Posts

Showing posts from September 24, 2017

Citizens Series - Together

The debate continues about citizenship. Its formal definition is "a member of a state or nation who owes allegiance to it by birth or naturalization and is entitled to full civil rights. To have citizenship is to have duties, rights, and privileges. Paul in writing to the Philippians said, "Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourself in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ." (Philippians 1:27) How often do we regard ourselves as a "citizen of heaven?" Paul spoke in a time when two-thirds of the people of the Roman Empire were slaves not citizens. He was a citizen and used that right to get a hearing late in his life in Rome. But his Roman citizenship meant less to him than his Heavenly citizenship. Consider this; heavenly citizenship has duties, rights and privileges like any citizenship on earth. So Paul is saying to Jews, Gentiles, slave and free, rich and poor that they were all citizens of heaven if they believed in the messa…

Eternity

God's dwelling place is outside of time and space. He needs no water, air or food to survive. He is described by Isaiah as "the high and lofty One who lives in eternity." (Isaiah 57:15a) Isaiah quotes the Holy One when He says, "I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble." (57:15b) Here is the most interesting of statements. It seems that in this "high and holy" place, the spirits of people also abide. They can do this only because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. His payment for sin allows humans to dwell in heaven with God. But from another perspective, God dwells in the hearts of humans who have turned from sin. Therefore, as Ecclesiastes says, "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end." (Eccl. 3:11) Eternity is so vast and indescribable that we canno…

Throw Off

Ephesus was a seaport and busy city of some note in the southwest corner of what is today called Turkey. It was situated at the junction of natural trade routes which insured its growth and eventually its prominence as the capital of the Roman province of Asia. Here was found many Jews, Greeks and the variety of ethnic backgrounds that you would expect from a city of commerce on a trade route. Paul left Aquila and Priscilla there to strengthen the church and later sent Timothy to lead it. Tychicus delivered this Ephesian letter to them. A short passage of it speaks to the reality of life for all believers. Paul challenged the people of the church to "throw off" their old flesh; their former way of life. He identified it not only as "former" but as "corrupted by lust and deception." (Ephesians 4:22) The word "lust" is defined as "strong desire" and the word "deception" is an illusion, something that is not true. This way of desi…

Trust in God

When and how much do you trust in God?  Is it easier to trust in Him when things are going well or is it easier when things are going wrong? In Joshua 5 we have a very curious story. The people of Israel had made their way to the east bank of the Jordan River. Moses had led them for 40 years to get them there and now God removes Moses and places Joshua in his place. Joshua sends out two spies to the west bank of the Jordan River and to Jericho's surrounding area to reconnoiter. They come back and say, "The Lord has given us the whole land, for all the people in the land are terrified of us." (Joshua 2:24) Sounds like a good start to conquest. So, after six days on the east bank of the Jordan River, the priests take their position in the middle of the river with the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders. The water dries up and the million to 2 million people walk across. There are some ceremonies concluded with rocks and a monument and so all Israel is now on the west bank…

Rulers and God

"In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, [538BC], the Lord fulfilled the prophecy He had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom." (Ezra 1:1) Cyrus began to organize the Persian Empire in 550BC and conquered the decaying Babylonian Empire in 538BC thus identified as the beginning of his world rule. His empire stretched from the passes of what is now Afghanistan to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. He realized how difficult it was to keep uprooted and restless populations subjugated, as was the Babylonian's methodology, so he began to send home the deported masses. It is possible that he was influenced by a meeting with an aged Daniel in Babylon after its capture. Daniel could point out Cyrus' name in Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1 written sometime before 587BC and authenticated also in Jeremiah 24:12-14 written sometime before 575BC as assurance that he was the one to conquer Babylon…