34. Set the altar in its place.

The challenge was declared – do something different for 2016. It is a good thing to think again, reconsider our way of doing things. By that I do not mean every little action. Think on the core, the founding principle, the essence of your existence that defines who you are. It is one of the most profound mind exercises one can engage in and serves to change perspectives and shape vision.

I truly believe we cannot perform this exercise without the help of the Holy Spirit. We are only wise to the measure of our surrender to God’s Spirit. He promises us deep insight into the great and mighty things we do not know and the mystery of life that only He reveals. As Jesus said in Mark 4:11:

The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you [who have teachable hearts], but those who are outside [the unbelievers, the spiritually blind] get everything in parables,

I have no doubt that the greatest tragedy in my life would be to remain spiritually blind. My favourite prayer is the cry of the blind man – Lord, that I can see.

God is ready to reveal mystery. He will enlighten the hidden truth for us to see and live by. This is the life of excellence that He promised in John 10:10 so that we do not live in the futility of our minds, darkened in our understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in us, due to our hardness of heart. [Ephesians 4:17,18]

Proverbs 7:4:

Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend,

The first obstacle is our own complacency and the familiarity of the present, whether good or bad. We might realize that a situation is murdering all the joy and peace that we know we are promised, but are scared of change and terrified by unknown alternatives.

This is the time to put the altar in its place.

Ezra 3:3:

They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening.

I think the journey of the first exiles into Judah, arriving in Jerusalem and observing the destruction, desolation and enormity of the task ahead of them, are the stuff of a spectacular dramatic narrative. Yet the Bible says nothing about it. The people are mentioned in the second chapter of Ezra – they are important. The priest (Jeshua) and the prince (Zerubbabel) – pointing to the ultimate Priest and Prince that will forever take His people out of exile into the new Jerusalem (the church of Jesus on earth) and the ultimate altar – worshipping in the Presence through the Holy Spirit.

Jeshua was the grandson of Seraiah, the high priest whose eyes Nebuchadnezzar put out after the fall of Jerusalem. His son Jozadak succeeded him, though there could be no sacrifices in Babylon. Jozadak’s son, Jeshua, joined the exiles on the journey back to Jerusalem. We do not know much about him but as the high priest, he was where he ought to have been: in the forefront of the returning exiles. His name reminds us of the other Joshua, also a leader from captivity and the desert. The name means: Yahweh is salvation, pointing to Jesus, the greater Joshua, who brings His people from bondage into the restored Tabernacle of David. [Acts 15:16]

The prince is Zerubbabel, which means: “sown in Babylon”. He belonged to a collateral branch of the royal line of David. The direct Davidic line through Solomon died with the wicked Zedekiah. [2 Kings 24 and 25] The descendants of another son of David’s, Nathan survived. Their representative was one Salathiel, who, on the failure of the direct line, was regarded as the ‘son of Jeconiah’ [1 Chronicles 3:17]. It seems that he had no son. Zerubbabel was his nephew [1 Chronicles 3:19] Zerubbabel served as a representative of the house of David to rule over the returning exiles. He is prominent in the books of the active prophets of that period: Haggai and Zechariah and is described as strong and bold.

Zechariah 4:7:

‘Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain.

The reason given for such a speedy restoration of the altar is noteworthy. As it is written: fear was upon them because of the people of the countries. The state of the Holy Land at the return should be understood clearly. Samaria and the central district were in the hands of bitter enemies. Across Jordan in the east, down on the Philistine plain in the west, and in the south Edom were old, established enemies holding hostile watch over the small beginnings of a process of nation building, which they were determined to obstruct. Only the territory of Judah and Benjamin was free for the exiles. They had reason for their fears. They were surrounded by aggression that could be mobilized into violence and the ultimate derailing of restoration.

What was the defense against such foes which these frightened men thought most impregnable? The altar!

