The Empty Tomb, Resurrection, Ascension and Moving On…

The Christian Gospels of Mark and Matthew say that, after the Ascension of Jesus, his Apostles “went out and preached everywhere”. This is described in Mark 16 verses 19 and 20, and Matthew 28 verses 19 and 20. According to a tradition mentioned by Eusebius, they dispersed to distinct parts of the world.

Eusebius of Caesarea, also known as Eusebius Pamphili, was a Greek historian of Christianity, exegete, and Christian polemicist. In about AD 314 he became the bishop of Caesarea Maritima in the Roman province of Syria Palaestina. I am inspired by an early day Rush Limbaugh by the name of Paul Harvey. He had a segment of his radio show entitled The Rest of  The Story…and that is what this blog hopes to complete; the rest of the story of the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior…Jesus Christ. I shall pick up in the garden… Matthew (Chapter 26:55-56)

55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

We know Peter hung around a bit and was accused of being one of those men from Galilee who was with Jesus. We know Peter denied ever knowing Jesus…three times and we know who was at the cross… the rest were in hiding. What happens next? There is the resurrection, the empty tomb, the ascension and then moving on…the rest of the story. Judas hung himself due to overwhelming remorse for his betrayal of Christ. It is interesting to note that all of the accounts of this event never state any repentance on the part of Judas had in the eventual arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. There is some debate as to whether Judas fell from the tree or hung himself… my answer to that is don’t sweat the details. I was overwhelmed by the mass of information available in today’s world of digital services… For all of us we are only a keyboard away from the rest of the story.

Moving On… 

Peter was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, and one of the first leaders of the early Church. He died between AD 64 and 68, was also known as Peter the Apostle, the Rock, Simon Peter and Simeon, Simon or Cephas. Peter was crucified in Rome under Emperor Nero. He is traditionally counted as the first bishop of Romeor popeand also as the first bishop of Antioch. Two of the general epistles, First and Second Peter, are attributed to him. It must be noted that as with many of the books in the New Testament there are those of more modern thought who reject that but there is a growing support for Peter having written both. 

James

He was one of the twelve chosen disciples of Jesus, but he was also one of three men in Christ’s inner circle.  James’ zeal for Jesus resulted in his being the first of the twelve apostles to be martyred. He was killed with the sword on order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea, about 44 A.D., in a general persecution of the early church.

John

One of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus and traditionally believed to be the author of the three Letters of John, the Fourth Gospel, and the Revelation to John in the New Testament. He played a leading role in the early church at Jerusalem. We know that John was exiled to the island of Pátmos where he wrote the Revelation. It is recorded that John died in Ephesus as stated by the bishop of Lyon who says John wrote his Gospel and letters at Ephesus and Revelation at Pátmos. John would have been in his eighties.

Andrew

After the crucifixion and Pentecost, Andrew preached in Asia Minor and in Scythia, along the Black Sea as far as the Volga and Kyiv. Andrew was born at Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee (John 1:44). Later, he lived at Capernaum. Andrew and his elder brother Peter were fishermen by trade and they were the first apostles to be appointed by Jesus. It is said that Saint Andrew, refusing to be crucified on the same type of cross as Christ because he was not worthy, was martyred on an X-shaped cross.

Bartholomew

 In Christian tradition he is known as the unfortunate saint who was skinned alive. Little is known of his activities as a disciple other than what is related in the Gospel of John. After the Resurrection, he is traditionally believed to have preached in India and Armenia. His death, said to have occurred at Albanopolis, is uncertain. According to some, he was beheaded; according to others, flayed alive and crucified, head downward, by order of the king for having converted his brother. 

James the Lesser

James the Lesser

The title “James the Lesser” or “the Little,” helps to distinguish him from the Apostle James, son of Zebedee, who was part of Jesus’ inner circle of three and the first disciple to be martyred.  I add this information only as an interesting point to consider. Some believe James the Lesser was the disciple who first witnessed the risen Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:7: We must note here that this is argued by many scholars to not be correct. Beyond this, Scripture reveals nothing more about James the Lesser. Regardless, to be recognized as one of the 12 was quite an accomplishment. The fact that each of these men sacrificed everything to follow the Lord, can’t be overlooked. These were ordinary men who were called to do extraordinary things in their lives. 

 Jude or Thaddeus

 He traveled preaching the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, Lybia, Beirut and Edessa. Saint Jude suffered martyrdom about 65 AD in Beirut, in the Roman province of Syria, together with the apostle Simon the Zealot, with whom he is usually connected. The axe that he is often shown holding in pictures symbolizes the way in which he was killed.

