Thursday, December 17, 2009
I'd never heard such a greeting and I'll admit it upset me. I wanted to run from this strange man. I was all alone and I feared what he might do to me. As if reading my thoughts he spoke again.
"Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God." He knew my name. I was so confused, yet, held there by curiosity as he continued, "You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
For the first time I spoke, my voice clammy and unsure," How will this be since I am a virgin?"
The words had barely left my tongue when he gave answer. It was as if he knew my question before I asked. "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."
Finally it occurred to me: this was no man! It was an angel of the Lord most high! The Lord had been silent for over 400 years and now He chose to speak to a lowly girl like me? I was in complete awe and said the only thing I could, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."
And he was gone.
I fell to my knees and cried out to God.
Oh God, I don't understand! I feel as though I've just received the biggest blessing, yet the biggest curse known to mankind. You gave me my desire of a husband, but then you turn around and supernaturally make me pregnant. Joseph will never have me now. If I escape stoning, I will face a lifetime of shame. Will I be forced to raise this child, your very son, on my own? Will I never experience the tender caress of a loving husband? But... Lord, how can I forget? You provided a husband for Rahab who was the harlot people will suppose me to be. And what did you require of her? Only that she trust you. My God, I will trust you with my life. What may come but that you allow it? My only request: make me trust you more each day!
I lingered there for some time in quiet peace. Then slowly stood to make my way home, stopping at the town well to dray up a drink. As I pulled the bucket up I was interrupted by a hand on my shoulder. I jumped and let go of the rope, hearing the bucket splash a moment later.
"Mary!" It was Asher. "I have a letter here from your cousin Elizabeth."
I was overjoyed! Nodding my thanks I wished him a good day and raced home to read it.
I greatly understand your dilemma. I remember well being your age with all the joy of growing up and discovering love. I would very much like to tell you the story of Zechariah and I, but, I want to do it in person. I would like you to come visit me. There is something wonderful I want you to witness.
The Lord is the giver of many blessings, Mary. Even in my old age he smiled kindly upon me and has opened my womb. I am even now in my sixth month. I want you to come and be here for the birth of my son, John. I have set the arrangements. You need only ask your parents. Then while you are hear we can sit down and discuss everything.
Enclosed are the travel arrangements if you chose to come.
With much love,
The angel was right. She was pregnant. But, of course he was right. He came from God did he not?
At dinner that night my parents read the letter and said they would talk it over. It was another long night. I was anxious to go. I wanted to spend time with Elizabeth, rejoice with her in her new circumstances, but also get away from all these people that I knew so well. They would notice a change in me even before the child began to show. And I knew Elizabeth, who had also experienced something miraculous would possibly believe my story.
In the morning, my parents gave their answer and I began packing immediately. Within a few days, merchants came through town. They were who I was to travel with. The trip was long, but throughout it all, I remembered that God was with me. I was at peace in His arms.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
"Mary, we need water. Would you mind?"
Smiling my thanks I headed for the well. My reflection in the water was clear and I went to work combing my hair with my fingers. I drew some water with which I washed my face, then lowed the bucket once more.
Dinner stretched for an eternity. Finally my mother sent Heidi outside with all the children. It was only my parents, Joseph, and me left in the house. After a moment's awkward silence my father cleared his throat.
"Mary, Joseph has requested the chance to speak with you."
My heart skilled a beat and I felt myself blush. As Joseph began to speak I recall that I'd never seen him so nervous.
"As you know, I've just completed my apprenticeship and Hezekiah has accepted me as a partner. Mary, you are a beautiful woman of God and I want to marry you."
I said nothing. What could I say? The moment you realize that the thing you've thought and dreamed about has actually happened, all words escape you. Sure, it wasn't quite the romantic marriage proposal I'd imagined, but I didn't care. I finally managed to smile and say something.
"Joseph... wow!" Taking a deep breath I tried to continue, "I would be honored to marry you."
I wasn't sure if that sounded right. Like, is that what you are supposed to say? I was afraid it sounded dumb. But then, did it really matter? I mean, if he wanted to marry me he probably loved me and if he loved me he probably wouldn't think I was too dumb.
I don't remember what happened next. It's all a blur of happiness now. I remember him kissing my hand before he left. But I don't know how much time lapsed before he left. 5 minutes? An hour? I really don't know. But I was floating in the clouds that night. I know I didn't really sleep. Overwhelming happiness is one of those things that you cannot describe, but when you experience it, you know. It's beautiful.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
For some time he had talked of replacing our table with a larger one. My family fit around it, but without any elbow room. And my parents loved entertaining guests, which meant many of my younger siblings were sent outside to eat. Even I was sometimes banished to the outdoors to help with the crowding. Yes, a new table would be nice.
