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, December 20, 2014

Christmas Meditation #1

Christmas is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Jesus is God in human form. He is God and man, united in one Person forever.  He is the deepest expression of God’s love for all mankind.

The Bible says:
God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16
Jesus Himself said:
"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Nobody comes to the Father except through Me."
John 14:6

The two most important holidays for more than 2 billion people on the planet are Christmas and Easter. Easter is about Jesus rising from the dead, and Christmas is about Jesus’ arrival on earth. There is no Easter without Christmas, and there is no point in Christmas without Easter, because at Easter, Jesus defeated the greatest enemy of all, death. He showed us this by rising from the dead Himself, and in His resurrection is promised ours.  All that Jesus meant to accomplish when He came to earth is bound up in Christmas, when He came, and Easter, when He rose..
Here’s a brief summary of who Jesus is, and what He can do for you:
He is the “Word Made flesh” (John 1:14)--that is, He is GOD who became man (see John 1:1-3); because of that,
He is the only one who can explain God to us (John 1:18);
He is the only one who can give us everlasting life (John 3:16, 18, 36)
Believing in Him means that we will never face condemnation, John 5:24;
Coming to Him means that we will never die spiritually (John 11:23-25);
He is the only way to the Father, John 14:6
He will save His people from their sins, Matt. 1:21
Believing in Him means we will rise from the dead as He did, 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.
He truly came to earth to do these things for us, Matthew 2, Luke 2.  
Christmas is a holiday rooted in history, with everything that mankind  ever hoped for wrapped up in it, and everything we ever feared banished forever.

Here are some thoughts from the songwriters:

Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
That when you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?
The blind will see, The deaf will hear, The dead will live again
The lame will leap, The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great I Am.

Love Was When
Love was when God became a Man,
Locked in time and space, without rank or place;
Love was God born of Jewish kin;
Just a carpenter with some fishermen.

Love was when Jesus walked in history,
Lovingly He brought a new life that's free,
Love was God nailed to bleed and die
To reach and love one such as I.

Love was when God became a Man,
Down where I could see Love that reached to me;
Love was God dying for my sin
And so trapped was I my whole world caved in.

Love was when Jesus met me, now it's real;
Lovingly He came, I can feel He's real!
Love was God, only He would try
To reach and love one such as I.

The Love of God:
  • The love of God is greater far
  • Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
  • It goes beyond the highest star,
  • And reaches to the lowest hell;
  • The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
  • God gave His Son to win;
  • His erring child He reconciled,
  • And pardoned from his sin.
    • Refrain:
    • Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
    • How measureless and strong!
    • It shall forevermore endure—
    • The saints’ and angels’ song.
  • When hoary time shall pass away,
  • And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
  • When men who here refuse to pray,
  • On rocks and hills and mountains call,
  • God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
  • All measureless and strong;
  • Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
  • The saints’ and angels’ song.
  • Could we with ink the ocean fill,
  • And were the skies of parchment made,
  • Were every stalk on earth a quill,
  • And every man a scribe by trade;
  • To write the love of God above
  • Would drain the ocean dry;
  • Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
  • Though stretched from sky to sky.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Scarlet Sin...(Hint: Not what you think it is)

In the Bible, the worst sin of all, against another human, is taking someone's life.

Here's a partial synopsis, and what it includes:

Stealing another human: If a man is found stealing any of his brothers of the children of Israel, and enslaves, or sells him; then that thief shall die; and you shall put the evil away from among you.
So theft for sale, or enslavement, of a "brother" (and sister, and neighbor, presumably) is a sin punishable by death. This shows what God thinks of the sex trafficking industry (lots more on this in the prophets) and other similar types of enslavement. It also shows how these things will be treated on judgment day. 

Destroying someone by withholding wages (or paying wages so low that the wagearner can't live): 

James 5:1,4: Come now,  you wealthy! weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you!
....
Behold, your workers' wages ... which you have kept back by fraud, cries out: and the cries of your workers  entered the ears of the Lord of Armies
Stealing someone's livelihood is a form of murder.  You prevent him from taking care of himself by means of your theft, and reduce him to nothing.  