For the returning exiles the foundation of faith was their refuge. There is no doubt that their moral and spiritual disposition was not the purest and is addressed by the prophet Haggai. Years in exile without the clear and established guidance of their priests, took its toll on the confidence of the worshippers. But…

They diverted to the truth they learnt from their forefathers. The worship of Jehovah according to His commandment was their surest way of finding shelter from all their enemies.

The ruined Jerusalem was better guarded by the restored altar than if all the fallen walls had been rebuilt.

There cannot be a temple without an altar, but there may be an altar without a temple. God meets us at the place of sacrifice, even though there is no building or tent. The order of events here teaches us what is essential for communion with God. It is the altar. The sacrificial worship of God is our refuge, our strong tower and our hiding place. Personal prayer and submission to His Name is our altar. It is as true for us as ever it was for the exiles: our safety is in God at the altar of worship.

Let us go back to Ezra 3. They set the altar on its [old] foundation [Amplified] or on its bases [NKJV] and established the routine of constant worship at the altar as part of daily life: …burnt offerings morning and evening.

No need for new foundations or place settings. We do not need new doctrine. We need to get our altar in place on the original commandments and teaching of Jesus, the Author of our Salvation. The Word of God should test all our traditions and teaching. The Word is powerful to change and heal and redirect and renew.

Isaiah 55:11:

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void,

But it shall accomplish what I please,

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

The Word of God is powerful and can never be fruitless. If you need guidance and direction, experience fear and panic and live in uncertainty and doubt, take your Bible and make time with God. He will see your heart and meet you at the altar. This is a promise that prevails through centuries and cannot be diluted in any way. It is guaranteed. I have a lifetime of testimonies to support the truth of it, not only my own life, but so many around me.

Remember: faith is a decision. It is one you can make in this moment. You do not need to feel spiritual, trance-like or holy. You can decide: I trust God and will believe His word.

I have to remind you of the motto that we at Pebbles live by:

God said it; I believe it; that settles it.

If you doubt that God plans only the very best for you, read Hebrews 11:6 again:

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

This is the cornerstone of the altar. Set it in its base. You do not have to convince God of the state of your heart. He knows your crisis; He knows how much you need Him. You only have to make the decision to submit to His Word and build you altar with time spent in reading and worship.

This is the guarantee: James 4:8:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

The altar was the central element of personal worship since the very beginning of man’s approach to God. The main players in all the great stories of faith built altars of worship, gratitude and reverence.

The altars of the faith heroes and the names given are worth a full study.

Noah celebrated the end of the flood. [Genesis 8:20]

Abraham built several altars to celebrate encounters with God and the promise about the land; also the altar on which he obediently tied his son to sacrifice him to God.

Isaac built altars; Jacob built altars – the well-known one at Bethel where he had a powerful encounter with the Lord that impacted his whole life.

Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner [Exodus 17:15] He built another at the foot of the mountain where he met and talked with God.

To Moses came the precise commandments about the altar in the courtyard of the Tabernacle that had to serve the people.

David often prays and sings about the altar.

Psalm 118:27:

God is the Lord, And He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.

In this verse he mentions the horns of the altar and in Kings we read of Adonijah and Joab grabbing hold of the horns of the altar in fear of their lives when they fled from their killers. Literally the lifesaver!

1 Kings 1:50: Now Adonijah was afraid of Solomon; so he arose, and went and took hold of the horns of the altar.

1 Kings 2:28: So Joab fled to the tabernacle of the Lord, and took hold of the horns of the altar.

Your place of worship is your lifesaver. Grab hold of the promises. The kingdom of God is the invisible kingdom that Jesus came to affirm into which we immigrate with repentance. [John 3]

God is ready to reveal the deep mystery of His plan for your life. When you go before Him with your need, confessing your sin with a humble heart, see in your mind’s eye the altar of heaven – not far away, right here next to you in the unseen… Remember Ephesians 1. You are seated with Christ in heavenly places. [Pebbles nr. 26]

Revelation 9:13:

Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God.