Matthew or Levi

 Mathew was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. He is traditionally regarded as the author of the Gospel of Matthew. When Jesus called Matthew he was a tax collector….one of the most reviled professions in ancient Judaism. Matthew is interesting because little is known about this apostle. There are a few times he is mentioned but the fact that his book Matthew is the first in the New Testament, begs the question….why do we know so little about this man? Little else was ever recorded about him. We are not really sure how he died. There is no surety where or how he died.There are all kinds of accounts that say he was beheaded, stoned, burned, or stabbed—one even suggests he died of natural causes like John. So I will rely on the what the Bible says about Matthew. In the books of Mark and Luke he is known also as Levi. He was a tax collector, considered himself to be a sinful man. He was an eyewitness to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. He was an Evangelist, a title reserved also for Mark, Luke and John. I go back to earlier in this part to the fact that we really don’t know how he died. I am adding this as written from: overviewbible.com…..

As with most of the apostles, it’s hard to say exactly how Matthew died. There are several conflicting accounts about his death. The earliest records say he carried out his ministry in “Ethiopia” (not what we consider Ethiopia, but a region south of the Caspian Sea), Persia, Macedonia, and/or Syria. Clement of Alexandria quotes Heracleon, one of the earliest commentators on the New Testament, as saying that Matthew died naturally.

Philip

Following the resurrection of Jesus, Philip was sent with his sister Mariamne and Bartholomew to preach in Greece, Phrygia, and Syria. His preaching earned him the title of Philip the Evangelist and led him to minister successfully in Samaria, in Palestine. How did Philip die? There are many theories about that but basically, we don’t know how Philip died. But there are plenty of possibilities. One record says he died of natural causes. Another says he was beheaded. Or stoned to death. Or crucified upside down. What we do know is that he died sometime in the first century, possibly around 80 AD.

Simon The Zealot

He is not always the most visible of the 12 but mention his name in full…he is not the Simon who became Peter…The Simon here is called Simon the Zealot. He appears only four times in the New Testament. Three of those times is when the Bible lists who Jesus chose to be His disciples. Theories of Simon’s Death and that is just what they are, number a few. There is very little about Simon the Zealot after Acts 1:13, though there are several theories about whatever happened to him.Most scholars, a nice way of saying, we really don’t know, believe he teamed up with Judas (surname Thaddeus) to spread the Gospel throughout Persia and Egypt. Simon became the second bishop of Jerusalem and the Roman Emperor Trajan martyred him sometime during Trajan’s period of rule from 98–117 A.D. Another tradition claims he died peacefully in Edessa (modern-day southeast Turkey).

Thomas

Thomas is famous for having doubted the Resurrection of Jesus,   demanding physical proof of the wounds of Christ’s Crucifixion. Today we are all familiar with the phrase “doubting Thomas.”  However the other side to that is the fact that Thomas became the first person to with unwavering faith and conviction, acknowledge the divinity of Jesus. It is recorded that he died 53 CE, Madras, India.

I hope you have enjoyed the rest of the story. The last two words in the title also provide my closing question. After the resurrection and ascension will you be moving on to serve Jesus as he commanded the disciples? Truth is it is not over till Jesus comes back!

Life is Good

jk

 

After The Cross…That Strange Chapter John 21

This blog today is a revisit to one published in 2020…I dare say we all remember well that year. There will be few Easter sermons on this day but when I wrote this what was on my mind was what happens after the resurrection? There are many stories in the Bible that when told leave us wondering what happened to that person or place.The blind man that Jesus restored his sight. We know that after he left, Jesus sought him out and told him to sin no more….after that we don’t know what happened to him. Jesus turned a hostile crowd away just as they were preparing to stone a women…. ‘Go and sin no more’ and to the crowd… ‘him without sin throw the first stone.’ What happened to the woman and the crowd after that?

This Easter Sunday for many of us will be the one that Church stayed at home. Today, April 15 I am still at home as we shelter in place during this virus pandemic. I have had more time to read and that is a good thing and I have been blessed that I do not have this virus. What will happen after this, I don’t know, we have yet to live that chapter? What happened after the cross? We have ample writings from those who were there and in reading some I was blessed to find this interesting Chapter from the book of John, Chapter 21. After some study of this chapter and other research material I do agree that this  is a strange chapter. It is only 25 verses compared to the 31 verses in the previous chapter. Why is it viewed to be so strange? The gospel seems to come to an end in verse 31 in Chapter 20. But it strangely begins again in Chapter 21. As a layman I do not feel qualified to say why this happened but do feel the need to ask why and try to come to some conclusion. Chapter 20: 30-31 perfectly speaks to the aim of this book. It is impossible for the gospels to give a full account of Jesus’ life as they do not follow his activities day to day. They are instead a truthful and accurate collection of what he was like and the kinds of things he was doing. These collections of his demeanor and activities were meant to present him as Master, Lord and our Savior. If we approach them as a people seeking God we will be blessed and strengthened. So…Let’s take a look beyond the words and explore this what seems to be an addition to an Ending, a PS so to speak. I will be using the DBS, New Interpreter’s Bible and Wikipedia as primary resources.

