Christianity 201

September 2, 2017

“For This Purpose I Have Come”

Its time for our annual visit to Steven C. Mills of Steve’s Bible Meditations.  Click the title below to read this at source.

Why? – John 12:27

“Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!” (John 12:27, NLT).

Recently, I’ve been reading Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. The premise of the book is that successful leaders influence loyalty to a product, movement or idea because they communicate why their organizations exist. According to Sinek, knowing your why is more important than  knowing what you do or how you do it. And, knowing your why will help you know what to do and how to do it.

So, apply this on a personal level. What’s your why? Why do you exist? Why do you do what you do?

In a conversation in John 12 that Jesus had with some of His disciples concerning His impending death, He seemed to be very aware of His Why. He knew exactly why He existed and why He did what He did.

Some God-fearing Gentiles (Greeks) approached Philip and asked if he would introduce them to Jesus. Jesus had, heretofore, focused His ministry on the Jews and had only occasional interactions with Gentiles. Philip told Andrew about the Greeks’ request and Philip and Andrew went to Jesus to ask Jesus to meet with the Greeks.

It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t consent to meet with these Gentiles. Rather, He made it a teachable moment to announce to His disciples a change of direction in His ministry. Instead of continuing to heal the sick and teach and preach to the Jews about the coming kingdom of God, Jesus declared that His ministry will now become a matter of sacrificing His own life so all people, Jews and Gentiles, can enter into God’s coming Kingdom.

But, He seemed to express some hesitancy at first. Although He knew the reason He had come–to die for the sins of the world–maybe there was another way. Perhaps there was an easier way to save the world besides suffering a torturous death.

But, I don’t think He was really hesitant. I don’t think He believed there might be easier way. I think these expressions of doubt were really expressions of resolution.

Jesus absolutely knew what He had to do. Because He knew His Why!

He knew without a doubt His reason for living…and for dying.

The Apostle Paul also knew His why:

“Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning” (Ephesians 3:8-9, NLT).

So, what’s your why? Why did God create you? What did He call you to do? And, how are you going do it?

Find out your why. Ask God why He created you. Ask Him what is the purpose of your life.

Then, when you’re clear about the why, you can pursue the what and God will empower you to accomplish the how.

We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. (Colossians 1:9-10, NLT)

June 13, 2017

Unwittingly Carrying Out Their Mandate

I thought I would begin today by sharing something of which today’s guest writer reminded me which we posted here in 2013. It’s the passage in John 11. It’s the section where the leaders are plotting the death of Jesus.

49 But one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” 51 Caiaphas did not say this on his own. Instead, as high priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus would die for the nation…

and echoed in John 18:14

14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Although he was about to be — along with his entire household — totally implicated in the crucifixion, he was still, in John’s opinion, speaking prophetically; speaking as a prophet.

You’ll see why I got echoes of that when you read this.

We’re paying a return visit to Patrick Hawthorne came who writes at Serving Grace Ministries. Click the title below to read it at source (with comments) and then click “home” to view other articles.

The Priest of the Offering

The following was sent to me by my dad. I found this very interesting in explaining Romans 8:28.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

 Author unknown

Teacher, “I said, “I have a question. If the death of the Messiah was ordained by God, an event of the highest holiness, why did it happen through such unholy means?”

“How do you know that the means weren’t holy?” he asked.

It happened through evil men, through bribery, treachery, brutality, and murder…evil.”

“In ancient Israel, who were the ones ordained by God to offer up sacrifices?” he asked.

“The priesthood,” I said, “the sons of Aaron.”

“And who were the key people involved in delivering Messiah to His death?”

“The Sanhedrin.”

“Led by the high priest and including the chief priest of the Temple, the sons of Aaron, the same ones ordained by God to offer up the sacrifices. Why were they so obsessed with Messiah? They were the priest and He was the Lamb, the sacrifice. So they were the ones to initiate His death. That was their ministry and calling. Only they could deliver the Lamb of God to His death. That’s why they conspired and arrested Him and handed Him over to the Romans to be crucified. It was their ministry to offer up the sacrifice.”

“So they killed Him because they were the priest and He was the sacrifice.”

“Not because they knew it, but nevertheless, because they were the ones ordained to do so. And beyond the Sanhedrin, it was the high priest who, alone, was ordained to offer up the most holy sacrifice, the atonement by which the nation’s sins were forgiven. And who was it that presided over the Sanhedrin and was more than anyone else responsible for delivering Messiah to His death? The high priest. His intention was murder. Yet he was the one appointed in the Law to offer up the sacrifice. Messiah was the sacrifice. So it was the high priest who had to offer Him up.”

“But they were evil,” I said, “and their motives and actions were corrupt.”

“And yet through their actions came salvation,” he said. “The world is filled with evil, with the imperfect, and the wrong. But God causes all of these things, the wrong, the imperfect, and the evil to work together for the good, the holy, and the perfect…in this world and in your life. The tears, the cries, the heartbreaks, the evil, and all the wrong will, in the end, become the priests of the offering, to fulfill the sacred purposes and blessings God has ordained for your life.”

• • •

The Mission: What or who in this world is against you or working for evil? Commit it to God. And give thanks beforehand that He will turn it for good.

