Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Week 21 Day 3

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Ezra 3:Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.

            Overcoming fear, usually fear of rejection is perhaps the greatest problem facing most Christians. It should be noted in the text, the difference between the fear the Israelites were experiencing on their return from captivity. The Israelites had in hand a decree from Cyrus the king. The weight of authority was on their side.

            Sadly, the weight of authority in the United States and around the world no longer supports or encourages true, orthodox Christian expression or presence in any way. The unfortunate consequence of this circumstance is the retreat of the evangelistic imperative on nearly every front. In the first and second centuries Christians were largely marginalized as is happening today. And in different areas of the Roman kingdom the movement was literally driven underground where several starved and died.

            Today we have learned to become chameleon like in our lives in the world. No one would ever know we were Christians because we do not outwardly behave as Christians are directed to behave by our Lord Jesus. We do not witness, we do not love, we do not take risks, and we do not praise Him. We know that, or rather, we hope that, we are just passing through this world. But, I believe, that what we do here matters. Even in the smallest degree when we exalt the life and Lordship of Jesus Messiah  we are making a difference.

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Week 21 Day 2

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

1 Kings 18:21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.

Isaiah 31:1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.

            This double dose of scripture is brought to you out of a growing sense of weariness and fatigue from trying to make sense of the coming American elections. The news media are entirely useless and without substance, and the politicians themselves are utterly vacuous and without apparent substance. Of course, the scriptures as always are helpful in this regard. What else could you expect of this gaggle of grasping dissembling liars. Do we deserve what we’re getting from these clowns? If we regard the true nature of the human creature, we are all born in sin and deserve nothing less than death. For some of us, however we are citizens of another realm. We have accepted the gift of God’s love in Jesus Messiah’s life, death, and resurrection to life again. He suffered and died to pay for my sins. I choose to follow him and walk as he walked in this world regarding the noise, the  buzz of the world simply as the invitation to tell other people of a true and faithful God and friend.

Finding GOd in the Mysteries of every day

Week 21 Day 1

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Luke 21 10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.

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            The true task of any student of the Bible is to glean from the text the specific meanings and applications to the moment in which they are living. This of course presumes a study of how this text may have been understood to represent and speak to the context in which they were spoken or written.

            The apocalyptic text written above presumably from Jesus’ own mouth is rather frightening. On the one hand we have all the dire warnings of other scriptures against sin, but here we have the promise that truly following Christ is a dangerous path indeed. Not only will the fabric of life be torn apart by the vagaries of politics and meteorological and geological disasters, as if all that were not enough, the disciples of Christ would be subject to persecution, imprisonment and the ostracism of the communities in which they had been nurtured.

            So, how does this apply to you and I today? First, as with any apocalyptic text there is an intrinsic warning about being prepared in everyway possible for what is surely coming. Second, there is a call to shore up the resources of our will to accept and be prepared for the inevitable. Third, to exercise extreme faith in the face of the coming end and witness to the love and forgiveness of Jesus the King.

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Week 20 Day 7

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Deuteronomy 10: 12

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

            As Moses began to give his instructions to the nation, he addressed them with this very simple message which drew a line in the sand so to speak forever. This is the essence of the message of Christian Holiness in its simplest form from the human side of things. What he is speaking of is a consecrated life. A life which is utterly and completely given over to God. It sounds simple, right? The bar is set exceedingly high for the Israelites. God has worked mightily to preserve them as a people. He has provided in every way and guided them through a whole generation of preparation for the next phase of their lives.

            So, would you give total devotion for the fullness of God’s promises? For most people today, as then the answer is No. To give up the sensual for the eternal, the satisfaction of the now for the not yet, the ability to regard ones self as the ground of all being and look to no other save for some created idol of our own imagining seems to be too much for most of the world. The parable from Luke 15 of the “prodigal” son is truly a picture of the heart of God. His first gift to us is a kind of freedom. Freedom to choose. Love always has a choice. If we choose to reject the love offer of our Father God, he will let us go even to our own destruction.

            Take heart. Like the Father in the parable, God waits upon our turning toward home. He greets us with open arms and rushes to meet us when He sees us coming toward Him.

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Week 20 Day 6

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

            At first reading this text it would be very easy to develop a wrong impression of just exactly what the writer is trying to say. We consider the dark possibilities that fear engenders in the human heart. To be ensnared by the snare of fear is paralyzing, opens the door to unholy bargaining and compromise, and ultimately leads to spiritual ruin.

            I was, however brought to a screeching halt in my thinking when I asked the question, “What does it mean to be safe?” Time for some research. As always, there is a sociological and even a political/ideological slant to many translations. Hearkening back to the original language via Strong’s Concordance, I discovered that the original verb in Hebrew transliterated as sagab means to lift or place on high. You and I both know with a long history of martyrdom in the Christian Church that physical safety is not what is meant here. Face it. As long as we live in enemy territory we are at physical risk. The meaning here becomes clear when we accept this truth.

            Consider Job who had lost everything, but his life, was still able to declare “Though he slay me yet I will trust him”. (13:15a) If we do not lose faith in God when fear comes clawing at our door he will not let our souls be consumed.