Our first stop in this journey will be by the Sea of  Tiberias where Jesus showed himself again to his disciples. Verse 2 of the 21st chapter.

 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.

They had been fishing all night and it was just after daybreak, Jesus was standing there on the shore but none of them recognized him right away. It was in a gray type of early light that they first saw him. It was Peter who knew it was the Lord. There are always little bits of information that historical fact makes known to us and add a bit of realism to the words. When fishing the normal wear was just the loin cloth but when Peter in awe and joy leaped into the water to greet him because he wanted to be the first to greet him, he paused first to put on his fisherman’s tunic. You see it was Jewish law that a greeting was a religious act, such an act required that he must be clothed. There were many who had said that these appearances of the risen Christ by the disciples are only visions. Now they did not question the seeing of these visions, they did however insist they were only just that, visions. Here right at the first few verses of this chapter we see a possible reason for the addition of this chapter. It demonstrated once and for all the reality of the resurrection. The gospels insist that these were not as some were saying, just visions and hallucinations, they were   not even a spirit, but a real person, the risen Christ. The tomb was empty and his body bore the marks of the crucifixion: the nail holes in his hands and the mark of the spear thrust into his side. Sometimes the way we do things can be used to validate a story or in this case the appearance of Christ to the disciples as they fished. When we speak of visions or even a spirit, it is not likely that either could have started a fire, cooked fish or prepared a meal. He then shared that meal with them! It would be hard for one of the men in the boat to spot a shoal of fish, but it was often done by a person on the shore, it really wasn’t that unusual. In these next verses 15-19, Jesus questions Peter’s love for him. Scripture has a way of putting forth a question or questions that reveal our true feelings. ‘Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me more than these?’ Not being there we cannot be sure but reasonable thinking might lead us to ask what the context of these was. Did Jesus with a sweep of his hand indicate the boat, its nets and other equipment as well as the fish that had been caught? “Do you love me more than these things?” Was he asking Peter if he was willing to give up all this stuff to follow him? We could ask ourselves that question today, right here and now… Are we willing to give up our stuff to follow Jesus. Are we ready to be a shepherd to his lambs? It could have been Jesus asking Peter if he loved him more than his fellow disciples did? Jesus asked this question three times and within those three times we find astonishing revelations. Be a shepherd to my lambs  He said to him a second time: ‘Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me?’ Jesus replied to Peter’s yes ‘Be a shepherd to my sheep.’ Then yet again Jesus asked ‘Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me’? I am sure by this time Peter is confused but there is a purpose in this repeating question… Each answer given requires a task accepted. Peter was tasked with the responsibility of a lifetime of shepherding the sheep and the lambs. Like Peter we can also prove our love for Jesus by our love for others. To love is the hallmark of a Christian but with it comes a great responsibility. Jesus also presents Peter with his own cross. Sometime later in Rome Peter would be nailed to a cross. We should understand that even today to love Jesus will present us with a cross of our own. Our cross might be in the form of ridicule, shunned by family, friends a hostile workplace and yes missionaries who lose their lives loving, caring and bringing the good news to the sheep. So here is Peter, who by no means was anything like Paul, for Paul would have many voyages and adventures taking the word to the world. Most of us will not be able to travel the world or write as Paul wrote, but we who also love the Lord can accept the task of loving and caring and being the shepherd of the sheep of Christ.

This strange chapter shows us two great figures of the Church…Peter and John. Each given a different task, Peter to shepherd the sheep of Christ, to love and care for the lambs of the Lord. To John the task of witnessing to the story of Christ to live to an old age, dies in peace, writing ‘I know Jesus Christ, and I know that these things are true.’ We have been reminded in this strange chapter the reality of the resurrection, the inclusion of all believers in service to the Lord and the tasks of the church being shared by all who love the Lord. Christ has risen and to each of us there are the additional tasks that this strange chapter sets forth and reminds us of the reality of the resurrection.