 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

 

May 30, 2016

How Does This Advance the Kingdom?

Even Christians can get caught up spending time on internet rabbit trails that distract us from our spiritual purpose.

Even Christians can get caught up spending time on internet rabbit trails that distract us from the purpose for which God made us.

Starting out the day on social media most of you probably check into the minutiae of your friends’ lives. You wouldn’t have done this a decade ago, the option simply did not exist, and yet here you are, ten years later, finding it necessary to know how the sunset looked last night from the cabin where Jason is staying, and what Sandra had for breakfast. What were you using this time for previously? What has been sacrificed in order to pursue this level of awareness about your acquaintances and relatives?

As I’m preparing the news and opinion updates for Wednesday’s link list at Thinking Out Loud, I am suddenly arrested by the question, “How does this advance the Kingdom of God?” Truth be told, a lot of our energies and efforts go into things which are not necessary to the building of the God’s Kingdom.

As I thought about various verses that could anchor these thoughts, I came across the following devotion by Juli Camarin. (Click the title below to read at source.) One sentence in the 1st paragraph really stood out for me: “… it makes sense that everything we do should originate and proceed from faith, otherwise we are acting of our own accord.”

Everything that Does Not Come from Faith is Sin—Romans 14:22-23

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:22-23)

Faith pleases God. In fact without faith it is impossible to please God ( Hebrews 11:6 ). So it makes since that everything we do should originate and proceed from faith, otherwise we are acting of our own accord. Faith is relying on and believing in God’s provision instead of ourselves. Hebrews says that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” ( Hebrews 11:1 ). The King James Bible says that faith is a substance and the Amplified says that is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope” ( Hebrews 11:1 Amp ).  So in the kingdom of God, faith is very important.

Paul says in today’s passage that “everything that does not come from faith is sin” ( Romans 14:22-23 ). This seems like a radical statement, but knowing how important faith is to the believer helps put into perspective everything he has been saying in this entire chapter. We are to exercise our personal convictions as if in God’s presence keeping ourselves striving to know and obey his truth and will. When we operate in this way, we are operating in faith and God is pleased with faith. This gives us the freedom to live without reservation in His presence and he accepts this. In fact the Bible tells us that we are blessed by this liberty ( Romans 14:22 ).

In the same way, the man who has misgivings or an uneasy conscience about the things he does, whether it is eating or drinking or something else, this man is not acting out of faith and so stands in condemnation before God. This is because he is not true to his convictions and brings judgment on himself. If our conscience condemns us then we will not have boldness before God. The awareness of sin will keep us from having the confidence we need to approach God in faith. This is why it is better not to do those things which go against our convictions, even if we see others doing it. Whatever does not originate and proceed from faith or is done without a conviction of its approval by God, is sin for us. It is better for us to keep a clear conscience before God so that we may boldly approach His throne and find grace.

As believers we are to live by faith. This is a process and comes by knowing God and His promises. If we do not know what he has said, then we cannot operate out of faith in accordance to those things. Today I encourage you to renew your mind to the truth that faith pleases God and whatever you do, should be done by operating in faith. I pray that you will hold true to your convictions and walk in the liberty to which you have been called in Christ Jesus. Do not let others hinder you. Let God reveal to your heart those things which are acceptable and good and live in this way. Live your life rooted and established in faith and you will be blessed in everything you do. May God continue to sanctify you through this word as you proceed and operate in it today, amen!

While Juli’s article takes the passage in several different directions — including sin and personal convictions — it also raises another question that takes me back to where we began today: Does this proceed from faith?

So two questions to leave you with:

  • Am I currently using a lot of time and energy on things which do not advance God’s purposes and plans and the building of His Kingdom?
  • Do my aims and activities proceed from faith

Go Deeper: Juli is blogging her way through Romans. Have you ever considered journaling or blogging your way through a book like Romans, one of the Gospels, Hebrews, or an First Testament book? WordPress and BlogSpot blogs like this one are free. You don’t have to do it daily (as I did) or keep it up for six years (as we have here), but you can simply, as you are able, write down your thoughts as you work through a few verses, a paragraph or chapter-by-chapter. Consider yourself challenged! You might even find yourself doing some research.

January 15, 2016

The Father’s Discipline

Today’s devotional writer, Art Toombs is new to us. Before we dig in, check out his archives of scriptures covered in past posts, you never know when you might need it. His website is Art Toombs Ministries – Online Bible Commentary. To read today’s sample at source, and then look around the site, click the title below.

The Lord Disciplines those He Loves

Hebrews 12:5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. (NIV)

The writer of Hebrews is addressing Hebrew Christians, encouraging them in their walk with God. Of course, these words are meant for all Christians, because we all face hardships in life. God does not want the hardships of life to pull us away from Him. So, in this passage he gives us some insights into the nature of hardships and how we should respond to them.

The writer begins by reminding us of “that word of encouragement” (v. 5a) in verses 5b-6, which are taken from Proverbs 3:11-12. The literal Greek translation for these verses is as follows: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint while being corrected; for whom the Lord loves He disciplines; and whips every son whom He receives.” To us, this probably does not sound like encouragement. No one chooses to be disciplined, or whipped for that matter.

