Obed-Edom and the Presence of God by Larry W. Peebles

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Obed-Edom and the Presence of God   by   Larry W Peebles    July 29, 2016   16.28

Obed-Edom was in for a big surprise.  King David of Israel had defeated the Philistines, who had previously captured the Ark of the Covenant.  The Philistines were eager to return it after only seven months because the presence of the Ark had wreaked havoc on the Philistine people (1 Samuel 5, 6).  David attempted to move it back to Jerusalem.  He had great respect for the Ark, which was a God-ordained symbol from the days of the exodus led by Moses.  It was constructed during the time the children of Israel were set free from Egyptian slavery and journeyed into the Promised Land.  The Ark contained the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod, and a sample of manna.  It represented the very presence and power of God when the children of Israel walked across the Jordan River on dry ground into the Promised Land, and at the destruction of the walls of Jericho.  Vines Expository Dictionary explains it this way “the powerful presence of Yahweh is metaphorically yet truly concentrated in the Ark.”

David chose thirty thousand men to form the procession to accompany the Ark home, and ordered a new cart pulled by oxen to transport it.  2 Samuel 6:5 says “David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals.”

Then a tragedy occurred.  One of the oxen stumbled, and the Ark suddenly shifted in the cart.  A man named Uzzah instinctively reached out to steady the Ark so that it did not fall off the cart.  He was instantly struck dead.  Although his intentions may have been good, he and the entire procession were being too casual and careless in handling the Ark.  When God gave Moses the detailed instructions for building the tabernacle and all of its altars and furnishings, the main feature of the most holy part of the tabernacle, the holy of holies, was the Ark.  The holy of holies was the most sacred room, hidden behind the curtain, where only the high priest entered once a year to sacrifice and atone for the sins of Israel.  The Ark in that sacred place contained the very presence of God.  When He gave Moses the instructions on how to build the Ark, He also gave specific and detailed instructions on how to carry and move the Ark.  These instructions were not only to show proper respect and reverence for the Ark, but also to protect someone from likely touching the power of God in a casual manner.  Man is not built to withstand the full power of God.  The unimaginable power of the Divine cannot be handled by human flesh.  Without preparation, and without thinking, Uzzah reached out and touched the Ark.  He may as well have reached out and grabbed a one million volt live wire falling to the ground.

Realizing the gravity of the situation, David became afraid and wondered how it would be possible to safely bring the Ark home to Jerusalem where it belonged among the chosen people of God.  2 Samuel 6:10 says David “took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom.”  He needed time to re-group and research God’s instructions on how to move it to Jerusalem; perhaps he had over looked something.

Can you imagine Obed-Edom’s surprise when King David asked if he could drop off the Ark of God at his house for a while, until they could assess its proper handling?  Then King David and his procession of thirty thousand walked off down the road, leaving the Ark, the very presence of God, with Obed-Edom.  What would happen next?

We know from Scripture that Obed-Edom was a Levite (1 Chronicles 16:4-5), a man from the order of priests, called by God to serve the people by ministering before God.  He had received the training of a Levite, and knew about the tabernacle, the altars, and the Ark, as all were still in use.  These were the days before Solomon built the permanent Temple of God in Jerusalem.  God’s presence still dwelt among the Israelites in the tabernacle.  He knew the Ark represented the presence of God, and only the high priest could access the room where it was contained in the tabernacle.  He understood the history and the symbolism, but he also respected the power of the God of his forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He was awe-struck at the very thought of the Ark of God being left at his house.