 He is indeed risen 

Life is Good

jk

On The Way To Jerusalem…And The Cross

Holy Week, Bethphage, Bethany, Jerusalem, Mount of Olives and Gethsemane, all places that are familiar to Christians. But we often scan over these places having read or heard the story of the resurrection many times.This in not to imply a lack of reverence for what our Lord did for us but a human condition I call casual awareness. It is estimated that in the three years of his ministry Jesus walked 3,125 miles. Now I don’t intend to get into a geography lesson but this is important…It was an hostile land, heat, cold and dry, rough terrain in which bandits and other hazards were common. Also consider that at different times Jesus avoided certain areas because it was not his time for confrontation, he did so by taking the long way round for example. While the exact order of events during Holy Week are at times debatable by many biblical scholars, I chose the timing of the events from an article by Mary Fairchild. This blog I guess is really about the places Jesus walked the last few days of his life.

We will start with the village of Bethphage, from where Jesus sent his disciples to find a colt upon which he would ride into Jerusalem. Bethphage was close to Bethany, where he would stay Palm Sunday Night. In the Gospel of Luke 19:33, Jesus’ disciples were allowed to take the colt away for Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.The gospel timeline indicates this would have been four days before Passover. There is an annual Palm Sunday walk into Jerusalem which begins here in Bethphage. One more interesting point…Eusebius, Bishop and church historian of Caesaria located Bethpage on the Mount of Olives, about 2 miles from Jerusalem. (Lauren Shelton 2016)

Bethany was the home of Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. Jesus was a guest in their home many times. It was here in Bethany that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Many people were witness to that and because it was so close to Jerusalem the news spread quickly to the Jewish leaders there, who now became even more driven to do something about this Jesus’ problem. It was here that Jesus spent the night on Palm Sunday.

So far we have been following Jesus’ way to the cross and our next look will be the Mount of Olives located on a mountain ridge east of and adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City. Here Jesus delivered the Olivet Discourse, which you can find in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. It is simple to just say in this discourse Jesus speaks to the near and far future of the church. 

Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives. It was of course the place where Jesus was arrested the night before his crucifixion. Some of the scholars and commentaries have shared this…I am open to being corrected but I will pass those things written on to you. Gethsemane was a private garden owned by a group of wealthy people in Jerusalem and there was a wine press there in Jesus’ time. Jesus was not alone, besides the inner circle of the twelve he had a loyal following which included a few wealthy people of that time. The story goes that Jesus had access to the Garden and went there often to pray. On that night after the Passover meal they went out to the Mount of Olives and:

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38 Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” 39 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial;[e] the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

Jerusalem was of course another place Jesus walked on the way to the cross. While it might seem strange all of these places other than Jerusalem were rather ordinary villages in this small area that played a part in the resurrection of Jesus…Bethany where Jesus and the disciples rested was just a little poor village on the side of the road, containing 6 or 7 dwellings. Image that these last few days were just ordinary in their world at this time…it all came down to a few days, five places and a donkey that brought the promise and the prophecy was fulfilled to the world that day.

 Life is Good

jk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justice And Mob’s…The Devil’s Brigade

Note: After reviewing what I had written and the resignation of Will Smith from the Academy of Motion Pictures, in retrospect I was not happy with the blog…I had in word become part of the Mob. A man’s dignity has been taken from him and in a broader sense his irresponsible act, an injustice to the entire Black community. As to the Academy, well nuff said. I am going to go ahead and publish this blog but do so with a sincere prayer for Will Smith….forgiveness and restoration…and the peace that passeth all understanding. 

When we step out of the “The Pew” to find something to share it is inevitable that we will end up looking at human behaviors or the lack of civilities toward one another as deemed acceptable by our enlighten society. We then usually try to compare those worldly behaviors to Christian Standards and to find ways we can reconcile the obvious lack of Godly behaviours and the Christian respect and love for others. Life never disappoints…and our determination to seek justice for our hurt lends to our desire for instant gratification when seeking to right a wrong and then leads us to meet that wrong head on and slap it down…in this case, slap it in the face. Most of you know what I am writing about. It was the slap heard round the world. A man took offense to a joke about his wife…that would be Will. Quicker than a speeding bullet, which I am grateful to report, was not involved…You see Will storm the jokester’s position…that would be Chris and slapped him in the face. You might be asking how in the world did I equate this slap to a Mob? What is a mob? To those of you who visit the Pew  each week you know by love of words and dictionary…let’s go there.  

