Life, Death, Israel, Long Hair, and Bad Drivers at Walmart

Posted on 11/30/2014 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

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THE POWER OF YOUR LOVE

Lord I come to You
Let my heart be changed, renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I've found in You
Lord I've come to know
The weakenesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the power of Your love

Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I'll rise up like the eagle

And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love

Lord unveil my eyes
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me
Lord renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living every day
By the power of Your love


GIVE US CLEAN HANDS

We bow our hearts
We bend our knees
Oh Spirit come make us humble
We turn our eyes
From evil things
Oh Lord we cast down our idols

So give us clean hands
and give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another
Oh give us clean hands
and give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another

Oh God let this be
a generation that seeks
Who seeks Your face, Oh God of Jacob
Oh God let us be
a generation that seeks
Who seeks Your face, Oh God of Jacob


GLORIFY THY NAME

Father, I love You
I praise You, I adore You
Glorify Thy Name in all the earth

Glorify Thy name
Glorify Thy name
Glorify Thy name in all the earth

Jesus, I love You
I praise You, I adore You
Glorify Thy name in all the earth

Spirit, I love You
I praise You, I adore You
Glorify Thy name in all the earth


*** listen to the audio to hear the introduction ***


Psalm 116

I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
2 Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

3 The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
4 Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
"O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!"

5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
6 The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
7 Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

8 For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
9 I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
10 I believed, therefore I spoke,
"I am greatly afflicted."
11 I said in my haste,
"All men are liars."

12 What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
13 I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.

First, David is praying for salvation from the grave, giving praise to God while imploring Him to preserve his life; and in verse 8, he says God delivered his soul from death. And then in verse 15, he says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."

So first he is asking God to not let him die, and he is praising God for preserving his life, and then after all that, he declares that the death of God's saints is precious.

I looked up the Hebrew word translated "precious," and it means this:

Valuable, prized, glorious, splendid.

So we rightly pray for healing, and that God would extend the life of someone we love, and we mourn when they go, not because of THEIR loss, but because of OURs; but when someone who is in Christ passes out of this earthly life, their physical death is valuable; it is prized; it is glorious; it is splendid. Their battles with the curse of sin are over. And they are forever in the face-to-face presence of the Lord.

What could be more valuable?
What could be more prized?
What could be more glorious?
What could be more splendid?

And our time of mourning eventually comes to an end, just as our earthly life soon will. Before you know it, this vapor of your earthly life will *poof* -- it will disolve, it will end; and that will be the most valuable, most prized, most glorious, and most splendid thing. Dying in right standing with God is beautiful. Dying on bad terms with God is beyond dreadful. Make sure you know where you stand with God today. Make sure you know right now.


So David was seeking for life, while realizing that his death would be a priceless treasure.

That reminds me of Radshak, Meshek, and Abednego. They told the king that God could deliver them from the furnace. But if He didn't, they still would not bow to an idol. Of course they didn't want to die. But if they DID die, that was okay too.

If your or my life were being threatened, we might pray that God would spare us. But if we follow the Biblical examples here, we will also know that if we DO die, that's okay. It's okay if our physical body disolves. It was always temporary anyway. It's okay if our ownership of our money and posessions disolves. Our ownership is only an illusion anyway, because God owns it all (1 Corinthians 8:25).

And there are other types of death. Such as our job. You do know that your job is temporary, right? What you DON'T know, and CAN'T know, is exactly WHEN it will come to an end. If you're holding onto it as though it is a part of who you are, then you can worry about losing it, and you can plunge yourself into panic and despair when it's gone.

But just like every other earthly thing, your job is temporary. Your house is temporary. Your car is temporary. This church building is temporary. Your body is temporary. Your self-image is temporary.

Only the Word of God, the Life of God, the Love of God, the Spirit of God, the Breath of God that gives you life; THAT is eternal. And when you place value and your sense of identity on only that which lasts forever, the drama in your life will lose all its importance, and the truly good things in your life will take their proper place too.


1 Corinthians 7

29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.






Okay, so down in Psalm 121, we read a little about Israel. Yes, we are part of Israel -- wild branches that have been grafted into the Vine. But the Scriptures that address Israel still apply to Israel, and they apply to us only because they apply to them first.

