and the One who walks with me on it.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Improbable

        He sat on the couch with his feet resting on the coffee table and his device in his hands as his fingers quickly moved over the screen.  Every now and then he would laugh out loud or comment to his mom who was working hard to clean the house while making dinner.  She asked him for the third time to pick his clothes off the floor and put them away in his room, but again he ignored her knowing she'd eventually give up.  The fourth time she asked he said in a disrespectful voice, "Not now, I'm busy."
 
       Not long after he said, "Mom, for my birthday I want the newest game system, two new games, a black and red pair of converse, a lucky scooter, a next gen. iphone, and a 22 in. flat tv for my bedroom.  And this year, don't get me no stupid socks and underwear," he said as he tossed a candy wrapper on the floor.  "Mom, can you get me a cold pop please?"
 
       Do you think the above description could fit Jesus as a teen... or not?  This story is completely improbable in all its parts.  Many people try to guess what Jesus was like in the years between being found in the Temple by His parents (12 yrs. Lk. 2:41+) and the beginning of His ministry (30 yrs. Lk. 3:23), but the Bible is silent on the matter other than to say,
 
And He (Jesus) went with them and came to Nazareth, and He was subject to them... And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Lk. 2:51.52
 
       Now, those verses can be further expounded on, but that's for a different post.  For this one I want to focus on the improbability of Jesus being anything other than polite, loving, kind, obedient, hardworking, helpful, honest, etc. at all times- in other words- good.  The Bible says He was tempted, and surely went through many of life's trials as all humans do, yet was without sin (2Cr. 5:21; Hb. 4:15).  So why is it we see Him differently when He returns to Heaven to sit at the Father's right hand?
 
       All of a sudden He's condemning us for our sin, He's putting people who mistreat us in our path, He's making bad things happen in our lives, He's keeping us from being healed or getting ahead financially.  He's not meeting our needs, not keeping us safe, not blessing us as He should, He's leaving us alone in the mess that is our lives, and He's not speaking to us the words we need to hear- why can't we hear His voice?  These thoughts challenge His goodness, yet it is completely improbable that His being good changed.
 
       If Jesus was sinless in human flesh, than He is surely sinless in His 'Godness'; so that means He is still good.  All the time.  Even when we don't see it.  Even when we don't feel it.  Even when the world falls down around our ears, our loved ones are suffering and we see no rhyme nor reason for anything; He is still good.  We need to acknowledge that!
 
You are good, and do good...
Ps. 119:68

Oh give thanks to Jehovah; for He is good...
Ps. 136:1

Saturday, December 28, 2013

I Am Unnecessary to God.

       The Lord brought this up to me the other day.  You might think it cruel or maybe even untrue, but the Lord doesn't lie.  It didn't invoke any strong feelings good or bad, but just made me think about the statement.  God always was.  He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; who was, and is, and is to come...
 
      God is all powerful, all-knowing, all present and can do all He pleases.  No one may stand in His way for His purposes will be accomplished.  "...My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose," (Is. 46:10).  The Lord is complete within Himself; in other words, He doesn't need man to complete Him.  We are not necessary to Him.
 
       Perhaps this is scary to consider, but I think it is a good thing to know for two basic reasons.  The first is that we realize how small we (as humans) are in the grand scheme of life.  It helps us to remain humble in God's service.  We are but ashes and dust (Gn. 18:27).  We are like vapour, breath, grass, shadows and swiftly over.  (Here are only some Scriptures...)
 
...For what is your life? For it is a vapor, which appears for a little time, and then disappears. Jm. 4:14
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!... Ps. 39:5 ESV & all after this
...All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 1Pt. 1:24 (also Is. 40:6)
Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. Ps. 144:4
My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle... Job. 7:6
 
       The other thing is, we all want to feel special, important and indispensable because it makes us feel good, wanted, powerful, and like only we can do certain tasks or do them better than others.  (As I pondered my 'unnecessity', it was actually a somewhat liberating.)  See, He could use anyone He wants to so it doesn't have to be us.  His kingdom will still advance if we aren't doing His will because what He wants will be accomplished (Is. 46:10; 55:11); He can always find someone else to do the job... like a donkey (Nm. 22:28+) or a raven (1Kn. 17:6) or a Samaritan (Lk. 10:33+)
 
       This means that if I mess up in sharing the Gospel, accomplishing a task, or showing His light to others, He will use another person to fill in the void so that His will will ultimately be done.  It takes some of the pressure off me.  It certainly doesn't make me want to sit back and let everyone else do it.  I am honoured that He desires to be with me, work with me and allow me to help further His kingdom.  Our lives are so fleeting it amazes me that He invests so much time in us and that even though we mess up so often, He still wants to use us as His vessels for His glory.  Wow!  What an opportunity!
 