Three months passed before David returned to take the Ark on to Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 6:11).  This time he researched and followed God’s instructions to the letter on how to carry the Ark (1 Chronicles 15:13-15).  The three months Obed-Edom spent in the continual and intense presence of God changed his life forever.  A few minutes in God’s presence weekly in church, or even daily in prayer does not equate to the literal “soaking” in God’s presence that Obed-Edom and his household received during these three months.  The following Scriptures give us a flavor for and a picture of the results of that “soaking in God’s presence”:

  1. 1 Chronicles 13:14- “The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had.”
  2. 2 Samuel 6:11- “The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite [reference to place of birth] for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.” [Insert mine.]
  3. 1 Chronicles 26:4- 5- Obed-Edom had eight sons, “for God had blessed Obed-Edom.”
  4. 1 Chronicles 15:18- Obed-Edom was named a gatekeeper when the Ark was brought up to Jerusalem.
  5. 1 Chronicles 15:21- Obed-Edom played the harp in the procession that brought the Ark from his house to Jerusalem.
  6. 1 Chronicles: 15:24- he was appointed as a doorkeeper for the Ark before the procession.
  7. 1 Chronicles 16:4-5- once the Ark arrived in Jerusalem, Obed-Edom was appointed by David as a Levite “to minister before the ark of the Lord, to make petition [pray], to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel.” [Insert mine.]
  8. 1 Chronicles 26:15- the gatekeepers drew lots for their duties.  “The lot for the South Gate fell to Obed-Edom, and the lot for the storehouse fell to his sons.”  The South Gate was just outside the palaces of David and eventually Solomon.  This was a strategic and very important body-guard type position and responsibility.
  9. 2 Chronicles 25:24- in a reference to an event that occurred under the reign of a later king, Scripture tells us that the temple storehouse contained the temple “gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of God.”  These had been in the responsible care of Obed-Edom and his family. 1 Kings 7:13-51 describes in great detail the furnishings of the temple, and confirms that these items were kept in “the treasuries of the Lord’s temple.”
  10. 1 Kings 8:1-10 tells the story of again moving the ark into its final resting place in the completed inner sanctuary of the temple Solomon built, in the Most Holy Place.  Obed-Edom, along with all the priests and Levites, was involved in that event. He played the harp. (2 Chronicles 6:12).  When the Ark was put into position, and the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, “the cloud filled the temple of the Lord, and the priests could not perform their service, because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.”  Obed-Edom witnessed that cloud, and experienced the presence of the Lord again.

When presented with the opportunity to be in the presence of the Lord, Obed-Edom took advantage of it.  He was neither too busy nor afraid.  He and his family handled the presence of the Lord with great respect and reverence.  Otherwise they were subject to the same outcome as fell upon Uzzah.  As a result, he and his whole family were blessed. His life was changed forever.  Following that initial experience, he was called upon to move the Ark whenever it needed to be moved.  God caused kings to ask him to serve continually in the temple, where God’s presence dwelled.  He was trusted with the great treasures of the temple, both monetary and spiritual.  He was trusted with guarding the doors to the temple, and keeping watch over the palaces of kings.  He was able to labor alongside his family while serving the Lord and the people of Israel in the temple. God lifted him up into positions of honor.  I can only imagine the continual anointing and presence of the Lord allowed his serving to be a great joy, and not a burden.

The story of Obed-Edom causes us to ask some questions.  Do we seek the presence of the Lord?  When the opportunity presents itself to be alone with Him, do we take advantage of it?  What is the attitude of our heart when we do have time alone with God?  Do we come with joy and expectation, or do we come before Him out of a sense of duty?  Is our approach casual or reverential?  Are we too preoccupied with our own concerns to let Him impact us in the way He chooses?  Obed-Edom honored and revered God, and the Lord blessed him mightily.  When we demonstrate the proper reverence God expects and requires we can be trusted with His anointing, presence and power.  May we all examine our hearts, and be led by the spirit of God into His presence.

The Gift of Pure Blood by Kay Keith Peebles

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The only option was a blood transfusion!  Our daughter-in-law began to hemorrhage after her second son was born in 2004.  The doctors had been trying to stop the bleeding since she delivered our grandson.  The medication finally succeeded after several hours, but our daughter-in-law had lost so much blood they felt she needed a blood transfusion.  The birth of our grandson was joyous, though our celebration was cut short.  He had been born at 7 p.m. but it was midnight before our daughter-in-law was stabilized.  We left the hospital weary and uneasy because of our concern for her health and well-being.  The doctors would make their decision the next morning based on her blood count.

