Exodus…God’s Great Road Trip

Lay this world aside for a while and join me in the Pew as we rediscover God’s Great Road Trip. During more than 200 years, while Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived at liberty, the Hebrews increased slowly; only about seventy persons went down into Egypt. The Book of Exodus is the record of how God rescued his people, Israel, from the cruel oppression of slavery in Egypt. The end of the book of Genesis reads that at the invitation of Joseph who was a son of Jacob, Jacob’s family to come to Egypt. Joseph had attained a degree of power there and sought to bring them to Egypt to avoid the famine. Here in Egypt even though they were under cruel bondage, they became a large nation. A quick profile will show us that at the end of Genesis they went down to Egypt as a free people and they prospered and grew in number. They did so well in their new environment that the people of Egypt grew to fear them and sought to control them by enslaving them. The opening chapter of Exodus tells how the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians. We often do what I call a surface read.

The words resonate in our minds but we don’t always go beyond the words. What do I mean by that? Consider an old man’s reasoning…The Bible is like good western wear…never goes out of style. The bible relates to places and things even in our day. People are oppressed, enslaved, genocide is still a problem in certain parts of the world and ethnic cleansing still occurs. The story of the Exodus is about a people willing to flee the oppression they live under, to take a dangerous journey on the way to a better place. It doesn’t stop there. In Exodus we are introduced to the God we met in Genesis, the creator of life, he who made humanity in his own image. Here begins the story of a God who has heard his people’s cry…and comes to rescue them from their oppressive circumstances…this life that is threatening the very blessings of the life he has created. This chapter relates to the coming together of the children of Israel into a church and a nation. Exodus, the departure from Egypt and Egyptian bondage as the fulfilling of several promises and prophecies to Abraham respecting his seed, and shadows the state of the church  in the wilderness of this world, until her arrival at the heavenly Canaan, an eternal rest.

I plan to look at a few verses at a time in the hope that I can encourage you to read this wonderful book of a remarkable God, his people and a Road Trip to salvation. We will start in chapter 1, verses 8-14. It is hard to imagine but we must consider the fact that the place where we are so happy could soon become the very place of our affliction. The people did well because Joseph was so well loved but with his death things started to change. It is a fact that after a man dies the best of his services to his fellow man are soon forgotten. So it was with the Egyptians toward Joseph and his people. We have stated that the Egyptians feared the growth of the Israelites and of course there is the sin of envy, they resented the Jews prosperity. The desire to be free escalated as the punishments increased because of the fear the Egyptians had of the growing numbers of the Jews. Funny thing took place here, the more the Egyptians punished the Jews the Egyptians became more annoyed and frustrated with their efforts and the Jews. It is at that point…verses 15-22 that the Egyptians tried to destroy Israel by the murder of their children. They had no pity on the Jews and resented the obvious fact that these people were the recipient’s of an uncommon blessing. The enemy attempted to destroy the church in its infant state, they moved quickly to stifle any hope of  objection to their deed, they moved before it had a chance to become a matter of the heart among other Egyptians. It was a matter of pure and simple genocide. Those who are free of sin should cry out loudly to the Lord for his saving grace that even in this day such things continue to happen.

A quick overview of chapter 2…. Moses is born, (1-4) He is found, by Pharaoh’s daughter who takes him in and raises him. (5-10) Then in his early manhood Moses slays an Egyptian, and flees to Midian. (11-15) There Moses marries the daughter of Jethro. (16-22) It is next followed by the news that God hears the Israelites cries of oppression.(23-25) What can we learn if we go beyond the words? The very first thing is that God is always ahead of the game so to speak. As the Pharaoh’s cruelty increased a deliverer is born…Moses. All through time men have planed ways to destroy the church… our God is always preparing for its salvation. In Hebrews 11:23 God is already preparing a way for the people’s deliverer.

11:23

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

In verses 5-10 we read that our faith in God will lift us above the burden of fear…we can accomplish much with God as our guide.

When the baby Moses lie alone in an ark of bulrushes by the rivers edge God watched over him. When we seem most neglected and forlorn, God is present with us. As he lay there watched by his sister along comes the Pharaoh’s daughter…call it luck if you want but those of faith would call it a divine act. No one else could have the power and wherewithal to have got this done. She even brought his mother in to nurse him. So what do we see here? God rules, God is in charge and in God’s time there will always be a way. In these next verses 11-15 we see a man’s faith in action. In Exodus 2:11 Moses sees for himself the cruelty of the Egyptians to the Hebrews. It puts forth the consideration  that the future actions of Moses were faith driven. He leaves behind   the honors, wealth, and pleasures of his rank among the Egyptians. In these next verses we see that faith in God overcomes the world. By the grace of God he was a partaker of faith in Christ, which overcomes the world. He was willing, not only to risk all, but to suffer for his sake; being assured that Israel were the people of God.