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.
1Cr. 10:31
 
Lord, You continue to amaze me...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

       Jesus, I'd just like to say Happy Birthday.  We actually don't celebrate Your eternal birthday because You always were so we'll just celebrate Your birthday in human flesh today. I guess it's been about 2010 years ago.  I am so thankful that You came.  It will always amaze me that You willingly came into such a limited form, went through all the trials of life for me, and then gave Your life over to death so that I could live.

       I am so very grateful that You were born.  You are Emmanuel, God with us.  Be with us today and help us to grow closer to You every day.  Thank You for all You've done but most of all, thank You for who You are.  We love You!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Only One


          or One Day to Christmas

       Jesus.  Only one baby born both God and man.  Only one man came to save us from our sin and eternal damnation.  Only one man bore the judgment, beatings and torture for our deliverance.  Only one man laid down His life to pay the penalty of our sin.  Only one man died on the cross where I should have been- for the joy of my salvation.  Only one man.

       Only one man rose from the dead.  Only one man poured out His blood on the mercy seat for us.  Only one man intercedes on our behalf to the Father.  Only one man is our mediator.  There is only one man who is our hope, our peace, our joy, our strength, our life.  There is only one we need to trust and have faith in, the great I AM.

but there is to us only one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we by Him. 1Cr. 8:6
There is one body and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in you all. Ep. 4:4-6
For God is one, and there is one Mediator of God and of men, the Man Christ Jesus, 1Tm. 2:5

In this season it is important to remember…  
                                                We must seek Him still.

Rachel weeping for her children…


          or Two Days to Christmas


       Sometime between Jesus’ birth and Herod’s death (v.19) some wise men from the east came to the king in Jerusalem and wanted to know, “…Where is He who is born king of the Jews?...” (Mt. 2:2)  Herod was troubled when he heard the things of which they spoke (v.3).  His own men told him the baby was to be born in Bethlehem (v.5), so Herod inquired exactly when the star appeared (v.7).  He asked that when they find the king of the Jews that they return and tell Herod where the lad was, but they never returned.

       Joseph was warned to flee to Egypt with Mary and the young child.  Enraged and afraid there was a contender for his throne, Herod set out to kill Jesus. 

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was greatly enraged. And he sent and killed all the boys in Bethlehem, and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had carefully inquired of the wise men. v.16

       Herod chose that age carefully factoring in the information the wise men gave him.  To be certain Jesus would die, all those that were two and under in Bethlehem and surrounding area were to be murdered.  In fulfillment of Jr. 31:15, these words were written:

"A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." v.18

       Weeping, wailing, screaming, and mourning over two years worth of babies.  I can’t imagine what it was like having your child (or possibly 2) ripped out of your arms only to be slaughtered.  Remember, they didn’t have birth certificates back then so to ensure the job was done, they probably erred on the ‘older than’ side.  For two years there were no birthdays around Bethlehem for two year old boys because one man was afraid to lose his power…  How sad is that!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Trinity, Three In One

          or Three Days to Christmas
 
       My favorite 'three' of all is my favorite three people in the world.  My Father, My Savior (Jesus), and My Comforter.  It took me decades to understand the trinity and I know my understanding is humanly limited. Three distinct people- one God.  At one point I realized whether or not I ever understood the concept, it didn't matter.  All that mattered is that I believe / trust God's Word and what it said on the matter.  Eventually more understanding would come (and it did) but total understanding will only be had in the presence of my God...
 
And quite honestly, I need all three in my life. 
I cannot be complete if I exclude any one of them.
 