I could not sleep, although I was exhausted after a long day and late night.    The gamut of emotions had drained my mind and body.  I prayed my daughter-in-law would not require a blood transfusion but the doctors seemed adamant about her need for several pints of blood.  Screening for blood purity had begun to improve over the last 10 years, but there were still cases of people contracting serious diseases or infections from donated blood.  I wrestled with the thought of her receiving a blood transfusion from a stranger and kept praying against the need for one.

Tossing and turning for over an hour, I cried out to the Lord for peace and a word from Him on the matter.  The answer was not exactly what I had prayed, but with God’s revelation the peace flooded my mind and heart.  The Lord assured me our daughter-in-law would receive a blood transfusion but He promised she would be fine.  His word was profound:  “Your husband has been donating his blood monthly for years.  He has given over a gallon of blood to others which was pure, free of disease and contaminants.  What he has given freely to others your daughter-in-law will receive.  She will be given pure, uncontaminated blood.”  I wept.

Galatians 6:7 states, “Do not be deceived and deluded and misled:  God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside), [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God.]  For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap.”  AMPV.  Emphasis mine.  Although the context of this scripture is in regard to true salvation, the principles of God’s Word regarding sowing and reaping are His law and they are irrevocable!  The Lord spoke that promise to me and the peace of God filled the room.  I slept the rest of the night undisturbed.

The next morning we arrived at the hospital.  The doctors had already begun giving our daughter-in-law the two pints of blood she needed.  I felt such amazement and peace that the Lord had prepared for this need years before, prompting my husband to give his blood for others’ lives.  Someone visiting in the hospital room mentioned concerns about the blood transfusion and I could see my daughter-in-law’s face turn fearful.  I was quickly able to pull down the words of doubt and concern by speaking the word the Lord had given me the night before.  His peace came into that hospital room and hovered over us all.  It has been 12 years since that happened and my daughter-in-law is healthy and strong.  She was given the gift of pure blood.

Two thousand years ago, the entire world was given the opportunity to receive a blood transfusion and it is continually offered to all who will receive it.  It was the gift of clean, pure blood.  It was not only pure, it was sinless, holy, and divine blood.  Isaiah 53:6 describes the condition of mankind and why we needed a blood transfusion.  “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord had made to light upon Him the guilt and iniquity of us all.”  AMPV.  See 1 Peter 2:24-25.  Paul addressed the same principle in Romans 3:23 which declares, “No distinction is made:  all have sinned and lack God’s glory.”  The New Jerusalem Bible.    Conditions were placed upon man’s behavior when God established His covenant with him.  God declared blessings upon those who obeyed His covenant but curses would be upon all who rebelled against Him and His word.  Those curses occurred because of the fall of man and still affect all who do not trust in the Lord.

Sin exacted a stiff penalty upon Adam and Eve and all their descendants (the whole world).  Because the wages of sin is death, both physical and spiritual, Adam and Eve lost their created right to dwell in the Lord’s presence of holiness.  See Genesis Chapter 3 and Romans 6:23.  They were not created to know good and evil.  God placed them in the garden, clothed them with His glory and they abided in the holy presence of God.  Their rebellion opened their eyes to evil which also opened the door to death.  It also closed the door to the Lord’s intimate presence in their lives.  Their nakedness exposed the fact that they had sinned.  The first generation after Adam and Eve introduced death when Cain, their son, killed his brother Abel.  Now, their only remedy for sin was through the shedding of pure, undefiled blood.  Hebrews 9:22 states, “[In fact] under the Law almost everything is purified by means of blood, and without the shedding of blood there is neither release from sin and its guilt nor the remission of the due and merited punishment for sins.”  AMPV.Life is in the blood and therefore, there cannot be life without the blood:  physically or spiritually.  This created a dilemma for mankind, but God had already prepared the remedy.  The blood of animals temporarily “covered” man’s sin, but God’s perfect plan was to completely eradicate it!  The pure blood necessary for man’s atonement had to come through a sinless man.  See Romans 5:12-14.  There was only One candidate Who met the criteria for the sacrifice, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus was born to a virgin by the Holy Spirit.  It was a supernatural conception which gave Him both the blood of man and God.  He lived a holy life and kept the law of God, therefore, His blood was sinless pure and holy.  His blood was enough to cover every man, woman and child that had ever been or would ever be born in the entire world.  Jesus’ pure blood had a miraculous effect on all mankind and our relationship with God.  His blood sacrifice provided:

  1. Redemption:  His blood redeemed the world from the authority of Satan changing it back to the authority of God for all who believed.  It was the perfect ransom for our bondage to a sinful life.  “[The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, In Whom we have our redemption through His blood, [which means] the forgiveness of our sins.”  Colossians 1:13-14 AMPV.  Our debt of spiritual death was removed by our appropriate application of the Blood of Jesus.  Repentance of our sin/sins and faith in Jesus’ blood sacrifice to atone us is required to receive this gift of redemption.
  2. Forgiveness:  Through our repentance and faith in Jesus’ blood sacrifice, God has forgiven all our sins and transgressions:  past, present and future (when confessed and repented).  Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”   “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive out sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].”  1 John 1:9 AMV.  Our sins are remembered no more and we have been given a new beginning.
  3. Justification:  All charges for violating God’s Law of moral, ethical and spiritual principles were acquitted for all who believe in the power of Jesus’ blood sacrifice.  The penalty should have been our death.  Instead, because Jesus substituted Himself in our place, all who believe in His sacrifice become reconciled to God and are called to be a child of God.  Romans 5:1 “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” NKJV.
  4. New Creation: Jesus described our conversion as being born again.  See John 3:1-5.  The power of sin was broken and freedom from guilt and shame became available to all who would call upon the name of Jesus for their salvation.  2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away.  Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].” AMPV. Just as the natural blood in our bodies gives us life and pulses that life throughout our body, Jesus’ blood gives us spiritual life which transforms us into new creatures in Christ Jesus.
  5. Access to God: Jesus’ death and resurrection removed the veil which kept us from having the same access Adam and Eve had with God before they sinned.  Ephesians 3:12 “In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom without fear).”  AMPV. The Lord is close to those who love Him.  He dwells in our hearts and we become the temple of His presence giving Him full freedom to transform our lives according to His will.
  6. Healing/Deliverance: The blood of Jesus was used to break the power of the curse.  His blood was not simply for our salvation.  It also purchased our right to be healed and delivered of physical and mental oppression of the devil.  Isaiah 53:4-5 proclaims, “Surely He hath borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.”  AMPV.

When Jesus’ blood seeped into the ground in Jerusalem and at Golgotha, the entire force of heaven’s power crushed every work of darkness.  It ratified God’s covenant while destroying every curse and hold the devil had on all who received Jesus’ blood sacrifice for mankind.  Faith in the power of the Blood of Jesus and the authority of the Name of Jesus is our defense against all the works of the devil and our assurance of a victorious life.

The New Covenant God established now guarantees full victory in every area of our lives when we walk in the righteousness and holiness His blood purchased for us.  We must trust and believe in what He accomplished for our benefit without doubting or wavering.  His blood calls us to become pure and holy as He is.  His blood demands us to not only be transformed but to also be transformers who change the world.  His blood was not just shed for us, but for all; and His blood compels us to tell the world they have been given the gift of pure, sinless and holy blood.

The Value of Destruction by Larry W Peebles

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The Value of Destruction    by   Larry W Peebles   July 15, 2016   16.26

What was eventually going to be such a beautiful home kitchen remodel project started out with very dusty, devastating demolition.   Cabinets, counter-tops, walls, drywall, sink, faucet, cooktop, and dishwasher were all gutted and hauled away.  Even parts of the floor and ceiling were destroyed.  When the backsplash was removed, bare frame walls were exposed.  Nothing was spared.  If it was broken, out of date, or did not function well as a component of an efficient kitchen, it was removed.  My wife and I were quite enthused about the plans for the new kitchen, but I knew the starting point would not be her favorite.  She is allergic to the drywall dust and the sawdust, and generally does not like the clutter and chaos of the demolition process.  One of the stars of a popular remodel show on TV these days gets all excited for “demo day”, but not my wife.  Never- the- less, all remodels start with destruction.

