and the One who walks with me on it.

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.

A Teenage King

      or Sixteen Days to Christmas

(Azariah or Uzziah) the son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign. He was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. ... And he did the right in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. 2Kn. 15:1-3

       At sixteen years old, this young man ruled a nation (for 52 years).  Sure they were ‘more mature’ back then and had more responsibilities from younger ages, but really, that was still young to rule a nation.  I can’t imagine how often he second guessed his decisions because I’m 46 and still do that sometimes, so it had to be more difficult for him.  Uzziah must have made mostly good choices though because God said in His Word that ‘he did right’ in God’s sight- he followed in his dad’s footsteps.  I wish I could say the same about my teens, but I know they are in God’s hands…

       What will God’s report of us be?  Will He be able to say we did right in His eyes or will He say, “Well, they did what was right in their own eyes, and that’s good enough for Me”?  It’s what God thinks that matters most for in the end it is He that knows us inside and out and He will determine our eternal dwelling place.

In those days there was no king in Israel. Every man did the right in his own eyes. Jd. 21:25
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but Jehovah ponders the hearts. Pr. 21:2

Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Trouble With Teens

          or Seventeen Days to Christmas
       At seventeen, I was in high school learning, at home reading, and at friend's houses hanging out.  My dad didn't want me to get a job so I could make sure my mom could get where she needed to go and things would get done that she wouldn't do.  It wasn't a thrilling life, but it was mine.  I had two sisters that lived at home with me and though we didn't hang out together at all (as far as I remember) we were civil to each other.  Sometimes when they would get into trouble and sent to their rooms, I would play the peace maker or send messages between the rooms.  My life wasn't as bad as some...
       At seventeen, Joe was sent by his dad to check up on his brothers working in the field.  They hated him very much (Gn. 37:8) because their dad liked Joe best (v.4), because he tattled on them (v.2), and because he had these wild ideas that they would all bow to him one day (v.7).  They hated him so much they threw him in a pit (v.24), then  sold him into slavery for twenty pieces of silver (v.28).  That's a lot of hate for brothers to have!
       Joe was sold to Potiphar, a high official in Pharaoh's service (39:1).  The Lord prospered Joe up until Potiphar's wife lied about Joe trying to have sex with her (v.7-18), and Joe was thrown into prison (v.20).  The Lord prospered Joe there, and he was able to interpreted dreams of some of the prisoners (ch.40).  When Pharaoh had a troubling dream, one of the men told him about Joe being able to interpret, and Pharaoh sent for him.  The next thing you know, Joe interprets (41:1-32), he gives wise advice (v.33-39) and Pharaoh makes him as a second ruler (v.40,43).
      A man of integrity, Joe serves Pharaoh well, increasing his wealth and saving the empire from famine (41:46+).  Eventually Joe's brothers come to buy food from him and they bow before him thus fulfilling the dream (42:6).  Joe toys with them for a while, then Pharaoh invites them to live in Egypt, in the best land and so Joe's family ends up living in Egypt with him.  Imagine that!  In the end, everybody wins (v.6-28).
       Wow, what a summary, what a life...  What can we learn from Joseph's life?  A lot, but some of the things that stick out are:  he is never shown as a complainer no matter what unfair things happened to him.  He didn't moan and groan, get all depressed, and give up living.  He kept his integrity and faith, worked hard, and used wisdom at whatever place he was in, including prison, and God blessed him and used him to save His people. 
Surely, God is sovereign and will allow things in our lives if they serve His purpose.  Now, if we could just be more like Joe...