Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Finished Work Blessing

" 'The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.'

'So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.' " - Numbers 6:24-27 ESV

This blessing is binding and loosing right there in the Hebrew scripture. We bind on Earth what has already been bound in Heaven and we loose on Earth what has already been loosed in Heaven.

"I shall give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth [forbid to be done], shall have been already bound [forbidden to be done] in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth [permit to be done], shall have already been loosed in heaven [permitted to be done]." Matthew 16:19 Wuest Expanded Translation

God has done it in eternity and manifested it in time and in the telling it will be done to a person in their 'time of visitation'. The moment they hear can be that moment if the person truly hears from the throne of God.

God has blessed you (and will) and He is the One who will keep you.
God has made His own face to shine. He has made Himself happy and looks your way to be gracious to you in His present and eternal state of happiness.
When you see what God has done it will give you peace.

He lifts His face in the Gospel of grace.

Blessing people is the act of telling them what God has already done so that they will know it and have a platform to respond. God acts through the messenger He has sent and then acts to follow up the message in reinforcement.

The message of grace and the finished work of salvation binds up natural viewpoint. It brings accountability that has a witness of the Spirit of God embedded inside of the message. No wholeness or peace can be found unless a person has God's blessing. The natural man can not be blessed by God. The message warns the soul away from walking on the broad road that leads to destruction and points them to a narrow path that leads to a cross. Even if they ignore the warning they can never truly forget that they were warned.

The message has the power to free a person also. Not the words themselves but the Rhema (words spoken by the Spirit of God who speaks through a speaker to the inner ear of the listener.)

Once God's character has been explained He can now act and the hearer has a context to process the actions. When a person first agrees with the Gospel and receives the gift of salvation it becomes the first time that person has truly and fully agreed with God about anything. There is a true simpatico... oneness. A loosing of a new nature. A birth of a Heavenly person into the world that is of the same mind because he or she is made of the same substance.

Bind the old by introducing the new.

Bless the new person by telling them what is true about God and what will always be true. God has made Himself happy and wants them to share in the happiness.

Today is a new day... we can be a blessing by blessing people with truth.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Nazarite Vow - Part 2

The Nazarite Vow gave the common man the holiness of the priesthood without the tidiness involved. We have Christ's holiness without a razor.

Grace gives us full identification without the constant need to groom ourselves. As a matter of fact we shouldn't groom ourselves in the matters of righteousness. Just as the Nazarite was forbidden to cut their hair.

The Nazarite had the same restrictions as the High Priest while he ministering in the temple without the responsibilities of performing the sacrifices or the lineage. Both were holy in the same degree. A holy person is just as holy as any other holy person in the old testament as well as the new. The priests however needed to have things in order. The hair needed to be neat and kept up even under their mitre.

The Nazarites identified with the priests' restrictions under the law.

We identify with Christ under grace. Not an Earthly priest but a Heavenly one... seated above separated from food, drink and death. He was in order and put the sacrifice in order so that we don't have to. We are holy as He is holy by identification and not grooming.


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Nazarite Vow - Part 1

I have been away in another state most of last week caring for a relative having surgery. Things went well. They are not home yet but they are on the road to recovery. It was an interesting time... away from home and being set apart for a different purpose.

Since late Saturday night I have been thinking and reading about the Nazarite vow. The framework for this vow was laid out in Numbers chapter 6.

"Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins. "All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the LORD, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long. All the days that he separates himself to the LORD he shall not go near a dead body. Not even for his father or for his mother, for brother or sister, if they die, shall he make himself unclean, because his separation to God is on his head. All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD." - Numbers 6:2-8 ESV

No grapes, no razors and no association with death.

Three Biblical examples come to mind when we think of this vow, Samuel, Sampson and John the Baptist, but they are all extreme cases their parents committed them to the vow before birth for one reason or another. This vow was set up to be a voluntary one that a person did for a set period of time of their own choosing and scheduled with the temple so that the end of it could be accomplished by the preisthood of the day.

Every Nazarite would lose his or her hair at the end of the vow. Unlike Sampson who had his head shaved the Nazarite would willing do it to themselves.

"And the Nazarite shall shave his consecrated head at the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall take the hair from his consecrated head and put it on the fire that is under the sacrifice of the peace offering." - Numbers 6:18 ESV

We can look at the three Biblical examples of the vow and see how being 'holy unto the Lord' shaped their lives. It is a good study... Samuel embraced it... Sampson lived in the contradiction of it... John lived in isolation because of it.

What about Jesus? This vow like the whole of the Hebrew scripture points to Him. His life as depicted in the Gospels contradicts the requirements of a lifelong Nazarite. No mention is made of His hair and He often seems to come in contact with grapes and death.

But the vow was designing to be for a period of time and not lifelong.

" 'I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.' And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." - Matthew 26:29-30 ESV

He says this at the end of the last supper... It is a declaration... a vow... He is readying Himself for the time to come when He will become the offering for all of mankind. That is one application.

