Christianity 201

February 5, 2012

Just in Time for Valentine’s: Biblical Ways a Man Gets a Wife

Terrace Crawford‘s posted this the day prior to Valentine’s Day three years ago.  We have a lot of deeper topics here so I thought we’d start out with something light.  If you don’t recognize some of the the situations listed below, you can always look up the story.

  • Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails and give her new clothes. Then she’s yours. (Deuteronomy 21:11-13)
  • Find a prostitute and marry her. (Hosea 1:1-3)
  • Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his flock. (Moses – Exodus 2:16-21)
  • Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal. (Boaz-Ruth 4:5-10)
  • Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage. Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman. Then work another seven years for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That’s right. Fourteen years of toil for a wife. (Jacob–Genesis 29:15-30)
  • Cut 200 foreskins off of your future father-in-law’s enemies and get his daughter for a wife. (David–1 Samuel 18:27)
  • Even if no one is out there, just wander around a bit and definitely find someone. (It’s all relative, of course.) (Cain–Genesis4:16-17)
  • Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest. (Xerxes or Ahasuerus–Esther 2:3-4)
  • When you see someone you like, go home and tell your parents, “I have seen a … woman; now get her for me.” If your parents question your decision,simply say, “Get her for me. She’s the one for me.” (Samson–Judges 14:1-3)
  • Kill any husband and take HIS wife (Prepare to lose four sons, though).(David–2 Samuel 11)
  • Wait for your brother to die. Take his widow. (It’s not just a good idea;it’s the law.) (Onana and Boaz–Deuteronomy or Leviticus, example in Ruth)
  • Don’t be so picky. Make up for quality with quantity. (Solomon–1 Kings11:1-3)
  • A wife?…NOT? (Paul–1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

As strange as many of these stories are, there are people who view the unique ways that God works in various in situations as prescriptive for everyone.  That’s not how it works.  God’s calling and outworking of His plan is special for each one of us, and because of God’s infinite infiniteness, he is able to nudge you in ways that will form your singular life journey. 

This applies to us both individually and corporately as the local church.

Sometimes churches try to create formulas following a particular Bible example or copying what God did in another congregation.  But the Bible knows no such carbon copy approach.  In the gospels, Jesus Himself heals two blind men in very different ways, and in His overall dealings with people, He deals with some gently and some harshly.

Hearing God’s voice for your life is going to involve listening to His Word and listening to His Spirit, not looking at what everybody else is doing. 

As the stores in the mall are filled with pink hearts, whether you are single or married or separated or widowed, let the decorations remind you of God’s love for you, and the unique things he wants to do in your life.

~Paul Wilkinson

January 9, 2012

Showdown on Mt. Carmel

Today I uncovered a blog post in my files that I meant to use back in October of 2010.  Since Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal is one of my favorite Old Testament stories, I thought it worth sharing.   It originally appeared on the blog A Joyful Noise under the title, Show Me Yours’ and I will Show You Mine!

The message that Elijah gave to the prophets of Baal was clear! He challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest ! Each side would make a sacrifice to their God without building a fire. The strongest god would light the fire!

“Show my your God, and I will show you mine!” was Elijah’s strong message.

They danced! They yelled! They even cut themselves to get their god’s attention. They continued to do their “Thing,” until early in the evening, with no results! There was absolutely no fire in sight! The prophets of Baal were not able to call down fire from heaven.

When it was Elijah’s turn, he did one better! He instructed the men to dig a trench around his sacrifice. After that, he had them carry 12 barrels full of water and pour it over the sacrifice, soaking it extremely well. When all this was done, Elijah prayed a simple prayer,

1Kings 18:36 “And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word”

– – – and the fire fell! Not only was the sacrifice consumed, but along with it, all the water that had been poured into the ditch. When Elijah prayed, first the fire fell, and then came the much needed rain!

Now, wouldn’t it be lovely if we could see some of these types of miracles occur today . . . say, fire falling to devour our tightly held sacrifice of hurts and pain?

When we discover that our past has NOT been burned up by the fire of God, we still find ourselves hurting. Though we pray, scream, cry and clinch our teeth, our fists, and even our toes, there is no peace!