 
And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness... Gn. 1:26
For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 1Jh. 5:7
Hear, O, Israel. Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. Dt. 6:4
I and the Father are one! Jh. 10:30
that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. Jh. 17:21
 
Some think the Old Testament doesn't verify the Trinity, but it does:
     Father- Is. 64:8; Dt. 32:6; Ps. 89:26
     Son- Is. 9:6; Ps. 2:7; Pr. 30:4
     Holy Spirit- 1Sm. 19:20; Is. 32:15; Ps. 51:11

(Some other Trinity Scriptures: Mt, 28:19; Lk. 1:35; Jh. 14:26; Ac. 2:32,33; 1Cr. 12:4-6; 2Cr. 13:14; Gl. 4:6; Ep. 4:4-6; Cl. 2:9;  1Pt. 1:2)

Four Mistreated Men Do the Right Thing

           or Four Days to Christmas
 
       I have never had a serious medical physical appearance issue that made me embarrassed to be seen in public.  The worst that ever happened was a kind of skin infection under my nose that extended down close to my lips, but it went away in a few days.  I can't imagine the lepers of Bible days, shunned out of fear, considered punished for impurity and sin, seeing looks of disgust from those passing by, never knowing a loved one's touch again, banished from your home... that's where we meet four lepers sitting outside the besieged Samaria (2Kn. 6:24).
 
(The famine was so bad food became incredible expensive and they began eating children.  Of course this meant lepers were probably completely ignored.)
And four men, lepers, were at the gate entrance. And they said to one another, Why do we sit here until we die? ...come and let us fall to the army of the Syrians. If they save us alive, we shall live. And if they kill us, we shall only die. And they rose up in the twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians. And when they had come to the outermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, no man was there!  For Jehovah had made the army of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots and a noise of horses, the noise of a great army. ...And they arose and fled in the twilight and left their tents and their
horses and their asses, the camp, as it was, and fled for their life. 2Kn. 7:3-7
 
       Four men banished to isolation from the ones they love decide to throw themselves on the mercy of their enemies instead of starving to death.  I can't imagine the fear they would have felt heading toward the enemy camp, but the surprise to find no one there, only spoils, must have been shocking.  God provided food, clothing, and finances for these four abandoned men (and His people).  They took spoils, hid them for future needs, returned and did it again.
 
       Eventually, the four decided to share the news with the townspeople.  They went back and told the gate porter who informed the king.  After verifying the information, the townspeople went out and plundered the camp (v.15).  What amazes me is that these four men could have been bitter about how they were treated, nearly starved and despised, but instead they shared the good news, and helped others.  Sometimes we feel justified in our bad treatment of others, but God is always good to us and so we should always do good to others.
 
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you. Ep. 4:32
And as you desire that men should do to you, you do also to them likewise. Lk. 6:31

Friday, December 20, 2013

5+5=10

          or Five Days to Christmas
 
       We just went to my nephew's wedding this weekend past.  His speech was one of the best I ever heard, and they both seem very solid in their love.  There are a lot of lessons we learn from weddings in the Bible, but in honour of the number five we shall ponder the five wise and five foolish virgins.
 
Then shall the kingdom of Heaven be likened to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. The foolish ones took their lamps, but took no oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. Mt. 25:1-4
 
       So we see that all ten were virgins- physically meaning sexually pure or figuratively meaning clean and spotless before God.  All ten had their lamps in hand, ready to light the way when need be.  They all slept (v.5) while waiting for the groom.  Then when the groom finally came, they all trimmed their lamps, but only five were wise enough to bring extra oil.  The foolish ones brought no extra and their lamps ran out.  They said 'Give us some of your oil for our lamps have gone out.'
 
       Foolishly they demanded.  Foolishly they didn't have extra available for such an important occasion.  The wise virgin's lamps still shone but they only had enough oil for themselves, so they told the foolish virgins to go buy some.  While they were out buying, the groom came and those left went in to the ceremony (v.10).  The five foolish girls came and asked to be let in (v.11) but the groom said, "I do not know you." (v.12)  Besides the fact these verses could mean something we like to ignore, lets consider what is stressed: wise and foolish.
 