Hezekiah was also one of my father’s childhood friends. This made his frequent visits seam very natural. They loved to reminisce over there boyish antics and laugh at themselves for being so ridiculous when they were young. This close friendship, added to the new table was good enough reasons to keep curiosity at bay. So I did my best to mind my own business.
My parents began to speak often in hushed tones when they thought everyone else was asleep. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, nor did I try to, but I kept getting the feeling they were talking about me. One night, as I rolled over trying to get to sleep I’m sure I heard my name. I told myself it was my imagination, but I didn’t truly believe it. One night I even asked God if all parents were this strange. It wasn’t exactly a respectful thing to ask, so in the morning I determined to apologize. But how could I without telling them of my curiosity?
“Yes? What is it, Mary?”
“Last night I asked God a question about you and I think it was disrespectful… so… I want you to know I’m sorry.”
Somehow, that just didn’t seem natural. I spent most the night trying to figure out how to begin such a conversation. If only I was better with words. I felt like I was Moses trying to figure out how to tell Pharaoh that his slaves were all about to leave. If only I had a brother named Aaron. But I didn’t, so I had to just do the best I could.
“Mother, may I ask you a question?”
“Of course! I may not have a wonderful answer, but you may always ask.”
“What’s going on? I’m very confused right now. I see father entering and leaving Hezekiah’s shop nearly every day. I hear you and him talking late at night, though I don’t know what you talk about. Mother, one night I’m sure I heard you say my name. And I feel as though perhaps you and father are turning as strange as Heidi with all that is happening. I don’t mean it disrespectfully. I just don’t understand.”
“Oh, I see. This is something you father will tell you about. He’s planning on telling you tonight. You’ll have to wait until then. Oh, and we are having a guest tonight so we’ll need to make extra food for dinner.”
If I was confused before, I was even more now. It was so mysterious. I didn’t know what to think of it all. But I knew that I would simply have to wait until evening.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
“Mary! How are you this fine day?”
Asher, whose name fit his personality wonderfully, was not only a happy man, but also one known for his ability to get mail from one place to another. He knew which Roman soldiers were reliable and, equally important, cheap.
“I’m doing well! And you look as cheery as ever.”
“That I am! The Lord has been good to me. Now tell me, what brings you here?”
“I have a letter for my cousin Elizabeth.”
“The Lord watches over you today. I have a bundle of letters going that way this very evening. It will cost you very little.”
I was overjoyed. I nearly skipped home, blessing the Lord for His kindness the whole way. When I reached home I must have been beaming, for my youngest sister gave me the most peculiar look. I picked her up and twirled her in the air at which we both began to giggle. At the sound of our voices Heidi came out of the house and gave me a triumphant smile while pointing at the house. Then without explanation she ran.
I must say, this confused me. Heidi was a peculiar child. She had such strange ways and I rarely could interpret her actions. After a moment’s pause, I walked with trepidation toward the house. Stepping inside I saw my mother stooped over, kneading dough. My father was in the corner speaking with someone in hushed tones. The bright sun outside made it difficult to make out the face in the dim interior. As my eyes adjusted I recognized Joseph. I now understood Heidi’s behavior. I wanted to run back outside, to escape the awkwardness of standing there looking at him, but I felt that would be more awkward still.
“Marry, set the table, dear!”
My mother’s shrill voice was a relief. I horridly set the table and then moved to help her with the other dinner preparations. I feared Joseph would stay for the meal and make it very uncomfortable. He did.
After he left my father smiled at my mother and she smiled back as if reading his thoughts; thoughts I was unable to decipher. I pushed it out of my mind and pretended not to notice.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I've been asked many times to write about the birth of my son. I've spent years treasuring all that took place and pondering it in my heart. And now, I am ready. This tale will leave many shaking their heads in disbelief. All that happened, all the pieces, not all of them are as important as all the others. Some details are far more significant than others. The most important parts can be found in the account by Matthew, the former tax collector, and that of Luke, the physician. Here, I will start before either of them did. For me, I feel the conversation started with a conversation with my sister...
"Joseph is looking at you!"
"Be quiet Rachel! It's not fair to tease me. Besides, some day you will understand and you won’t wish to be teased. And what if someone heard?"
"Someone? Who, Joseph or Mama? You've been in love with him for two years, it's about time mama knew."
"You wouldn't dare!"
"You should at least tell Elizabeth. Perhaps she'll have helpful advice."
"You're right, and I can open up to her much more easily than mama. Thanks Rachel!"
"What are little sisters for?"
As Rachel scampered away I found myself crying out to God. At this time in my life I was often confused and spent much of my time asking God questions. After all, if anyone is to know the answer, it's Him.