Is there any hope to conquer our fears and our dreaded memories? God waits for us to admit our own weakness and failure, so HE can show us His power.

Oh may I ask, Lord God, show me your face and I will show you mine!

This is my prayer today,

“Oh Holy Spirit of God, you who possess the Fire to burn away the chaff and all the misery that goes on in our thoughts and minds. I ask that you first wash us with Your Living Water, and then send the fire from above to bring us to nothing before you. As nothing, take us and re-create us to become a new person in You. May we be that one who stands bold and triumphant knowing we have now been placed INTO Christ? It is in Him we become more than a conqueror.

God, we ask that you totally burn up our weakness, and leave only the strength that is in YOU. Reduce to ashes our fears and our failures and raise up in us a person of courage with confidence, as You take our hand and lead us into Your eternal truth. May we walk and talk strong in the “power of Your might.”

~Hazel Moon

January 1, 2012

Giving is the Anecdote to Greed

With the start of a new month, I go back to see what sources we linked to six months ago, and also to see if there’s original anything that was published twelve months ago that might be repeated, as well as sources from that month.  Unless you have staff, doing something like this on a daily basis is no small task, and sadly I occasionally run into great blogs that have stopped publishing, such as Feeding the Soul from BBG Ministry.  However, if I had staff, I’d spend much effort on mining the depths of the Christian internet, because just because it wasn’t published yesterday, doesn’t mean it’s not relevant.

So I thought we’d kick off the new year with a two-for-one special featuring two short devotional articles from Feeding the Soul, starting first with the one I chose for the post title here today, and then a bonus reading.

Giving is the only antidote to greed.

Jesus says, in Matthew 6:24, No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Jesus is making the point that our heart’s highest loyalty will be for only one thing. We can’t be equally devoted to two things; ultimately one will win out over the other.

If money is the most important thing to you (i.e., if you’re greedy), then you will serve your money more than you serve God. And you will find it very difficult to follow God’s instructions to give to others: If there is a poor man among your brothers … do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs (Deuteronomy 15:7-8).

If it’s true that no one can serve two masters, then the best way to fight against greed is to make sure that your master (your highest loyalty) is God—not money. Follow God above all else; that way your money will follow God, too.

John writes, If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (1 John 3:17). That sounds rather harsh at first, but it’s really no different than what Jesus said in Matthew 6:24. If you love your money more than God, then you’ll keep your money for yourself rather than giving it away to help others. The only way you’ll give generously to others is if you love God more than you love your money. So, how do you know if you love God more than money? By examining what you do with your money: Do you keep most of it, or give most of it?

If you want to fight against greed (that is, if you want to love God more than your money), then you’ll follow God’s instructions to give—give to the poor, give generously, give joyfully, give liberally, and give regularly. Giving is the best weapon against greed.

Bonus reading for today:

Faith is the ability to see God in the dark.

Have you ever felt that God isn’t with you? That when life became tough and darkened God abandoned you? Such a feeling is common to many Christians. However, you must not rely on feelings; instead, you must rely on faith, knowing that God is always there—you just may not always be able to see him in your circumstances. That’s why faith is so important.

Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. For example, if a family member dies, you may understandably question whether or not God could possibly be with you during such difficult times. However, by faith, you can be certain of what [you] do not see—certain that God was there watching over the whole situation.

Romans 4:19-21 describes how Abraham had faith even though it looked like God could never do what he said he would: Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

In his dark circumstances, Abraham could still see God—he had faith. That’s the same type of faith to which God is calling you.

December 13, 2011

When God Spoke Audibly to the King

Albert Rommal is the newest blogger at Alltop.Christian; he’s in pastoral ministry in Phoenix, AZ, and his blog is titled The Sovereign God. This piece appeared recently under the title, The Interesting Case of King Nebuchadnezzar

At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:29)

So here you have a great king of a great kingdom, the kingdom of Babylon. And he’s walking around one night surveying his kingdom. And he thinks to himself, “you know what? I’m pretty awesome. Look what I have accomplished. I am a great empire builder. Man, I’m something else, the real deal, the man.”

Well, it didn’t go just like that, but you can see in the verse above that according to the language of his day, he thought himself to be a pretty neat guy.  Bad move!