       The light of the wise five remained lit while the light of the foolish five went out.  The wise girls were prepared (with extra oil) while the foolish girls thought only of current, not future needs.  The wise girls slept because they were already prepared, but the foolish girls should have gone out to buy instead of sleep; or they could have thought to send one of them to go buy more oil.  They were 'in' someplace sleeping (v.6), so perhaps they could have seen if there was oil in that place.  It seems like the five foolish girls continued to act foolishly.  Regardless, the biggest foolishness was in not being prepared for the groom to arrive:
 
Therefore watch, for you do not know either the day or the hour in which the Son of Man comes. Mt. 25:13
 
We need to be prepared!

Six Sons to Happiness?

          or Six Days to Christmas
 
       We tried to have children right away after we got married.  I knew everything I needed to know about conception and how to achieve it quickly, so when it didn't happen one year later, I went in to the doctor and forced him to test us.  Within a month we had the results- barring a miracle, we would not bear children.  Shattered dreams... and no miracle...
 
       Adoption also looked impossible- with most private lists closed to taking names, not fitting in to the requirements of countries we could afford, and most kids through Children's Aid were of mixed heritage so we couldn't get them either.  Years of grief ensued.  Leah must have felt just as shattered when she married Jacob.  Everyone knew he loved Rachel, but Leah probably thought he would learn to love her too.  Instead, he gave her one week and then married Rachel.
 
And Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him a few days, for the love he had for her. Gn. 29:20
And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week. And he (Laban) gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also. (v.28)
(30)...He also loved Rachel more than Leah...  (31) ...Jehovah saw that Leah was hated...
 
       One week married and pushed away, despised.  That had to hurt.  Obviously he slept with her a few times, but I'm guessing he only did the minimum necessary by standards of the day.  Actually, one time Leah had to purchase a night with Jacob- with mandrakes, considered an aphrodisiac (30:16).  Two more sons produced to her husband, and Leah thought things would change... He would surely love her now, right?
 
Son 1- Now therefore my husband will love me. (29:32)
Son 3- Now this time my husband will return to me (34)
And Leah said, God has given me a good present. Now my husband will live with me, because I have borne him six sons... Gn. 30:20
 
       Six sons.  What man wouldn't be proud, honoured, and cherish that wife?  Leah named her last son Zebulun (exalted) because she probably thought 'finally my husband will exalt me' as important and worthy of love in his life.  Six sons would restore her happiness.  Six sons would fulfill her dreams of a loving marriage.
 
I hope that Leah eventually realized her joy and dreams could only be fulfilled in Yahweh.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Journey to Emmaus


         or Seven Days to Christmas

       Personally, I’m really glad we have cars- or even bicycles for that matter; anything but walking.  Although I do enjoy hiking in nature, walking down the road does NOT appeal to me, especially as a method of ‘transportation’.  So I am glad that I was born the last half of the last century, not like the two who walked to Emmaus.

Lk. 24:13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, (14) and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. (15) …Jesus himself drew near and went with them. (16) But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
(17-20) Meanwhile, Jesus asks about their sadness and what happened in Jerusalem. (21) …we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel… (22-25) …Some say he is alive, others do not believeAnd he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! (26) Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (27) And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (29) In Emmaus, the men didn’t want him to leave, …“Stay with us…”

       Jesus meets up with these downcast men and decides to walk seven miles with them in their journey.  During those seven miles, he learns their perspectives of what happened in Jerusalem, what they thought Jesus’ purpose was, and how they thought it was all a waste.  Jesus rebukes them for unbelief and explains how what happened was needed.  Then He showed them Old Testament passages about Himself and what they meant.

       I can’t imagine having face to face communication with the Lord for seven whole miles, but I do know He wants to walk in our journey with us.  We might not completely understand Him or what is happening, but we can know He is with us through it all.  7 minutes, 7 miles, 7 years or 77 years: God wants all the time we’ll give Him.  He wants to open our eyes so that we recognize Him, and He'll change us from within!

(31) And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. (32) They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?