 There are some facts that different commentaries views question the killing of the Egyptian beating a Hebrew as others view it as a special warrant from Heaven. There was also the attempt of Moses to settle a dispute between two Hebrews. Beyond the words here is a lesson for the church today. There are many theological debates a questions of doctrine that divide and weaken the church today. As a church and a Christian community we must be on guard against those who profess faith and are easily angered or frustrated when their ways are challenged. Because he saw an injustice and sought to stop it and reached out to seek a reconciliation between his Hebrew brethren  …Moses was forced to flee to Midian. From this point on verses 23-25 there is an awaking of the people of Israel, the bondage in Egypt continued but the murdering of the infant children stoped. They began to think of God in the mist of their problems which usually leads to a closer relationship with God and strengthens their desire for deliverance. God never forgets his covenants, he looked upon the Jews and considered the merits of their cries of despair. I could write much more but it is sufficient to know that God’s eyes are fixed upon the people of Israel and to simply leave it at this verse….

Mathew 11:28

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

This brings us to the end of the first two chapters of Exodus. Thank you for joining me in the Pew…Join me next week as we return to this amazing Road Trip. 

Life is Good

 jk

God’s Will, Wisdom, The Scorecard Proverbs…8

Welcome back, yes we are back again to Proverbs. Had a note from a reader that Proverbs 8 was one of his favorite chapters in this book; so I went to take a quick look and I couldn’t leave it at that. So this week we will run the chapter, we will break it down into four parts. 

It is Christ as wisdom who calls to the sons of men.The first set of verses from Proverbs 8 will be vv.1-11. Clearly Mosses and the prophets made known the will of God…but we will also find that will in the creation and fortified in the consciences of men. The problem has always been to get us to pay attention to the instruction given to us. As would be said, tis a pity, because the words of Christ will guide us to that saving knowledge of the truth.     When we open our hearts to understanding and are willing be to receive the truth in love, we will find that wisdom to be worth more than silver and gold. 

In the next set of verses vv. 12-21 we are instructed that wisdoms promises the good we have received and given have been laid up…saved not for just days but for eternity. It is in a way like Murphy’s Law…If there is a way to mess up our relationship with God, you can be sure we will find a way. There are some things God finds annoying and we would do well to note those. God hates pride and arrogance, evil ways and contrite conversations. These are some of the things that keep us from humbling ourselves and being awaken to his holy instructions. Even with this line-up, God found a way for our recovery. The true religion, I prefer to call it the true faith, gives us the best advice in difficult times, pointing out the best way to go. Truly happy are those who receive it in the love of Jesus Christ. There is yet more to consider. We must seek him early, seek him earnestly, put him before anything else. The love of Christ will overwhelm the believers and it will fill their hearts. The believer will be happy in this world but even more so in the world to come. Wealth of this world obtained by our own vanity at the expense of others will not last long…That which we do in christian piety and selfless charity will do well and honor our God. It is true…Christ by his spirit will guide all believers in truth and righteousness thus will we be happy in the glory of God hereafter.

Verses 22-31 says a lot in just a few words. Scriptures tell us that Christ was present at the creation of the world . Consider this…the son of God was ordained even before the creation and was destine to do great works. He will take great pleasure in saving sinners and the restoration of God’s’ people to salvation. Like a moth drawn to a flame lets be responsive and not refuse the mercy of Christ. Those who hear the voice of our Savior, pray daily, read and meditate on God’s word, will be blessed. Heed these words…those who refuse the word, find excuses to neglect the path to salvation will never obtain God’s favor or the grace of His salvation. We close out with verses 32-36.Those who offend Christ deceive themselves; sin is a wrong to the soul. Sinners die because they will die, which justifies God when he judges.

 What does wisdom say we should do? We need to listen to Christ as he calls to us, there should be an eagerness liken to that of a child seeing and hearing new things. We would be wise not to refuse such mercy and grace.

 

Proverbs…3:1-35….Trust and Honor God

We have been instructed in the call of wisdom, the evils that would marginalize and keep us from receiving such wisdom, that which is of God. Today we move to trust and honor in Proverbs 3. Let’s break it down into five sections. The first being verses 1-6 concerning exhortations to obedience and faith.

