Author Archives: Keith Eberhard

It’s Christmas – Come On Down

In the TV show “The Price is Right” audience spectators are called down onto the game floor to become part of the participants.  The host would then have individuals compete to determine who would be the closest in guessing the retail value of a displayed item.  The person with the closest estimate would win that object and then move on to another level of competition for more prizes.  Good purchasing skills and good guessing are necessary to successfully proceed to higher levels of competition.

It is interesting that in all the major world religions, except one, it is human effort that is necessary to proceed to higher levels of spiritual success or winning the ultimate prizes of life.  In simple generalized overviews we see that within:

  • Hinduism – The participants believe that the individual’s own destiny is determined by the actions of the individual. They believe in Karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds.
  • Buddhism – It is important to remove oneself from suffering. This is done through: Right knowledge – Right intention – Right speech – Right action – Right livelihood – Right effort – Right mindfulness – Right concentration
  • Islam – It is important that one be a follower of Allah and that their good actions outweigh the bad actions.
  • New Age – Adherents believe that all is god and individuals just need to release the God within themselves and this will bring about self-actualization.

But Christianity is different from the other religions.  In Christianity, instead of progressing from one level to the next by trying to be better, working harder, trying to believe more, etc. we realize that we will never be good enough to please God in our own efforts.  Instead of people trying to work their way up to heaven, we see God coming down from heaven to help us.  Christianity is unique in that only in Christianity is the understanding that God comes down to help us, instead of mankind trying to rise to be with or to be like God.  It is because of our sinfulness, our inability, and God’s desire to walk with us that God comes down to be with us.  We do not force Him to come to us, He lovingly desires to come to help us walk with Him.

Contrary to the game show “The Price Is Right”, we do not need to compete, be good enough or know enough to try to earn the prize.  Instead, Jesus – God Himself, comes down to help us!  At Christmas we celebrate that God came down to earth.  Jesus, the living word of God, takes upon Himself the limitations of a human so that He ultimately would help us walk with God.  All that is required on our part is that we trust that Jesus will forgive us and that He will help us walk with God.  This is the good news of Christmas and Easter, combined into one message.

This Christmas season, take some time to thank God for how He has come to help you walk with Him.

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What If I Can’t?

In 1 Chronicles 28:3, David is told that he would not be able to build a temple, a house for God to dwell in.  There were character flaws within David’s life that prevented him from being used in the next phase of what he wanted to move into.  By the command of God, the door was closed, there was no opportunity to move forward into that phase.

   In our lives there are times when we, by our actions have closed the doors to what could have been an aspect of our future.  Perhaps our sinful conduct has prevented us from moving ahead into something that God had once planned for us.   Poor parenting, immoral actions, selfishness, wrong companions, laziness, wrong motives, or other bad choices may have altered relationships or closed opportunities to such as extent that they seem irreparable.  This was the situation that David had found himself.  Yet there is no indication that David argued over this with God, or that he was bitter over what God had decreed.  He did not have a pity party, he did not forsake God because an opportunity for his life had been missed, nor did he go into months of depression.  He did not blame others for the closed door.

   Instead he made a choice.  Though the door was closed for one area of his life, David still chose to look ahead.  If he could not personally make a temple or dwelling place for God, he would do all that he could so that the next generation could do so.  He was not just looking at the closed door and then giving up hope. In 1 Chronicles. 29:2 says that David “prepared with all his might” in arranging the resource and supplies so that his son could walk out what he was not able to.

   We make many mistakes and sometimes these errors have long term consequences.  Sometimes opportunities may even be permanently closed to us.  In these situations we need to have the heart and mentality that David did.  We should pour our lives into the next generation.  Helping others to go further and do greater things than we can.  Imparting what we have learnt from our successes and also what we have learnt from our failures.  We may not even know what doors or opportunities have been closed for us, but nevertheless we can always be pouring our lives into those that come after us.

   Take some time to pray, and reflect.  What have you learned that God would want you to share with others?  You may not know whom you should be sharing with, but ask our Lord to bring the right people into your sphere of contact, so that you can prepare others to go where you are not able to.

 

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The Size and Glamor of the Temple

In 2 Chronicles Solomon is building a temple to house the presence of God.  The structural dimensions and costs involved, for the era or for our time, would have been staggering. The foundation for the temple was around 90 feet long and 30 feet wide.   The entry room was 30 feet wide and 30 feet high and was covered with pure gold. The paneled main room of the Temple was made with cypress wood, which was overlaid with fine gold, and decorated with carvings of palm trees and chains.  The Temple had extra decorations of beautiful jewels.  The beams, entrances, walls, and doors throughout the Temple were overlaid with gold, and there were carved figures of cherubim on the walls.  The interior of the temple was covered with 23 tons of thin sheets of fine gold. (At today’s values of $1244 per oz.  = $1,009,258,593.28).  Gold nails were used to fasten the materials in the holy place of the temple, these weighed 20 ounces each.  You can read through the other details about the construction of the temple and the furnishings within the temple in 2 Chronicles chapters 3 – 5.