It Goes Without Saying…


          or Eight Days to Christmas

       Sometimes the Old Testament indicates a number without calling it by ‘name,’ and the story of Noah is one example.  Eight people got into the ark and all eight were saved because of the uprightness of one man, Noah.  The Bible doesn’t indicate anything spiritually or morally about his sons, in-laws or his wife, only him.  Noah was “…a preacher of righteousness…” (2Pt. 2:5)  We can surely see how not all children follow after their parent’s godly examples…

Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. Gn. 6:9
And Noah did according to all that Jehovah commanded him. (7:5)
Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, entered into the ark. (7:13)
Behold! I, even I, establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you; (9:9)

       Because of Noah’s desire to walk godly, the Lord saved him AND his family from death by the flood.  To think on: Noah could have disobeyed God and put off building the ark (a task which would have been very time consuming), or he could have delayed getting in the ark when God told him to, or left through the window in the seven days they were shut in without seeing the flood come (Gn. 7:10). 

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. Hb. 11:7

       But Noah’s faith was strong and he knew God would do what He said even though he didn’t see it with his eyes.  He feared God enough to do what he was asked despite being laughed at and mocked like he must have been.  He trusted God before the flood, during the flood, and after the flood.  And because of Noah’s faith, eight lives were saved.  In the movie ‘Evan Almighty’ the Lord asks a modern man to build an ark, and he struggles with the task.  How would we do if God asked us?  Would we do it?  Would we even believe?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Where are The Nine?

          or Nine Days to Christmas

         Sometimes I have to ask about my kids, “Where are they?” especially when it comes to house cleaning, setting up a tent site, decorating the house for Christmas, when I’m in the car waiting for them, etc.  It seems they just disappear when things need to be done!  (Ok, many of us try to avoid things we don’t like: dishes, cleaning, going out in the cold…)  Anyway, it is more difficult to imagine someone giving you the greatest gift and not thanking them in return.

And as He (Jesus) entered into a certain village, ten leprous men met Him, who stood afar off. And they lifted voice and said, Jesus, Master, pity us! And seeing them, He said to them, Go show yourselves to the priests. And it happened, as they went, that they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back and glorified God with a loud voice. And he fell down on his face at His feet, thanking Him. And he was a Samaritan. And answering, Jesus said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Lk 17:12-17

       Just where were the other nine?  They all went to show themselves to the priests as told (an act of obedience) but when healed, only one turned back to glorify Jesus.  I think Jesus was making a point to those around him: it was a hated Samaritan who worshipped Him.

       How many times a day do we neglect to thank Him for all He’s done?  We woke up breathing, probably walking, talking, hearing, putting on clothes, eating, driving a car, bringing kids to school, going to a job, spending money on coffee, laughing with co-workers, talking on our cell…  The list of miraculous blessings in our lives is endless.

       Most of all, at this time of year, we should be thanking Jesus for leaving his God space to come and live as a poor newborn baby in a filthy, sinful world to be rejected and murdered for our sins which He bore for us on the cross- our death penalty cross!  That salvation is ours every day and so we should be thankful, falling on our knees worshipping the One who gave so much for love of us.


Oh Lord, help us not be like the nine, but to turn back like the one, to fall at Your feet thanking You for every thing big and small.  May we never hear You say of us, “Where are you?”

Ten Servant Throw Down


          or Ten Days to Christmas

       I’ve heard it said that soldiers do fear, but they are trained to fight in spite of their fear.  Now, God often says not to fear (Is. 41:10), but we are human and well, it happens some times.  Is it that we lack faith?  Probably.  Yet, in our humanness we must decide if we will allow the fear we feel to stop us from doing what God wants us to do.

Jehovah saidthrow down the altar of Baal which your father has, and cut down the pillar by it. Jd. 6:25
Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as Jehovah had said to him. And so it was, because he feared his father's household and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day. So he did it by night. (v.27)

       Here Gideon is told by God to break down the idol Baal of his father’s, which must have been used by the townspeople as well.  Gideon knows full well that his life could be in jeopardy but he does it anyway.  He works around his own fear by doing the job at night, but I think the point is, he did what he was told to do.  The ten servants helped him throw the altar of Baal down- and cut down the grove.

       The enemy wants us to be stopped by our fear.  God wants us to not fear, but at the very least, do not let our fear keep us from obeying Him and His Word.  Maybe we’re afraid to tell a family member about Jesus, stand up to the lies of a co-worker, tell a pastor he’s wrong with what he said, confront someone who offended us, etc.  No matter how we feel, we can overcome that fear by determining to do God’s will in our lives.  For it is not by our own power anyway, but by His!