Obedience to God’s commandments, and faith in his instructions to us will provide us with joy and peace, though our days may not be long upon earth, we shall live forever in heaven. Remember there is mercy and truth in God’s word and promises, He will not forsake us! Live up to his instructions, take interest in them…let not your heart be troubled. Seek His guidance in all matters, may our words be pleasant to his ears and our actions pleasing in his sight.In verses 7-12 we are encouraged to be devoted to His will, reverent and righteous in our action toward others. We should never consider ourselves to be greater than others, nor should we seek unto ourselves the wisdom  that comes only from God. The pain and sufferings of this world will be less when He directs our paths; so that our way shall be safe and good, and happy at last.

Moving to Verses 13-20 we are instructed to understand that there is no argument as to the value of wisdom being far greater than any earthly treasures or precious jewels. God’s wisdom must be a part of our every day business, any venture we are willing to be a part of. This type of wisdom can only be obtained through Jesus Christ and can only be found in a strong faith nurtured by prayer. This type of wisdom leads us to the path of peace and makes our walk a pleasant task. Believe in Christ because he will make good on all his promises. What must we do? The answer is found in Verses 21-26… to walk safely in his way we must use discretion and wisdom close at hand, never letting the word depart from us. Our life, here in our earthly being and all that belongs to it, shall be under the protection of God’s providence; the spiritual life, and all its interests, under the protection of his grace, so that we shall be kept from falling into sin or trouble. These last verses  give specific instructions of things to do and certain behavior traits that are signs of the humble believer. Our business is to observe the precepts of Christ, and to copy his example; to do justice, to love mercy, and to beware of covetousness; to be ready for every good work, avoiding needless strife, and bearing evils, if possible, rather than seeking redress by law. The last one here  speaks volumes to the state of a rather growing trend….We have become a Litigious people, unreasonably prone to go to law to settle disputes. Next is a little hard but we must never envy those who prosper even though it might be due to the oppression of others…instead we must as followers of Christ never choose the things they do. There will always be a divine favor shown to the humble believer.

I hope you have enjoyed this short trip into Proverbs and I encourage you visit this very powerful book often for inspiration and wisdom.

Life is Good 

jk

 

Back To Proverbs… The Elusive Treasure… Proverbs 2:1-22

Some things about Proverbs… Teaching by proverbs was an ancient way of teaching. It was the most ancient way among the Greeks. It was a plain and easy way of teaching and did not impair people’s abilities to understand nor challenge their memories.It was a very profitable way of teaching, and served well to inform and inspire. Because times are so uncertain these days we , those of us of The Way…need more than ever the certainty of God’s wisdom and grace. Here in Proverbs 2 we are taught both how to get wisdom and how to use it when we have it. We must not be those who seek and receive, then turn away from what God has provided …knock and the door shall be opened…enter and be strengthened. In that first chapter there were warnings against evil people and wisdom’s crying out to be heard. In this chapter we learn the value of wisdom. 

How might we obtain this wisdom? First we must recognize that the true wisdom of life is of God. Anyone who desires knowledge will today find it through study, experience and in all kinds of various forms in the digital world we now have. So how do we get there, to God’s wisdom? The true wisdom the Christian seeks will be found in the word of God. Proverbs 2:1-2…We must have assurance that the words of God are more than adequate for our wisdom and understanding. We must know that even with all the writings and words that surround us, it is divine revelation, and the true faith built upon it, that will lead us to God’s wisdom in all its fullness.The word of God has always contained commandments and promises and we should welcome them without dispute or murmurings of dissent. The words are like treasures to be stored up…These words must be retained, always on our minds and close to our hearts, keeping them near should we need them to strengthen our faith. We must take every opportunity to hear the word, listening with attention and seriousness. These things we must do to insure we have built our faith on solid ground. Prayer, the unceasing cry for knowledge, knowing that anything less will not prevail. Prayer does not have to be a thing of desperation. Make it a time of simple conversation with God…ask for the knowledge of truth that leads to its sister wisdom. Lift your voices to Heaven where the good and perfect gifts can be found at the foot of the throne. Raise your voice so that it might be heard in Heaven and submit your tongue to the command of Wisdom. Solomon prayed for Wisdom and he obtained it.