 

 

Until next time Pebble pals: We continue our journey with the exiles of old – rebuilding the Temple.

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33. Order or chaos – the best way.

News images of the world bring the chaos of war, natural disasters and poverty to our lounges daily. In our own lives we struggle against chaos every day. We tidy up, clean, categorize, file and plan to ensure an orderly and effective existence. Chaos is like a monster always ready to devour and destroy. It is negative. It robs our confidence, causes depression and emotional confusion and feelings of powerlessness. Organized lives demand thought and planning.

Jerusalem was a heap of rubble, mostly deserted of permanent residents, when the exiles returned in the year 538 BC. Sixty years before, the Babylonian emperor, Nebuchadnezzar, held Jerusalem in a deadly siege before he took the best of the nation into exile to Babylon. Only the weak, sick and old stayed behind. Daniel served Nebuchadnezzar and his successors although not all of them are mentioned in the Bible. Only Belshazzar in the incident with the writing on the wall is mentioned. He survived the Persian conquest of Babylon and served Darius the Mede and lived into the first year of the reign of Cyrus the Persian, which is a miracle in itself. Usually the conquering kings got rid of the administrative staff of the previous reign. Daniel knew the Scriptures; he knew the duration of the exile that has been prophesied by Jeremiah; he knew the 70 years have almost run out and prayed for God to intervene and take His people back to their home.

Under the miraculous good attitude of Cyrus, the first group of voluntary returning exiles was lavishly equipped with materials they would need to restore the Temple and city wall. Just imagine the situation in Jerusalem. The ruins have not been rebuilt; it probably served as hiding for robbers and vagabonds and the wall was a heap of rubble as a result of war. An ancient city without a wall was like man with no weapons, almost impossible to defend. Strong leadership is needed to command the process and motivate the people.

I am always amazed at the meticulous accounts of the rebuilding process in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which was one book in the Hebrew Bible. Ezra’s name means: the Lord has helped. Scholars accept that he has written the book bearing his name, as well as the book of Nehemiah and also the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles. He was a learned man, known to study the law of God. He lived the Law and taught it; respected by the people and the king. Ezra 7:10-11:

For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of Jehovah, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances.

Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even the scribe of the words of the commandments of Jehovah, and of his statutes to Israel:

In chapters 1 – 6 the return of the first group is described over a period of 23 years. They start the restoration of the Temple in eagerness and fervour, but lose heart because of resistance and hostility from the people that stayed behind and mixed with pagan groups. The enemy brings the work to a standstill. God is faithful. He calls the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to inspire the people to continue and encourage continuation of the building even though the Temple would not be as glorious and majestic as in the days of Solomon. The temple is dedicated in the year 515 BC.

Sixty years later a second group returns under the leadership of Ezra with even more money and valuables, including the Temple elements taken by Nebuchadnezzar at the beginning of the exile – amazing ancient administration! Ezra becomes spiritual reformer and leading priest, preaching a return to the spirit of the Law, even to the point of divorcing their pagan wives who caused their backsliding. He continually emphasizes God’s faithfulness and grace and man’s unfaithfulness.

God’s faithfulness and guidance in times of political turmoil are super important for our lives today and serve as a lighthouse in a very stormy and scary sea. We are constantly aware of the unrest and instability of political upheaval and decisions made far beyond our interests.

When everything looks so dark, I want to pray the prayer of the blind man: Lord that I can see! Cause me to see your mercy and outcome. God will shorten the exile; he softens the hearts of world leaders. He calls the prophets to exhort and inspire. He raises up the teachers to reveal His Word and Will for us to learn so that we are strong and confident.

We cannot allow hostility to stop the building of the Temple.

Hear the words of encouragement from Zechariah to the builders: [4:6,7]

Then he said to me, This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of Whom the oil is a symbol], says the Lord of hosts.