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Week 20 Day 5

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Luke 9:22-  Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

            Perhaps the greatest misconception shared by many Christians is the meaning of the scripture quoted above. “Taking up the cross” does not mean making of the cross of Christ a talisman to be worn and prayed to. Like so many things, what might perhaps be construed as a reminder of Jesus’ sufferings at the hands of the Jews and the Romans  became over time a “charm” (very occultic [see Acts 19]) with which to ward off whatever distressing thing was happening at the moment. We think we need something to hold onto, kind of like sucking your thumb.

            The denial of self which Jesus speaks of is the same idea Paul spoke of in his letter to the Colossian Church. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

           The cross per se is nothing more than the means by which ancient cultures, most famously the Romans (read the histories of the aftermath of the slave rebellion led by Spartacus). One of my college professors many years ago suggested that perhaps if we were using jewelry as a reminder of the sufferings of Christ, perhaps we should update the imagery with a noose, or a little electric chair.

            What part of you needs to “die on the cross” in order for you to follow Christ fully and devotedly. For most of us this must be a daily exercise for “sin lieth at the door”. (Gen. 4:7)

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Week 20 Day 4

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Isaiah 29: 20For the ruthless will come to an end and the scorner will be finished,
Indeed all who are intent on doing evil will be cut off;
21 Who cause a person to be indicted by a word,
And ensnare him who adjudicates at the gate,
And ]defraud the one in the right with ]meaningless argument

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            Is there really any point in what passes for “news coverage” today? It seems to be a gathering of ruthless uninformed and opinionated people with absolutely no moral character or sense of context or continuity. There has always been bias in news reporting. Even the sainted icons of the past were in their own subtle ways trying to accomplish a little “social engineering” through public opinion. Sadly, we have raised several generations of people who, having never heard the tre Word of God have relied on the echoes of what we have very inaccurately believed to be a Christian culture. Even that has gone by the wayside.

            Dark, grim, depressing thoughts? No. the answers to the kind of unease these thoughts raise is, as always, to be found in the Word of God.

 1.) Proverbs 29:19 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

2.) 2 Timothy 3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people..

3.) 2 Corinthians 6:17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Week 20 Day 3

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

II Chronicles 33 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the Lord according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he also erected altars for the Baals and made [a]Asherim, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He built altars in the house of the Lord of which the Lord had said, “My name shall be in Jerusalem forever.” For he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. He made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger. 

            Have you ever heard people talk about karma, or fate, or mediums, or seers, or destiny, or casting bones, or seeking help from angels, demons, or “the gods”? All of these are what is being refenced in the scripture above which became the downfall of Manasseh the king of the Israelites. These same ideas which we so casually toss about today have been a creeping cancer on Christian culture since the days of Marco Polo and the general increase in trade from India and China. People have become fascinated with every failed religion for generation upon generation until we have reached a saturation point I our ability to think and reason.

            Nowadays people keep talking about thinking “outside of the box”, or thinking globally. Both of which are just an excuse for taking a lazy and slovenly approach to the logic of a situation, juxtaposing oppositional ideas for the same of ease, notoriety, or profit.

            Every time we speak of these spiritually oppositional ideas we are in reality invoking the kingdom of the “prince of the power of the air”. (Ephesians 2:1-2) No matter how you slice it we are to have nothing to do with the occult. Even the casual speech which has crept into our common language creates doorways of invitation to the corrupting influences of the devil. Be careful, be devoted, And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Week 20 Day 2

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Psalm 127

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

            The devil is a devious and shifty contractor. He will promise anything, he will not complete anything, he will mess up whatever you choose to let him do.  Know this is true because I have employed far too many incompetent builders, mechanics, engineers, and corporations in my life time. It almost seems to be one of the inevitabilities of life to be, if not cheated outright, at least disappointed in the extreme with the effort and expense put into any project.

            The metaphor, although strained in the extreme, still holds. In daily personal planning, in major projects, in every relationship if Jesus is not the man in charge then almost certainly there will be failure at some point. We live in a world that has begun to move far too fast for any us to comprehend. We exist in a church which sadly has relegated prayer to a momentary mumbling of something about some elderly persons struggle with the vicissitudes of old age, when instead we should literally be “on our faces” before the God of the ages seeking his forgiveness, support  and guidance.             Like children we go charging off in all directions at once ignoring the greatest storehouse of love that will ever be built. God’s home is to be found in the heart of Jesus.  

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Week 20 Day 1

Finding God in the Mysteries of every day

Ezekiel 12 21 The word of the Lord came to me: 22 “Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: ‘The days go by and every vision comes to nothing’? 23 Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to put an end to this proverb, and they will no longer quote it in Israel.’ Say to them, ‘The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled. 24 For there will be no more false visions or flattering divinations among the people of Israel. 25 But I the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious people, I will fulfill whatever I say, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”

            There is a storm coming. There will be great destruction. There will be many lives lost. There is something much more terrible than the storm. There will be a reckoning. Everyone will be affected. There will be wages to be paid, whether of righteousness or sin. There will be weeping and wailing or songs of celebration. There will be consignment to the pits of hell and the lake of fire. There will be a sweeping up to heaven and eternal glory with Jesus the Savior.

            Yeah, yeah, you say. I’ve heard that all my life. Nothing ever happens, nothing ever changes. I’m OK, I’ll just keep on doin’ what I’ve been doin’, got no reason to change. And just like that everything changes. Maybe not on a global scale, but perhaps on a very personal scale. Jesus is after all a person. His dealings with people were very one on one. Are you ready to meet him in the capacity of judge, or in the capacity of a friend? Choose today before you will not be able to choose.