There is a practicality in Wisdom. Wisdom protects us from people of corrupt principles, whose profane actions seek to cloud our judgement and instill prejudices against our faith as they seek to strengthen their arguments for sin and Un-Godly behavior. There is the note that Wisdom will protect us from corrupt women…I would rather it read from the sins of bodily lust which pervert God’s will and intent…nuff said. Sin comes in many ways to distract from the path of righteousness. The Wisdom of good men and women can be seen in the way they walk in the faith…See that, emulate it, avoid the walk of a sinful person. We must not only choose our way in general by the good examples of the saints, but must also take directions from them, they are the examples of the road taken  by the Saints of old as well as those of the present. God’s wisdom is not easily found, you must to refer to a former command…seek it with all your heart, mind and being… Let wisdom enter your heart and savor the peace that will keep you from the evils of this world. 

My love of this book grows each time I visit it. In chapter 1 we had an invitation, a warning against evil and read of the call of wisdom. Chapter 2 presented to us the value of wisdom. I am not ready just yet to leave this wonderful book…so next week… Chapter 3…Trusting and Honoring God. Come back and join us in the Pew next week.

Life is Good

jk

Proverbial Wisdom… “In short, they serve well to teach wisdom, truth, and justice; and to caution men against error, vice, and dissipation.” (Coke’s Commentaries)

Open the Book of Proverbs and in some ways it is like sitting on the front porch with the old folks, grandma and grandpa as they share the lessons of life in a loving voice, devoid of judgement. Consider these points…Solomon is the primary author with others contributing. It was written for all eras to enjoy and meant to be timeless. It has been called the wisdom book, and relates to these days we are living now and those that have gone by. Some of the more famous verses:

Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart

    and lean not on your own understanding;

Proverbs 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find?

    She is worth far more than rubies.

 Jesus Christ, for the most part, delivered his instructions to the people in parables. ( Matthew 13:3,  Proverbs 24:34.)  This   is taken from Coke’s Commentaries.

The best place to start would be at the beginning …Proverbs 1…

There are 33 verses in the first Proverb. We will break it down into  four sections.

 (1-7) Purpose and Theme  

(8-19) Prologue: Exhortations to Embrace Wisdom 

( 8-19) Warning Against the Invitation of Sinful Men

 ( 20-33) Wisdom’s Rebuke

Solomon was the first of the sacred writers to put his name at the head of his works. Then just as now this is an important fact… persons of sufficient reputation as to knowledge and intent were eagerly sought out for instructions and knowledge. The style of writing here turns toward the parabolically style, short, concise, and makes its point without a long and tiring discourse. Like a parable it is easy to read and pleasing to the ear and as was noted earlier a form used many times by Jesus. Verse two and the next six tell us the author’s perspective in how he wishes to instruct us in the acquiring of wisdom, instruction, understanding and knowledge. First we must possess in our minds an understanding of the wisdom, power, and goodness of God. This is the first step to wisdom; and the second is, to show reverence to parents, both natural and spiritual. As we continue on through the Psalm we note that we are to receive instruction and a need to develop discipline. A question asked most Methodist Pastors to start with is “are you going on to perfection?” The growth of our relationship with God is and should be a continuous journey, taking note of what happens along the way. We must not leave out understanding, which comes with developing a relationship with our God. Consider that the fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. All religions that lack a fear of God are in vain…piety, religion, the fear of God, are road marks along the way. There is a difference between the laws of man and those of God. Note…one small difference is that God’s law takes care to secure a just reverence to both parents. The old writings of scripture show, that fear prepares the way for the love of justice, which is perfect wisdom.

In this Proverb verses 18-19 warn us against evil companions. I believe, and you may feel differently, that as written here it also can apply to things as well as other people. The things of this life can come to us as gifts or questionable actions, they marginalize wisdom and can lead to our falling away from God. The remaining verses 20-33 alert us to the call of Wisdom. Wisdom is all around us, even in the streets or public places her voice calls out to us… Wisdom does not invite violence will not tolerate injustice. Wisdom invites God, and calls us to the highest good. Solomon decries this excuse of where shall we find this wisdom? Open your eyes and ears look for good examples, then imitate, and profit by them. Let the foolish ways of others teach you what not to do…you will learn nothing of value from a fool. It is only natural that we would ask…how Lord will I know these things? The answer is in verse 23. If you return at my instruction; or, if you turn your face at my correction; “I will make my Spirit flow upon you, as a source or fountain which produceth its water”. This proverb calls us to be mindful of the voice of Wisdom. We are warned that the enticements of this world will lead to our destruction. While it might be repetitive we must avoid the enticements of sinners, and we are told to heed warnings of God. This voice of Wisdom can only be understood when accepted as a divine revelation to us from God.