For who are you, O great mountain [of human obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain [a mere molehill]! And he shall bring forth the finishing gable stone [of the new temple] with loud shoutings of the people, crying, Grace, grace to it!

Let these ancient words of reinforcement, remove obstacles and the Spirit of the God of grace Who gives it, echo in our world today and establish us in truth.

Even after the completion of the Temple, the people are uncommitted and sinful. Ezra enters into earnest prayer for the purification of the people. He is so broken before God – Ezra 9:3:

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my robe, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down confounded.

He confesses the sin of the people and pronounces God’s mercy and provision over them. One can wonder about this. How can he confess on behalf of the people, when his own life is lived so pure and submitted to God? This is a miraculous and visionary principle in the Word of God. We can intercede for our family, our friends, our city and our country and confess their sins on their behalf so that God can be gracious and provide for them. Ezekiel 22:30:

And I sought for a man among them, that should build up the wall, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.

A dark picture of the land is painted in Ezekiel 22. Just listen for a moment and realize what an accurate description this is of so many parts of the world today. [The Message]

God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, tell her, ‘You’re a land that during the time I was angry with you got no rain, not so much as a spring shower. The leaders among you became desperate, like roaring, ravaging lions killing indiscriminately. They grabbed and looted, leaving widows in their wake.

26-29 “‘Your priests violated my law and desecrated my holy things. They can’t tell the difference between sacred and secular. They tell people there’s no difference between right and wrong. They’re contemptuous of my holy Sabbaths, profaning me by trying to pull me down to their level. Your politicians are like wolves prowling and killing and rapaciously taking whatever they want. Your preachers cover up for the politicians by pretending to have received visions and special revelations. They say, “This is what God, the Master, says . . .” when God hasn’t said so much as one word. Extortion is rife, robbery is epidemic, the poor and needy are abused, outsiders are kicked around at will, with no access to justice.’

This is chaos.

God seeks a righteous man to stand in the gap, to confess the sins, to repair the defenses, to war in prayer against chaos.

These words are the most profound reproach from God and sadden me deeply. I want to cry out: I will pray Lord. You have given me the tool to stand against chaos, to defend the city, to plead for Your mercy upon my family, my friends and my people. Here am I Lord. I do not want to hear the chilling words: …but I found none.

It does not matter that political decisions are made far from me, that presidents are chosen, leaders are deposed, terrorists in black scream death and destruction. I stand as a daughter/son of the Most High and the Commander of the Hosts of Heaven.

I rule. I CAN PRAY!

This is not a call to join in the whining and complaints of the general conversations. It is also not a call to ignore the practicalities of our situation and provide with our Spirit-ruled minds for the best solutions in our lives. It is a call not to worry and loose faith. It is call of war to pray and believe our God reigns.

Isaiah 52:7:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Are we not the people of the Covenant? How could we ever rate politics higher than the terms of the Blood Covenant? Our prayer should be that God opens our eyes to see His grace and provision within the turmoil of world politics, to identify the true prophets, to listen to the teachers and priests and pray for the leaders.

We all are the learned priest Ezra. We build the Temple. We restore the house of prayer and worship. It has been proclaimed over us in 1 Peter 2:9:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

 We are the light. Our logo is the Cross and the complete salvation it brings.

Pebble pal, the command is clear. We are called out of darkness into light to proclaim the praises of our God. We have been promised the faithfulness of God, the money and materials, the attitude of the king, the prophets for encouragement, the priests for teaching. Our future shines bright and sure.

Therefore strengthen the hands, which hang down, and the feeble knees… [Hebrews 12:12]

In the words of that same prophet who inspired the exiles – Zechariah 8:9:

“Thus says the Lord of hosts:

Let your hands be strong,

You who have been hearing in these days

These words by the mouth of the prophets,

Who spoke in the day the foundation was laid

For the house of the Lord of hosts,

That the temple might be built.

