and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

A New Commandment- Part 2

       Just before Jesus died at Golgotha, He gave to His disciples a new commandment, “…that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another.”  This far exceeded the ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ commandment, and stays in line with Jesus teaching about going above and beyond what is asked (Mt. 5:39-48).  So, I guess to see how we need to love each other, we should first look at some of the ways Jesus loved.

Then Peter answered and said to Him, Explain this parable to us. And Jesus said, Are you also still without understanding?  Mt. 15:15,16
This is just one more time Jesus showed great patience with His followers.  They never seemed to understand Him, constantly bickered over unimportant matters, lacked faith despite all they saw, yet He would calmly and consistently show love and continue to befriend and teach them.

But seeing the crowds, He was moved with compassion on them  Mt. 9:36
Then Jesus called His disciples and said, I have compassion on the crowd because they continue with Me for three days now and have nothing to eat. And I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.  Mt. 15:32   (compassion- a sensation of sorrow brought on by the distress or misfortunes of another; pity; commiseration)
Jesus was moved- felt strongly towards them.  He cared deeply about their needs and well-being.  He supplied the food they needed.  He strengthened them.

(Jesus) He rose up from supper and laid aside His garments. And He took a towel and girded Himself. After that He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.  Jh. 13:4,5
Jesus willingly took on the servant or slave position, kneeling down at the feet of sinners, fair weather friends and betrayer, in humble service to those who seemed to want to be more important than others.  He took their dirty feet into His hands and washed them.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  Jh. 14:27
I have spoken these things to you so that My joy might remain in you and your joy might be full.  Jh. 15:11
Jesus loved so much that He gave them true peace and joy.  He tried to ease their fears.  Though we cannot give this same peace and joy, we can try to keep peace with our brothers and sisters, and bring joy to their lives.  Imagine if this was more a priority to us than our own peace and joy.

As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you; continue in My love.  Jh. 15:9
Jesus loved His followers the same way the Father loves us: who loved us enough to sacrifice the life of His beloved Son for those who did wrong.  And we also have to realize, He allowed Jesus to come in mortal body, thus separating Father and Son in a way that they’d never experienced before!  The Father loves us so much He adopts us into His family (1Jh. 3:1).  He provides for our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.

By this we have known the love of God, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  1Jh. 3:16  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down from Myself  Jh. 10:18
Jesus willingly sacrificed His own life for us though we were sinners (Rom. 5:8).  He quietly suffered pain and death; never railed or condemned, didn’t fight back, throw insults, scream or curse, but allowed Himself to bear the full brunt of our shame pouring out His love with every drop of blood.

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord loves the church.  Eph. 5:29  (nourish- to feed, cause to grow, to support, encourage, instruct;  cherish- treat with tenderness and affection, give warmth, ease or comfort to, to hold dear, encourage growth, to harbour, indulge)
To give someone everything they need for growth, encourage them in the way, teach them all they need to know, treat tenderly, affectionately, warmly, give comfort, protect, lavish upon and hold them dear… yep, that sounds like the Jesus I read about in the Bible.

       So now that we’ve read some of the ways Jesus loves, let’s look in the mirror and see if we are following the commandment to love others like Him.  It’s easy to do if someone is kind to us or doesn’t have many needs, but what about those who are offensive, arrogant, living below our expectations, always in tribulation, sick, or depressed, irritating, shallow, error prone, demanding, indifferent, etc.  Do we love them like Jesus?  Jesus didn’t make exceptions but loved all and treated all with love even while expressing truth.  He gave above and beyond.  He cherished and nourished.  He laid down His life for us.

Do we do the same for each other?

Friday, April 05, 2013

A New Commandment- Part 1

       If Jesus Himself gave you a new commandment, would you consider it?  I’m talking about if you were one of the disciples and He was sitting right beside you.  Or would you say, ‘but that’s not the way we used to do it’ or ‘you can’t change it up now.’

       The time was perhaps 28 AD and Jesus was teaching the crowds as He typically did.  And as was typical, some religious scholars (Pharisees) were trying to trick Him into saying something wrong that He could be condemned for.  They asked Him what the greatest law was and this was His reply:

Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  Mt. 22:37-39

       I’d like to point out that this was spoken to non-Jesus believers.  As Christians, we also spout these verses off as the ultimate in commands from Jesus, but the truth is, that He gave His followers a new commandment that makes the old one null and void to us concerning each other.  It was at the time of the last supper.  He fellowshipped with the twelve in the upper room, they ate, and Jesus humbled Himself as a servant to wash their feet.  Judas left, and soon after, Jesus gave the new commandment that would replace the second command above:

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another. By this all shall know that you are My disciples, if you have love toward one another.  Jh. 13:34,35

       Suddenly, it is not longer good enough for us to love each other as much as we love ourselves, but now we must love our brother and sisters in the Lord as much as Jesus did.  This is love beyond what we have for ourselves.  This is agapao love, the same love the Father, the Son, the Spirit have for us.  Jesus didn’t want us to be satisfied to be like the unbelievers, but He gave a higher standard of love for us to strive for.