Jesus now sits in Heaven on a throne. Still separated from the grape, the razor and death. He sits in intercession for us... set apart as a priest of a unique order forever but there will be a day at return when He will drink wine again with His disciples who became Apostles. It will be a great day.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Something We Did Not Request

God has given us something different than what we asked for. Grace does that.

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have." - 2 Corinthians 8:9-12 ESV

He came as a man... someone we didn't ask for. We thought we needed a king but Jesus came as a servant... a sacrifice.

We ask for things but God says complete what you started with what you have. We have grace. He have all things that pertain unto life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." - Isaiah 55:9-13 ESV

"For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" - Luke 11:10-13 ESV

We need something different than we think.

We ask for relief and God gives us forgiveness. We ask for strength and God gives us patience. Sure the things at hand are real and provisions are needed for life but God sees a different need in us... a deeper need that is not a want but a true need.

"Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them." - Hebrews 13:9 ESV

I am not belittling our materials needs... we have them... I have them. But, God wants to give us something that is finished so we will think and pray from that perspective. We can live in our needs. They are certainly large enough to live in. But, God wants us to live from our abundance.

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." - Colossians 3:1-3 ESV


Friday, June 6, 2014

The Gleanings Before Dawn blog will be on hiatus until July 2014

Due to our heavy travel and event schedule we will not be posting a regular Monday through Friday morning blog for the remainder on the month of June. There will be posts here and there as God leads but not on a consistent basis. As of now we are planning to return to a more consistent schedule in July of 2014.

As a reader there are a few things you can do during this time:

  • Pray. Like any venture we undertake the desire is that this blog would be an outreach to touch people with the Gospel, introduce people who have never heard it to a finished work grace oriented approach to the Bible and edify people. This blog is a tool and we seek God's leading in how to proceed with it.
  • Go back and read the archives. To date there are over 400 entries. Pick a month and read day to day or read entries with titles that interest you. I hope the past entries will be a blessing to you.
  • While you are doing that make comments on blog entries including topics that you would like to hear more about in the future, questions or any edifying comments you would like to leave.
  • I would love to hear from anyone of you. It is expected that we will only be aware of a fraction of the impact any ministry is having on any person's life while we are on Earth. Heaven will reveal what is now hidden. It is however a great blessing to get feedback and hear testimonies if people are led to share those things.
May God bless you richly during this coming month!

Your Friend in Christ,

P Allan Leitner

No Shame. No Guilt. We Have An Anchor Inside The Veil

"We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." - Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV

Yes. God anchors us from inside that which is eternal and that anchor holds. In storms and in great calm the anchor is there.

I was thinking yesterday of shame... when a person just can't look you in the face... not because they are oblivious or aloof but because they are looking down and inside and not liking what they see.

Guilt is hating what you do but shame is hating who you are. Here are a couple of examples in scripture that illustrate the point.

"Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame." - Psalms 22:3-5 ESV

"Abimelech said, "What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us."" - Genesis 26:10 ESV

There was a special offering for guilt.

"It is a guilt offering; he has indeed incurred guilt before the LORD."" - Leviticus 5:19 ESV

""This is the law of the guilt offering. It is most holy." - Leviticus 7:1 ESV

There was however no offering for a shame. God adopted the nation as His own and that was to cover their shame. The identity as God's chosen people was to displace hating who they were because they had an identity that was given to them.

""Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." - Isaiah 1:18 ESV

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." - 1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV

Jesus is our anchor. He covers what we do with a once and for all offering and He gives us a clean new identity to live in.

"The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms." - Deuteronomy 33:27a ESV

Our anchor will hold no matter what we face today. No fear. No shame. No guilt. We have hope because of the One who sits in Heaven.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Aware Of Mercy

"...See that ye be not troubled..." - Matthew 24:6b KJV

What a great little phrase. If our eyes are open we will not be alarmed or startled.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." - Colossians 1:15-17 ESV

"For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools," - Romans 1:17-22 ESV

"And Jesus cried out and said, 'Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.' " - John 12:44-46 ESV

The one who lives by faith puts two and two together adding God's power, plan, goodness and grace to each situation even if they are the only one present in the situation who can see God. The person full of biblical faith is a visionary seeing what is invisible to others.

What they see does not startle them or knock them off balance because they have a God who reigns over the visible and the invisible.

"He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." - Jeremiah 17:8 ESV

The God of all grace knows what waits for us in the days and weeks to come. We may have no idea but He knows. Thank fact settles our hearts and in calmness we can see the mercy that we might otherwise have rushed past.

When everyone else has stones in their hands ready and energized by the mob mentality we can calmly can say, 'Neither do I condemn you.' because we have not missed mercy.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Redemptive Remedies

I am reading Titus chapter three this morning... reading and rereading it... letting the Bible wash me... squeezing out the sponge and then soaking it in truth and letting it cleanse me...

"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned." - Titus 3:3-11 ESV

The context is vital here. Titus was traveling to places and putting things in order and then leaving again. He had a specific mission. He was a missionary of edification.

