael Jordan, does not need to say anything to others. His good game will say more than any words will ever say. But if he does give his team mates any words of correction, believe me, they will listen!
3. True judgment cares about the righteousness of God, in others and in the one judging.The true judge has already dealt with sin in himself and sees clearly to help another.
I’ve been living in this apartment for over twenty years, and this branch has been hanging in front of my bedroom window for at least half that time—ten years. I’m not superstitious, but it is a mysterious looking branch. When I wake up in the morning it is the first thing I see. And when I go to bed and the moon is bright, it is the last thing I see. Well, here’s a poem—Oh Branch.