We would lose complete use of the kitchen for weeks.  We were on a tight four week schedule to finish the remodel.  When the first week was spent on major destruction, which made the kitchen worse, not better, it became hard to see how the next three weeks could result in an improved kitchen over the one we had when we started.

The second week was not much better, as much had to be done “behind the walls” to straighten out the location of electric plugs, gas lines, and vent ducts in the floor truss space for the cooktop.  There was more sawing, chipping, and adjusting on things that would not be seen in the final finished product.  We were beginning to move forward and make progress, but the end still seemed a long way off, and we were halfway into the project time line.

The final two weeks of the project saw all the new finishes and components of the kitchen come together flawlessly.  The dust and chaos of destruction had evolved into a new and beautiful creation that previously had existed only in our hopes and dreams.  In fact, the final product exceeded our expectations, thanks to the skilled craftsmen who had labored over every detail and task.  A process that began with destruction ended in some of the finest construction I have ever seen, and resulted in a brand- new, modern kitchen.

When a person comes to know Christ, they become a candidate for a remodel.  While it is true God loves us and we can come to Christ just as we are, no matter our condition, it is also true that we should not expect to remain in that same condition after coming to Christ.  The grace from God that saved us unto Christ is the same grace that begins to work with us for our own good.  His grace convicts us of our sin, causes us to develop distaste for the sin, and convinces us to repent and turn away from our sin.  Once free from sin, we are free to become His new creation.  His grace points us toward Christ as our example or pattern.  When we see ourselves compared to Him, we are satisfied with nothing less than His glory.  We were created in his image (Genesis 1:27), so in a very real sense, we are being restored to our original grand design.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

This personal remodel starts with demolition, but there is no need to fear.  God is a skilled craftsman, and does not begin removing the old without the perfect new blueprint design in mind.  His grace convinces us that our thoughts, habits, and attitudes must change.  Priorities and the way we spend our time and money must be scrutinized.  Sometimes friends that are holding us back must be exchanged for friends that will challenge us and lead us forward.  We must evaluate things that we watch such as TV, movies, and video games to see if they are helping develop us into Christ’s likeness, or if they are inhibiting our development. If our reading habits are obsessive or too focused on Facebook and emails they must shift toward reading His word and other Christian writers.  How do we use the internet–for learning, encouragement and training, or mostly for time-consuming entertainment and petty dialogue over meaningless trivia?  Anything that does not lead us toward our new goal of knowing Christ and His glory must be ripped out and hauled off.  If necessary, He will lovingly expose our bare walls, so that the hidden things can be revealed and corrected.  Nothing is spared.  The thought of such a process may be frightening, but the remodel is worth the cost.  We may initially throw up some dust and chaos, but we must keep in mind the final plan, which is to be the incredible person He created us to be.  This may seem radical, but we have help.  If we pray and cry out for this remodel work in us, he will expose the next thing we need to pull out and modify.  It is not long before we realize He is right beside us, supervising the entire demolition process.

As the old, useless things are disposed of, God will begin to work the new creation in us through His Holy Spirit.   The old ways and habits will no longer satisfy.  We find ourselves thinking of Him, and talking more with Him.  Our thoughts, actions, language and priorities begin to change for the better.  He gives us the ability to drop those bad habits.  In its place He drops in more love, with higher levels of concern and consideration for others.  We begin to speak more encouragement to others, and less discouragement.  We begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit working in our lives, which is (Galatians 5:22) “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self -control.”  He begins to reveal glimpses of the final design so that we are encouraged to cooperate further, which in turn allows Him to do a deeper work, and cause a greater change.  The finished product is worth it.

For added encouragement, three Scriptures come to mind:

  1. Philippians 1:6- “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
  2. Jeremiah 29:11- 13- “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
  3. 2 Corinthians: 17, 18- “Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are all being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Do not be afraid of the demolition/remodel process when it concerns your relationship with Jesus.  His nature is love, and His plans for us are good.  We must let Him remove from our heart anything that separates us from Him, and remodel with new parts and finishes that will draw us to Him.  The initial destruction in that remodel process is nothing compared to the glory of the finished product: the fullness of God dwelling in us.

