God and Tattoos

Tattoo - Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God in GreekWhen growing up, I remember being told that tattoos were not for Christians and when the basis of such a prohibition was questioned, it was often Leviticus 19:28 that was quoted to substantiate one’s position. Leviticus 19:28 reads “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, not print any marks upon you: I am the Lord“. Such upbringing without the entire context of why such a prohibition exists, made me grow up with a mindset that those with tattoos were not in right standing with the God of the Bible. Now that I recall, I must admit that I viewed those with tattoos judgmentally often with a self-righteous perspective. This verse indicates that the children of God were not to follow the practices (cutting of flesh, printing marks aka tattooing) of those who were not sanctified for the Lord. Another verse that was often quoted to establish that Christians should not have tattoos was from 1 Corinthians 3:16 which states that the body is the temple of the Holy God and it must not be defiled; again the body is to be set apart (sanctified) and Holy. I wholeheartedly concur with the spirit in which both these verses are recorded for us, that we are to be set apart, and through our bodies, bring glory to God, by presenting them as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:2).

However, I learned a lesson yesterday that we are not to be judgmental of those who have tattoos or be forbidden from getting one if one desires to glorify God through it. I was at the Salvation Army donation center and an individual named Travis Black (a donor) asked Zane Werner (an employee at Salvation Army) as to what the tattoo in his hand meant. Zane immediately quoted the verse from Matthew 6:33 which says Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. I then asked Zane as to what the language was, in which the tattoo was engraved in his right forearm and he replied ‘Greek’ (click on picture to see a larger image). I then shared about the ministry of Hidden Treasures and asked Zane for his permission to take a picture of his tattoo and to use this encounter to share from the scripture. Zane’s tattoo gave him the opportunity to share about what our priorities must be. He (and his tattoo) reaffirmed that we are to seek God’s kingdom first. The tattoo in his forearm was the one that led to the sharing of his faith. In other words, he used his tattoo to glorify God. Zane’s arm may be tattooed that may make many Christians judge his lifestyle unfortunately, but his heart and words reflected that the style (tattoo) of his life indeed brought honor to God and united three believers (Zane, Travis and I). Our inward lifestyle (controlled by the Holy Spirit that dwells in us) is what matters and not the outward style of our lives.

Now I am not prescribing that we must all go and get ourselves tattooed to use that as launchpads to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it could be considered a stumbling block to some. Whatever your conviction is on this topic, it is between you and God and I am no one to judge. As for me, will I get myself a tattoo? I don’t know, if I am led by the Holy Spirit, then I would. As long as what I do does not dishonor God, defiling His temple, my body, I see no reason for any prohibition. As I pondered on this realization, I was reminded from the scripture of another engraving. Isaiah 49:16 states that the Lord says that He has graven us upon the palm of His hands.

Jimmy Buffet in the album Blue House On The Moon, in his song about tattoos sings that they are permanent reminders of a temporary feeling. In the scriptures, we in fact see that there is a permanent reminder of a permanent feeling and that is the feeling of God toward man, which is one of great Love, a Love so great that He sent His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ), in whose palm, those who believe in His Name are engraved a.k.a. marked for life. What a wonderful realization it is to know that believers (you and I), will never be forgotten for we are engraved (some translations say marked which in a sense is tattooed) upon the palm of God hands.

Isaiah 49:16a (KJV)
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;

Transitive Relationship

In Mathematics, there is this principle called transitive relations, which notes that when one element is in relation to a second element and the second is in relation to a third element, then it is implied that the first element is in relation to the third element, as the relation “less than or equal to.” In layman’s terms, this principle simply states that if A<=B and B<=C, then A<=C. Of course, during my college days, jokes such as the following used to abound in the campus when learning this principle. If the Mathematics Professor loves his daughter and His student loves the Professor, then does it not mean that the student loves the Professor’s daughter, by virtue of transitive relations. Levity aside, I was reminded of this principle when reading the Bible.

It is believed that the etymology of the word ‘transitive’ is from Late Latin transitivus; from Latin transitus, which literally means “that may pass over (to another person)“. The scripture avers that “And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:23). Transitively, God has passed over to us, because of Jesus Christ, the passover Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God. Jesus Christ has made a transitive relationship with God possibly and no wonder He affirmed, no man comes to God, the Father, but by Him (and Him alone). There is no other way, for Jesus is the ONLY way. What a wonder it is to realize that we are in a relationship with God the Father when we believe in the name of Jesus. And you and I are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.

John 14:5-7 (KJV)
Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

God’s Commissions and Commands

1 Kings 17 records a fascinating story about how God was faithful to his prophet Elijah in providing for his needs. All Elijah needed to do was listen to the voice of God and obey him, doing what God wanted him to do. The account starts with the prophecy of drought in the land and the word of the Lord coming to Elijah, asking him to go and hide himself by the brook Cherith. For a moment, can you imagine what Elijah would have thought? He has just prophesied according to the word of God that there was drought going to be in the land, and now the Lord wants him to go to be by a brook, which according to the prophesy should dry up as well. Yet Elijah obeyed but even before his act of obedience, God assures him that he will be provided for, by the ravens, whom the Lord had commanded (1 Kings 17:4). With this faith, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, Elijah listened and followed his commission. See the Lord commissioned Elijah, but also commanded the ravens to be his means for providence. And it came to pass as the prophesy of drought was fulfilled, the brook dried up (1 Kings 17:7) and the word of the Lord came to Elijah again saying, Go to Zarephath and dwell there, for the Lord had commanded a widow woman to sustain him. Elijah obeys again and the Lord not only sustained Elijah according to his promise, but the woman whom God had commanded as well. Did you notice, even the second time, Elijah was commissioned to go to a widow woman but a command was issued to the widow woman for Elijah’s sustenance, even before Elijah obeyed his commission.