       And so, when we look into our brother or sister’s eyes, do we ask ourselves if we love them as much as we love ourselves, or do we remind ourselves to love them like Jesus does.  That is unconditional love (in the state they are in), full of mercy, grace, compassion, patience, and kindness, with open hearts and walls torn down, willing to humble ourselves, serve and lay down our lives for them.

‘Cause that is how Jesus loves us!

And that is how the world will know we follow Him!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Too Many Buts

       I’m sure like any other teenager, my years were full of buts.  Go do the dishes- but mom, I’m reading.  Clean your room- but mom, I like it messy.  Drive your mom to the store- but I’m going to my friend’s?  Play with your cousins- but they’re so little.  Eat your liver- but I don’t like it.  Make some dinner- but I’m a bad cook.  Most of the time I was just trying to get out of things that I didn’t want to do, in favour of doing what I liked to do, but sometimes it was based in fear of embarrassment, imperfection, loss of reputation, or other fears.

       There are many people in the Bible that gave excuses as well.  Gideon excused himself from obedience because of his lack of status (Jd. 6:15).  Elijah excused his poor attitude on his belief that he was alone (1Kn. 19:10).  Jonah blamed his disobedience on God (Jn. 4:1,2).  Anyway, you get the picture.  The human, fallen nature is prone to using ‘buts’ for whatever purpose suits us, but when it comes to Jehovah, it is best to leave the ‘buts’ out.

       One very prominent man in Scripture is Moses, and most of us think quite highly of him- after all, look at the miracles of God he showed forth.  But Moses got off to a rocky start.  First off, though he knew he was a Hebrew (Ex. 2:11), he did not really relate to the God of his people.  And so it was at close to the age of 80, Moses met God in the desert of Midian.

And Jehovah saw that he had turned aside to see. God called to him out of the midst of the thorn bush, and said, Moses! Moses! And he said, Here I am.  Ex. 3:4
(God commissions him) And now go, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.  Ex. 3:10 (to 22)

The ‘buts’ of Moses… 
(with my thoughts on what could be behind the buts)

And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me nor listen to my voice. For they will say, Jehovah has not appeared to you.  Ex. 4:1

Lord, but no one’s going to believe me so my reputation is on the line.  I don’t want to be embarrassed.  Besides, what will they think of me?  What if they ignore me?  What if this doesn’t work?
--God gives signs to Moses to use as proof

But Moses said to the LORD, "Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue."  Ex. 4:10 ESV

Lord, I don’t have what it takes.  I’m not worthy.  I’m not good enough.  I don’t have as much talent as so and so.  I’m just a homemaker.  I never do anything right or I always mess things up.
God gives assurance --I am the Creator and will give you everything you need to do this job!

But he said, "Oh, my Lord, please send someone else."  Ex. 4:13 ESV

Lord, send someone else.  They’ll do it better.  I don’t want to do it.  I’m too afraid.  It seems too big for me.  Someone with more authority would be better at it.  I have responsibilities at home- a wife, kids. 
--Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses…  (v.14)
--fine, I’ll let your brother speak for you

       Though Moses got out of some of the responsibility, I have to wonder what blessings he may have lost.  But  this post is about ‘buts’.  Buts used with the Lord are usually based on one big thing- lack of trust.  We don’t trust Him to pick the right person for the job.  We don’t trust Him to know us well enough and that we are capable.  We don’t trust Him enough to be with us through the difficulties.  We don’t trust His power to go with us, be in us.  We don’t trust Him enough to work through us.  We don’t trust Him enough with control over our reputations.  And we certainly don’t trust that He knows best.

Isn’t that sort of calling Him stupid? 
(very scary thought!!!)

We wouldn’t do that, would we?

Blessed is the man who trusts in Jehovah, and Jehovah is his trust.
Jer. 17:7

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Chicken and the Living Word

       For the first time in my life I saw how you are supposed to cut a chicken into pieces to cook on one of those tv cooking shows (walked in on hubby watching!).  Up until now I’ve never felt capable to cut up a whole chicken, and though it occurred to me after watching that I could have found some video footage on the internet long ago, I only ever bought (more expensive) pieces to cook.

