Be Stirred, Not Shaken

"We ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled…" ~ II Thes. 2:2 *** "But stir up the gift of God that is within you by the laying on of hands…" ~ II Tim. 1:6

Category: New Testament

Unthankful: Is Ingratitude the Root of Most Sins?

In a previous post about controlling anger, I mentioned that I’d eventually realized that most of the anger I was dealing with stemmed from being unthankful for the many blessings God had given me. And it’s no wonder—we live in an unthankful and entitled society, where everyone takes and believes they have not only the right, but they deserve to have the best. But this is not a mindset Christians are to have, and we have to guard carefully against it. In my previous article, I stated the (rarely-mentioned) opinion that unthankfulness is a major sin, and I want to explore that thought a little further.

Is being unthankful a “little” sin?

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. “I know the major sins—things like murder, adultery, lying, blaspheming—and unthankfulness isn’t anywhere near that!” It’s true that the actual word “unthankful” is only used twice in the bible (KJV), so it’s easy to assume that it’s a minor issue in the grand scheme of things. However, the symptoms of unthankfulness—such as covetousness and anger—are addressed often and in great detail, and we have to be careful about thinking of them as “minor” sins. As Gary Petty often says in his sermons, we usually think of “major” sins as the ones with the greatest outward consequences (like murder) and “minor” ones as the ones that “aren’t that bad” (like gossip). But God doesn’t make those kinds of distinctions. Sin is sin, and all sin results in death if not repented of. And while the outward consequences of unthankfulness aren’t as apparent at first, they still eat away at you bit-by-bit until you die.

Let’s look at the most well-known scripture about unthankfulness:

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (II Tim. 3:1-5)

That’s a lot of bad crammed into a few verses! And “unthankful” is hanging out right next to “unholy”, which is a pretty bad one, so you can’t argue that this list is all “minor” sins. The other verse specifically using the word “unthankful” occurs in Luke 6:35 where Jesus is instructing His disciples on being good to their enemies, for God “is kind to the unthankful and evil.” So even worse, unthankfulness and evil are lumped together in this one. Maybe unthankfulness and its symptoms are a bigger deal than we think?

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Year of Jubilee & Pentecost — Inheritance & Freedom

“Count Fifty”:  Pentecost & the Year of Jubilee

Fifty is an interesting number in the bible.  Many significant numbers (such as seven or twelve) have common threads that show up throughout the entire bible and weave in and out, but there are only a few places where the number fifty is of great significance.

In general, fifty symbolizes complete perfection, the completing of a cycle, or the ending of an old cycle and beginning of a new one.  The concept of firstborn or firstfruits is also associated with the number fifty.  For instance, God redeemed the tribe of Levi as a substitute for the firstborn of the land of Israel, and consecrated them to serving Him in the tabernacle.  Levites would begin service in the temple at age 30, and finish their service at the age of 50 (Num. 4:3, 39, 43, 47).  The tabernacle itself, and later the temple, was measured off in various segments of fifty curtain loops, knobs, cubit lengths, etc. (Ex. 26, 27, 30, 36, 38).

And then there are two major events in the bible that revolve around the number fifty.  The command for the first is found in Leviticus 23, where God outlines the Feast of Firstfruits, or Pentecost.

“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath [during the Days of Unleavened Bread], from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord…they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest” (Lev. 23:15-17, 20).

The Israelites are told to count seven cycles of seven days (symbolizing perfect completeness), and on the next (eighth) day, to observe a holy convocation.  This holy day also included a peace offering, which was a joyful celebration, symbolic of eating a meal with God.

The second event, the Year of Jubilee, was commanded only a few verses later:

“And you shall count seven Sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family” (Lev. 25:8-10).

Leviticus goes on to explain that the fiftieth year was to be a rest for the land (coming on the heels of a 49th year rest as well), “neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine” (Lev. 25:11).  But more importantly, inherited land that had been lost or sold reverted back to the original family owners.

God, in His omnipotence, knew that despite all the measures He instituted in Israel to maintain economic and societal equality, some people would still get themselves in way over their heads—drowning in debt, without family to fall back on, unable to support their families.  While all of Israel had received land as an inheritance in the Promised Land, some would give up or lose their inheritance through misfortune, ineptitude, or negligence and be forced to sell themselves into slavery or indentured servitude.  The Year of Jubilee was the societal failsafe.

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Passover & the Days of Unleavened Bread: Our Betrothal to Jesus Christ

There are myriad topics, allegories, and themes that can be used to learn about God’s holy days. It’s always interesting to see what filters or “lenses” I’m viewing the holy days through each year as they come and go, particularly during the Passover season. This year there have been a few larger themes playing through my mind, in particular the holy days as picturing the marriage of Jesus Christ to His anointed bride. Passover represents each and every one of us individually, as well as us collectively, entering into covenant with God and Jesus Christ. There are two types of covenants symbolized here—blood and marriage. It’s the marriage covenant and what it can teach us that I’m focusing on here.

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