Saturday, June 29, 2013

Was Jesus Really A Carpenter?

The only references we have to Jesus’ vocation are the two times when He’s called a tekton or the son of a tekton (the word often translated “carpenter”).

“Is not this the carpenter (tekton), the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?  And they were offended at him."  (Mark 6:3).


“Is not this the carpenter's (tekton) son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?"  (Matt 13:55)

The word tekton refers to "one who works with his hands" so it could be used to describe both a carpenter or a stonemason (a tekton of wood or a tekton of stone).  God never made it clear through His inspired word whether Jesus was a carpenter or a stone mason. 

Why would the Greek translation be so vague?  Maybe it's because the Hebrew word for carpenter and stone mason are exactly the same.  That's probably why the Greek word tekton was used, because the original Hebrew word for Jesus' occupation was not specific.

Modern tradition would consider a "builder" or "one who works with his hands" to be a carpenter, since modern structures are built with wood, but we need to remember the point in history when these letters were written.  The majority of structures in the Nazareth area in that era were built of stone, the same material that Nazareth had no shortage of.  In fact, wood would have been an expensive commodity, so it is probably unlikely that Jesus would have worked extensively with that material.

Of course, when building a home, wood was used, so Jesus could have worked with wood as well (making windows, doors, etc...).

Another hint that Jesus may have worked with stone are the many references He made to stones and rocks:

And saith unto him, If thous be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Matthew 4:6

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?  Matthew 7:9

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.  Matthew 7:24-25

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  Matthew 16:18

Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?  Matthew 21:42

And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. Matthew 21:44

And he brought him to Jesus.  And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone.  John 1:42

Even from the moment of His birth, rock may have been an important part of His life.  Joseph and Mary placed Him in a feeding/watering trough when He was born.  Could this trough had been made of stone?

Jesus was even buried in rock:

And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out of the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.  Matthew 27:59-60

Paul described Jesus as a "rock."

And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.  1 Corinthians 10:4

Whether Jesus was a carpenter or a stone mason remains is one question that will be unanswered until we're together with Him in the clouds.  Whatever the answer may be, it sure provides some interesting conversation, doesn't it? 

Don't be shy about leaving your own opinion.  I'd really like to know what you think.

Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!
TribulationHarvest.net

Saturday, June 08, 2013

WAKE UP!

Look at your clock.  Not your digital clock, but an analog clock that actually shows the seconds ticking by.  Now watch the clock for a full 60 seconds................................................................

Did you actually watch the clock for 60 seconds?  Most people won't, but if you did, then during the time you spent looking at the clock, approximately 100 people died worldwide, and that's being conservative.  Multiply that by 24 hours and you come close to 150,000 people per day!  That not only includes the victims of war and religious persecution overseas, it also includes people in your own neighborhood!  Victims of violent crime, deaths at your local nursing homes and hospitals, a neighbor's suicide or death from an automobile accident just down the street.

If we estimate that 25% of these individuals are true born again believers in Christ, then that would mean that 112,500 people enter an inescapable eternity of pain and suffering every day!  How many of these 112,500 individuals can you be credited to have witnessed to, either directly or indirectly?  Let me make this a little simpler.  How many people did you reach for Christ today?  This week?  This month?

We are all called to be a part of the great commission.  Some receive a call from the Lord to give up everything and become missionaries, ministering and spreading the gospel in sometimes hostile regions of the world.  Do you pray for them?  Do you offer consistent financial support for them?  If not, why not?  Do you know that by supporting missionaries, the souls saved through that ministry are also credited to you as well?

I look out on the streets of my own city and wonder where God's people are.  Where is the message of salvation being shared with the lost?  It's not at the soup kitchen or the bread line.  I've been there, I know.  Other than a couple of incidents I've witnessed, it's not in the streets either.  I'm encouraged that my church is planning on some major outreach in the coming weeks, but I am deeply concerned that Christians aren't taking it upon themselves to witness to the lost on their own, without having to wait upon the organized church to plan an outreach event.

I hear Christians praying that the church body will rise up and be used by God to spread His word, but I can't help but to think that so many people don't understand what they're actually praying for.  If we're asking God to use us, we can't honestly believe that God will use us in the little comfortable bubble we've surrounded ourselves with.  Many Christians are willing to sacrifice a meal or two, an extra $20 in the offering basket and maybe even give someone a ride to church every once in a while (as long as it's on the way, of course).