With the aid of the Holy Spirit, close introspection of the text reveals many hidden treasures from this account, which are as follows:

  1. God’s command not only provides (bread and meat brought by the ravens and water from the brook) but also sustains (bread and oil). Note, Jesus is the bread of life, and His Holy Spirit is the oil that never runs out.
  2. When God commissions, it is apt for us to respond by obeying for should Elijah have not gone to the brook (even though he had been informed that it would dry up) or to the widow woman, he would have not been satisfied of his thirst and hunger. Going to where he knew would be water and bread brought about salvation to the life of the widow woman and her son, who had given up hope and had resigned to have their last meal and die (1 Kings 17:12). When we obey and go to where God wants us to go, the living Water (Jesus) and Bread of life (Jesus) brings Salvation to those who have given up hope or who have none.
  3. God’s command goes hand in hand with His commission. We are commissioned to be his witnesses (Matthew 28:19-20) but He commands his creation (animals/birds and humans) to aid us in our commission.We can be assured that when God commissions us to do something for him, He makes sure that He commands that which is necessary to help us achieve His mission through us. You and I can be rest assured that He will make a way, where there seems to be no way. He is the hope for the hopeless, the quencher of thirst and the satisfier of hunger.

1 Kings 17:1-16 (KJV)
And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
5 So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.
So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.
And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.

Intervening intercessors

Exodus 32:9-14 records the event of how Moses, a servant of God, stood in the gap to stay the wrath of God against a group of rebellious people. We live in a world, much too similar as in the days of Moses, where people continue to rebel against God the Creator over all, kindling his anger and wrath, for He is a just God. We ought to be like Moses, intervening intercessors or in other words gap standers. Our ministry is to reconcile man with God (2 Corinthians 5:18) and turn those in rebellion into repentance for the Kingdom of God is near (Luke 10:9).

Point(s) to ponder:

  1. Will folks who know you consider you to be an intervening intercessor (or a gap stander)? If so, why and if not, why not? An intervening intercessor is whom God is seeking (Ezekiel 22:30)

Ezekiel 22:30 (KJV)
30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

Spiritually stunted!

My beloved son, Reuben and much loved wife, Sangeetha, had this conversation yesterday in which my son asked, “Why do I need to eat?”. My wife, using the Socratic methodology questioned him in return, “You tell me, why we should eat?”, to which my son, paused a moment and then replied “To grow”. Isn’t it the same in our Christian walk as well? We are to eat of the word of God so that we can grow according to God’s will.

Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds by the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). So the word of God is essential for man’s living. Jesus further affirmed that his meat (food) was to do the will of God the Father, who sent him and to finish it (John 4:34) and the Bible says that Jesus increased (grew) in wisdom (mentally), in stature (physically), and in favor with God (spiritually) and in favor with man (socially) (Luke 2:52). Our food must be to do the same as well, to DO God’s will and not just start it, but finish it as well. In doing God’s will, we consume ordained food (the Spiritual manna), and this enables us to grow in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God and man and to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)

Point(s) to ponder:

  1. If someone was to see you/me, would they consider you/me to be Spiritually stunted?
  2. What is your/mine food and are you/I growing to be like Jesus  Christ, the Lord and Savior, full of grace?

1 Peter 2:1-3 (KJV)
2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

Insomniac Christians

The author of Psalm 132 makes an interesting declaration which should be the desire of each and every Christian. This desire is to be insomniac Christians with a Cause. Verses 3 and 4 of Psalm 132 reads, “I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids. Until I find out a place for the LORD, and habitation for the mighty God of Jacob

God dwells in the hearts of them that believe in Him, in faith (Ephesians 3:17). We must not sleep  until we find a place/habitation for the LORD. In other words, until we find for God, the hearts of people,wherein God can dwell, we cannot give sleep to our eyes or slumber for our eyelids. In doing so we find favor before the mighty God (Acts 7:46).

Psalm 132:4-5 (KJV)
I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids,
Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.

Acts 7:46 (KJV)
Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.

Ministered to minister

Mark 1:29-31 in the Bible records the event of Jesus, healing Simon Peter’s mother in law, from the fever that she was suffering with. What is interesting is that the Holy Scripture records that Jesus took her by her hand and then lifted her up, following which the fever left her immediately and she ministered (served) unto Jesus.

We may miss out on some crucial truths from this passage if we evaluate it merely in a cursorial basis. These include:

  1. Jesus takes those who are sick (in sin) by their hands in His hands.
  2. Jesus lifts those whose hands are in His
  3. We ought to be like the mother in law of Simon, who ministered unto Jesus when Jesus had finished Ministering as to her.

We have been Ministered by Jesus so that we can be ministers for and unto Him.

Mark 1:29-31 (KJV)
And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.
And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.