What did God do? Something He didn’t do too often.  He intervened orally.  He spoke directly to Nebuchadnezzar.

And what was His message?  It was this. I am God and I do whatever pleases me. Anything you accomplish is because of my will, my work, my decree.

Now to get Nebuchadnezzar to see this, He had to take care of the issue, which was Nebuchadnezzar’s pride. And to accomplish that, God humiliated him.

He made him like the basest of creatures, who ate grass and became unkempt. “While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”(Daniel 4:31-32)

“Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.” (Daniel 4:33)

God always does things for a purpose and the purpose here was to show the ole king who God is. And who is God? He is the one who “rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” In other words, there is no room for boasting, save in God in heaven. Not ever. Not anyone.

Have you accomplished something?  Great!  Give God the glory.

Many struggle with the idea that God is sovereign even though He tells us over and over again in His word that He is so.  This is just another example and a pretty nifty one at that. It’s almost as if He decided in Heaven that it was high time He joined the conversation, even though briefly.

When we get to heaven ourselves, we will see that God was and is far more sovereign than even the most ardent Calvinist might believe here on earth. For we see through a glass dimly. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

OK, so back to Nebuchadnezzar. God ended his time being a human aardvark, restoring him, not only to his kingdom, but to his senses as well. “At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me….”

His reason returned to him.  What a great thing to say because up that point he was being unreasonable. (That’s another lesson to us folks. It is unreasonable to think that God is not sovereign all the time and over everything and everyone.)

And so what did Nebuchadnezzar learn? What did he declare when he came to his senses? Read carefully and take note.

“I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”

At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:34-37)

Is there anything more we can add to this?

Our God is God. Jesus Christ! And He reigns in heaven and over all the kingdoms of men. So much so that we can do nothing about it and can’t even say to Him, “What have you done?”

Let us learn from the interesting case of King Nebuchadnezzar, who had the Lord of heaven and earth intervene in his life in a most unusual way – all to make the point that He is God over all.

Let us get the point and imitate good king Nebuchadnezzar.

~Albert Rommal

January 24, 2011

Proving God In The Everyday

This devotional article is by Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevate in Charlotte, North Carolina and author of the book Sun Stand Still.  It appeared on his blog a few days ago under the title Real Courage.

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” ~ Daniel 6:16

Daniel is one of the most courageous and faithful men in the entire Bible. But not for the reasons we usually think.

For example, when telling the story of Daniel and the lions’ den, most people usually focus on Daniel’s courage in the lions’ den itself. But what’s curiously missing from the whole story is any description of Daniel’s experience in it. Not one word.

153 verses on his life before the lions’ den. Aside from when he tells the king that God had shut the mouths of the lions, zero describing his time in it.

And the reason is because Daniel’s courage and faith in the lions’ den isn’t the point. After all, shutting the mouths of the lions was God’s thing. Once Daniel gets thrown in the lions’ den, what is he really going to do?

Daniel’s courage and faithfulness was shown in the way he lived that got him thrown into the lions’ den. The real miracle was when his enemies were looking for a way to accuse him but they couldn’t find anything in his life. So they had to make up a law forbidding prayer to anyone but the king to get him thrown in. And yet he still prayed. That’s real courage. That’s real faith. And it was that courage and faith that became the setup for God’s display of faithfulness.

I think most people want a lions’ den experience. Maybe not the danger, but they do want to see God do huge things in their life. Come through for them in big ways. Decisively display His deliverance. Show people that our God is still a God who can accomplish the impossible.

But most people will never have the opportunity to prove God’s faithfulness in the lions’ den because they have not proved their faith in everyday life.

They’re not going to see God come through for them in a huge way financially because they haven’t learned to trust Him with 10% of what they have. They’re not going to see increased favor at work because they segregate God from their work. They’re not going to see God use them in powerful ways at their school because they live in such a way that no one knows they even believe in God.

Don’t try to be like Daniel in the lions’ den. Be like Daniel who prayed every day and had integrity. Be like Daniel and serve God continually in every aspect of your life. Have the courage and faith to live in such a way that God actually has a platform to show His faithfulness from.

And then God will do His thing in the lions’ den.