 Wisdom, Truth, and Justice, they live in the hearts and minds of those who hear God cry out to his people through the voice of “Lady Wisdom”.

Life is Good 

jk

Along The Way….

The church I attend has started a new sermon series, “Road Trip.”  It is vacation time and many of us will soon take our own road trip. Gas may be high, with food prices going up every day but Americans are creatures of habit. There were many road trips taken by Jesus and the disciples and in the early days of the church the apostles, most notable Saul…Remember the road to Damascus and after that road trip experience we came to know him as Paul. There were two others who met Jesus on a road… Emmaus was a small town not far from Jerusalem and it was on that road that two men met the resurrected Jesus. People normally walked everywhere. Some did have a beast of burden to ease their journey and that me reminds of another road trip of note. Joseph traveled to Jerusalem from Nazareth with Mary the soon to be mother of Jesus riding on a donkey. Today I fall back on a phrase I have heard often…it is not so much about the journey, it is what happens Along The Way. There are three such episodes in the NT that come to my mind; the first being in Matthew Chapter 10: 1-15. I encourage you to read these verses, but for our purposes today…

Matthew 10:1

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.

Mark 3:13-15 is the next scriptural note of a road trip

Mark 3:13-15  He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15 and to have authority to cast out demons.  

The third one would be from Luke Chapter 6:12-13… 

Luke 6:12-13

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles….

The situation here is a bit different in interpretation, the other two callings are followed in scripture by a mission statement… We find in these verses in Luke a broader picture of what is taking place. From the writings of Jeremy Myers we find this interesting note… Jesus is praying for the choices he must make but also for the healing of the people and the teaching of the people that must be done. Consider this as written by Jeremy Myers in his article of  A Few Good Men. NOTE I am inserting it here as written:

In Luke 6, Jesus is faced with this sort of decision. He has come to earth to show and teach people what God is like and have an everlasting relationship with God. He only has three years of ministry, and by Luke 6, almost half of that is gone. He knows and realizes that one of the things he must do is pass on the essential truths of why He came to a few people who then in turn pass it on to others after He is gone. For over a year, He has been gaining hundreds of followers, but He knows that most of them haven’t a clue about who He really is, or why He truly came. So He must choose out a few to teach and train so that they might continue to minister to others when He goes back to heaven. The eternal weight of the world is on His shoulders, and He must choose a few good men to pass that heavy weight to their shoulders.

So it is that we read in Matthew and Mark, in both instances for the mission Jesus gave the twelve disciples authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. In Luke the opinion is that this was the initial election of the Twelve Apostles, a different meaning can be assigned to these verses in Luke. We must not be misled from the context of these verses…the intent of our Lord in calling these disciples forward was to prepare them to go forth, tell the story, heal the sick and toss out demons in the name of God. But there is still another road trip that has a huge role to fill in this study and it is also, in Luke Chapter 10 verses 1-12.

The Mission of the Seventy

10 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 

One point to be made here. In Matthew 10:1-42 and Luke 9:1-6 there is a difference in the instructions given to the Twelve and the Seventy. The main difference is that Jesus had told the Twelve that they were to preach in Galilee, avoiding Gentiles areas and Samaria, but the 70 were given no such restriction. Do you foresee a time when you might be sent out on a mission of service? Is there a road trip of such in your future? The church today is being attacked from many directions and is in need of the faithful to go forth and tell the story, prepare the way for His return. Keep these 10 points in mind. I am sharing with you from one of my favorite sites…gotquestions.com . 

The first thing you have got to do is…

  1. Go (Luke 10:3). This is foundational.
  2. Be wary (Luke 10:3). you will be surrounded by danger.

3)    Live by faith (Luke 10:4)

4)    Be focused (Luke 10:4) 

5)    Extend your blessing (Luke 10:5–6). Bless those that give you comfort.

6) Be content (Luke 10:7). The 70 were told not to seek better accommodations; they were to stay in the home that first received them.

 7) Receive your due (Luke 10:7). The laborer is worthy of his wages (cf. 1 Timothy 5:17–18). Doing evangelistic work is indeed work and is worthy of compensation.

8)  Be flexible (Luke 10:7–8). 

9) Heal the sick (Luke 10:9)

10) Proclaim the kingdom (Luke 10:9). 