  Mob.  

noun – a large crowd of people, especially one that is disorderly and intent on causing trouble or violence: 

verb – (mobs, mobbing, mobbed) [with object]crowd around (someone) in an unruly and excitable way in order to admire or attack them:  

What caught my attention about this incident? Was it the venue, people involved or the reaction of the people there at the time… Well the venue is of interest to many people both in the business and those who follow it. Been around for a long time and has always been used as a platform to garner attention for certain social agendas. So I was not attracted to those two things…what was of interest to me was the reaction of those there and the mob that gathers around such things. I wrote a blog in May of 2018, I will list it at the end of this blog. Justice and the Mob…that is what drew me to this recent event in the news cycle. You may completely disagree but please don’t slap me.

So stepping back inside the Pew let’s look at it from a Christian standpoint. The first thing is the need of society to assign blame…to see that justice is done. In our world today that is a huge thing and all to often the process of finding justice is perverted by the Mob. What happens next in this latest saga of seeking justice? Will the rules and practices that are now in place determine the outcome…or will the Mob Mentality of the day be applied? Follow me to a different time when Mob Mentality made Christianity and those who served the Lord difficult. This Mob thing has been around a long time and in reference to scripture there are 15 occurrences of such activity in the Bible, OT and NT. Three can be found in the Old Testament and the remaining twelve in the New Testament. The bible gives us a clear picture of what we are dealing with when we allude to a mob.

Plasm 26:5…I hate the company of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked. (NET)

Plasm 64:2…Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the scheming of evildoers, (HCSB)

Both these are from King David and indicate his desire not to be a part of such a group…he declared them to be a bunch of scheming, wicked evildoers.

I have written in the past that I don’t like overwhelming folks with scriptures but It would be helpful if you took the time to read those I share today in their proper context. Next we will look at some scripture from the New Testament. I will not burden you with all 15, just some whose context might be filmlillar to you.

Matthew 26:47…While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.

(HCSB  The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus)

Acts 17:5… But the Jews became jealous, and with the help of some ruffians in the marketplaces they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. (NRSV  Searching for Paul, Silas in Thessalonica)

Acts 21:34… Some in the mob were shouting one thing and some another. Since he was not able to get reliable information because of the uproar, he ordered him to be taken into the barracks. (HCSB  Riot in the Temple Complex)

The verses above are just a few that speak to the influence of a Mob during the days of Christ’s ministry and  into that period of the early Church and shows without any doubt mob rule is no respecter of Christianity or even what public behavior is currently acceptable. There are lots of thoughts yet in my mind about this situation but the best way to close the blog this week is to acknowledge that you will find no wisdom, no compassion, no fairness within the Mob Mentality, Justice belongs to God… 

Life is Good

jk 

Link to other blog – The Bible, Starbucks and Social Justice……Mob Style

 

Where Is Our Micah?

Micah is a small OT book with a big story… Micah alternates between destruction and hope. A true Christian faith that is strong and well nourished has as its foundation hope. Hope is ever present even in the days such as the people of the Ukraine, are suffering this very day. Micah wrote this book between 735 and 700 BC. This was a period of great prosperity in Jerusalem even though they did face some threats from Assyria. As Micah wrote this book he most likely would remember that the Northern Kingdom fell to Assyrian forces in 722 BC, I am sure he thought of this because although he lived in the Southern Kingdom he had witnessed the carnage the North. The tie if there is any to the present day situation in Ukraine is the hope of the people and their undeniable faith in their hope for a better day. Right now for most of us there is a stubborn refusal to examine the state of our relationship with God. We refuse to acknowledge the social ills of our day and do what is necessary to restore our relationship with God through our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Where is our Micah? It is thought that Micah wrote this prior to the good King Hezekiah’s reign, this being the time of the wicked King Ahaz. (2 Kings 16) This King subjected himself to being a subordinate of Assyria, not trusting in God. There was idol worship and the destruction of God’s temple, which leads to Micah’s predictions of the fall of Samaria (the Northern Kingdom)  and several other warnings to the people of Judah.

In the remaining verses in chapter six (9-16) God has made known through Micah that cheating and violence will be punished. In chapter seven we find four other points in this closing chapter. The first is the total corruption of the people, their perversion of justice ,family and the people in general turn away from others as well as God. Contempt and lack of compassion have a free hand. Micah calls for penitence and trust in God. The book comes to an end with two wonderful thoughts. There is the prophecy of restoration and ends with God’s compassion and steadfast love. Read these last verses of the book of Micah and rejoice….

 18 

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over the transgression
of the remnant of your possession?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in showing clemency.

19 

He will again have compassion upon us;
he will tread our iniquities under foot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.

20 

You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and unswerving loyalty to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our ancestors
from the days of old.

