Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Perfectionist

When we hear someone described as a 'perfectionist', we all have an image of someone dedicated to details.
If the perfectionist is working FOR us ... we are delighted at the quality we can count on ... but if we are being compared to a perfectionist we quickly feel inferior and defensive, knowing we do not measure up.

While we love the idea of 'perfect', there is a tension in us... the longing for it yet the reality that it is always beyond our grasp.

Only God is truly Perfect and Jesus the God/Man is the only true Perfectionist who ever walked our earthly soil. He came dedicated to fulfilling every detail of the Old Testament. Every detail ? yes... in His own words every jot and tittle. (Matt.5:28)

We are familiar with the obvious prophecies that speak of Him....and are aware that some of the OT characters are types foreshadowing Him, but what about the details that fall into 'jot and tittle' category - the ones that maybe you have to look for; the ones that only a Perfectionist would fulfill.
I found one of these today tucked into the following Old Testament story. (found in I Sam.21:1-7)

David, and the men with him, were fleeing from the wrath of Saul. Being on the move, any food they had with them was quickly consumed .
Three days had passed and the men were hungry.

The men were under David's command; he felt responsible for their needs. What could he do? An idea came to him.... he must have dismissed it at first because it was something against the law. But his men were hungry. He put them first.

David slipped into the temple and said to the priest named Abimelech, "Now therefore what is under your hand? Give me five loaves of bread in mine hand or what there is present."

Overturning the law, the priest gave the hallowed loaves to David... bread that had been dedicated to God. It cost him his life.

Fast forward a thousand years.... and we have two similar stories

One is in Matt. 6.
Jesus, and the people with Him, had consumed the food they had brought with them. Time passed and the people were hungry. Jesus had been meeting all their needs, were they not also looking to Him to feed them?
Jesus asked, "what do you have?" The answer was 5 loaves and two fishes.
He looked up to His Father (Abimelech means "Father of the King") , 'hallowed' the bread to Him.... and passed it out. The 'hallowed' bread fed the multitude.

We are told of another time in Matt.15:32, when Jesus fed the multitude ... this time three days has passed and again the people were hungry. Once again Jesus hallowed the bread and God provided from heaven the provision needed. Jesus overturned natural law, Jesus fulfilled heavenly law.
To provide living bread cost Him His life.
You might ask, why is it important that we have this parallel of stories?
Perhaps at first glance, it is not important at all as it supplies no new information, nor does it add to any understanding of either the OT or NT stories.

But this is what it does do ; it gives to us the confirmation that God's Word is always true in every detail . We have the assurance that we can trust it.
God's Word is so tightly woven that its intrinsically connected details make it impossible for anyone other than God to have written the bible over a period of 4000 years.

The scriptures are indeed wondrously spoken forth. With what awe should we guard it, and obey its Words.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Had a Dream

A few nights ago I had a dream.
I was moving among and interacting with a crowd of people: talking sharing and observing. The crowd faded into the background as suddenly I saw before me, three men standing at attention dressed in uniforms. They looked identical.
There was a word attached to each man which I understood.
The dream ended and I awoke, but to my dismay I could not remember the three words. Try as I might, I could not bring them back.
I prayed asking the Lord to let me remember the words and what they meant.
I fell back asleep and dreamed again. Once more, I heard the words and what they meant.
When I awoke the second time, I remembered.
The words were 'whole-hearted', 'half-hearted' and 'hard-hearted'.
The three men who outwardly look identical in their uniforms, hid within them three different heart conditions.
We could look at the example of three kings in scripture. Three kings , who were loved and admired and followed but with three very different hearts.

King David was whole-hearted toward God. He had the love of his people but the important praise was God's.

Act 13:22 He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I HAVE FOUND DAVID THE SON OF JESSE, A MAN AFTER MY OWN HEART, WHO WILL DO ALL MY WILL.'

King Saul was half-hearted. He, more than any other king, excited the emotion and admiration of the people. He was their first king, chosen by God. He was regally handsome. standing head and shoulders above the people.

But his half-heartedness was his downfall.... He turned away from following the Lord and ultimately became guilty of the unforgivable - consulting a medium.

Saul in his own words reveals his half-heartedness.
1Sa 15:24 Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.

Is that not where all half-heartedness begins? When we fear man? or love the things of this world and what it offers?

God will not share His temple, and we have record of God's judgment of half-hearted Saul.
1Sa 16:14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him.

Then we have Rehoboam, the hard-hearted king. He looked so promising. All the people wanted to crown Rehoboam , the son of Solomon, as their king. They expected great things.

But it was not to be. Rehoboam never sought the wisdom of God, he sought the wisdom of his peers, the young men he grew up with.

He outrightly rejected the counsel of godly men.
2Ch 10:8 But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.

Rohoboam went down but he did not go down alone. He took Israel with him.

2Ch 12:1 Now it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself, that he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel along with him.

God's final word on Rohoboam's hard heartedness in found recorded for us in II Chron. 12:14. " And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD."

We have an incredible advantage looking at these three examples --it is called hindsight. With that hindsight we have God's recorded judgment of them.

When we observe the people in our lives that we look up to as leaders, guides, examples, heroes we do not have the advantage of hindsight, and often their true heart condition is not visible to us. From our outward observations they may all look alike. We have another disadvantage today in that many of the people we look up too are far removed from us..... our high tech media allows us to see 'the outward' uniform of many people on TV, on videos, in print. But we do not have the advantage of watching their daily walk, as we are told to do in this passage...

Heb 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Because we cannot always recognize a person's heart from the outside, we need to be careful and discerning . The best way to see some one's heart is not to look at the 'uniform' outside of their life or ministry but to watch how they do their daily life - their 'conversation'.

The ones who are the most deceiving are the half-hearted ones... which is why Jesus said to the Laodiceans in Rev. 3:16 "...because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth."
Let us be discerning believers, watching and judging with a righteous judgement... discerning the heart and not the uniform. But most of all let us guard our own heart that we follow Jesus whole heartedly which is the first commandment ...

Deu 6:5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."