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Showing posts from January 1, 2017

Seeking God's Will

When you last desired the will of God for your life and thought you knew what it was, did you try to make it happen? Possibly you felt that God had promised you something, like a mate, job, or profession, so you went about to manipulate it to come true. Abraham had been told by God that he would be made into a great nation; that his descendants would be like the stars in the sky. But that would mean he would have to have at least one son. So, Abraham tried several times to resource the will of God for himself. He first applied the promise to Lot since he was his brother's son and his brother had died, maybe this was the way God would fulfill the promise. So, he adopted Lot and gave him all the privileges of a son, but that didn't work out as Lot walked away from Abraham's influence and created his own family. Then later, Abraham assumed that it would be Eliezer, his servant that would become his heir. He said, "the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?&…

Kindness

Here is a question from the Bible that is challenging to the way you think. It is a powerful question and identifies something inside you that keeps you from being the testimony about God that you can be. Here it is, "If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different than anyone else?" (Matthew 5:47) We are certainly kind to our friends and want them to be kind to us; we are tied into them but we run from our enemies and do not want to be around them. That is our natural bent. If we act this way then we ARE no different than anyone else and offer no solutions to better their lives. This clarifies the way you should live the Christian life. It is to be a different life, one others notice because of its differences. You don't operate like the world operates; you don't "love your neighbor and hate your enemy." (5:43) You "love your enemies" and "pray for those who persecute you."  Kindness to your enemies as well as your friends is …

Prove

How do you evidence that you are a loyal supporter of a professional basketball team or football team? A high school or college team? You show your support by attending their games, speaking with others about them, and wearing their logos on a hat, coat, shirt and more. You wouldn't hide your loyalty; you are proud of your affiliation. You call yourself a Sooner, a Seahawk, a Giant, a Cowboy, a fighting Irish. John the baptizer (Jesus' cousin who was 6 months older and into ministry before him) saw Pharisees and Sadducees coming to him to watch him baptize people. These were upper-class Jews who certainly had a form of godliness in their words but denied it by their works. He said to them, "prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God." (Matthew 3:8) They thought they were proving by their strong agreement with the Law but they were not agreeing with the Law but with all the explanations of the Law created by their peers. They were l…

Sacrifices & Reconciliation

Can you continue to make sacrifices when you know there is someone who has something against you? Here is the answer to that in the words of Scripture: "Offer sacrifices in the right spirit." (Psalm 4:5) "If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God." (Matthew 5:23-24) How do you "be reconciled" to another person? "If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church [at this time the synagogue]. Then if he or she won't accept that chur…

Ambush

An ambush is "an arrangement of soldiers or other persons in hiding to make a surprise attack." We have seen this word played out in old westerns as thieves ambush the stagecoach or the train bearing money. Their intent is to rob by their surprise attack. It is used in Biblical battles such as at Ai when Joshua told 30,000 men to "set an ambush behind the city…then rise up from ambush and take the city." (Joshua 8:4, 7) Solomon warns of being enticed by evil persons who want to kill someone…just for fun and gain valuables from it. Who say, "let's ambush the innocent! Let's swallow them alive!" (Proverbs 1:11) These are people who feel like they have the upper hand because of their surprise and do not honor the lives of those who they rob. Theirs is the joy of being evil; the feeling of having power over the innocent and command of their possessions and their lives. But wait, there's more to this than at first can be seen, for the wise Solomon se…

Levi

How does God see you? Is it different than the way you and others see you? Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress in order to hide it from the locust-like Midianites. God called him a "mighty warrior" but he saw himself as weak and ineffective. Levi was the third baby boy of Leah, the first wife of Jacob. Close to his death, Jacob called his sons to "Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come." (Genesis 49:1) That was an interesting family meeting. Of Levi Jacob said, "Simeon and Levi are bothers—their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel." (Genesis 49:5-7) Does this seem like a harsh statement by their father? Jacob was referring to a past powerful moment when the family was ca…

Beginning

On the first day of the New Year everything seems fresh. There is new hope, new faith, new vision and dreams. There is a sense of completion, with the close of the old year, assessment, as we review the past year, and anticipation for what the new year will bring. The first "beginning" was long ago at the beginning of our world. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Genesis gives us the new words that will become our foundational words in life: day, light, night, darkness, sky, water, land, seas, stars, “greater light” – sun, “lesser light”- moon. Beyond these identifiers God creates atmosphere, separating the "waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth," and also water creatures – "fish", sky creatures - “birds,” ground creatures - wild animals, livestock, and other ground creatures. He gives man responsibility to “rule over the creatures” of water, sky, and ground and gives food from new plants and trees to susta…