Politically Correct by Kay Keith Peebles

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The famous children’s book author Hans Christian Andersen wrote a story entitled “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.  It was first published in 1837.  The Emperor had an obsession for clothing and continually sought more garments to wear.  He spent much of his time standing before a mirror admiring himself and showing off his latest fashions to the people.  The story builds when two swindlers saw an opportunity to become wealthy.  They posed as weavers of fine fabrics and promised to make the Emperor a remarkable new suit of clothing that was invisible to a certain group of people.  They made it perfectly clear that those who were not fit for the position they held, were imprudent or inept would not be able to see the emperor’s new clothes.

The weavers appeared to work diligently day and night perfecting the fabrics for the Emperor’s new garment.  They bilked the kingdom treasuries of money and demanded more donations of expensive threads including gold and silver.  They stored the money and threads with their belongings as they planned a quick exit out of town at the revealing of the clothing.  Everyone in the kingdom was informed that only the ignorant and inept would not be able to see the Emperor’s clothes. The Emperor sent two of his highest officials to inspect the new garments while they were being woven.  Although there was nothing on the looms, the officials applauded the beauty of the work in fear of losing their positions of authority in the kingdom.

When the swindlers presented the emperor with his new “suit” of clothing (the Emperor could not see) he praised their workmanship as they supposedly dressed him before a mirror.  He then proudly proceeded to enter a procession before all the people in his kingdom.  This was the most expensive garment he had ever bought.  The people bowed before him and complemented his new garment because of the fear of being ridiculed or judged as stupid and incompetent.  It took the innocence of a little child to speak the truth.  He told the emperor he wasn’t wearing any clothes at all!  His words astonished the people who had lied about seeing them because of fear and intimidation.  The truth he spoke broke the power of the lie which had duped the emperor and the entire kingdom.  They had all acted on a pretense which not only brought confusion and chaos to the kingdom, but embarrassment to the Emperor himself.

The story was a fun tale to read and it has been enjoyed by many since the day it was first published.  It was hilarious to think of the Emperor proudly parading through the kingdom without any clothes on his body.  It carried a poignant message of cowering under peer pressure and surrendering control to the fear of man.  Pride was at the root of each person’s choice to lie.  The pride of the Emperor seeped down into every level of the kingdom corrupting all but the innocent child who was the only one brave enough to speak the truth.

We are living in a time when being “politically correct” is the expected posture when interacting with others.   According to Webster’s Dictionary politically correct means: conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.  Currently taken to the extreme, it basically means one must not say or do anything to offend others.  Its premise is that we must all be accepting of everyone’s actions and any contradiction of a belief or lifestyle is hateful, ignorant, or based upon antiquated ideals.  Unfortunately, many in our society are full of offense because they have drifted far from God.  They have rejected any truth spoken that conflicts with their own beliefs and lifestyle choices.

Just as the emperor’s new clothes posed a problem for the (imaginary) kingdom, the politically correct doctrine produces a dilemma for the church as well as our nation.  The true church of Jesus Christ possess the only message of truth, hope and eternal security for the world.  This dilemma places the church in America and the individual believer at a crossroad between God and man.  How we deal with that one issue may well impact the future of America and our own eternity!

My husband and I led a Sunday school class of young married couples several years ago.  We taught the Word of God including Paul’s instruction on Christian conduct.  It caused one in our class to object to our teaching insisting we were to be “tolerant” of others.  We began to realize that her definition of “tolerance” did not mean allowing each to live their own lives, but rather meant approval of other’s behaviors.  She confused the Biblical command “judge not” with acceptance of wrong, sinful behavior.  She misunderstood the message of the Gospel which calls believers to live righteously and hate evil (not people).