But this is a picture of God’s correction for his children. Our Creator knows us best and knows the discipline that will achieve the desired result. He is not politically correct. God cares little for the rules of man, when they do not align with His word. Here He endorses whipping as a correction for children. God’s age of accountability is about twelve years old, so this would seem to be the age that such discipline is no longer warranted.

Also, we should not despise the one who disciplines us because he only disciplines us because he loves us. Contrary to the thinking of the PC crowd, we show our love for our children by disciplining our children, not by refraining from discipline. Physical discipline should be a part of that discipline, but only until the age of accountability.

The Lord disciplines adults, as our Father in Heaven. But discipline of adults usually comes in other forms. Physical discipline gives way to discipline of consequences. Adults face hardship, which is a consequence of sin. Our hardship may be a result of our own sin or it may be a result of living in a sinful world.  God allows hardships in our lives in order to discipline us. He disciplines us in order to refine us, to make us better. Through hardship he shapes us into being a child of God.

We should “endure” this hardship “as discipline” (v. 7a). We should understand that God is disciplining us. He is refining us. He is making us better, stronger. He is treating us “as sons” (v. 7b). He is allowing discipline because he loves us, as His son, or daughter.

God loves everyone, and wants no one to be lost, separated from Him. Therefore, “everyone undergoes discipline” (v. 8). The rain falls on everyone. God “sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteousness” (Mt. 5:45). Everyone suffers hardships in their life. It is God’s way of correcting us, and showing His love for us.

Hopefully, we learn from our hardships. Hopefully, we are wise enough to know that we must fall in line with God’s ways of doing things if we want things to turn out right. Hopefully, we will reach a point in our lives when God does not allow hardship.

But nothing is guaranteed. We do not know the amount of refining that God wants for each of us. He may have different things in store for some, and choose to allow more refining of them. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord” (Isa 55:8).

Whatever the case, we should never resent God for His discipline. He allows it because He loves us. The alternative would be that He does not love us. None of us should want that. So we should rejoice in our hardships, knowing that God is working on us because he loves us. And no matter what, He is always there with us in the midst of our hardships. He has promised to never leave us, nor forsake us. And He always keeps His promises.

January 6, 2016

Blustery Winds and the Prevailing Will of God

•••by Clarke Dixon

To read this at Sunday’s Shrunk Sermon, click this link.

Only twice in my life have I capsized a sailboat. The second time my future wife was onboard, until the boat ended upside down by which time no one was onboard. Long story, but it wasn’t even windy that day. The first capsize, however, was the result of a very unpredictable wind and my failure to see a major gust until it was too late. In sailing sometimes the breeze can be nice and steady, on other days it can be very shifty. Life may feel like that for us. Things may seem nice and steady one day, wild and unpredictable the next. We may even feel we are under the threat of a capsize.

An old expression goes, “It’s an ill wind blows no one any good.” There was an ill wind blowing hard on the heals of Christmas. The Magi had come to worship the newly born king of the Jews and so made inquiries to king Herod. This Herod had no right to be the current “king of the Jews” apart from the fact Rome said he could. This Herod was also in the habit of murdering anyone who threatened his power, and by anyone we include even infants:

16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more. (Matthew 2:16-18)

Herod’s was not the only ill in the ill wind that blew in those days. Satan himself was in on the attempt to destroy Jesus:

Then another portent appeared in heaven:a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. 5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. (Revelation 12:3-5)

Despite the ill and blustery winds that blew in those days we see the hand of God involved in keeping the child safe. As we read Matthew 2 we find that God used dreams four times to warn and direct, ensuring the safety of the child. Despite the ill and blustery winds, this ship would keep sailing in the course God had chosen.

However, Satan’s ill winds would keep blowing in continued attempts to blow Jesus off course. There was the temptation in the wilderness at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry which we can read about in Matthew 4. The promise of kingdoms and power in exchange for devil worship was an attempt to steer Jesus away from the journey to the cross. Likewise, we hear of another attempt when Peter declares that Jesus must not die.

21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things. (Matthew 16:21-23)

And finally in the Garden of Gethsemane, though we are not told that Satan was present, we do know the same temptation to steer clear of the cross was:

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. (Matthew 26:39)

As Jesus prays in the Garden we might wonder if the prayers he taught his disciples were reflected in his own prayers in those moments: “Thy Kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” which is easier prayed than done when the doing requires a cross. “And lead us not into testing, but deliver us from the evil one,” which would require Jesus suffering the worst that evil could deliver, so that God’s people could be delivered from evil. Ironically, when the ill winds of Satan blew in the direction of Jesus, they were an attempt to kill him as a child but to keep him from being killed as a man. God the Father protects Jesus from death in Matthew 2, but the cross looms in the future. The rescue of this one baby was to ensure the rescue of all God’s children. His will was, and is, being done.

These are things we can keep in mind when the ill winds are blowing hard and blustery in our own lives, when they seem so unpredictable we feel a capsize might be imminent. Whatever the winds are, the will of our Lord is the prevailing will. His will is steady and predictable. Whatever gusts threaten us for the moment, keep on the course the Lord has set. The good sailor adapts to the winds moment by moment, trimming the sails, planning an unexpected tack to keep course for the chosen destination. Just as Joseph and Mary adapted to the changing conditions, becoming refugees in Egypt for a time, so too we adapt to the ill winds even as we look to God for protection, direction, and for his prevailing will to be done. Though sometimes the winds are wild, we could not ask for a better journey. Or a better destination.