While we're comfortable with our daily routine and the "fruits" of our labor that we've accumulated, we forget that people are dying all around us.  We ask the Lord to guide our steps for the day, but at night, when we reflect upon our day, can we honestly say we were walking the path He prepared for us, or did we stray from that path?  Did we miss an opportunity to be a witness for Christ out of fear of men or because it was inconvenient at the time?  Did others notice our lack of faith and as a result pushed Jesus further out of their lives?

WAKE UP!
You are the light and salt of the earth!  Do all your friends, neighbors and co-workers know you're a bonified born again believer in Christ?  If not, why not?  We can be so self absorbed and concerned about how we're perceived by others that our Christianity becomes a reflection of ourselves, often causing it to become watered down.  We need to remember that our Christianity needs to be a reflection of Jesus, not a reflection of us.  We do not reflect our own light, but the light of Christ!

My own brother and sister have disowned me because of my faith in God.  My sister even wanted to have me forcibly admitted to a psyche ward for evaluation because she believes I've gone "too far" in my faith in God.  Talk about rejection!  But I shared the word of God with her even while she shook her head and called me crazy.

When those you are trying to witness to begin to ridicule and belittle you, when they reject your efforts to share the word of God with them, then you are partaking in the sufferings of Christ like so many brothers and sisters who have gone before you and like so many who are serving the Lord here and now.  Pray for those who reject the gift of salvation knowing that if they never repent, then these moments of witnessing will be recorded and used against them on that terrible day of judgment.  How heartbreaking is that?  That makes our suffering seem small, doesn't it?

We've been conditioned to flee rejection/persecution and sometimes we even feel forced to conform to the world so that we don't have to feel the sting of rejection.  As we know, God doesn't operate under a worldly system.  We're commanded to enter the enemy's territory where rejection is the norm.  Jesus warned us that we would be rejected, just like He was.  Matthew 10:24-26 (KJV) The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.  25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?  26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.


He also warned us that if we were ashamed of Him, He would be ashamed of us.  Mark 8:38 (KJV) Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
 
Ask yourself this question: "Does my comfortable life reflect God's call for me to put on my armor to do battle with the enemy?"
 
If you are physically limited in what you can do, then can your brothers and sisters depend on you to be a prayer warrior and to offer up words of encouragement when they call?  If you make a decent salary, are you investing in the Kingdom of God with more than your tithes?  Are you supporting a missionary?  Are you investing in local Christian businesses?  Are you sponsoring an outreach event in your community?  We're all called to share the gospel no matter where our talents lay, no matter what our circumstances. 
 
A life of comfort comes to us all when Jesus raptures His church.  Now is not the time to get comfortable.  So many Christians don't seem to comprehend that we're in the middle of a war.  What would our reaction be if the Lord removed the veil from our eyes for just a few moments... when we could actually observe the spiritual warfare going on all around us.  Do you think we would more likely to enter the battle?  I believe we would!
 
If a foreign army were to invade this country, we'd all be up in arms, ready to defend our country and our personal liberties.  There would be such an outcry nationwide that we would feel called to sacrifice as much as was necessary to expel this foreign invader. 
 
WAKE UP!
Not only is our country under siege, but so is the rest of the world!  The enemy is all around us and we seem to have become complacent with his presence.  Satan has rooted himself in our governments, our schools, our churches and our homes!  Praise God that the Holy Spirit is still holding back the full force of evil in this world!  Where is the outcry?  Where is the willingness to sacrifice whatever it takes to expel this enemy from our homes and our communities?
 
Sadly, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask yourself another question:  "Do I choose to live a Christian life that brings me only comfort and peace or am I willing to wield my sword and charge into the enemy's territory to take back the captives"
 
Every time we share the gospel with someone face to face, every time we pray for an unbeliever, every time we pass out a tract or say, "God Bless" to someone, giving them an opening to ask us questions about God, every time we show compassion for someone the world would reject or stand and every time we rebuke the enemy in someone's life, we're operating in enemy territory.  And just for your information, there is no physical comfort for the Christian while operating in enemy territory.
 