I know that we here at Potter's House are strong supporters of Israel. There are groups of Christians who are against Israel. And that's a very frightening position to take.


In Psalm 121, starting with verse 1, we read this:

1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills;
From whence comes my help?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.


God is the one who keeps Israel. And He neither slumbers nor sleeps. You can't catch Him off guard. And when God protects a nation, you'd have to be a fool to oppose them. Amen?


Psalm 122

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
"May they prosper who love you.
7 Peace be within your walls,
Prosperity within your palaces."
8 For the sake of my brethren and companions,
I will now say, "Peace be within you."
9 Because of the house of the Lord our God
I will seek your good.


For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, "Peace be within you."

Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.


Psalm 125

1 Those who trust in the Lord
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.


The Lord surrounds us, we who have been grafted in. And the Lord surrounds Israel.


Psalm 129

5 Let all those who hate Zion
Be put to shame and turned back.
6 Let them be as the grass on the housetops,
Which withers before it grows up,
7 With which the reaper does not fill his hand,
Nor he who binds sheaves, his arms.
8 Neither let those who pass by them say,
"The blessing of the Lord be upon you;
We bless you in the name of the Lord!"


So this says we shouldn't even say "God bless you," to someone who is an enemy of Israel. All those wonderful things you might hear at church, "The Lord bless and keep you, the Lord be merciful to you," and all the wonderful blessings of God in Scripture, if you oppose Israel, it almost sounds as though these might not really be for you.

That's a bit harsh, isn't it? Well, if anyone here or listening to this online has bought into the anti-Israel talking points being spread all over the news media, and all over the Internet, I encourage you to turn it all off for awhile. Open up your Bible and see what God thinks about Israel. And see who Israel is: the chosen people of God, with promises of God's favor that extend to the very end of time.

The Bible foretells that the world will hate Israel. That her enemies will surround her. Don't buy into those enemies' lies. God is not on their side, and that is a very bad place to be.



Okay, so the world is turning against Israel. And the world just seems to be getting worse and worse, doesn't it? The atheists have made a lot of progress into the minds of the masses.

Since we tend to worship scientists and treat them like the infallible priests of the Universe, even many people in the Church today have accepted their interpretations of tests and archeological findings, and as a result, some of us have gone to great lengths to explain away the Biblical account of Creation as mere symbolism.

But outside the Church, the lies of evolution from slime, relative truth, personally-defined morality, and the demotion of Scripture to ancient mythology, are being accepted as facts by more and more of the world.

Is the job of reaching this world with the Gospel too big for you to take part in it? Should we leave it for the "specialists"?

Well, in Psalm 126, we read this, starting with verse 5:

5 Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
6 He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.

This promise doesn't have an expiration date on it. And there is no "unless." It's a statement of fact. Those who sow in tears SHALL reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seeds for sowing, SHALL DOUBTLESS come again with REJOICING, bringing his sheaves with him.

What does God say in Isaiah 55:11?

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

And what does Romans 1:16 say? "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to Salvation."

The power of God has not diminished. As a society, we can become as wicked and depraved as we want, and it won't make God's word any less true or any less powerful.

So plant the seeds of the Gospel in sorrow, weeping for the state of men's souls, weeping for the darkness into which they have been plunged, weeping for the blindness that has consumed their eyes, weeping for the lies that have consumed their minds; and the Scriptures PROMISE that you WILL reap a harvest in due time, because you are spreading the word of God, the POWER of God, and God's Power WILL accomplish wonderful things in the Earth today. Amen?



Alright. So then we get to Psalm chapter 127. We've covered the beauty of the death of the Saints, the temporary nature of all earthly things, the importance of being on Israel's side, and the power and blazing light of the Gospel even in this dark and declining world.

And then we're given a reminder. We're asked to examine our motives and our approach. Are we actually building the kingdom of God by our efforts? Or are we simply promoting it?

The Bible says that we can ENTER the kingdom of heaven, that the violent TAKE the kingdom by force, that we should SEEK the kingdom, and that we are to PROCLAIM the gospel, or good news, of the kingdom.