October 11, 2015

Christian Cosmology and the Problem of Evil in the World

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. (Psalm 139:7–8, NIV84)

Today we return to visit the blog of John P. Richardson, but his regular readers of his blog in the UK knew him as the Ugley Vicar. Note: This is the middle 40% of a much longer article, you’re encouraged to click the title below to read everything.

Sadly this was the last thing that John posted on the blog.* He passed away later in 2014.

Christian Cosmology; Incarnation and ‘Evil’

Ugley Vicar - John P. RichardsonMorality Matters to Matter
…But why would God ‘uphold’ such a world, where undesirable states and circumstances occur so often? (This is the old ‘Why would a good God create a world of suffering?’ in another guise.)

It would be foolish to think we could answer such questions completely. Nevertheless, the points about the Universe we have considered already may give us some hints.

1. The Universe has a personal origin, being created by a personal deity for himself.

2. At the heart of God’s purposes in creation is the relationship between himself and human beings whom he has created in his image. The world exists ‘for them’ as well as for God.

3. The relationship between God and human beings, however, is flawed and distorted by their inclination to disobey him. Out of this flows sin and evil.

4. The Universe nevertheless continues in its existence moment by moment because it is ‘upheld’ by the personal creator, and yet the creatures who matter most in his creation are separated from him and mired in sin.

We venture to suggest, therefore, that this distorted relationship between God and his creatures impacts his ‘upholding’ of the Universe. What he ‘upholds’ is a Universe inhabited by and, as regards this planet specifically, presided over by creatures who reject him. There is a broken relationship between God and his ‘imaging-creatures’ at the heart of creation. We should not be surprised at the suggestion that this impacts the creation God upholds, so long as that situation persists. As the Apostle Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans:

19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:19–21, NIV84)

The picture the Bible gives is that the created world is the way it is because of human sinfulness — in other words, that morality matters to matter. We have a clear indication of this early on when God is recorded speaking to Adam after the latter has disobeyed him:
To Adam he said,

“Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3:17, NIV84)

It might seem odd that it is the ground which is cursed rather than Adam because of what the latter has done. Yet if we can posit a relationship between human moral actions and the fabric of creation uphold by the God against whom humanity rebels, this perhaps makes more sense. In any case, the curse on the ground rebounds against Adam and becomes a form of judgement on him as it makes his life more difficult.

Thus we suggest that the physical nature and behavior of the Universe is affected by human behavior because human behavior affects our relationship with the God who upholds that physical universe.

All Will be Redeemed

A Christian cosmology, however, also contains the fundamental principle that all is not lost. Certainly there are profound problems, but they are not without resolution. On the contrary, God has always intended that the problem of sin would be resolved. And as we have seen above in the words of St Paul, this will have cosmological implications: ‘the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay’.

The key to this act of rescue is, in Christian theology, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Thus Paul again writes,

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19–20, NIV84)

We may wonder why the death of this particular individual should have such massive implications, but the claim of this passage, and of Christian theology in general, is that the being of God interpenetrated the physicality of this person: ‘all his fullness [dwelt] in him’. Thus what happened to this person happened, in a sense, to the creator and upholder of the universe. Moreover, it brought about reconciliation between God and his image-bearing creatures. Given that the outcome of that broken relationship is an hostility between the fabric of the world and the human race and that the ultimate expression of this hostility is God, we should not be surprised that the effecting of reconciliation involves death in particular — both the act of dying, which is the ultimate physical judgement, and the overcoming of death…

[continue reading at the link in the title]


* There’s a background story to how we came to use this today, and learn, more than a year later, of the author’s passing. Click here to read that.

October 4, 2015

The Certainty of a Conditional Promise: If We _____, Then God Will _____.

Just a few weeks ago we looked at this verse:

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.
 2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT

Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete. (same verse + 21 and 22, The Message)

Years ago churches would sing a hymn titled Standing On The Promises. (If you’re above a certain age, you’ll remember it like this.) The second verse begins with our trust in the promises themselves:

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
by the living Word of God I shall prevail,
standing on the promises of God.

The fourth verse begins with what that says for us in our Christian pilgrimage:

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,
resting in my Savior as my all in all,
standing on the promises of God.

The promises themselves are sure and trustworthy, and by them — if I live out any conditions set forth — I am assured of spiritual victory. The Reformation Study Bible* is consistent with this interpretation:

Christ fulfills all the promises of God to us, and all our confidence in God’s promises must come from our trust in Jesus Christ as a person whom we know and can rely on.

The Dictionary of Bible Themes* has a long section about “Divine Promises” which begins:

The promises of God reveal his particular and eternal purposes to which he is unchangeably committed and upon which believers can totally depend. These promises are, however, conditional upon obedience on the part of believers.