We do not know the names of the Seventy, but the fact is that their names were written in heaven (Luke 10:20).  Let’s be realistic about today’s church world. We don’t knock on doors anymore, the digital world gives us the ability to reach many but… there is nothing more meaningful than a personal touch accompanied by a kind word. Imagine the miles they walked and the dangers these early Saints faced and as the Lord said to them…the harvest is great. Consider this, we will harvest what we sow. So, spread the word. Is there a road trip in you future? Consider this, Along The Way, share the story of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Life is Good

jk

613 Biblically Speaking?

The number of Biblical laws, 613 is rather ambiguous and there is no verse in the Bible that says this number is correct. In our search for these we are directed to the first five books of the Bible. The first five books of the Bible are known by Jewish people as the Torah, which in English means “the law.” So …the other point of view would be that these 613 commands, the most famous of which are the Ten Commandments were given to Moses on Mount Sinai. There is no agreement between Jews or Christians that the number 613 is the number given by God through Moses. Where did this number come from?  We start with the Talmud…

  1. Jewish civil and ceremonial law and legend comprising the Mishnah and the Gemara which is a rabbinical commentary on the Mishnah, forming the second part of the Talmud.

B)  There are two versions of the Talmud: the Babylonian Talmud (which dates from the 5th century ad but includes earlier material) and the earlier Palestinian or Jerusalem Talmud.

 I have discovered that there are many theories as to how this particular number came into being. So I kept digging and it was worth the time. I will again post at the end of this blog the URL for a massive work…The 613 by Archie Rand.  “ The 613 refers to the 613 Jewish commandments (mitzvoth in Hebrew) extracted from the Old Testament. This immense work by Archie Rand includes one painting for each one of the 613 mitzvoth.” Mitzvoth being a a precept or commandment or a good deed done from religious duty. All of these Laws, Commandments…can and has added to a great deal of debate, confusion and adds fuel to those who would profane them and use them as a distraction to mislead God’s people. I can assure you as a Layman the more I search for what is God’s Law, which is in reality the way God wishes us to live, the more I want to know. To me it is not a laundry list of must dos’, it soon comes down to a matter of what is in our hearts…and our hearts often rule our minds. Scripture tells us God knows what is on our minds and in our hearts. Consider this…keep things simple, Theology for a layman can become a series of trails ending in another rabbit hole. What is it that God wants of us? 

Micah 6:8  He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Looking to Jesus we might because of Matthew 5:17 become confused… “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” To keep it simple read Matthew 5:17-20. There is so much here in this chapter, there is not enough time and space to do it justice at this time. In the time of Jesus and Paul there were thousands of legalistic rules and regulations, ( those made by the Pharisees) many just petty and somehow they came to be literally matters of life, death and eternal destiny. The truth is that both Jesus and Paul broke them repeatedly and condemned them. So the Law being our focus this week what then did Jesus mean by the law? We know what he said in Matthew, some say take that to mean He came to bring out the real meaning of the law. All that scribal and oral law left one thing unsaid. One great principle which the scribes and the Pharisees had been unable to understand. That in all things people must seek God’s will but they would not find it in their man-made hordes of rules and regulations. The blood of Jesus on the cross freed us from all of that. Jesus was asked once which commandment of the Law was the greatest.  

 Matthew 22:37–39

37 And he said to him,  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And  a second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

 God gave the Law to define sin and demonstrate our need for a Savior. Jesus is the only one who has perfectly obeyed the Law. Through His life, death, and resurrection, He fulfilled all of God’s righteous commands (Matthew 5:17–18). Be sure if time allows to read some of those 613 laws, go to the link at the bottom. I will close today with a simple view of a very long and complicated process of Biblical Law / God’s Law. 

“With the coming of Christ, God has established a new covenant with mankind (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25, Hebrews 8:8-13, 9:11-15). Jesus and His apostles gave us a radically new understanding of the true intent of the Old Testament Law; they brought a new era of the rule of love for all people and spiritual truth instead of rule by law (Luke 10:25-28, John 13:34-35, Ephesians 2:14-18).”

 http://www.christianbiblereference.org

Life is Good

jk

613 Link

https://www.jmu.edu/dukehallgallery/exhibitions-past-2018-2019/the-613-mitzvot.shtml

Might Be A Law….I Don’t Know

 The past few weeks of all this blabbering about the two most contentious rulings of the Supreme Court has encouraged me to look at the other side of, or as I am found of saying the rest of the story…those other laws. God’s law, Biblical law, the Law of Moses, The Ten Commandments and also 613 additional commandments or laws and let us not forget the Seven Laws of Noah.