It's easy to start feeling as though we are actually building it. But if our hands are ever used to accomplish anything that is of any value in God's kingdom, we must remember that our part in it is like the part of a tool in the hand of the Master Builder.

Psalm 127 says this:

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

So there are those who labor in the building of a spiritual house. But the builder is the Lord. There are those who stay awake to watch a city, but the city's guardian is the Lord.

And verse two says that it is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows. Have you ever been kept up at night because there was some perceived problem that your mind kept turning over and over? As though if you don't lose sleep thinking about it, it won't get solved? As if you must trust in your mind's endless and tiresome babbling instead of trusting in God?

Well, this says,

It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

This isn't a call to laziness. This IS a call to REST. Even if your part in the process is to think about something, to move your body to build something, or to take some other kind of action, you can be at rest on the inside.

The Lord gives His beloved sleep. And, as Hebrews says, TODAY is the day of rest. Jesus is our Sabbath. And even as we work, we can rest in Him and in His finished work.

And as you do what you do with excellence and dilligence, you can rest in knowing that it is God who is building the house; it is God who is guarding the city. Anything worthwhile that is done through your hands is really done BY God THROUGH you. Your part is just to be here in His presence as He works through you.



Psalm 131

1 Lord, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.

2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.


The Lord doesn't ask you to be someone spectacular. All He requires is that you love mercy, do what's right, and walk humbly with Him. All the flashy stuff, HE does. Yes, He will work through you, but you don't have to struggle to make it happen. Just delight yourself in Him, and He will bring it to pass. Amen?



Okay. So we've talked about the impermanence of Earthly forms, the truth that God is the doer of everything worthwhile, and that one of the things He does is to stand behind Israel.

Now let's digress into something of which a discussion, to us anyway, can seem a little annoying.


1 Corinthians 11

4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Pastor Renee did an awesome and thorough job teaching about this last Wednesday, so I don't really have much of anything to add. If you weren't here, I encourage you to go to the website at phwc.org, scroll down to the "Live Viewing & Acrhive" section, click the sermon.net icon, and play her message from August 27th.


Down in verse 14, Paul says this:

14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.

What do you think Paul meant by "Does not even nature itself teach you?" Is he referring to the natural physical laws? If so, what would THAT nature teach us? Personally, it teaches me that if I don't get my hair cut, it keeps getting longer and longer. I know that from personal experience. And I have witnesses. But that's all it teaches me. Nature does not teach me anything about dishonor, not as far as the length of my hair is concerned.

It wasn't too long ago that, if a woman put on a plain jacket and pants, and cut her hair short, she would be mistaken for a man. Naturally. Today, if a man lets his hair grow long, shaves his face, and puts on a robe, he might very well be mistaken for a really ugly woman. Naturally.

Is that because of Nature? If there were nothing but Nature, we would ALL have long hair, and we wouldn't wear anything at all.

So Paul must have meant something else. Naturally. What do you suppose that "something else" could be?

Well, let's go over Paul's head for just a moment and see what God Himself thinks about a man having long hair.

Judges 13:2-5

2 Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. 3 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, "Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. 4 Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. 5 For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."

The word "angel" can also mean "messenger." So this was a message from God Himself, telling this woman that her son's hair must never be cut. In other words, "let Nature take its course with this boy's hair." Nature taught them what it teaches us all about hair, and that is simply, once again, that if you don't cut it, with a few exceptions, it gets long. And God commanded that Samson not ever cut his hair.

If Samson had lived today and gone to a Penticostal or Holiness church, and they found out that his mother THOUGHT God had told her to never cut his hair, there's a good chance they would have told her that the so-called angel was really a demon, and that she and her boy needed deliverance, followed immediately by a proper haircut.

But the long hair really was God's idea. And God will never instruct anyone to sin. Never. As James 1:13 says, "God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone."

So no, God doesn't command men to cut their hair. He might lead you to do so yourself, but He doesn't command that all men everywhere must have short hair.