God’s promises are irrevocable

He is absolutely trustworthy Nu 23:19 See also Tit 1:2; Heb 6:13-18

He is unchanging Ps 110:4; Mal 3:6-7; Jas 1:17-18

He has the power and will to fulfill his promises Isa 55:11 See also Ro 4:21

He is faithful in keeping all his promises Jos 21:45; Jos 23:14-15; 1Ki 8:56; Ps 145:13; Heb 10:23

His promises stem from his goodness and glory 2Pe 1:3-4

God may confirm his promises with an oath Ge 22:15-18 See also Ge 26:3; Isa 45:23; Am 6:8; Am 8:7

But what is meant by “yes and amen?” At the blog The River Walk we read the following:

2 Corinthians 1:20 (Yes And Amen)

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. (2 Corinthians 1:20)

Read: Job 23:1 – 27:23, 2 Corinthians 1:12 – 2:11, Psalm 41:1-13, Proverbs 22:5-6

[all of the listed passages appear at the above link]

Relate: Depending on who is counting there is roughly three thousand to thirty-five hundred promises made by God in the Bible. Granted, many of them are situational, person specific, and time limited, but that is a minority. Even if more than half were to fall into one of these categories, we have well over a thousand remaining. A significant number of God’s promises are “If… then…” promises. For example, IF we keep our mind focused on Him THEN God has promised to give us perfect peace. (Isaiah 26:3) Some might complain that all of these are conditional. Well duh. I for one am glad. I wouldn’t want to be living in perfect peace if my mind keeps wandering off in sinful directions. I would rather have a divine discontent that would force me to repent.

Even with these conditional promises, it is important to remember that all scripture, especially the Word of God, is authoritative and infallible. What we mean by that is first that scripture has the right and the power to be our authority in life. We have a responsibility to order our life based on its teachings. The second half of that, infallible, means that scripture cannot fail. When we live based on its rules of faith and conduct it will not, it cannot fail us. In other words, when we hold up our IF part of the promise, the THEN is a guarantee. You can bank on it. It is yes and amen. That is my promise to you.

React: So what are some of God’s promises? There are so many, it is hard to limit it, but here are my top 20(ish)

1. God will always be with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9) even to the end of time. (Matthew 28:20)
2. God will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
3. God cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7)
4. I am justified freely by God’s grace (Romans 3:24) that I have access to (Romans 5:2) and that is sufficient (2 Corinthains 12:9)
5. The incomprehensible peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. (Philippians 4:7)
6. If I love and am called by God, Then all things work for my good. (Romans 8:28)
7. If I ask, Then God will provide. (James 4:2)
8. If I resist the devil, Then he will run away. (James 4:7)
9. Nothing can separate me from God’s love. (Romans 8:35)
10. If I am God’s sheep (I hear and follow Him), Then nothing can snatch me from His (Father and Son) hand. (John 10:27-29)
11. The Holy Spirit will help me to pray effectively. (Romans 8:26-27)
12. God will not lie to me because He cannot lie. (Titus 1:2)
13. The Holy Spirit will lead me into all truth (John 16:3) and give me the right words to say. (Mark 13:11)
14. God will supply all my needs. (Philippians 4:19)
15. If I sow, Then I will reap. (Galatians 6:7)
16. If I labor in the Lord, Then it will not be fruitless. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
17. If I approach the throne of grace, Then I will receive mercy and find grace to help in my time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
18. I have an inheritance. (Ephesians 1:14)
19. I am being transformed into God’s image. (Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:17)
20. Christ is in me. (Colossians 1:27)

Finally, the IVP New Testament Commentary affirms:

…God’s faithfulness in and through Jesus was preached by Paul without any wavering or inconsistency, so that the consistency of his message ensured the consistent character of his motives and actions. As the Corinthians themselves could verify, there was no “yes” and “no” about the Son whom Paul and his colleagues preached. His consistency in the greater matters ensured his reliability in the comparatively lesser matters.

Music resource: Click the link above for the River Walk blog, or listen to Your Promises by Elevation Worship at this link.


*Click the “Study This” tab for this verse at BibleGateway.com

 

 

October 3, 2015

The Gospel’s Central Theme: The Kingdom

I know we just did a post from Chaplain Mike Mercer from Internet Monk, and I know we have a six-month rule, but I was really compelled to share this one from a few days ago there. (I promise this is the last one for awhile!) I remember someone asked me what the crux of the gospel was, and they said the answer, for them was, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That’s always stuck with me, and I often read passages through that lens. Click the link below to read this at source, and consider subscribing to Internet Monk.

If there is an overriding narrative theme in scripture, this is it . . .

If I were asked to summarize the primary narrative theme of the Bible with one brief verse, I would choose a line from the Lord’s Prayer:

“Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, CEB).

The story of the Bible is about God establishing his Kingdom in this world.

The Hebrew Bible begins with the story of a royal construction project, as the King of the universe prepares his holy Temple (Genesis 1). The word for “temple” in Hebrew means “palace,” and what God does on the days of “creation” is to set up the place of his reign. He appoints royal priests — human beings “in his image” — to represent him, subdue the evil in the world, have dominion and multiply his blessing throughout the earth. Then on the seventh day, he rests on his throne, taking up his rule.