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness… 2Cr. 12:9
I have spoken these things to you so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. Jh. 16:33
For everything that has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. 1Jh. 5:4

The Eleven Just Don’t Get It!


          or Eleven Days to Christmas 

      12-1=11 That seems simple enough, but I can’t imagine what the 11 disciples thought when a man that they knew for 3 years, Judas, betrayed their beloved Lord (who was put to death) and then killed himself.  They must have wondered at the complexity of it all.  How could it be, that others had seen Jesus alive when they had seen Him die and get buried?  No!  It couldn’t be!

       The eleven still didn’t understand everything Jesus had taught them: that His salvation could only come through His death and resurrection.  They probably thought those speaking of seeing Jesus were crazy, delusional in their grief, or seeing things.  Any way we look at it, there were eleven who lost their belief and spiritual perception.  We do that sometimes, don’t we?

And they (those who saw Jesus) went and told it to the rest (the disciples). Neither did they (the disciples) believe those (who saw Jesus). Afterward He appeared to the Eleven as they reclined (ate together). And He reproached their unbelief (faithlessness) and hardness of heart (destitution of spiritual perception), because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. Mr. 16:13,14

       I know, for myself, that at various times I have lost faith in the Lord: to move in my life, to heal me, change me, be out for my good, stay with me, and love me all the time.  Those thoughts were a product of not really understanding / perceiving Him correctly, who He is, and how He works.  Sometimes we just don’t get it!

Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen Me you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed. Jh. 20:29
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hb. 11:1

       It’s funny how we think, ‘You had Jesus there in person, and how could you not believe?’  We know Jesus as historical fact, have proof in the Bible, His words to read, eyewitness accounts in the gospels, yet we still struggle with unbelief and spiritually off perceptions.  Guess we can’t judge, but we can choose to see the real Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, and trust Him completely with our lives.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Water that Brings Life

         or Twelve Days to Christmas

       There are 186 times this number is used in the Bible.  Aren't you glad I'm not listing them all?  So, back in the day when Israel was wandering in the desert, they kept worrying about food and water.  Now, God provided for them every time they had a physical need, yet they still did not have faith enough to always trust.  (Don't we do that too?)  Anyway, I guess the Lord decided they needed a welcome rest because He led them to an area of refreshing:
 
And they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water, and seventy palm trees. And they camped there by the waters. Ex. 15:27
 
       Shade and unending water, how much better can you get?  And there was one spring for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Fresh water for all!  This indicates that God didn't leave anyone out.  He seeks to bring refreshing times to each of us; not just the wealthy, the old, or the wise, not just the men, the parents or the child, not just the skilled, the management or the housewife, but one and all had access to the Lord's refreshing.
 
Jesus still wants to give us times of refreshing. 
 
Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give Me to drink, you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water. Jh. 4:10
Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (in order to recover) Mt. 11:28
Therefore repent and convert so that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. Ac. 3:19

Solomon's Folly

         or Thirteen Days to Christmas

       Solomon was charged by his dad to build a temple to his God (1Ch. 22:6).  Though David fought long and hard to establish his kingdom, Solomon inherited a land that was in relative peace, yet he expanded it and his kingdom was a wealthy one.  This wealth, combined with the supplies David had stored for the Temple (1Ch. 22:5), made for a magnificent building, as fitting for the Lord of the universe as possible.  It took seven years to finish the Temple (1Kn. 6:38).  Then Solomon began work on his own house.
 
And Solomon was thirteen years building his own house. And he finished all his house. 1Kn. 7:1 
 
       There are many things that people try to read into this Scripture, but the timeline states Solomon built God's Temple for seven years, then spent thirteen years building his palace, together 'done in twenty years' (1Kn. 9:10).  Just because it took less time to build the Temple does not mean there was less care put into it.  When it was done, it was as 'perfect'ly fashioned as humanly possible- I'm sure Solomon would not have stood for less, and the plans came from David!  His palace, on the other hand, was larger, and made more ornate for his own tastes which were opulent. 
 