 

Next time: Set the altar in spite of fear

Ezra 3:3:

Though fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries, they set the altar on its bases; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening burnt offerings.

 

32. Find yourself a border to cross.

Life demands a series of decisions. That is a fact. God gave us choice, the first and foremost gift to mankind. You cannot change it. You have to choose. You have to accept or reject. To stay neutral to most of life’s core issues is a peculiar position and most often than not boils down to rejection.

Decisions are powerful. We have discussed it in the past. Job 22:28: [Amplified]

“You will also decide and decree a thing, and it will be established for you; and the light [of God’s favor] will shine upon your ways.

To decide is to be special. You are unique to the measure of your decisions. Every day is a consequence of your decisions. You develop talents and gifts, open and close doors for yourself as well as others, build relationships, decide to lie or to live truthfully, be gracious, be angry, be encouraging  – I can go on for a long, long time to name the decisions of just one day.

God mad us special. We are a trinity like Him: spirit, soul and body. The ideal pecking order for our lives should be as follows:

God’s Spirit

My spirit

My soul – will, mind and emotions

My body

The body will follow the soul. When you decide with your mind your body will follow through. You decide to eat, to go to a concert, to shop….etc. Your decisions should bring about the best results for your body and spirit. You protect yourself, watch your diet, take medicine and so forth.

The devil will do anything to thwart this order and apply it upside down. Secular philosophy screams for the satisfaction of the body as first priority. The body dictates to the mind for fulfillment. This disorder is perpetuated by special-syndrome. I am so special, I feel with my body and emotions and therefore I am the most important. It is so ironic that when you and your body are elevated to this level of demand, you are often deeply unhappy. Selfishness can never satisfy.

In this confusion the pos modern society shuns the writings of old. How can an ancient book direct my ways to my benefit? How can a god I cannot see or feel know what is best for me?

Come to think of it, the ancient Romans also followed this hedonistic, instant bodily satisfaction in their society. The complete breakdown of moral values is often cited as one of the chief reasons for the fall of the great Roman Empire. Today violence and erotic passion are at the core of entertainment. The Circus Maximus is on the screen in the lounge.

In real terms, short-term pleasure has long-term implications. The results of body dictation are mostly brokenness and hurt.

The New Year demands its usual decisions – sometimes in rapid succession. A decision can be a reaction of a response. Reaction is necessary when the situation demands lightning action, but mostly relationships demand response, rather than reaction. We need to exercise ourselves in godliness to be able to live graciously, gracefully and gratefully. Will I discipline or cover up a child’s mistake? Will I love unconditionally over blatant sin, seek Word guidance in complicated issues or react in legalism and judgment?

1 Timothy 4:7,8:

But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

Walk with me the ancient paths to view the lives of three characters that made extraordinary decisions. All of them grossly broke the law. They crossed a border that affected the outcome most spectacularly.

Moses erected the dessert tabernacle according to the strict prescription of God. It was a holy place – set apart for worship to a holy God, special and incomparable in every way to anything else on earth. Every member of the people of Israel knew temple procedures. It was taught and impressed upon their hearts as “mistakes” had punishment of death. Only the priests, specially anointed, could enter the Holy part of the Tabernacle where the Lamp stand, the Table of Show breads and the Bowl of Incense were. Only the high priest entered the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. On that day he wore a robe with bells on the hem so that those outside could hear if he is struck down and died because of unworthy entry. Wow! Strictly regulated. They used a hook to get him out. Nobody could enter, whatever the circumstances. God is Holy, they knew it.

In 2 Chronicles 26 we read about a king of Judah called Uzziah. He was one of the few good kings of Judah. (There were 19 kings in Israel – all bad and 20 kings in Judah – only eight were good.)

A full record of all his good deeds is followed by this disturbing verse.

2 Chronicles 26:16:

But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.

The priests rushed to keep him from doing it and he was furious. He went in and they witnessed how leprosy broke out in his body. He died a leper! God is Holy and not to be mocked in pride.