Internet MonkThe story goes on to tell us that humans failed to carry out the King’s directives, leading to cycles of rebellion, divine judgment, and restoration (Genesis 2-11). Those early days of sin and salvation culminated in the establishment of the city of Babylon, where people gathered together to build their own temple and create their own kingdom. God scattered them over the face of the earth, and then chose one man and his family out of Babylon through which to restore his blessing to the world (Gen. 11-12:1-3).

The man’s name was Abram, and to him God said, “I will make you very fertile. I will produce nations from you, and kings will come from you” (Gen. 17:9, CEB). From that point on, the people through whom God would restore his blessing began to experience conflict with the kings and kingdoms of the world. Abraham, called to be the patriarch of kings, found himself in danger on several occasions, and ultimately his family, many generations later, found themselves in captivity under the rule of Egypt’s ruler, Pharaoh. In time, God delivered the Hebrews and led them to Mt. Sinai, where he entered into a suzerainty treaty with them. He became their King and they became his people, his chosen nation.

The story of God’s chosen nation is a narrative filled with battles, wars, and controversies involving the peoples and kings around them. At one point, Israel herself chose a king, and though her motives were bad at the time, God relented and made her into a kingdom. It wasn’t long before Israel had established God’s palace (temple) in Jerusalem, enjoying a season of prosperity and peace during David and Solomon’s reigns.

However, under the kings that followed, Israel split apart into two nations and eventually became exiled once more from their land. The kingdom was destroyed, the temple sacked, the people carried off into the diaspora. Though some returned to the land within a couple of generations, things were never the same. Israel never had another king again but lived under the domination of invading nations for centuries.

When Jesus was born, the emperor of Rome ruled the land. At the proper time, at the outset of his ministry, Jesus publicly announced, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!” (Mark 1:15, CEB).

Jesus’ life and ministry led to his death, resurrection, and ascension, by which he took the throne and inaugurated God’s Kingdom in the world. Through his finished work, he did more than conquer the rulers of earth; he soundly defeated the spiritual rulers: the forces of sin, evil, and death that hold all people (not just Israel) captive. By the power of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on his followers, a mission was launched by which outposts of his Kingdom are being established throughout the world. His people are planting seeds for a harvest of righteousness and peace in the age to come.

So today we who trust and follow Jesus live in anticipation of the day when the Kingdom will be consummated and we will sing the Hallelujah Chorus together: “The kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign forever and always” (Rev. 11:15, CEB).

Until then, every day we pray, “Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven” (Matt. 6:10, CEB).


Preparing today’s devotional reminded me of this song by Hillsong. It fits today’s reading really well; play it loud, when you reach the chorus allow yourself to be caught up in the power of these lyrics.

August 25, 2015

Christ on the Cross

golgothaThis is, I believe our 6th time visiting the blog Strengthened By Grace. The first was in 2010. I really appreciate the faithfulness it takes to keep writing for such a sustained period. As usual, reading this at source sends “link love” to the various writers who appear here. Click the title below.

Take your time to read each verse, and note that unlike similar outlines you have seen, all the verse references are from a single book, in this case, Hebrews.

Why did Jesus die

At our Good Friday service, one of our pastors shared these reason, from the book of Hebrews, for Jesus’ death! May it help you focus on the purpose of Christ’s suffering and what it accomplished on our behalf!

To be crowned with glory and honor after tasting death for us!

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9)

To be perfected through suffering

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (Hebrews 2:10)

To free us from bondage to the fear of death

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:14–15)

To be a sympathetic and helpful high priest

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15–16)

To know experientially what obedience was like

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)

To give us a clear conscience

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:14)

To be an eternal high priest

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:24–26)

To rescue us from judgment

so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:28)

To offer a once-for-all sacrifice

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,” (Hebrews 10:11–12)

To make us holy, blameless and perfect

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14)

To give us access to the holies place

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,” (Hebrews 10:19)

To gain our joy and His

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

To call us to follow His example of costly love

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:3–4)

To free us from the slavery of sin

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.” (Hebrews 13:12)

To set the stage for His own resurrection from the dead

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20–21)

June 2, 2015

Recognizing God’s Voice (2)

We continue with some wisdom from Rick Warren’s blog: (click the section headers to read at source)

The Third Test

“God’s intent is that through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known.” Ephesians 3:10 (NIV)

God has not meant for anyone to go through life alone. He made us to live in relationship with other people. So when it comes to hearing God’s voice, you need to listen to the people around you. You need a church family and a small group to confirm whether what you sense God directing you to do is true or not. This is the third test question: Are there other people who can confirm what I believe God is saying to me?

If God has genuinely spoken to you, he will confirm it through other mature believers. This idea that we have to do everything on our own is an American idea, not God’s. He wants you to share your idea with others for confirmation and listen to their feedback.

And if you feel resistance to the thought of even asking somebody else about your idea, that should be a huge red flag that the idea did not come from God.

The reason God tells us to get advice is because he wants to save us from a lot of things. As it says in Proverbs 11:9, “The wisdom of the righteous can save you” (GNT).

Advice from other mature believers can save you time wasted doing the wrong thing. It can save you from wasting money. It can save your reputation. It can save you from making mistakes.

One of the main reasons people mess up their lives is that they have no godly friends to give them feedback. That is why it is so important to be in a small group with fellow believers who can hold you accountable and give you advice.