Micah 7 New Revised Standard Version

Our world needs a Micah and even though Micah chastises us for our sins he leaves us with the promises God has made and set before us through his son Jesus Christ. We need to understand that while our God is one of mercy and forgives, casting our sins into the depth of the seas… There is a judgement.

Life is Good

jk

Note:Did Micah write the Book of Micah? The book is a compilation of materials some of which come from a period considerably later than Micah’s time. The threats in chapters 1–3 and 6–7:7 are usually attributed to Micah, but the promises in chapters 4–5 and 7:8–20 are generally dated several centuries later.     (britannica) 


 

 

Controversy and Challenge…Micah 6:1-8

All through the Bible we read of the peoples, government and Churches unfaithfulness and disrespect for God. We should realize by now that our God, one of mercy, grace and hope also is a God of Judgement. God’s wrath has been felt by many nations, peoples and in some instances even the Church. In the first three chapters of Micah we are made aware of the Judgement of Samaria, the Doom of the cities of Judah and a Denunciation of the prevailing social evils. The third chapter speaks to Wicked Rulers and Prophets. There is in chapter two a small respite in verses twelve and thirteen. In chapter four we find the possibility of Peace and Security through Obedience and Restoration promised after exile. Moving on to chapter five we read of the Ruler from Bethlehem and the Future Role of The Remnant. Today, I have chosen to look a little closer at chapter 6:1-8.

Back in the day I had a great aunt that was always telling me about how the church had changed. She bemoaned the absence of a good old fashion hell and damnation sermon. She said that “people needed to experience a good old fashion gospel tongue lashing…never hurt nobody.” Well, here in the book of Micah we  get that and then some. Our nation today and I guess it would be safe to say, the world is in bad need of a little divine intervention. What do we do? How do we seek the forgiveness of our God for this mess we made of his creation? What does God require? In the sixth chapter of Micah that question is answered. In verses 6-7 those things that were of much value in that day are offered up as perhaps something to offer God and be in his favor. I offer for your consideration today, Verse 8…. 

Micah 8   

He has told you, O mortal, 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?

As Christians there are the requirements of the faith…instructions if you will that are tossed aside to make way for a faith of convince that meets the demands of the day, socially and agenda wise. In a real sense the word requirements is really out of place here. The first few words of verse eight are far more meaningful…He has told you, O mortal, what is good… Please read Micah in its entirety. Next week we will continue in chapter six and finish the book in chapter seven. I plan to focus on the last three verses of this somewhat under read book.

Our nation and the world need now more than ever a good hell and damnation message, we need a divine intervention. 

Life is Good

jk

Adversity…An Old Man’s Advice… Psalm 37

Many of us have over the years experienced adversity of one kind or another, prompting that classic response..why me Lord? David wrote this Psalm when he was an old man, he had plenty of time to reflect over his life. In the world today wisdom isn’t much valued…Part of the shame of this is that there is a definite distinction between wisdom and knowledge…the first being God given and the latter acquired. It is not my intention to spend time lingering in the adversity of the day and as we walk with God there no need to do that. David had been there. Although he had been anointed king as a teenager, he spent the better part of his twenties running from the ungodly King Saul. David had many occasions to reflect on the problem of personal injustice. The first nine verses spoke to the wisdom he had gleaned from years of walking with God.

Psalm 37

1 Do not fret because of the wicked;
do not be envious of wrongdoers,

for they will soon fade like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.

He will make your vindication shine like the light,
and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

7 Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
over those who carry out evil devices.

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Do not fret—it leads only to evil.

For the wicked shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

(New Revised Standard Version)

For convince I have inserted those first 9 verses. The first 22 verses are Godly advice for those who are in adversity not to envy the prosperity of the wicked, because it is superficial, and of short duration but today we will stay with the first 9. Now part of the message here is to put your confidence in God, and live to his glory, as this is the sure way to be happy in this life, and in that which is to come.

Gleaning from the above verses we find a list of actions we can take to make each day better. Do not worry, trust in the Lord, do good, please Him… avoid evil, take heart, there will be vindication. Put aside anger, turn from wrath. It is noted that those of evil intent will be cast aside but those who live for Christ  will prevail. A bit of a personal note here. I have always believed that there are miracles occurring around us every day. Some years back the group  Alabama had a song,  Angels Among Us…and I believe that to be true also. What I think is we are so busy living our life, our way that we allow God’s way to be obscured by the way of the world. Sometimes that little voice we hear is put off to be our  conscience, a little cricket sitting on our shoulder. Have you ever considered the possibility that it might be an angel or even….God? So…to the point here.My devotional this morning was written by John Blasé and it was about being anxious, which I will claim to be the cousin of adversity which could be the driver of anxiousness.  From the John Blasé  article I share this with you. 