The Bible is very clear who will inherit the Kingdom of God and who will not.  Both the Old and New Testaments contain passages listing those God will not accept into His Kingdom.  They are the ones who reject God’s law by living unethical and immoral lifestyles. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators (sexual intercourse between unmarried people), nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”  1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NKJV.  Emphasis mine.  There are many more sins mentioned in both Old and New Testament passages but the above passage is a great example.

Only those who accept the blood sacrifice Jesus made for the sins of the world can be saved.  They acknowledge their sin (many of the above mentioned sins) and repent (change their behaviors and mindset) before God asking for His help to live righteously.  Christians are not perfect people but because they accepted the blood sacrifice Jesus made for their sins, they are a new creation and are considered righteous by God.  The power of the grace of God enables them to begin practicing righteous living.  Those who have not believed in Jesus’ blood sacrifice are still practicing sin and are not considered righteous in God’s eyes.  The Bible declares the wages of sin is death.  A sinful life can only produce death but a righteous lifestyle produces life.

Believers are called to love God, practice righteousness and hate evil as God does.  We were never called to tolerate evil or make an excuse or exception for evil.  Separating the value of the individual person before God and their sin is imperative when we try to minister God’s love toward others.  Today, more than any other time, we face a new dilemma regarding ministry.  The world is equating their sinful actions to their identity.  If we speak against a sin, they receive it as an attack on their own identity.  Our value and identity were never to be equated with our actions.  It could only be determined through the value God placed upon us.  We were so valued before God that he sent His only Son to be the pure sacrifice for the sins of the world.  We are dearly loved and highly prized by God.

Historically, secular values fluctuate and the rules that govern secular societies change over time.  Man’s opinion is constantly subject to change but God’s Word never changes.  The Bible states that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Because His Word is eternal, His moral codes are truth.  Our Creator established His moral codes, and His kingdom is not democratic.  We cannot vote on the parts we like and neither can we change or select only the laws we personally approve.  All believers are bound to embrace the whole Word of God.

Americans face a new battle in these turbulent times.  Sin and immorality are not only rampant, they are flaunted in our streets with attitudes of pride and arrogance.  God called His people to be a light in the darkness, not to agree with and succumb to the darkness.  Only true believers have the words of life which the world needs.  He calls us to speak truth, but with compassion, not condemnation.  If the people living in sin do not hear the words of life they may not know God loves them and has provided a better way for them to live.  We must not cower to the pressure to be silent because our silence is condoning.  We are to live our lives before others, but it is also our duty to speak truth in love to those who are bound by sin.  The greatest love of all sacrifices for the good of another.

Jesus was not politically correct in His time of ministry and yet the sinner loved Him.  It was the religious establishment who hated Him and arranged for His crucifixion.  He never judged the sinner, but He showed them a better way, God’s way.  He never considered Himself better than the sinners, He sat with them, ate with them and ministered to them.  Pointing a finger in judgement always drives a wedge between the sinner and God, but lovingly speaking the truth will woo them to the Savior.

We need not worry about being politically correct when we are clothed in the Love of God.  They will see His heart when they look into our eyes.  Love conquers all.  Love will prevail.  Truth spoken with love is the greatest gift a believer can give the broken hearted.

Call The Roll by Larry W Peebles

Call The Roll   by   Larry W Peebles   July 1, 2016   16.24

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My dad passed last week.  He was 97, fighting numerous health issues, so this was not unexpected.  I had rushed out from Georgia to Texas to see him two weeks earlier.  He was in the hospital, and not doing well.  When I saw him, I knew it would not be long.  After he returned to the nursing home, the call came two weeks later that he was failing.  A few hours later another call came with the news that he had passed.  I was told he was comfortable and peaceful the whole time.

On that last visit to see him in the hospital, we had some precious moments.  Though he suffered from Alzheimer’s, we connected for a while that Saturday evening.  Sensing that he had only a short time left on this earth, I talked with him about Heaven.  I assured him he could go see Jesus, and be reunited with mom, who preceded him in death by about two years.  They were married seventy two years when she died.  I reminded him of a dream he shared with me when he had triple bypass surgery at age 82.  He told me he went to a place that was immensely light and bright.  He said he saw long flowing white linens blowing in a cool breeze.  In his own words, it was the most peaceful place he had ever been.  I told him it sounded to me like Heaven.

