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Showing posts from January 24, 2016

Grace and Works

There is a story told by Jesus and captured by Matthew about a landowner and his recruitment of workers to harvest his fields. When it was time in his vineyards he went into the marketplace and hired workers to harvest the vines. He was there at 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, and 5pm and each time he was able to hire more workers. These workers then came to him at the end of the day to receive their pay. They lined up with the 5pm workers first and so on all the way back to the 6am workers. The workers at the back of the line saw the landowner give to each in front of them the same amount of money, one denarius, so they complained because it seemed unfair for them to have worked much longer and only received the same pay. The landowner reminded them that one denarius was what they agreed to when they started working at 6am and that he wasn’t "shorting them" but had given them exactly what he promised. And so is born the saying, "the last will be first, and the first will be last.&q…

Tomorrow

Moses stands before Pharaoh after frogs have infested the land and gives him the opportunity to set the time when the frogs would be removed. The answer of Pharaoh was curious. He said, "Tomorrow." (Exodus 8:10) When you think about how devastating and annoying it was with frogs coming out of the Nile River and into Pharaoh's palace, bedroom, and bed, and into the houses, the ovens and the kneading troughs of his officials and people, you would think Pharaoh would have asked for a stoppage today. I think he suggested "tomorrow" because he was still plotting to destroy Moses's reputation. This would give him time to tell his people "Moses will stop them tomorrow," and they would have an expectation that relief was near. If Moses was not able to do it on such short notice, then that would prove Pharaoh's superiority over Moses and over his God. This is early in his interactions with Moses and so maybe he felt the frogs would stop on their own befor…

Comfort

When we think of the "rod" and "staff" mentioned in Psalm 23:4 it is hard at first for us to see the "comfort" in these two instruments. It is only in the context and in the understanding of these tools that we get a better perspective on how they can provide comfort. David wrote about his time with sheep. He identified the Lord as his shepherd. He used many active verbs in the beginning of Psalm 23 including "makes me," "leads me," "restores" me, and "guides me." And then David turns to the walk "through the valley of the shadow of death" and says he can face it without fear. This absence of trepidation is based on the purposes for the rod and staff. The "rod" was also called the cudgel and had four purposes: One, it was a symbol of power and authority and was used to effectively control the flock. Two, it was used to discipline the sheep. The shepherd could hurl it at a straying sheep and get hi…

All-Seeing Eye

Nineteen Eighty-Fouris a classic novel that takes place in a world ofperpetual war, omnipresent government surveillanceand public manipulation. The political systemis under the control of the privileged elite of theInner Party that persecuteindividualismand independent thinking as "thoughtcrime." They are able to keep their power by their perpetual and everywhere present surveillance of the people. This novel published by Orson Welles in 1949 seems to be a forth telling of our world today with our satellites, drones and listening devices that can capture every conversation. We worry about the invasion of our privacy and the disappearance of our freedom of speech. But is a "listening" government the only one that hears our conversations? Solomon said, "A man's ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths." (Proverbs 5:21) The answer is "No," God hears and sees what the government can't. Solomon went on to say in his book…

The Wellspring of Life - Life Series #5

Let's get to the heart of the matter, whether it be the physical, mental, emotional, social or spiritual heart of your life, we have to ask the question, "Are you guarding your heart?" Each minute your physical heart pumps close to 2 gallons of blood and with 1,000 heart beats per day that means 2,000 gallons of blood surges through 60,000 miles of blood vessels, feeding organs and tissue. Happiness and a strong sense of emotional vitality help lower your risk of physical heart disease and provide balance in social as well as emotional interactions. Mentally as you grow you develop a view of the world system, other people and your own abilities and talents. Your assumptions drive you forward towards success in whatever area you choose to work whether for good or for evil. Your spiritual heart is made new by God at salvation and bolstered by associating with believers in the church and by the nourishment from the Word of God. Faith, hope and love are the results of a life li…

Your Gifts

What do you "bring to the table of life?" seems an interesting question. Too often we look to others rather than ourselves to provide for others. We downgrade our abilities, strengths, giftings and take the position that others can do it much better than us so we should just sit this one out. But is that a Biblical stance, even a humane stance? Jesus feed the 5,000+ on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee with 5 loaves and 2 fishes (John 6:8-9) acquired from a boy, assumedly his meal. Now Jesus was back on the western side of the Sea and is surrounded again by 4,000+ people who have not eaten a substantial meal in three days. Jesus expresses to the disciples his desire to feed them so asked the disciples, "How many loaves do you have?" (Matthew 15:34) They should have seen this coming: large crowd, hunger, compassion of Jesus. Why weren't they out scouring the crowd for food? Their heart was not where Jesus' was. So, Jesus wants them to recognize that the re…