What is the definition of the word law?… To me I always first ask which Law? To a Christian, or more directly…to God’s people, those who obey God’s Law, there will the always be a state of conflict of interest. It has been said that obedience is the first law of heaven. Why is that important? Well, Biblically speaking it has been established that to obey God brings blessings to those who do so and to love God one is assured everlasting life. That is scripturally correct. Obedience has always been a part of any Covenant  between God and his people. God is the controlling authority and enforcement is His exclusively. Here then lies the conflict… Secular law is made of course by Man, who even at the best of his intentions is never perfect. So the other definition would read as such, law is:

1a(1) : a binding custom or practice of a community : a rule of conduct or action prescribed (see prescribe sense 1a) or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority. (2) : the whole body of such customs, practices, or rules The courts exist to uphold, interpret, and apply the law.Jun 13, 2022

 https://www.merriam-webster.com › dictionary › law

What is God’s law?… That is a question of faith, source and discussion among God’s people. A little reminder here that Christianity is not a democracy and never even in the time of Christ was it meant to be a Theocracy either. My view is that accepting Jesus Christ as your savior is the initiating factor of the Covenant between you and God. God’s word today is the same as yesterday and the days to come. Cliché, I guess it could be labeled as such…but we have had well over 2000 years to prove that its true. What makes God’s law different? A rather simplistic answer… It has only one source… There are no committees, no political parties, no social justice warriors or special interest groups and no pressure to change due to evolving cultural enlightenment. There is only one God, the Alpha and Omega, First and Last….Point made…God’s law is the final decision in any situation. 

We can’t stop just yet at this point. There is another law we should be concerned with. Biblical law refers to the legal aspects of the Bible, the holy scriptures of Judaism and Christianity and Mitzvah which is a precept or commandment. A good deed done from religious duty or a divine commandment. We also have references to the Law of Moses, The Ten Commandments also 613 additional commandments or laws that include “positive commandments”, to perform an act (mitzvot aseh), and “negative commandments”, to abstain from certain acts (mitzvot lo taaseh) and lastly the Seven Laws of Noah; laws applicable to all of humanity, including non-Jews. Those 613 we listed above, here is a link to them…every last one. When you have time have a look.

https://www.jmu.edu/dukehallgallery/exhibitions-past-2018-2019/the-613-mitzvot.shtml

I do not know many Laymen who have read each one of these, I have not, but a quick look has got my interest up to do so. In the sixth century BC the Hebrews started to put these commandments and other legal principles in writing. They were contained in the Torah and some time later they became the first five books of the Bible. The Torah (teaching) provided the Hebrew people with a basis of religious and moral laws. The Ten Commandments are often looked at as moral laws…dealing with murder, honesty, adultery and such. Pay attention to the Moral aspect of this history. We are people who are constantly looking for ways to minimize morality and justify our disobedience to God. We are always “looking for loopholes” The Mosaic laws have three areas…Moral, Civil and Ceremonial.

Let’s fast forward a bit. What did Jesus say about Old Testament Law? 

In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 

Romans 15:4-5 NIV

 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Paul)

The roads are many and sometimes confusing…Hear what Jesus said as to law and commandments when asked which of these laws are the most important?

Matthew 22:37-40

37 He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

The simplicity of scripture is often hid among the constant noise and blabbering of people who are always looking for a “loophole”. We don’t like or agree with that law, therefore we will not obey. It is not compatible with our lifestyle. 

I have so much more I could share with you and if you have been paying attention you will have noticed that I did not overburden you with scripture. All that is happening in our world… “don’t worry about it.” It is really quite simple… The gospel truth is His will be done… My hope is not of this world. 

jk

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow… John 16:4-5

John 16: 4-5 ‘I did not tell you these things at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going away to him who sent me, and none of you asks me: “Where are you going?”

A short preface to this weeks blog. With all that is happening in the world around us we need a rock to stand on. There is no greater one than God’s word in a time of uncertainty it will comfort, teach and inspire while challenging us to stand firm in the uncertainty of the times. The disciples find themselves facing the challenge of taking the word to the world and doing so without the  physical presence of Jesus. 