There are thought that wash us and build us up but there are questions and debates that tax us and tear us down. Not all inquires... questioning things is good if it is done in the 'right Spirit' with foundational truth understood and included as presuppositions to our questions.

Justification by grace and grace alone is a trustworthy saying and we should insist on the inclusion of this premise in an faith based discussion or conversation. In the King James the 'person who stirs up division' is translated heretic. The word literally means a 'chooser' it is linked to the same word used in Matthew 12:18 when God speaks of His Christ as the chosen one.

Titus was to avoid the heretic after just a few conversations. Once he saw this 'will worship' trend he was to move on because his ministry would be wasted on them and it was needed elsewhere.

I only need to take a moment to remember what I was like and realize the tremendous graciousness of God towards me. It quiets my mind and turns my inquisitiveness to other pursuits.

Grace does not stifle intellectual pursuit it causes us revel in redemption and seek redemptive remedies for the loose ends we find again and again in daily life.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How We Discover Our Humanity

"And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." - Philippians 2:8 ESV

The discovery of His humanity caused Jesus to enter into humility. This is a divine mindset. He poured Himself into God's plan.

"And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.' " - Revelation 12:10-11 ESV

Accusations seek for us to find our humanity some other way.

"And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.' '

But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' " - Genesis 3:2-5 ESV

Accusation leaves people critical of their plight as humans. It points to what we don't seem to have but humility points not only to what we do have (a positive mental attitude)... it points to what Christ has done.

Accusations are looking for entrance to our hearts. A shield of faith keeps them out. A heart covered by a breast plate of Christ's gift of righteousness keeps them out. A helmet made of a salvation that is already complete keeps them out.

I discover my humanity and make a decision about it... I am not God... I am a man... It is so good to not have that huge divine responsibility... I am a man so I won't love my life in a covetous way... grace gives me so much that I don't need to take any fruit that will provide something I am missing... I don't need to hear what is happening with so and so... I am not looking for information to feed a hunger...

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence," - 2 Peter 1:3 ESV

We boast in the blood of the lamb. Our testimony is grace. Our love is not for our own lives but for God's life in a plan that includes Christ's cross.

"Neither give place to the devil." - Ephesians 4:27 KJV

King James is the best translation for this verse. The Greek word used is Topos (Strong's G5117) and it is a marked off place like a garden or a bookmark. I don't want to leave places of bitterness or marked off areas of my life where I will discover my humanity apart from humility.


Monday, June 2, 2014

The Effortless Testimony

What causes a person to make the right decision in the hard situation.. the tempting situation.. the pressurized situation. Perhaps we match pressure with pressure and think about our reputation (or in Christian circles our testimony). We consider what people might think or say afterward about our actions. How the history books would write out the story.

Maybe we don't think this way about the cookie that calls us from the jar in the kitchen but we tend to do this with more life changing decisions that affect our marriage, our career or the lives of others.

It is natural to think 'more work' is the solution. We must be so hard that we will never crack. We must be so determined that we will never stop. We must outweigh the bad reasons with so many good reasons that the scales of our will are heavily weighted down.

I think every person who has ever set a goal understands this thinking. Temptation to fall into old ruts rush in at times and our being seems prone to function in a certain way and return to activities that go contrary to the new goal. We must fight or settle for mediocrity. We must resist or face the bad review that will be written in life's history books.

I am convinced that the God of all grace is the God of the mountain tops and of the valleys (see 1 Kings 20:28). In other words he is the Lord of all situations and grace works in all situations. We need never return to the law and the pressure for pressure mentality. Grace can preserve our testimony.

You may be saying who cares about my testimony or reputation... that is not an issue for me.. 'I only care what God thinks of me.' or even, 'I only care what I think of myself.'... I understand that.. but while that may be true there is also a great cloud of witnesses (see Hebrews 12:1) and people are watching your life that you have no idea are watching. I'm not saying this to add pressure or make anyone self conscious. We stand or fall before God alone (and we will stand) and yet our lives are also a spectacle on a scales we can not begin to understand.

Can grace pull us through the hard temptations? Can we meet our goals? Can we win by grace and grace alone.

Here are a couple of great passages..

"Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.' As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"" - Hebrews 3:5-11 ESV

Pressure for pressure was Moses' way. He was a servant of God. Christ was faithful as a son is faithful. That is our way. It is effortless because it is linked to an identity that is set. It is linked to an acceptance that is preexisting and everlasting.

"But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict." - Luke 21:12-15 ESV

Don't worry.. You will win.. You have already won. It is finished!

I am not saying.. Don't practice.. Don't learn.. Don't grow.. Don't train. I plan to do all those things everyday for the rest of my life. I want to be more skilled today then I was yesterday. I want to be sharp as a knife and not be caught on my heels when I should be on my toes. I just want to be relaxed in it... free in it... living in grace in every moment and enjoying the life God has given me.