        It seems to be at this time that Solomon's eyes are taken off of God due to his love of wealth and women.  1Kn. 11:1-10 speaks of 700 wives (crazy man!) and 300 concubines.  The inside walls of his palace were supposedly covered in gold.  With personal and public rooms, the palace area would have been about twice the size of the Temple area.  But the worst sin of all would have to be that he allowed his flesh to obscure his focus on God, and the women in his life were able to turn him to idols- all in thirteen years.  Perhaps he did learn his lesson eventually, as he states here:
 
I made my works great; I built houses for myself... Ec. 2:4
And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them... (v.10)
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit; and there is no profit under the sun. (v.11)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

To Be Passed Over


            or Fourteen Days to Christmas

       No one wants to be passed over: for a job, a party, a team, an event, in relationship, etc.  It can be emotionally painful and we may think they don’t like us, that our skills aren’t up to par, that we’re no fun, not worth much, or that no one wants us.  It is NOT pleasant to be passed over… usually.  But there was one time in history when I’m absolutely certain that everyone in a particular country was very glad to be passed over.

Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth of this month they shall take to them each man a lamb for a father's house, a lamb for a house.
And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month. And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take some of the blood and strike on the two side posts and upon the upper door post of the houses in which they shall eat it.  And they shall eat the flesh in that night
For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast.And when I see the blood, I will pass over you. And the plague shall not be upon you for a destruction when I smite in the land of Egypt. Ex. 12:3,6-8, 12,13

       Is there anything in the instruction of this chapter that we’d be willing to forgo, adjust, change or be careless about?  I think not!  When our lives depend on it, we can obey- precisely.  We’d check once, twice, maybe more times to ensure we were doing everything just right… and then we’d check again!  Take the unblemished lamb on the tenth day, watch, guard and care for it for four days, bring it to the assembly on the fourteenth day to kill it, use the blood to mark three spots on the door posts of the house, eat the meat and save our lives.  Check 1, check 2, check 3…  Do all this and we’ll be passed over.

Woohoo!!!  Who wouldn’t want to be passed over and stay alive?

       This fourteenth day of their new first month was to be called Passover because of their salvation- the angel of death would pass them by if the blood was on the doorposts.  This is very symbolic of salvation through Jesus.  Only an unblemished Lamb can be used as a sacrifice for salvation.  His blood has to be applied to our lives.  (Three places like the work of the Father, Son and Spirit.)

       The assembly came together to decide on Jesus’ future- at their hands.  Jesus died just before the start of Sabbath, not the normal Friday night to Saturday evening, but a High Sabbath, that was on a feast day no matter what day of the week it fell on.  The Jewish leaders did not want to be defiled the morning of His death so that they could eat Passover (Jh. 18:28)  So on the fourteenth day, the Passover, the Lamb was killed by the assembly.  Salvation from death on the fourteenth day.

I’m so glad I am passed over…

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Life Extension


      or Fifteen Days to Christmas

       What are fifteen years of your life worth?  I’m guessing most people would say they are priceless, but especially those who have been diagnosed with life threatening illnesses.  Imagine being told, “You have 3 months to live…” Most people would be going through a range of intense emotions and would not want to die.  We want to see our children grow up, be married, have grandkids…we all have things we hope to see and experience in the future.  When suddenly our future won’t exist, the world crashes around our heads and we cry out to God- help us oh Lord!

In those days Hezekiah was sick to death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, So says Jehovah, Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.  And he turned his face to the wall and prayed to Jehovah, saying, O Jehovah, 2Kn. 20:1,2
And I will add fifteen years to your days… (v.6)

       God did a miracle and sent the sun back ten steps.  Hezekiah was assured of God’s healing and lived wisely ever after… well, not really- he was human after all.  Actually, he invited a group of Babylonians on a tour to show off all the treasures of his kingdom (v.13), an unwise move after which Isaiah told him his sons, all the treasures and ‘his house’ will be taken away to Babylon.  Not exactly the best way to spend the blessing of an added fifteen years.

       It’s not like we unwisely make decisions without consulting God first…

       God has surely blessed us with every day that we live and we should live it to the fullest, obeying the things He wants us to do.  Our lives are supposed to bring Him glory (1Pt. 4:11), but how can they do that if we just do our own thing.  We should learn from many of the historical events in the Bible- ask the Lord first, do what He says, and all will be well.  So fifteen days or fifteen years, people will remember our love for the Lord and want to be a part of His kingdom.