       So it really didn’t look too difficult.  Start with the leg and thigh, extend, cut with a sharp knife between the bones in the cartilage then separate the two pieces.  Do the same with the wings.  It doesn’t take too long for the whole chicken, but I still haven’t tried it yet.  Perhaps one day I will.  But the past couple days I’ve been thinking about how the Word of God is living and cuts between the joints and marrow.

For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing apart of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Heb. 4:12 (for word studies, see below)

       For years I’ve seen the Word of God ‘pop out at me’ and transform my life.  It is like I can read a passage hundreds of times and still find something new in it that changes how I think and want to act.  How is that possible 2000+ years after being written and read so many times by me?  I have no idea other than the power of God.  But it has dramatically changed my life in so many ways that I am grateful for.

       So anyway, with one swift chop, the knife cuts between the joints separating the chicken pieces, just as the Word penetrates to separate parts of us: the whole us from the spiritual man, that which nourishes from the physical parts of us, and is a distinguishing judge between the thoughts and the mind, will, feelings, etc of our person.

       On a personal note, the Word has cut my heart (emotions, will, mind) many times convicting me of sinful actions, thoughts and attitudes.  It may have hurt at first, and occasionally I denied the truth of it, but when I allowed the words to take root in me, they grew and transformed me for the better.  The Word penetrates deep inside of me like no other human source causing my life to be revitalized and it tends to improve my outlook on life.

       I don’t think I will ever cut anything with a knife, especially chicken, without thinking of this passage in Hebrews again and what the Word of God has done in my life.  I pray the Lord continues to use it in my life to transform me into who I need to be to fulfill His will in my life: one day, one step at a time- for this reason as Paul states:

that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 
2Tm. 3:17

Lord, let Your Word continue 
              to transform our lives.
^= from Strong’s and Theological wordbooks
*= from various dictionaries
living= zao- active, powerful, efficacious^ (produces effects*)
powerful= active^
sharper= cut (as in one stroke)^
piercing= penetrating^
dividing asunder= separating or distribution^
soul= psuche- (relates to Hebrew nephesh) in the sense of physical, emotional (mind) or spiritual self, life as in life experience^ (seems like the ‘whole us’ to me)
spirit= pneuma- (relates to Hebrew ruach) wind or current of air; spiritual entity or supernatural force^
the part that continues after death (1Cor. 5:5) which belongs to God (1Cor. 6:20)
joints= the physical point of connection between two bones*
marrow= nourisher and strengthener of bones, in which blood cells (life) are produced* satisfies the soul (Ps. 63:5)
discerner= one who sees, discovers, distinguishes, judges or has the power to*
intents= thinking, consideration, conception, mind, understanding, will, manner of feeling^
heart= cardea- seat of physical life, center of physical and spiritual life, vigor, soul, mind, passions, desires, purposes, appetites, intelligence, will, character ^

Monday, April 01, 2013

April Fool’s Day

       This day is not a holiday, yet is celebrated in many countries around the world.  (Wikipedia has a decent write up on it.)  It is a day where people play practical jokes and hoaxes or ‘fool’ each other, and it is considered okay to do so.  This year it comes on the day after what some people consider the biggest hoax propagated- the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  But whether or not people believe it was a hoax, one day it will be proven true and all men and women will bow to the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:7; Rom. 14:11; Php. 2:9-11).

But since the day mentions fools, I will bring up some actions the Bible considers a fool to do.  (all ESV)

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,  Ps. 14:1
fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Pr. 1:7
Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool  Pr. 10:23
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes  Pr. 12:15
but a fool flaunts his folly.  Pr. 13:16
there is none who does good.  Ps. 14:1
but a fool is reckless and careless.  Pr. 14:16
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.  Pr. 15:2
A fool despises his father's instruction  Pr. 15:5
a foolish man despises his mother.  Pr. 15:20
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.  Pr. 18:2
A fool's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.  Pr. 18:6
A fool's mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.  Pr. 18:7
but every fool will be quarreling.  Pr. 20:3
Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.  Pr. 23:9
a fool who repeats his folly.  Pr. 26:11
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool  Pr. 28:26
A fool gives full vent to his spirit  Pr. 29:11
the fool walks in darkness  Ec. 2:14
for anger lodges in the heart of fools.  Ec. 7:9
A fool multiplies words  Ec. 10:14
The toil of a fool wearies him  Ec. 10:15
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  Mt. 7:26
For the fool speaks folly, and his heart is busy with iniquity, to practice ungodliness, to utter error concerning the LORD, to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied, and to deprive the thirsty of drink.  Is. 32:6

Why not be a fool?
the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.  Ps. 49:10
a babbling fool will come to ruin.  Pr. 10:8,10
honor is not fitting for a fool.  Pr. 26:1