Never easy to leave those we love behind even if we know it is necessary and will be better for them. It is hard for us to accept that these simple men after all this time with Jesus were still in some respects confused by the things that were happening around them. At this point in our scriptures we find these men bewildered and grief stricken. The simple truth was that Jesus was somewhat constrained in his present state. The disciples had only a snapshot you might say of what’s about to happen….They were going to lose Jesus. He told them this must happen so the Holy Spirit, the Helper could come. They had yet to see the bigger picture. The time of hello’s and goodbyes were over. He told them that in this body I cannot be everywhere. As it were now he was confined, but there will be no limitations in the Spirit, everywhere you go the Spirit is with you. I am sure they struggled to understand what he was saying. Matthew 28:20 ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age’ The Spirit would bring to men and women an uninterrupted fellowship forever. It would bring to the preached word a power that would change the people who heard it and the world they lived in. 

As with all biblical scripture we sometimes find words that can’t be fully translated and this is the case here with a word John uses to speak to the work of the Spirit…elegchein, which is translated in the Revised Standard Version as convince.  This is as good a time as any to ask this question. Why does the crucifixion of, in their minds a criminal 2000 years ago, still through all this time   weigh upon the hearts of people all over the world? It is nothing less than the work of the Holy Spirit! 

 (1) The Holy Spirit will convict people of sin. 

(2) The Holy Spirit will convince people of righteousness.

(3) The Holy Spirit convinces people of judgment.

One last point to be made here is this simple truth. When we believe with certainty that on the cross of Christ is our salvation and that with Christ we are forgiven, and saved, this too, is the work of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit we are convicted of our sin and convinced that our savior will forgive us of our sins.

 Life is Good

jk

Reality… John 16 … Warning and Preparations

Last blog we spent some time in John chapter 14 and equated the uncertainty of the times the disciples were living in and how in some ways it mirrors  the times we as the church and nation are facing today. This week we move to chapter 16 and explore the warnings and challenges Jesus spoke of with his disciples. Jesus continues to teach the disciples after the Passover Meal about the things He wants them to be aware of and prepare for. There are some hard times coming that will test their faith and endurance and that is an appropriate thought now, in our day and time. I should make it clear that I am not of the doomsday mindset. A wise man looks to the future with a clear eye and seeks God’s guidance but there are always those that seek the comfort of the day and wear those rose-colored glasses. I don’t intend that remark to be disrespectful but let’s all admit that there is a bit of serendipity in most of us, not a bad thing, unless we let it blind us to reality.

At the time John was writing this there was a predictable falling away of many Christians as the persecution of the Church  intensified. In the first four verses Jesus makes it clear that there will be times of trouble for those of the faith. Jesus even says that many will do them harm, believing they are doing a service to God. He evens instructs them that when this happens remember ‘it was I that spoke of them to you.’  In Revelations 21:8 we get a warning of what is in store for those who fall away from the faith.

Revelation 21:8    

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.’

We do not want to put aside or forget the heroism of the early church but must take note that there were many who whose faith was not great enough and thus unable to resist the constant persecution and their endurance was not strong enough to keep them from falling away. Jesus wanted all of His followers from the very start of the ministry to never be able to say they didn’t know the cost. There was a certain glory in following the way but there was also a cross as well. We as the church today would do well to remember and understand that. Jesus said there were two ways his followers would be persecuted. Being excommunicated from the synagogue was one way. This was particularly painful for a Jew. To the Jew the synagogue was life and the Rabbis were always saying that unless prayer was offered in the synagogue it was not effective. One point to remember and often misunderstood is that the synagogue was the center of Jewish life and fellowship. Jews tended to stay together and did much of their business among themselves. To be excommunicated  was a big deal. There are some people that feel they do not need human company but these disciples were simple men and they needed the fellowship, they needed the synagogue and its worship. Joan of Arc said, ‘It is better to be alone with God.’ Sometimes, loneliness in society is the price of fellowship with God. (DBD) It does not exactly jump out at you but there is a plea, subdued as it may be…for unity of spirit, a coming together. We see it today if we look closely at the Christian Community.  Many things are done in the church community in the name of God but in actuality it is their own idea of religion. In their minds they believe they have sole possession of God’s truth and grace. This lack of unity in the faith leaves us with a barrier of unity between believers and churches. While today it does not always lead to exclusion from God’s house, we still are faced with those who believe there is only one way to Him. To put these first four verses in simple laymen’s terms…Jesus is saying to the disciples….I am offering you the hardest task in the world… Are you big enough to accept it?

From across the centuries  there comes that question again but phrased differently… Are We? The way of the cross is not one of ease but it is the way to glory. Jesus wants men and women who with eyes wide open are ready to venture forth in His name. Next week we will move on to verses 5-11…Hope you will join us then, in The Pew. 

Life is Good

jk