When Jesus returns, what do you want Him to find you doing?  Watching television (the big game, a reality show, an R-rated movie)?  Playing video games?  Reading romance novels?  Sitting back reflecting on the pleasures you've surrounded yourself with?  Or would you rather have Him find you witnessing to the lost or rejoicing with someone who has just given their life to Him; to find you reading and studying His word; to find you handing out tracts; to find you at a men's/women's fellowship or participating in a time of fasting?
 
It seems to me that the further away we get from the front lines of the battle, the more comfortable Christians get.  They deal with the occasional skirmishes that get through (treating them as if they were major battles), but the real battle is far from them.  It reminds me of Proverbs 6:9-11 (KJV)  How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?  10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man."  Are some of us in spiritual poverty?  Will we travail because we lack passion to perform the work of the Lord and will be found in want when the battle breaks down our front door?
 
Where will the Lord find you when He returns and how have you invested what God has given you to use for His kingdom?  Will you be rewarded and given more, or will you be chastised for wasting your opportunity?  Matthew 25 (KJV)

There are those who will read these words and they will fall on a lukewarm heart or a heart that seeks only after personal comfort. My prayer is that there will be some who will meditate on what I've shared.  Is this message for you?  Have you been avoiding the front lines?  Take heed, our Father up in Heaven knows your heart and knows your mind.  We have all been given the blessing of living in one of the most exciting times in history when we anticipate the return of the Bridegroom!  The enemy has sunk his roots in every aspect of life on this planet and his main goal is to deceive as many as possible before the day of the Lord comes!  We should be more eager to step out in faith and rescue as many of our lost brothers and sisters as possible before our work here is done.  Every day that passes is one less day to forcibly enter into the enemy's territory to take back what belongs to the Lord! 

Embrace what God has called you to do and take up your armor, especially your sword, because it represents the word of God.  Romans 10:17 (KJV)  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Find your comfort in the arms of Christ, not in the the trappings of this world.  We're on a rescue mission and the enemy knows it, but take heart, because if God is for us, who can be against us?  Romans 8

Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!
TribulationHarvest.net

Monday, June 03, 2013

God Is Enough

I'd like to start off by bringing you to a scene in our biblical past... the poor widow who gave everything and walked away with nothing.  Or so it would seem.  Picture this, men and women were giving of their wealth, of what they could afford to give without actually causing any kind of financial pinch.  They paraded their wealth before men and gave for all to see.  Then in walks this precious widow, ever faithful to God, who came with all she had and tossed it in the offering along with the wealth of those who had preceded her. 

I wonder, did she weigh her decision carefully before leaving her home on that particular day?  Were worry and fear on her face as she walked forward to offer the only money she had remaining?  What was she going to eat tonight?  How would she pay for any personal needs she may have in the coming days?  Jesus saw what she had done.  What was His reaction?  He called His disciples over!  Hey guys, get over here, look at this!  Jesus wanted to show them what a real act of faith looked like.  He explained to them that this woman had given more than anyone else because she had given of her poverty while the others gave of their wealth.

So what did this poor widow walk away with?  She walked away with peace of heart.  She walked away with the joy of knowing that she was obedient to God.  She walked away knowing that God would meet her needs no matter how dire her circumstances seemed to be.  She walked out the same way she walked in, with faith that God saw her as precious in His sight and that He would not abandon her in her hour of need.  I wonder what blessing she received from this act of faith.  I'll have to ask her when I see her. :)

How many of us have a faith like that?  Why are we so ready to freak out at the slightest problem or loss instead of having faith in God?  When will we learn that God is enough?

Jesus is our example of how to trust in our Father under persecution, financial distress, illness, etc...  In fact, there is one occasion where the Lord was eager to sidestep something that brought distress to His heart... His own torture and crucifixion.  He went before God three times to ask that the cup be taken from Him if possible.  Three times! 

What was this "cup" Jesus spoke of?  Was it the pain of crucifixion?  Yes, but it was so much more.  The cup is used in the bible to signify God's judgment, so what He was asking was that if it was possible for Him to do this without having to endure God's wrath (His anger, His judgment, His punishment) and without having to be isolated from God at that moment when all our sin would be heaped upon Him, then He would prefer an alternative, but if He had to endure all of what God had planned from the beginning, then He would be obedient to Him and submit to God's plan of salvation for mankind.  Jesus was so distressed that as his facial muscles clenched, it caused blood to drip from his pours.  Remember, Jesus had never experienced God's wrath because He was perfect in all His ways.  He had also never experienced isolation from God.  He had never known physical torture.  This was unexplored territory and it caused Him great distress.

