Leavened? Unleavened?

1 Corinthians 5 Leavened or Unleavened:

bread-1696166__340“Your boasting is not good.

Do you not know

that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” (5:6)

The aroma fills the house with its promise of something good. The stomach growls. The smell tempts the tongue with almost a taste. Homemade bread, risen to perfection and baked to a golden brown, lathered with butter, not the fake stuff, invites the hungry to feast and fills the mind with a memory revisited anytime the fragrance fills the air. Leaven, or yeast in our current English language, makes the bread rise, filling it with volume and lightness that melts in our mouths. This homemade bread is a temptress.

The yeast in bread continues to grow as long as allowed. It steals what it needs from the dough to cause the rising action. Eventually, it grows throughout the dough adding some flavor but mostly air and its own fermentation. Such is sin.

In scripture, leaven is likened to the sin growing in the natural spirit we are born with.* The more we feed it the more it grows until it takes over our thoughts, actions, words, our hearts, and minds. It shouldn’t be ignored but in the spiritual sense, needs purged. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church concerning their ignoring the sin in their body of believers. Not only, was the sin/leaven growing in the one sinning but it was beginning to rise in the body as a whole.

“Clean out the old leaven,

that you may be a new lump,

just as you are in fact unleavened.

For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.

Let us therefore celebrate the feast,

not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness,

but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

(5:7,8)

The purging needed to begin with the whole before it could be addressed in the one. It would need to be handled with the hope and purpose of restoring the whole to an unhindered fellowship with God and each other. Sin is a contagious disease which we do not avoid as we should. It’s not like other diseases that instantly bring bad symptoms. It appeals to us as the aroma of fresh baked bread. It pleases our human senses. But it does its work internally in our hearts, minds, and spirits. Piece by piece growing its destruction and weakness in us as it slowly fills us with its curse-so slowly, we don’t recognize it until its left its mark on our lives. Its cure is found in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth-a heart sincere in repentance and a mind filled with truth, a heart that receives forgiveness-

“in order

that no advantage be taken of us by Satan;

for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”

2 Corinthians 2:11

For Thought: How long has it been since you asked the Lord to reveal any ‘leaven’ hidden in your heart? Mind? Or spirit?

Today’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; What do these verses say about restoring fellowship with an erring brother/sister in Christ? What should be our attitude?

Our Prayer: Father, you have given us Jesus Christ. By his death and resurrection you have purged the old leaven of malice and wickedness from us. May we join together, remembering we are one in Christ Jesus, and celebrate for He has filled us with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. May we celebrate his life in us and give you praise.


*Only on a few occasions is it used in a positive sense.(Leviticus 23:17; Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:21) And I hope you will join me Monday for a game of “Knowing”. Have a blessed weekend.

(1 Corinthians 5:6; all scripture quotations from this series in Corinthians are taken from the NASB unless otherwise state.)

Are You Armed?

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;” Eph. 6:10.

“Who’s going to know? Sin done in the darkness, in secret remains in secret, right?”  Wrong.

“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” Numb. 32:23.

Joshua 6 and 7 recounts the victory of Jericho and the defeat that follows.

“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan…took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.” Josh. 7:1.

“It’s really no one’s business what I do. If I choose sin, it will only hurt me.” Wrong again.

Another victory loomed before Israel as they prepared to go against Ai. They needed only two or three thousand men to defeat Ai’s forces. So…

“…there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men…” Joshua 7:4,5.

blog soldierDespair reigned in Israel’s camp and even in Joshua, but he took it to the Lord. And the Lord spoke.

…Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned…Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies…neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you…” Josh. 7:10-12.

Sin weakens and brings fear. Sin separates from the presence of a holy God. Sin must be destroyed before it destroys. The Lord offers hope in a choice, but one way or another, sin must be removed from among you.

 

”Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, there is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you…And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath…” Josh.7: 13,15.

Achan had all night to ponder his sin and repent. I believe this was his opportunity to receive mercy and not judgment.

“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy… Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Micah 7:18; Isa. 55:7).

But the morning came. Achan remained  disobedient to the word of the Lord and put himself and his family in certain judgment. As the morning proceeded, each tribe appeared before Joshua until Judah appeared, Achan’s tribe. Still no repentance, not even when Joshua called him out. When Achan’s sin found him out he confessed, but confession is not repentance. Israel executed the judgment of the Lord. How did it get to this point?