The Bible says, “In the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14b KJV). If you are not in a small group, you are skating on thin ice and you don’t know when you might fall through.

The Fourth Test

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

The fourth test for confirming a word from God is to ask yourself, “Is it consistent with how God shaped me?”

At Saddleback Church, we use the acronym SHAPE to describe the collection of a person’s Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences. These five things make you unique from everyone else in the world. They also reveal your purpose in life.

A lot of people ignore their SHAPE and end up wasting millions of dollars going after pipe dreams, starting businesses and making plans they weren’t shaped to do. God will never lead you a way that is inconsistent with your SHAPE. If you have a musical ability, you should use it. But if you’re tone deaf and can’t carry a tune, you shouldn’t try out for American Idol.

Romans 12:6 says, “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well” (LB). So ask yourself, “What do I love to do that I’m good at doing?” Note that I didn’t just say, “What do you love to do?”

Before I became a pastor, I was a worship leader. I played guitar and loved to sing, but nobody liked hearing me. So I learned pretty quickly that while I had a passion for music, I didn’t have the talent for it. I loved it, but I wasn’t good at it.

You discover a lot of God’s will simply by looking at what you are good at. And if you get an impression that makes you wonder if it’s from God, but it leads you completely contrary to your SHAPE, then it’s not from God. You can know that for a fact. God is not going to ask you to do something he hasn’t given you the ability to do.

Learn more about your SHAPE through S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life by Erik Rees

 

May 14, 2015

“It’s a God Thing”

This article by Shane Pruitt is somewhat topical, as it looks at a popular Christian cliché that some of us use. I wasn’t sure whether to post it here or at Thinking Out Loud, but I thought the content was a good match here at C201. As always, click the title below to read this at the blog I Already Am.

Should We Be Saying, “It’s A God Thing”?

It's a God ThingIt was a total “God thing!”

If you’ve spent much time around church people, you’ve probably heard (and maybe said) this statement hundreds of times.

“It’s a God thing” is used in Christian culture when things unexpectedly work out the way we wanted them to. We raised the total amount of money for our mission trip, the chips fell our way, we were totally surprised by an event that popped up from out of the blue.

But, inevitably this statement always follows something good that has happened to us—a story of healing, a rare coincidence that worked out well for us, finding a parking space, getting a job or when our child stops warming the bench in time to hit the game-winning shot.

Who’s in Control?

Should this statement be a part of our vernacular? Well, first, let’s see if the phrase is even biblically accurate:

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” (1 Chronicles 16:31).

“Our God is in the heavens; He does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

“Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps” (Psalm 135:6).

“The heart of man plans His way, but the Lord establishes His steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

“Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:10).

These five compelling verses tell us one clear thing: God is sovereign. And, there are literally dozens upon dozens of other verses that say the exact same thing.

God has supreme authority, control and power over all that has happened, is happening and will happen in the future in all times across all history. God has the right, the authority and the power to govern all that happens in accordance to His divine will. He has the right and the power to achieve His purposes. He is in control of circumstances that dictate whatever He wills to come to pass. He has complete control of everything and there is nothing that happens that is not done by or allowed through His will.

So, is the statement “It’s a God thing” accurate? Yes, of course, it is.

The great things that happen in our life—it’s a God thing! When things go our way—it’s God thing! We get that promotion we’ve been wanting—it’s a God thing!

All Things for Good

However, there is a flip side to that coin. When things don’t go our way—it’s still a God thing. When we don’t get the promotion that we’ve been wanting—it’s a God thing. Times of suffering, times of tribulation, times of loss—God thing, God thing. It’s all within God’s sovereign plans.

If God is truly sovereign, then He is in control of the “bad” days just as much as He is in control of the “good” days. Sometimes His plan is not what we may want or would plan for ourselves. Sometimes it’s hard to see where He is during the hard times. But we can trust that He’s there, that He cares, that this world is fallen, but He’s in control.

True faith is being able to say, “It’s a God thing” even in the midst of suffering, difficulty and heartache. When something doesn’t go my way, I can still know, trust and believe that God is working out all things for His glory and my good.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Maybe, the best way to look at the statement, “It’s a God thing” is to really understand that everything that is and occurs are all “God’s things” and not mine. And He can do what He wants with His things, including me.

(This Article was also picked up by RELEVANT Magazine online)

Go Deeper:  For a similar theme by the same author, check out Why We Stopped Saying, As Long As They’re Healthy”

August 1, 2014

Humility Reminders

Today’s post appeared jointly with the blog Thinking Out Loud.

 

Some of you know that in the last two or three years my go-to portion of scripture has been the place in Philippians 2 where Paul breaks out into a section that translators set out from the text as poetry, leading many to conclude it was either a creed or something that had been set to music as an early church hymn. This is the passage I mentally recite when I can’t get back to sleep, and if you invite me to speak at your church on less than 72 hours notice, this is the passage I will speak on.

I’ve created my own version of it, but for sake of familiarity, this is the NKJV, which is usually not my default translation:

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who,being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So in practical terms, how do you adopt that mindset, that attitude; or to put it another way, how do you get to be humble?

