Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

What makes you special?

Lots of us identify with specific types of people:  we want to be handsome, powerful, rich, famous, whatever.  And that is fine. It's good, because ambition is always good, as long as it's not used to crush someone else.
Paul, however, in explaining the philosophy of the Christian man and woman says, "it's not the powerful, wealthy, noble that God calls and chooses, but the folks who don't have anything special to recommend them."
I think he means that the powerful, wealthy, noble, etc. don't get any special "perks" for their power, etc.  He certainly doesn't mean that successful people can't be Christians, because he says elsewhere that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. He means you don't get a special dispensation because of your money, your power, your beauty, or whatever.  Paul's idea is that God has leveled the playing field, and doesn't want any of us acting like we are more important than anyone else in His sight, as if we are "better."
This concept comes from the fact that God is infinitely great, so that all merely human differences mean nothing to Him--He's no respecter of persons, as it's put in another place. He doesn't care about your money.  Or your power. Or your importance.  He cares about you, without any of those things. And if you have none of them, He cares equally. God's plan puts everyone is on the same level--all are sinners, are equally bad off, are lost, are "savable," are able to take advantage of the opportunity for eternal life, are offered the same life on the same terms as the poor, the rich, the famous, the criminal, the addict, the good person...God intends for us all to come to Him in the same way, on the same path.
As Paul says, "Whoever glories, let him glory in the LORD..."
Blessings to all my readers!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Foolish but Wise, Weak but Powerful...

In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul discusses the fact that "ordinary folk" make up most of the Christian population.  He says, "not many noble, not many powerful, not many wise" people become Christians.
We wonder, "Why is that?" and he explains it for us, so that we can fully understand what is happening.
The first premise is that from the outside, the Gospel (that Jesus died for our sins, rose again, and lives now at the right hand of God--and that if you believe in Him you will be forgiven and have eternal life)--that message is inherently nonsensical unless you have a spiritual understanding.  He says, "for the message of the Cross (death of Jesus) is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved it is the power of God."
The explanation is this:  The Gospel is a revelation, both in the sense that it comes as a general statement to everyone who hears it:  "God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life;" it's also a specific revelation, to people who want to know God, and are willing to turn to Him.  When you don't believe, the Gospel seems kind of silly.  A man 2000 (or so) years ago died.  He died for you, so you could have eternal life.  If you believe in Him, you GET eternal life.
Not very logical, unless, and if, you have that "specific revelation" which shows it to be true to and for you.
If you are a Christian, this is a huge source of frustration, because you can't just "tell people the Gospel," and have them believe it, since it seems silly to them.
On the other hand, if you're not a Christian, you may be saying, "Yeah, it's really stupid, but I can't tell my friends that, because I respect them..."
I have a suggestion for both.  If you don't "get" the Gospel, ask God to show you if it's true.  Doesn't even matter if you believe in God.  You can be completely atheist, and still ask.  If God's not there, you have a great confirmation of your atheism. If He is, wouldn't you want to know?
If you are a Christian, ask God to reveal Himself to you again, and to strengthen you in your faith. Believing in God and His Son Jesus is a difficult thing at best, because our values run counter to so much in the world we inhabit. constant communication helps.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Jonah--God's Mercy, Love, Grace

The final words of Jonah set the theme for the book--"should I not pity??..." It's fair to say that Jonah probably wrote these words after thinking about what God had done with him, what it meant, and what it meant to humankind.
God cares for us.  He knows that some of us are evil, and will never turn from our evil ways to worship and serve Him.  He tries anyway.  Paul wrote, "The goodness of God [is intended] to lead you to repentance..." and so it is.  He means us to understand that the evil we see, the evil in our hearts, the evil that is done to us, is NOT His plan.
His plan is for a world without evil, without dictators who have secret police, without Islamic militants, without rockets and bombs and bullets. His plan is a world without disease, without death, without sorrow.
In a sense, much that God desires for mankind is wrapped up in Jonah--
God wants His servants to serve Him 1:1, 2:8-3:2).
God wants His servants to communicate Him 3:2, 1:8-10.
God wants people to listen and respond, so that they in turn can be His servants. 1:8-10,16; 3:5-10.
God wants you to have another chance--see Jonah 3, 4:11.
The problem of evil has been studied a great deal--however, the real problem of evil is what's inside us. The sickness of mankind is a sickness of the soul, and it's played out on every battlefield, in every courtroom, hospital, graveyard.
God has the answer to that sickness, and it's stunningly simple: repent.  Serve God.  Don't look at the evil in others.  Look at the evil in yourself.  Call no man an "infidel." Let God judge infidels.  You judge yourself, because when you judge yourself, you will not be condemned with the world. That's what happened in Nineveh, what Jonah saw, what at first he could not process.  Jonah wanted Nineveh to be destroyed.  He wanted his prophecy fulfilled: "40 days from now, Nineveh shall be destroyed..."
Why?  Because the Ninevites, in the person of the Assyrians (Nineveh was the capital of Assyria) had literally ruined the land of Israel, killed much of its population, put it to tribute, and impoverished the entire nation.  Jonah hated the Assyrians--and the Ninevites.  He wanted them dead.  So when God offered them life and hope, Jonah hated the success of his own ministry.  So eventually he has the conversation with the LORD that ends up as we read:
"Should I not pity Nineveh?..."
As Jonah meditated on this, he must have realized that his own ministry was a revelation of the mind of God--He is merciful, gracious, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.
He is the God of second chances.
He is the God of YOUR second chance.
Turn to Him.