Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hospitality and the Kingdom of God

I have been studying Matthew 10, when Yeshua sent His twelve disciples out.  I love how the new covenant dovetails so beautifully with the old!

But before I get into discussing hospitality, I just want to point out that in verse 6, Yeshua says "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."  This does not mean that He loves the Gentiles any less, but is putting things in their proper, Biblical order of "to the Jew first."  

The apostles were to take no money or luggage, and were to enjoy the hospitality of righteous ones who were willing to give it.  In turn, they would bring peace upon the household.  Conversely, they were to "shake the dust off their feet" while departing from people or cities who did not receive them.  In Jewish custom, the dust shaking was actually a warning of the judgment of God.  The hospitable ones would receive peace, and the non-hospitible ones would not.

Hospitality is a very important theme in scripture.  We see this very scenario played out in Genesis 18.  Three ushpizin (Hebrew for guests) came to visit Abraham.  Abraham went over the top in showing hospitality to these visitors.  And what happened?  Did peace come to this house?  Yes, indeed!  Genesis 18:10 tells us that Abraham and Sarah are promised a son within the year.

Two of the ushpizin left and headed to Sodom.  The third - which is probably a theophany (pre-incarnate earthly visitation) of the Lord - stayed behind with Abraham while Abraham pleaded for the righteous in the city of Sodom (of which there ended up being less than ten).

In Genesis chapter 19, the two angels arrived in Sodom.  Other than Lot, the people of the city did NOT show the visitors good hospitality.  You can go read the details yourself if you wish.  You know what happened.  Sodom and the nearby city of Gomorrah were destroyed. 

Matthew 10:15 links back to the events of Genesis 18-19:  Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!

The results of Sodom and Gomorrah are repeated in 2 Peter 2:6 - and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and again in Jude 7 - Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

This Biblical lesson on hospitality is a picture of those who will receive Him and those who would reject Him.  Matthew 10:40 wraps up the importance of hospitality:  He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent me.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Salvation, Salvation, Salvation

Many believers think that all they need to do is "ask Jesus into their heart" and they are saved.  Boom.  Done. End of story.  Party on.

That is way too simplistic.

Let's start with 1 Thessalonians 5:23 - Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This verse is a great picture of the human creature, a whole being made up of three parts.
  • Spirit - The Greek word is pneuma, from which we get the word pneumonia.    It literally means breath, or wind, or vital spirit, which is breathed into us by God at birth. The verb form of this word pnein means to blow or breathe.

  • Soul - The Greek word is psuche.  Think of the English word psyche.  This is the inner workings of our minds.  Our inner man, so to speak; our very being, our capability of rational thought.

  • Body - The Greek word is soma. This is our physical bodies - our flesh.

When man sinned, death entered the world.  Our breath will eventually leave our bodies, our minds are given over to corruption, and our bodies - well, they pretty much start to deteriorate early on in life.

Our salvation is also threefold. 

Our initial salvation happens when we submit our lives to Yeshua and are redeemed through His atonement, or sacrifice on the cross, for our sins. A transaction takes place when we turn to Him in repentance. This is called our justification, and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Our spirit becomes alive because of Him!   If you are not sure that you have been redeemed, you probably have not yet done this yet.  He is waiting for you to respond to his invitation!  Confess to Him your sin and receive His forgiveness.  He can do this because He paid our death penalty on the cross, even though He lived a perfect life and did not owe that penalty.

We are also saved through sanctification.  This is the process of becoming more like our Messiah as we live out the rest of our lives by the renewing of our minds.  This happens through focusing on Him, living for Him, and learning more about Him.    Philippians 2:12 tells us to work OUT (not FOR) our salvation with fear and trembling.

Our final salvation is yet to come.  We are saved through glorification.  When Yeshua returns to Earth, we are given a new, immortal body.  This is our ultimate and complete salvation.  1 Corinthians 15:52-53 says the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

This salvation is only made possible through Yeshua.  Matthew 1:21 tells us "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus (the Greek form of Yeshua, which means salvation), for He will save His people from their sins.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Taking His Name...

Exodus 20:7 tells us not to take the name of the Lord in vain.

What exactly does that mean?  Does it mean saying OMG when you are not speaking to Him or about Him?  For years, that is what I thought, and it was my pet peeve when people (including Christians) would throw His name around like that.

But I have come to believe that dropping one of His titles casually like that is the very tip of the iceberg.  In fact, the word "God" isn't really His name. 

When Moses asked who He was at the burning bush, He replied, I am.  (Yahweh - a name so holy that the Jewish people will not write it out or say it, in case they might stumble over it).  Whenever you see the word LORD in capital letters, it is the Hebrew word spelled yod heh vav heh - the tetragrammaton. 

I believe that this concept goes much deeper than a mere utterance.  What does it mean to take someone's name?  When we women get married, most of us take on the name of our husband.  When we receive Yeshua as our Lord and Savior, we become the covenant Bride of Messiah - we take on His name! 
I believe the commandment is telling us not to live a life in vain of that calling.  How we live our life matters!  Are we living in such a way as to bring glory and honor to our holy Bridegroom?  The Word tells us to be holy because He is holy (Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:16).  The word holy means to be sanctified, set apart; in other words, to be different from the world around you as you live out a life of obedience to the Master.
I no longer cringe when I hear unbelievers use the OMG expression.  They have not yet taken on His name!  Are you a believer in Yeshua/Jesus?  As the bride of Messiah, you have a high calling and are commanded to live a life worthy of that calling.  What a blessing!