Saturday, August 22, 2009

God and natural disastors

"We are too prone to error to make unequivocal statements about someone else’s damnation". This was a statement in a friends blog, it think it so true.

I was reading an article yesterday about how natural disasters are to be seen as God's condemnation. I think when God decides to do use nature to punish evil, we will all know about it. We are exhorted in the NT to "overcome evil with good", and that its "his kindness that leads us to repentance". I think that is where God is this side of eternity.

In the OT as physical blessing was seen as being in Gods favor, calamity and disaster were viewed as God taking vengeance on evil people and actions. This gave people the "heads up" to repent. Even then God relented from sending calamity. It was fairly cut and dried.
Nowadays, we are far removed from "appeasing the gods", we even medicate ourselves when we can't cope with the evil within and without.

I don't know whether God has moved on in his punishments, like a parent who tries to figure what works/what doesn't to get our attention, but natural disasters as messages of condemnation account for as much as Chicken Little saying "the sky is falling". Personally, I think God has moved on...unfortunately we haven't.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The road to a Nazarite's proclamation - Luke 4

Judges 13 and Samson - No Razor, No Raisin, No Carrion. Let your hair grow, no grape juice in any form and don't touch dead stuff! That really sums up the Nazarite vow. What can we learn from a vow such as this for today. It gives focus for life.

Samson was obliged to live a life under a vow, one that was thrust upon him. God did indeed use him by killing the philistines on various occasions. We may not like how he conducted himself with women but he was God's guy for 20 years and God accomplished what he wanted through his life and death.

Lets look at Jesus, a Nazarite with a mission in Luke 4. Before Jesus proclaimed his life's work he went through the three temptations.

Lesson 1 Man does not live on bread alone.
Luke 4:4 Deut. 8:3 "He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD". His obedience was crystallized in knowing His sustenance came from the Father.

Lesson 2 There can only be ONE!
Luke 4:8 "Worship the Lord your God and serve him only"
Deut 6:13 "Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.
No explanation needed here, I trust ;)

Lesson 3 Putting God to the test?
Luke 4:12 "Do not put the Lord your God to the test".
Deut 6:16 "Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah".
At Massah and Meribah, they questioned the presence of God with them and they quarreled among themselves. Exodus 17:7 "And he called the place Massah [means testing] and Meribah [means quarreling] because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"

After the temptation Jesus proclaimed:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. (The focus is on Gods word)
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, (God who created can recreate and heal)to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."(God does not send a message of condemnation).

Being resolved on these three aspects of our relationship with YHWH i.e. will give us a backdrop to our mission in ministry.
God is First
His word is Fulfilling
His presence is Faithful

Coming out a time of temptation is meant to make us stronger, give us acuity of sight and begins a life of separation within the ordinary daily routines. We can more clearly see our Savior through the pots n pans of daily life and speak of His faithfulness to others, in a relationship that is fulfilling which communicates that HE is the one we are to adore.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Joy in everyday life - - sources that satisfy

Proverbs 19:3 "One's own folly leads to ruin,yet the heart rages against the LORD".

It was only last night that I heard a heart that "rages against the Lord". She was really disappointed in God. She felt that she had done all that was expected of her and now God owed her "joy" at the very least.

So what is the source of joy?
Deuteronomy 16:14 Be joyful at your Feast—you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.

We all enjoy a well executed plan, an accomplishment, the work of our hands. In Deut. we see that God aids our efforts by blessing the harvest, and the work of our hands. Both Heaven and Earth working together makes our joy complete.
Gratitude to God for his work, gets us out of ourselves. Knowing that God has blessed our best efforts is a great source of strength. (We get an appreciation of that when we look at events surrounding the rejection of Cain's offering - he became sullen and angry which eventually gave way to murder)

Fulfilling your mission in life

John the Baptist had his joy completed by hearing the voice of the Bridegroom - Jesus. The work he was sent to do was accomplished and that was the source of his joy. John 3:29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. Remember, John's lot in life was not "happy go lucky". He was born to elderly parents, lived on locusts and honey in the desert, an agitator to the comfortable religious leaders, a thorn in the side to the king of the land and was eventually beheaded as a party favor! We wouldn't have recognized the joy he was speaking of.


Jesus tells us what works for Him - obedience to the Father and tells us to do likewise. John 15:10-12 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

John 16:24 Jesus tells us to pray and our joy will be complete. Again it's inviting God to be part of the day events and efforts. "Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete".

Being in a Community of Faith
When those around us are amicable with each other, add to our joy, like Paul experienced in the Philippian church. Philippians 2:2 "then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose".

A little R&R....God style

1 John 1:4 "We write this to make our ("your" in some manuscripts) joy complete".
Reading and ruminating on the word of God and what he has done for us and how he expects us to behave towards others gives joy.

Simple friendship and conversation produces joy.

2 John 1:12 "I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete'.

Psalm 90:17 "May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands". Amen