“The 2019 You Version  shared that the most shared, highlighted, and bookmarked verse of the year on its online and mobile Bible app was Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” The verse that didn’t make “verse of the year” but follows it is—“And the peace of God . . . will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7). That’s quite the reassurance!”

I was a bit unsure about the topic I had picked for this week, I started to search for a topic on Sunday evening…Today’s devotional took the worry away. I believe there might have been angel on my shoulder during my devotional time. I hope you will read Psalm 37 in its entirety because as I have written often…content is important and the truth lies in the wholeness of a thing. Let God be part of all your tomorrows and your life will be better. 

Life is Good

jk

 

Out On A Limb…Luke 19: 1-10

I always sign my blog with the tagline Life is Good…and indeed it is. All of us will at one time or another find a rough road, some bad times and truthfully the degree is never the same from one person to another person. Bumps like potholes come in all sizes and to navigate them requires knowledge, attention and avoiding those roads in life that they seem to be more prevalent on. To travel the Christian Road does not guarantee a smooth ride but the destination is worth the effort. What is important is that all of us will at various times in our lives find ourselves out on that preverbal limb, or subject to Murphy’s Law, the truth is the real reason being we made bad a decision…it’s human nature to avoid two thing whenever possible…responsibility and discipline and that brings us to this point… ‘Zacchaeus! Hurry and come down! for this very day I must stay at your house.’ On the surface a reasonable request if you are aware of the context in which it is said and by whom and to whom. I love the stories of the Bible and I particularly enjoy going beyond the words or to quote Paul Harvey getting the Rest of The Story.

As the story goes Jesus was passing through Jericho and there he encountered a man named Zacchaeus. This man was the Commissioner of taxes, and he was rich. Now Zacchaeus knew who Jesus was and wanted to see him but being short in stature didn’t help and the crowd that had gathered knew him only as the commissioner of taxes, and  that he was rich and they disliked him intensely. This intense dislike made going among the crowd a bit risky. Zacchaeus was a quick thinker and ran ahead of the crowd and climbed up into a sycamore tree, not to tall but stout with strong sturdy limbs…easy to climb and there he waited to see Jesus. Jericho was one of the greatest taxation centers in Palestine. Give Zacchaeus credit, he was good at what he did. He had reached the top of his profession but with that distinction he was the most hated man in the district. Consider these things…Yes he was wealthy but he was not happy. He was a lonely because the path he chose had made him an outcast. Zacchaeus was determined to see Jesus, and would not let anything stop him. From other readings because of his stature he could not see Jesus because most of the people were taller than him and the crowd took delight in making sure of that. Written accounts say that this tree was a good source of shade and provided a nice spot to stop for a moment, catch you breath and maybe visit a moment. Jesus saw him out on that limb and thus came Jesus’ invitation….

‘Zacchaeus! Hurry and come down! for this very day I must stay at your house.’ 

What an opportunity to change his life! Zacchaeus, to his credit saw this and had no intention of letting it go by. He took steps to show all the community that he was a changed man. In Jesus he had found a new and wonderful friend. We must understand that on this day and upon this house came forgiveness, salvation and restoration from evil ways. It is followed by a wonderful and gracious act of restitution and the fact that in his restitution he went far beyond what was legally necessary. A testimony such as this must contain sincere contrition. Jesus is not looking for a change of words but rather a change of life. Some words to bring this story to a close. “The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”  Being lost is not meant to mean doomed or damned. It is more about being in the wrong place. Zacchaeus knew of Jesus, and went looking for him…He sought out Jesus and got to the right place in his life. Are you in the right place with God?

Life is Good

jk 

Jesus Ain’t No Pacifist…Romans 3:10–18

“None is righteous, no, not one;

11  no one understands;no one seeks for God. 12  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless no one does good, not even one.”13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.”“The venom of asps is under their lips.”14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”15  “Their feet are swift to shed blood;16  in their paths are ruin and misery,17  and the way of peace they have not known.”18  “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  (Romans 3:10-18 – E S V) 

 In Exodus 20:13 we read…You shall not murder.” No true believer of the faith should ever disagree or marginalize that commandment. Consider this…but that may well depend on your definition of the word murder. Many christians and even those who don’t believe apply this “thou shall not” to war. The interpretation of the Hebrew word literally means “the intentional, premeditated killing of another person with malice; murder.” Justice is in reality an act of God. There are man made laws and judgement but those which are of God, the creator of all things are inevitable and are final. War is never a good thing but sometimes the evil is of man’s own doing, his quest for his desires and paths to them destroys the innocent and that which God has created. Our world today is filled with sinful people who because of their lack of the basic acts of compassion, forgiveness, respect, patience and love for others makes war inevitable.