I have heard it said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. –” Ravi Zaccharias

And it begins with a look. “And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel…When I saw among the spoils…Love not the world, neither the things of the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes…then I coveted them and took them…and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (from Josh. 7:21; 1John 2:15-16).

For us: What’s left when we fail to guard our hearts with the breastplate of righteousness? Do we quit? Is there hope for renewal?

“Sanctify yourselves against to morrow…” Josh. 7:13; Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God…Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”( 2Cor. 2:1; 1Thess. 5:21-23).cross-sunset-sunrise-hill-70847.jpeg

God takes sin seriously, so seriously He laid the sin of the world on His only Son, Jesus Christ and nailed it to the cross in His body. How seriously do you take sin?

It is time to come out from among the world armed with the breastplate of righteousness. It’s time to repent.

What does it mean to repent?

 

What Witness Follows You?

“And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.” Ex. 2:4.

Yes, this week’s journey is through Numbers, but God chose this nameless child of the yet nameless baby to play a part in Israel’s history, and her story starts in Exodus. Her brother Aaron would be Moses’ mouth to Pharaoh and Miriam would be the woman behind the man…most of the time. They were the trio of God to the fledgling nation of Israel.

“For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants: and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” Micah 6:4.

Miriam, like all of us, has an example to follow and a failure to flee. Scripture introduces her standing by the river, out of sight but watching over her baby brother who was doomed under Pharaoh’s edict to murder the baby boys. We don’t’ know how long she watched and waited. We do know she stayed until her brother was back safe in his mother’s arms and free from Pharaoh’s threat.blog miriam thSZMN0YO5

“His lord said unto him,Well done, thou good and faithful servant: Thou has been faithful over a few things,I will make thee ruler over many things: Enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”Matt. 25:21

The next time Miriam comes on scripture’s stage, approximately eighty years have come and gone. Israel has passed through the Red Sea, Moses sang the Lord’s victory song, and Miriam leads the women in worship.

“And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” Ex. 15:20,21.

This scripture reveals the call of the Lord on Miriam to speak His message. This passage indicates to the women, as she freely exalts the Lord in worship. And as an older woman she is faithfully leading the younger women.

Image result for printable depictions of miriam dancing at the red sea“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” Ps.107:15.“The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Titus 2:3-5.

 

It’s only been a little more than a year since Miriam joined in the victory song, when scripture shows a root of bitterness planted in Miriam’s heart.

“And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married…And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.” Numb. 12:1,2.

I want to make excuses for Miriam. She is surrounded by a multitude of grumbling. She is getting up there in years. But there is no excuse that satisfies the Lord.

“…wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? Num. 12:8

 The promised land loomed ahead ready for the taking but for Miriam it would be a distant dream she could not know, for sin had entered her heart.

Bitterness: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;” Heb. 12:13,14.

Jealousy & Self exaltation : “Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another…For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (Gal. 5:26; James 3:16; James 4:10).

Disobedience: “Let no main deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” Eph. 5:6,7).

“And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them: and he departed.” Numb. 12:9.

Sin reaped its harvest in Miriam. “…and behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow…”

Sin breaks fellowship with the Father and other believers: “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1John 1:6,7.

Sin brings shame: “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.” Prov. 29:23.

Sin brings the Lord’s chastisement: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD hath chastened me sore; but he hath not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter.” Ps. 118:17-20.

The Lord opens the gates of righteousness, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9.

 The good news, the Lord restored Miriam after seven days of separation. The bad news, for seven days the people did not journey towards their promise. And finally we see in chapter 20, Miriam dies without entering the abundance of the promised land.

She left us with many good lessons to follow, including a hard lesson to encourage us to flee sin.

“He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings…But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1Tim. 6:4,11,12.

For Comment: What do you admire most about Miriam?  What woman in scripture do you identify with? What woman in your life has served as a good witness of a godly woman?