But now – David. David lived long before Uzziah. The high priest in the days of Samuel before David was the king, Eli, had two godless and corrupt sons. In a fight against the Philistines they fetched the Ark of the Covenant as a good luck charm. Big mistake. The Philistines won the fight and took the Ark. Read some Bible comedy in 1 Samuel 5 to see what happened to the Ark amongst the Philistines.

The Ark is stored in the house of an ordinary man in Israel, specially anointed to look after it for the next twenty years, through the reign of Saul and into the reign of David. [1 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 6.] With an astonishing process, where people died of unworthiness, David brings the Ark back to Jerusalem – a life dream for him. The procession is meticulously described in 1 Chronicles 15, 16 and 17 with the magnificent song of David. It reads like a thriller.

David is overjoyed. He sets up the musicians and dance into the city ahead of the Ark. He was a musician himself – just think how he planned this event with worship and song – specially written and composed. 1 Chronicles 15:16, 28:

Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joyThus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn, with trumpets and with cymbals, making music with stringed instruments and harps.

He is dressed in fine linen and wears the priestly linen vest (ephod).

A feast, most spectacular and joyful, meat, raisin cakes and bread for all the people, song and dance, with prayer and prose to touch your heart in glory.

He sets the Ark in a tent (remember there is no temple – Solomon, David’s son built the temple) with constant – 24/7 – worship and music and writes in Psalm 84:11:

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God…

And in Psalm 27:4:

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.

This is the heart of David. He “visits” God and desires the Presence of his Father more than anything. He is allowed into that Holy of Holies because his heart is pure. He is not proud like Uzziah. Peter preaches in Acts 15:16 and states that the coming of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the restoration of the Tabernacle of David – sweet communion in the Presence of our Lord. How magnificent is the golden thread of God’s heart in His Word. We can enter into the Holy of Holies with a humble and contrite heart.

All doctrine of man must yield to true worship.

Let’s fast forward to the New Testament and the woman with an issue of blood who touched the hem of His garment. [Matthew 9]

According to the regulations set in the Law of Moses she was not allowed to leave her house, let alone touch anybody.

Leviticus 15:25:

‘If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other than at the time of her customary impurity, or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean.

All three synoptic Gospels tell the story. Luke, who was a medical doctor himself, adds how she sought the help of many physicians and spent a lot of money on it, without avail. Twelve years she lives with this curse of uncleanness over her. She is desperate and decides to do something out of the ordinary. She must have come to the conclusion that if she could not touch Jesus and had to be caught in public, that would be the day of her death.

She reaches out in reckless rejection of the law and her theology and touches Jesus with her life on the line. A miraculous encounter follows with spectacular results plus public recognition of her healing. She is crowned in glory and could live a life previously only imagined.

She acted out of the ordinary. She crossed the border.

What are you going to do with 2016?

They say that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a sign of insanity. Are you willing to step out and do the things God wants with the same heart as David and serve God according to the true Gospel of the New Covenant?

Read how the community in Berea conscientiously researched the preaching of Paul [Acts 17] and how Apollos was shown the way of God more accurately [Acts 18].

There is always a way more accurately, a teaching from the heart of God, a new revelation. Call to God, He will show you great and wonderful things you did not know.

Make the choice. Matthew 15:9:

And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

Read Matthew 23 and recognize the Pharisee in yourself. Do not look down on their sincere efforts to serve God according to their own regulations and were deceived by their own pride. Harsh words from the mouth of Jesus judge them.

Sacrifice your tradition and prejudice on the altar of your mind for the Holy Spirit to burn clean. Do not be part of the reproach of Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37:

 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

The Word of God is the only authority. Elevate it as your ultimate guide. Obey and live a life more abundantly. Grow strong in the Lord.

Isaiah 48:6:

“You have heard; see all this.

And will you not declare it?

I have made you hear new things from this time,

Even hidden things, and you did not know them.