Please make note that I am sharing with you things I have read from an article in Got Questions? It is a bible app that is well received and offers scriptures to reinforce their writings. I will share that link at the end of this blog and encourage you to visit it. We might ask ourselves is there or could there ever be a just war? Here we open a can of worms so to speak… Mortals definition of a just war might depend on the possibility that it was the only way to stop the suffering of innocent people or…Is it possible that God ordained his wrath and vengeance on those evil perpetrators responsible for these atrocities to their fellow men? I will take some liberties here and not list the supporting scriptures to this opinion, they are listed in recommended URL below. It is the opinion gathered from reading the aforementioned article. War is always the result of sin.  (Romans 3:10-18),  

We have sort of scratched around the edge of this war thing but be assured of this…It is an error to say that God never supports a war. There are many scriptures to support this view…OT and NT.

This blog was a last minute thought. There is never a good war, maybe a just war is about as close as we can get to it being tolerable. We can never excuse the suffering, misery, destruction and the frustration of the collective inability of mortals to have compassion and love for each other. What can we as the people of God do? We can pray for an end to this war, or more purposely, to all wars.

Philippians 4:6–7 — The New International Version (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This you can take to the bank…Vengeance is Mine says the Lord… In God’s Time, In God’s Way, he will chose the manner of his judgement. There will be a Divine judgement. 

Jesus Ain’t N0 Pacifist…Pray for Peace

The link below will take you to the source of my information. It is an excellent article, please read it.

Life is Good

jk

https://www.gotquestions.org/war-Bible.html

The Assurance of Prayer… Isaiah 38

In this chapter we read of King Hezekiah’s sickness and recovery in verses 1-8. As we read on verses 9-22 are about his thanksgiving. Good study of the scriptures requires we consider the subject at hand in its full context. A closer look can be found in 2 Kings 20: 1-11. The thing to be learned from this scripture today and it applies to all situations involving prayer… whether we live or die, we shall be his, we do not pray in vain. No prayer is ever not answered but not always in our way or time. Hezekiah’s illness is of a very serious nature. It is written that the prophet Isaiah went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” His reaction is what can be expected with this one exception that speaks to the character and strength of this man’s faith.  He immediately turned his face to the wall and began to pray. “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” The King then wept bitterly. Illness can overtake a person in the blink of an eye, its seriousness will determine reaction and the response… How we react to different events in our lives is determined by the content of the life we are living. The story takes a quick turn and even before Isaiah was past the middle court the Lord instructed him to return to the king….

“Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you….On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. 

Writings indicate that the King was a good man, a Godly man but it’s worth noting that the scripture shows a moment of doubt ever so slight… Hezekiah had asked Isaiah, “What will be the sign that the Lord will heal me and that I will go up to the temple of the Lord on the third day from now?” … “It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps,” said Hezekiah. “Rather, have it go back ten steps.” Then the prophet Isaiah called on the Lord, and the Lord made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.

There is such beautiful depth in the power of prayer and the lesson here among the scriptures. The King grieves that he will no longer see the Lord. Hezekiah’s desire has always been to serve God and have  communion with him. Consider that when a good man’s time here on earth is over all his cares and frustrations are ended and he rests from the labour of life itself. As we continue in these scriptures I see a beautiful vision. God has appointed our time here but the depth and seriousness of an illness can cause us to calculate the time we have left, when it is far more important to secure our own salvation and trust in our faith in God and his promise of eternal life through repentance and the pardon of our sins. God has promised Hezekiah 15 more years and he in return has promised to abound in praising and serving God. God’s promises are not to do away, but to quicken and encourage life and health which are given that we may glorify God and do good.

There will be a link below to a web site containing 7 Seven Reasons For Payer. I will post them here, go to the web site for a more detailed account.

1) Prayer can set (or change) the tone of your day

2) Prayer helps you make better decisions

3) Daily prayer keeps God in the forefront of your mind, not forgotten until Sunday

4) More frequent communication builds a stronger relationship

5) The discipline of daily prayer is submitting your heart to God

6) Answered prayers are prayers prayed

7) Opening your heart to God daily allows God to transform your heart

Remember the link below and make a daily habit of having a conversation with God.

Life is Good

jk

https://www.prayerandpossibilities.com/importance-daily-prayer/