He took on the role of a servant

Of the four things the text states this is really the only one that is open to us. We have already entered into the human condition, and we will almost certainly taste death, even if it is not the excruciating form that Jesus endured. Since we have no options vis-a-vis three of the four things stated, what we must press into is the idea of adopting the towel and the basin as our personal symbols; to give up the stallion in favor of a donkey; to take a seat at the back, not the front; and to seek not be served, but to serve.

We need to remember our sin

When spiritual pride comes knocking at the door, we need to remember our sinful condition. Like David, our sin is ever before us. If you’ve mastered holiness, good for you; but I still live in the middle of two conditions, in the warfare of two wills, two natures battling for control of my mind and actions. Without making this a confessional, suffice it to say that, like my apostle namesake, I haven’t attained it, but press on to it. Remaining in Christian community will help keeps us transparent and accountable.

It’s a really big planet

We are also humbled when we consider not only our place in the universe, but that we are members of a tribe seven billion strong. No matter how large your Facebook friends list, or whether you take significance in being either a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond; on a global scale sense of personal importance fades dramatically. You may be a superstar in your local church, or your denomination, or you may have won public service awards in your community, but on an international scale you’re probably not such a big deal.

Identifying humility’s opposite

I wrote about this a few days ago and suggested that while we often name pride as the culprit that undermines a humble spirit, ambition can be equally deadly. Being able to name the players in the spiritual battle that’s always ongoing really helps us see the root of the problem. Philip Yancey, in What’s So Amazing About Grace wrote about how the larger society operates by the rules of un-grace. Probably most people equally operate by the laws of un-humility. Timothy spoke of the last days being characterized by people who were “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…” We certainly do see a lot of that. When I remember how contagious these attitudes are I recognize the need to guard myself from trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses.’

I have a good example to follow

The whole point of this passage is comparison. Let the attitude or mindset that was in him also be in you. Three months ago, I wrote about the classic CCM song Understudy that uses Hollywood imagery to describe us apprenticing to the one with the starring role. No wonder the early followers of Jesus were called “little Christs.” Or, if you prefer, you can think of the students of who “walk in the dust of the rabbi;” doing everything their teacher does.

What other aspects of Christian living can serve to keep us humble?

 

 

July 31, 2014

From Acorn to Oak; Turning the Other Cheek

Double devo day! (It’s been awhile since we did one of these!)

Today’s first post is from the blog Into the King’s Garden by Angel Koerner Bohon. Click here to Acorn to Oak Tree.

Isaiah 61:1-4 NKJV

” The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations”

A miracle is in progress when we look at a tiny acorn. The miracle in progress lays there totally unnoticed – which makes me wonder how many times I have stepped on one of God’s miracle’s in progress.

It takes spiritual eyes to see a tall oak tree when you are holding a tiny acorn. There is an oak tree inside of every acorn and no one but God can pull that oak out of the seed.

Isaiah 61 says that God’s children grow up and become “oaks of righteousness.” I am so glad that in my early stages of Christian growth that those around me looked at me as an acorn and saw the miracle that God was creating in me and didn’t trample me down under foot.

Think about that when you are surrounded by new Christians (and those we hope soon will be) and don’t trample on an acorn that God puts in your path. Pick them up gently when they fall and speak life and you will soon see the miracle unfold, the tiny acorn will become a magnificent oak tree for Christ.

Our second devo for today is from Kevin Rogers at The Orphan Age who we often feature here at C201. Click here to read Peter, Grab Your Sword.

The teachings of Jesus are very clear about us not taking matters into our own hands. Jesus is a pacifist in the truest sense and overcomes evil with good. He does not return evil for evil. He brings a better human law than the Old Testament or any other law code.

The gospel still exceeds all human codes of conduct and governance. If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, how are you overcoming this present world?

Are you becoming more merciful toward the world or just angrier? How are you in the face of open hostility and rejection of your Lord? Do you sometimes feel like Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane wanting to swing at someone with a sword? Or do you follow the Lamb to the sacrifice?

What would Jesus have us to do when we are rejected and despised, as He was? On the road to His demise we see the disciples with an attitude that easily infects us today.

Luke 9:

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.

The Jews and Samaritans had a longstanding feud based on bad history between them and a difference of religious opinion. It is extremely bold of Jewish Jesus to seek hospitality from a Samaritan village. It’s as if all the reasons to despise another race or religion fell out of Jesus’ head. He is willing to go to anyone who will receive Him.

The Samaritan villagers were not open to this act of reconciliation from a Jewish leader. Bitter history, fear and ‘he hit me first’ keep many people from even thinking about hospitality to strangers. Racism and prejudice always make you guilty by association.

We see hear a failure to provide basic human care. The Samaritan villagers would just as soon see these Jews vulnerable, hungry, unsheltered and alone on a dark road than to find a way to help them.

The disciples were not used to turning the other cheek or going the extra mile. They want to ask God to retaliate with fire from Heaven. How many followers of Jesus today would also ask God to rain down fire on atheists, humanists, homosexuals, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims or anyone else who might be dismissive or mock our Lord’s Name?

Hurry Peter! Pick up a sword and start swinging. Fire from Heaven on those who do not treat Jesus well!

And Jesus rebukes us…