Direct Murder: 
Numbers 5:31: Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death. 
Murder is the scarlet sin.  It is destruction of another human being, directly or indirectly, and God commands punishment for it.
The original murderer was the devil, whom Jesus said "was a murderer from the beginning, and did not remain in the truth;" apparently, Jesus regarded Satan as ultimately responsible for Adam's sin, and calls him a murderer for causing Adam and Eve to be subject to dying and death.

What I'm getting at is this:
"Taking a life" includes lots more than we might think: it includes such things as stealing a person's livelihood so that they can no longer provide for themselves.  It includes sex trafficking, and kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit crimes against other humans.  This law is administered by the King of the Universe, who really doesn't care how important someone thinks he is.  To Him, all are the same.
There are many potential murderers, because:
It's easy to steal from the weak.  They are, after all, weak.
It's easy to rationalize enslaving people for little money, so that they cannot live.
It's easy to take advantage of people who don't know what they are doing in a given situation because you're lying to them (Bernie Madoff comes to mind).
It's easy to think of what you do as "OK," but our actions need to be examined in the cold light of reality.  What are we really doing?
So here's a brief compendium of things to avoid / things to do if you want to give life rather than take it:
1. Help the weak.  Don't hurt them or take advantage of them.
2. If you're going to be an "activist," be sure that your cause is really just, the need of the moment, and not just inspired by media insanity or rage.
3. Don't lie to people about money. Ever.
4. If you are the owner of a business, give your employees "what is fair and just."  Don't rationalize that "the job is only worth" $$, when you KNOW that you will have to pay them $$$$ for them to survive and do well financially.  When you employ them, they ARE your responsibility.
5. Be a friend.  All true friends affirm life.  They are reluctant to condemn, because they know they will face the same God in judgment as their neighbors. Let God be the judge, not you.
6. Don't gossip / tell lies about other people.  The lie murders in ways that sometimes even a knife cannot.
7.  If you are in a position of religious authority, practice kindness, especially with those whom your prejudices tell you are not worth it.  They are.  God placed within them the same divine spark that He placed within you, and he also is made in the image of God, same as you.  Treat him like God made him as well as you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

He'll Never See it...

When I was in my 20's, I worked for a contractor (who shall remain nameless); one of his favorite comments, when he produced something low-quality, was, "They'll never see it;" I've often thought of him when I read Psalm 10, where in verse 11, David puts the following words in the mouth of the wicked man:
"He says in his heart, 'God has forgotten; he will never see it."
In this case, the wicked man says, "I can hurt whomever I want; God doesn't care." Not true.  When an evil person destroys someone else's life (it's usually for money, or to gain power), God DOES see it. He may not act right now, but He sees.
Ecclesiastes tells us, "Because judgment against an evil act is not executed swiftly, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil"--the Old Testament's version of giving people enough rope to hang themselves.
That is exactly what God has planned. He's waiting.  That's why we don't see judgment and justice in the world we live in; we don't see righteousness lifted up, and evil condemned, unless it's politically correct, or suits those in power.
The Bible is pretty a-political, but it is pro-righteousness.  When you read through the Old Testament, you find that justice is a major theme, and a just society is a main goal.  Rulers are constantly taken to task for the way they treat people without power, and prophets die because they refuse to be silenced about evil in society.
The Psalms discuss the plight of widows and orphans in detail, and point out that many evil people see them as objects to use for profit.
God will judge these things.  He doesn't care if you're a president, congressman, dictator, general, policeman, politician, "activist," or whatever. He will judge.  He will judge YOU.  He is bigger than anyone, and he doesn't care who you think you are.
So listen up.
He saw you.  He didn't forget.  He's just waiting.  He calls you to justice and righteousness (and not as defined by "churches." As He defines it.)
Read the book.  See what He really says.  Don't trust other people to tell you how good or bad it is, or interpret it for you.
Read the book.  You'll save yourself a lot of problems in the future.