When Solomon has completed the construction, realizing the vastness and nature of God, he prays to God, “But will God really live on earth among people? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6:18 NLT)

All of this structure and expense was to prepare a place for God to dwell, yet at the same time knowing that there is nothing large enough or exquisite enough to contain or house God.  Man’s best efforts would never be good enough for the eternal, all mighty, omnipresent God. From God’s perspective the very thought that sinful humans would want to contain or meet with Him here on earth could seem outlandish.  Maybe even offensive.  Perhaps this is why the Psalmist when looking over the vastness of the heavens above said, “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you set in place what are people that you should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for them?” (Psalm 8:3,4)

Yet we see in the scriptures that God actually has a desire to walk with man, to communicate, and actually dwell together.  We see this in Genesis 3 where God desires to walk in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve.  God allowed there to be a temple where He would meet with His followers in real ways.  Perhaps the expense and grandeur of the temple helped people to remember how insignificant they were in comparison to God.

In the New Testament we see that God no longer dwells within temples made by human hands.  Instead He actually chooses to live, by His Spirit, in us.  

1 Corinthians 3:16  “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

1 Corinthians 3:17  “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”

2 Corinthians 6:16  “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

Ephesians 2:21  “in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord”

Considering the enormous expense of a hand crafted temple, He chooses instead to dwell within His people.  Obviously you are more valuable than you think!  Being the Temple of God, the place where God dwells should affect our perspective to what God wants to do in and through us.  Take a moment to think about how rich and wonderful this is to have God actually dwelling within you.

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41 Years Ago

It was 41 years ago that Susan and I were married. The fall day was perfect and the wedding ceremony and reception went smoothly.  Many family and friends were present as well as many people from our faith community.  After 41 years we are still happily married, enjoying each other’s company, and looking forward to many more great years together.  Neither of us have any regrets about the lifelong partners we chose for ourselves.

 

So looking back and looking at the present, how did we start of our marriage and how are we continuing to maintain a strong healthy relationship? Let me provide some points, though many could be given:

  • We had gotten married when we were both in university, we knew that finances would be tight because we did not want to take out loans for our education.  So we both worked long hours during the summer, frugally saving money for the time when we would be leaving home and then really need it.  In the midst of the long hours of work, we planted gardens in people’s back yards and then proceeded to clean, process and preserve the vegetables, fruit and tubers so that we would have food for our married life.  This taught us how to work together and to persevere when hard work was required to obtain whatever resources were needed.
  • In the midst of many temptations and desires ,we determined to remain morally pure, abstaining from sexual activity till after the marriage ceremony.  This does not mean that there were no emotional or physical longings but we knew that doing what is right is always better than living by emotions or feelings.  This same level of self-control is essential for all seasons of our lives, as righteous living can rarely come about if driven by our feelings.
  • We determined that our Christian faith needed to be woven into the marriage ceremony, but especially into every aspect of our lives.  In the wedding ceremony we included Christian principles into the service, the music and the vows that we wrote.  But the service itself was not the only Christian aspect of the day.  After the ceremony and after some picture taking we pulled apart from the people, to go to a small church building where we took an hour to pray together, personally dedicating our new lives together to the purposes of God. Inviting Him to work in our lives and calling upon His strength that we might live lives that glorify Him. This starting in prayer was not new to us, for though our early friendship and dating process we regularly went to church, prayed together and discussed the scriptures together.  Then after marriage it was and still is a common part of our lives.
  • After praying for that hour, we then noticed that we had left a path of confetti throughout the entrance and sanctuary of that small building.  So being faithful to clean up the mess that we had made, we found some vacuum cleaners and proceeded to clean the building.  Yes, this was on our wedding day, but we knew that if you make a mess, you need to take the time and effort to clean up the mess.  Many times in our relationship we would make messes, say something wrong, act selfishly, or be inconsiderate.  But we knew that if you make a mess you need to clean it up and that our Lord will be there to help in that as well.

Much more could be shared about the necessity of seeking to understand your spouse’s perspective, forgiveness, sacrificially serving your spouse, or learning to be content with the provision of God, but perhaps at another time.

Our desire for you is that, through the work of Jesus in your lives, you would find the comfort and strength that is available to you in your relationship with Him and in your relationships with those around you.

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