What was the final verdict?  Jesus would have to continue on the path that God had set for Him and He would have to endure it all.  What was Jesus response?  Stop asking for deliverance and walk in obedience.  He walked away with the mindset that He was going to complete the work He came to do.

So now we come to us.  How has fear caused us to take our eyes off of our Creator and place them on the creation?  When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, what did they do when Jesus came walking in the garden?  They ran and hid.  Why?  Fear.  When the disciples were in the midst of a storm that threatened to upend the boat, they cried out to Jesus to save them before they all died.  What were they feeling?  Fear.  Even though they had the Son of God with them, they still felt fear because their eyes weren't on Him, but on the situation at hand.

We clutter our lives with a lot of hay and stubble.  We become comfortable with what we have and use it all to satisfy our fleshly desires.  Then, when something threatens to take any of it away, fear is right there to make us take our eyes off of Who and what are really important and instead focus on what we may lose.  Financial difficulties have a way of making people sort through their priorities and decide what's really important, but still the hay and stubble remain.  Why?  Because we're using this hay and stubble to satisfy our own desires instead of using what the Lord has blessed us with to bless others.  This hay and stubble are the very things that we're told by the world that we "need." 

Fear comes from not having.  I just lost my job... fear.  I took a cut in pay and now can't afford my car payment... fear.  My cable is going to be shut off... fear.  I've just been diagnosed with cancer... fear.  My unwed teenage daughter is pregnant.  What's going to happen to her future?... Fear.  So what is it that we don't have?  Faith.  We don't have faith.  We immediately look at the situation presented to us and we forget about seeking God's guidance and begin using our own intellect to resolve the issue and plan a way out, if possible. 

Sometimes we'll say, "Take this from me, Father!" without realizing that what we're experiencing is what God wants to use to bring us closer to Him, to shape us into who He wants us to be, to prune us so that we may produce fruit.

Faith is more than just believing.  Faith is more than just acknowledging that God has blessed you with all the wonderful things you have in your life.  Faith is also that thing you possess when the bills can't be paid or your child gets sick or your relationship with your spouse seems to be souring or when you find yourself in line at a food bank.  Faith isn't just for the time of plenty, but also for those times when everything seems to be going wrong.  Without faith, fear reigns.  We need to recognize that God is enough.  He was enough for John the Baptist, who spent years in the desert eating locust and honey and dressed in clothes woven from camel hair.  He was enough when the disciples left their livelyhood and families and friends and followed Jesus and eventually spread the word of God to the whole known world.  He was enough for Moses when he wandered through the desert after leaving Egypt or when he was ordered back to Egypt by God to deliver His people from bondage.  He was enough for Joseph when his brothers sold him into slavery. 

When fear creeps in, our reaction should be immediate: stop, pray, believe, and wait (and in some circumstances, rebuke!).  Then seek encouragement by opening up your bible.  Read the accounts of the lives of God's chosen and take heart, for you are one of His chosen as well and an heir to His throne.  Be encouraged as you read about all those who God delivered... those who were obedient to Him.  Joseph, Daniel, David, Abraham, Moses... there are so many stories of tragedy and hope, of betrayal and deliverance. 

When you are worried that you could lose everything, remember that God sometimes needs to reshape and remold you into a vessel through which He can work miracles in the lives of others.  Sometimes God needs to prune the branch severely in order for it to survive and produce much fruit.  Know that when the Lord allows such times in your life, He's not just concerned with the "now" but is also looking ahead when the pruning will produce 30, 60 or 100 times.  He's looking ahead when the vessel He's shaping (you) will be fit to be used to fulfill His purpose.

Everything we possess, from our house and car to the clothes on our back, are temporary.  Even these fleshly bodies are temporary.  So don't fear those who can kill the body but can't touch your soul or spirit, don't fear losing those things you've taken years to acquire, don't fear when everything around you seems to be in an upheaval.  Remember that God is eternal and He is our Provider.  He has already arranged the provision.  We just need to step forward in faith and accept what He has prepared for us for today. 

God knew you before the foundation of the earth was laid.  He saw every sin you would ever commit and He still chose YOU!  That's love!  And what does God say about love?  Perfect loves casts out fear. 

Take heart and don't fear... God is enough.

Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!
TribulationHarvest.net