 

 

Heroes, Villains and Your Heart

“And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go…Then the officers of the children of Israel…met Moses and Aaron…and they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.” (Ex. 5:2,21).water-kitchen-black-design.jpg

The antagonists in Exodus are like a dripping faucet that will not quit, but what is a good story without at least one antagonist?  Without a villain, no hero arrives to save the day. Many would tag Moses as the hero of Exodus and Pharaoh as the villain. I believe Moses is the instrument of the real Hero, as Pharaoh is the instrument of the real villain. Another antagonist in Exodus is the product of our flesh as seen in the people of Israel as they continually desired to return to Egypt.

Unlike Moses who, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” They lost sight of the reward for the temporary comforts of the world, including bondage under a hard hearted Pharaoh, who opposed God at every turn.

The LORD God revealed himself to Pharaoh through the words of Moses.  “And the LORD said unto Moses…do all these wonders before Pharaoh…but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go…say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn…Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.” Ex. 4:21-23.

blogheart-159637__340

Why did the LORD God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Did God leave Pharaoh without opportunity for repentance?

First, the word Pharaoh received he did not believe. This was his first opportunity to turn from his wickedness, his rebellion.

“And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice…”

With that statement judgment began.

“Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments…Ex. 6:6;

Four hundred years of slavery, bondage, murder and oppression of God’s children ended the time of turning for Egypt. Satan had worked through the Pharaohs attempting to destroy the promised seed of Abraham, who would bless all nations. If he destroyed Israel, he destroyed the seed. But God does not forget his covenant. Pharaoh would see the power of the LORD in the judgments to come.

Each plague the Lord put upon Egypt evidenced the power of God before Pharaoh. Each time Pharaoh had a choice but each time the choice became easier and easier to be rebellion. He would not bow to the Hebrew God.

“And the LORD said unto Moses…stand before Pharaoh, and say…Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth…thou shalt be cut off from the earth…for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go?” Ex. 9:13-17.

Those who believed the word of the Lord were spared. But when Pharaoh saw the thunders and hail end, “…he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened…”

The end of Pharaoh’s hardened heart would be destruction. Sin had done its work and would have its wages. “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Prov. 29:1.

Pharaoh’s kingdom was not unlike the coming kingdom of the beast in the end times. “And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.” Rev. 16:10,11.

Many things of God we don’t fully understand. Let’s cling to what we do know. “But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.” Rom. 2:2. Judgment comes after opportunities are rejected.

God could not be holy if He did not judge sin. And His final judgment came in the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. Receive Christ’s judgment as your own or receive judgment on your self.

“…we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him…TODAY IF YE WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS.”( 2Cor. 5:20-21;Heb. 4:7)

You have heard the word. Will you receive or reject it? Guard your heart.

 

 

 

A Day for Sackcloth

“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” Rev.11:3

In scripture, the Jews wore sackcloth and ashes to proclaim the mourning of their souls, whether for the death of a loved one or, as the prophets did, to mourn sin and coming judgment as they called the people to repentance.DSCF4721

All too often, our nation’s clothing has been the sackcloth of mourning. Sunday’s massacre lengthens the trail of tears of our people. As we pray and mourn for those in Texas, may we open our eyes to the sin sickness running rampant in our country, the good being spoken of as evil and the evil as good, and pick up our sackcloth and pray for repentance and righteousness to reign in our lives and our nation.

It is time for the children of God to, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners: and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:10.

What can we do to see this kind of thing end? Begin with ourselves and pray. It’s too easy to look from a distance on a tragedy like this and conclude sin is the culprit. Which it is. But then we go about our merry lives, until the evil comes to our house. It is time we arm ourselves with the sword of the Lord, which is His word, and bear the breastplate of righteousness in our lives and shine forth the glory of our risen Lord that others may see and turn to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It will do us no good to pray for others, if we do not begin with a hard look at ourselves as David did in Psalm 51.
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin…Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice…Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee….open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.”

God promises to hear the prayers of His children, of the righteous person. Once we know His cleansing, it is time to pray for our nation. 2Chronicles 2:14 is God’s promise to a king. It is good for us today.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

To the families in Texas, know God sees the evil brought against you. He is faithful, will keep you as surely as He holds your loved ones who have loved and served Him. And remember, as they are with the Lord and the Lord is with you, you are not that far apart…just out of sight.

Praying the God of all comfort, comforts you in your pain. May we all mourn for sin so much that it no longer has an appeal to us. May we remember in Christ’s righteousness there is healing for all, the victims, and the perpetrators.