So what did Paul mean? Well, let's go a couple of chapters back, and see what Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 9, starting with verse 19:

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

Paul, just like all of us, lived when and where he lived. I think we can all agree on that, can't we? Paul lived when and where Paul lived. And he was interested in the customs of the time and place where he ministered because he cared about spreading the Gospel of reconciliation to God through Jesus, more than he cared about making some point that doesn't really matter.

He could have just as easily pushed a teaching that God doesn't care if a man has long hair or a woman has short hair, because we are free from the dead letter of the law, and we live in the spirit instead. But he wasn't a crusader for non-conformity; rather, he was a crusader for the Cross of Christ.

At that time, in that place, he not only taught that it was good to be all things to all people, but he also gave some examples of how that might look.

After all, just a few thousand years prior to that, we have a slightly different public opinion about a man's long hair:

2 Samuel 14:25-26

25 Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 And when he cut the hair of his head -- at the end of every year he cut it because it was heavy on him -- when he cut it, he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels according to the king's standard.

Absalom had a lot of very serious flaws, but his physical appearance wasn't one of them. He DID cut his hair. ONCE A YEAR. Why? Because it was shameful for him to have long hair? No, this says "at the end of every year he cut it because it was heavy on him." This says it weighed two hundred shekels, which is around five pounds. Five pounds doesn't sound like much, but trying tying a five-pound weight to the end of your hair, and then walk around with it for awhile. Absalom had a LOT of hair.

Today, there are a lot of people whose minds are shaped by a lot of different cultures and subcultures. A clean-shaven man with short hair who always wears a suit and tie might not be the best suited to a life of ministering to a bunch of hippies. Of course if God calls him to go there without changing his appearance, then there couldn't be any better witness. But on the other hand, a man with long hair and a nose ring might not be the best suited to minister exclusively to the executive class.

By "nature," I believe Paul was referring to one of the original meanings of that Greek word translated "nature," which is: "A mode of feeling and acting which, by long habit, has become nature." Or you could say "the culture." "The nature of things." "The way things are done."

So let's remember THAT the next time we see someone whose appearance and mannerisms are significantly different from what we've always considered holy. And I'm not talking about immodesty or vulgarity. But the person with a purple mohawk and twenty or thirty piercings in various painful-looking places just might be another Paul the Apostle, reaching people with the Gospel who, if it were left to the "respectable" people in suits, just might spend eternity in hell.


And finally, let's close with this one verse from 1 Corinthians 9.

1 Corinthians 9:31

31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.


Am I the only one who's ever gone to work, and actually DONE something, ONLY because I was afraid that otherwise I'd get fired and not be able to pay my bills? In that frame of mind, I was NOT doing my work for the purpose of bringing glory to God.

When we're driving down the road and someone pulls into the passing lane in front of us going 10-miles-an-hour under the speed limit, and they do that just in time to make us miss the light; what we're doing while we're waiting for the light to turn green, are we doing it to bring glory to God?

When we're waiting in line at Walmart, and there's only ONE line for about a THOUSAND people trying to check out, who have about 500 items each, we might not be speaking any ungodly words with our mouths, but what we're doing on the INSIDE with our MINDS, are we doing it to bring glory to God?

It might help to consider that bringing glory to God is not limited to only glorifying Him in the eyes of other. You can, and should, bring glory to God even when no one else is looking. When no one else will ever see.

And if we bring glory to God on the INSIDE where no one else can see, we WILL bring glory to God on the OUTSIDE too. And the opposite is true as well.

What we think, say, and do, every present moment, does it glorify God? Does it honor Him? Does it please Him? Is it in line with His nature of Life and Goodness? Mercy and Love? Or is it complaint, irritation, or all about "me?"

When you are glorifying God within, you are communing with Him. When you are grumbling and complaining or seeking your own glory or way, then you are, at the time, NOT communing with Him.

Let's glorify, honor, please, and be one with God right now. And right now when it's what we call tomorrow. And right now when we're in a long line. And right now when our car breaks down or our washing mashine blows up. Let those things go. Don't get caught up in your mind's fleshly reaction to them. You are not your mind -- you are spirit, you are still and at peace with God.

Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.


*** listen to the audio for the closing prayer ***