In the process of reminding him of Jesus and Heaven, his dream, and going to see mom again, he appeared to be very intrigued.  He could not speak, but he could not take his eyes off me.  He could not relax.  I knew that in spite of the condition of his mind and his speech, we had connected.  We could not dialogue, so I whispered a quick prayer, asking for wisdom on what to do next.  My dad always sang, and played the guitar and the harmonica.  I felt I should sing to him in that hospital room.  Two songs quickly came to mind—Amazing Grace, and Jesus Loves Me.  Dad sang those songs to me when I was a child.  I would sit at his feet and listen to him sing and play, working his way through his songbook. Anytime, when no one in particular was listening, he would pull a harmonica out of his shirt pocket and play those songs.  When I began to play the guitar, those were some of the first songs I learned.  In fifteen years of leading worship for our ministry group in the juvenile justice system, those two songs were the songs most requested by the young men and women we met with in maximum security lock-up.  Unplanned and unrehearsed, he played Amazing Grace on his harmonica at mom’s funeral.  Those two songs carry a powerful anointing that transcends time, troubles, and eternity.

As I sang those two songs to him over and over in the hospital room that Saturday night, his whole countenance began to change.  He relaxed.  I saw peace overcome whatever was troubling him. He had an assurance of where he was going after this life.  I watched his eyes begin to get heavy, until he dozed off.  I sang my father to sleep.  It was a deep and peaceful sleep.  He was no longer afraid of what lay ahead.  Neither was I.

After his passing, my daughter found a very precious video.  It was taken at dad’s 90th birthday party.  Dad and his younger brother, age 85, were playing a harmonica duet and singing “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”.  They often did that at family gatherings.  His brother, my uncle, later told me that the last time he visited dad at the nursing home they could not connect until my uncle pulled out his harmonica and began to play.  Dad had not said a word during the visit, and may not have even known his brother, but when the music finally started dad reached in his shirt pocket, pulled out his harmonica, and began to play along.

Dad told me stories of answering roll call during basic training in the Army during WWII.   After the morning trumpet sounded, answering roll call with a sharp “here” or “yo” gave the soldier a sense of belonging to a unit of men called to a purpose.  It meant the soldier was present and accounted for, ready to face the day.  It signified a soldier who was prompt, and could be counted on for any duty that might arise.  The roll contained the name of every soldier of that unit who was supposed to be present.  Dad answered heaven’s roll call when he passed.  When the roll is called in Heaven, he’ll be there.

Revelation 21:27 speaks of Heaven and those who enter it will be “only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”  This book contains the names of every person who should enter Heaven at the end of their life on this earth.  The Bible says (Romans 10: 9, 10) “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”  Those are the simple yet vitally important requirements to have one’s name written in the Lamb’s book of life.  We are to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross as the ultimate perfect sacrifice to forgive and destroy our sin.  If we confess that belief before God and man, we can be spared the consequences of a sinful life.  We can be forgiven and justified, and spend our eternal life with God in Heaven where there is no more of the brokenness associated with a fallen world such as pain, sorrow, sickness or poverty.  This simple action taken during this life will lead to our name being written in the book of life, and our name being called on Heaven’s roll when this life on earth is over.

This simple action also leads to a more victorious life today.  The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15: 54, 55 “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?’”  Our whole approach to our current life then changes.  With this belief and confession, our fear of death is mitigated.  If death, the unbeliever’s worst possible outcome, has no hold on the believer, neither does any other of the world’s so-called calamities.  We can truly live a victorious life free from all fears because we are holding on to Jesus.

I am sad my father is gone from this life.  I will surely miss him.  I rejoice, however, that he is in Heaven today.  His pain and suffering from sickness and disease is over.  He is rejoicing with the saints in the presence of Jesus, and has been reunited with loved ones who passed before him.  He answered the final roll call, and went out a winner.  1 Corinthians 15:57 says “Thanks be to God.  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”