God, is she right? Should I tell mama? I feel it is unnecessary. Yes, I find Joseph very attractive. He seeks You with his all. He is an upright man and he's also industrious. He's nearly completed his apprenticeship and is an accomplished carpenter. But of course, you know this God. I know this is silly, but God, he makes me laugh. He's so funny, yet he knows how to be serious. I love when he laughs. His eyes light up and sparkle like the stars in the heavens. But God, when he looks directly at me, my heart melts in my chest. I become giddy and usually tongue tide. I find myself unable to do anything but smile and avert my eyes. Am I wicked to have such feelings? I long to know I do the same to him. But I feel that I am the only girl ever to have such horrid thoughts. I've asked you many times to take away these feelings if they are wrong. Yet they remain! I ask again God, purge me of wrong thinking. Direct my heart to the man you intend for me, but first direct it to yourself. I will do as Rachel suggested and write to my cousin Elizabeth. Please speak to me through her.
As I prayed, I walked home. I took out some parchment and composed a letter which I do not have, but it said something like this.
You once told me that if I ever needed help or advice, that I shouldn't hesitate to seek you out. You've told me that not having a daughter of your own, you cherish the moments when I bring life’s problems to you, asking for your help as an older, wiser woman.
Today I venture to seek your council. There is a young man who I find quite attractive. Perhaps you remember him? Joseph, son of Jacob, a descendant of King David, like myself. He is a good, Godly, hard working man who probably deserves much better a wife than me, but I can't help but hope that some day he'll notice me. I feel that thinking this way is wrong though. Please, would you tell me of when you and Zechariah were young? What was it like for you? Am I wrong to ask God to cause Joseph to notice me?
Your very confused cousin,
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?"
These verses were shown to me recently in a whole new way. The youth group at my church meets on Thursday night for bible study and my small group just started going through a book called Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ by Greg Ogden. As the title says, the theme of the book is discipleship. The first lesson covered Matthew 28.
When we read this we generally focus three main points. First the DUH one, the resurrection. Second, the guards report to the chief priests. And third, the 'great commission'. But, there is something I have never seen before.
Matthew 28:10b says, "Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
Normally, when reading this passage this one small command of Jesus doesn't mean anything. I think nothing of it. But don't overlook it again. Look at it and think. Put yourselves in the disciples shoes as the women give them Jesus' message.
We have to go to Galilee? But why? He appeared to you in the garden didn't he? Why on earth can't he just come here to us and speak with us? Galilee? It's a long walk. I really don't see the point.....etc. etc.
Are these questions ones we ask every day? Yes. So why did Jesus tell them to go to Galilee to see him? Think about it, he was about to send them on a mission to the entire world. He was going to tell them to GO. And not just a little go, a HUGE go. Go and make disciples of ALL nations. That is a big go. So what did Jesus do? He gave them a little go first. He told them to go to Galilee. So that when they proved themselves trustworthy of the little go, He could entrust them with a big go.
Look at Luke 16:10-11 again:
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?"
Is Jesus command to go to Galilee not an awesome example of this?
It convicted me greatly. How many times do I receive a little go and think it is unimportant? I am so busy looking for the "Great Commissions" in life that I often miss the importance of the little ones. The small things that seem so unimportant are just as important as the big things.
Monday, March 30, 2009
1. What is the number of God; what is this relationship?
Deut 6:4; 1 Cor 8:4, 6; 1 John 5:7-8; Mat 3:16-17; 28:19; II Cor 13:14; John 1:14, 18; 15:26; Gal 4:6
There are three persons in the unity of the Godhead, consisting of one substance, power and eternity: God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Father is begotten by and proceeds from none; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holly Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son.
2. What is the nature/character of God?
Deut 6:4; 1 Cor 8:4,6; 1 Thes 1:9; Jer 10:10 ; Job 11:7-9; 26:14; 1 Tim 1:7; Deut 4:15-16; John 4:24; Luke 24:39; 1 Kings 8:27; Jer 23:23; Psalms 90:2; 1 Tim 1:17; Psalms 145:3; John 5:26; Acts 17:24-25; Psalms 119:68; Acts 7:2; 1 Tim 6:15; Ro 9:5; Ex 3:14; John 4:24; Acts 14:11, 15; James 1:17; Mal 3:6; Gen 17:1; Rev 4:8; Ro 16:27; Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8; Psalms 115:3; Eph 1:11; Prov 16:4; Ro 11:36; 1 John 4:8; Ex 34:6-7; Heb 11:6; Neh 9:32-33; Psalms 5:4-6; Nahum 1:2-3; Job 22:2-3; Ro 11:36; Rev 4:11; 1 Tim 6:15; Dan 4:25; Ps 145:17; Ro 7:1;
There is only one, living and true God; invisible, without body parts; immense, unfathomable, all powerful, all wise, Totally holy/pure, free, loving, unchangeable; Always was, is, and will be;. His being and perfection has no limit. He is not susceptible to impressions from external agents. Absolute and complete in Himself .Working all things in accordance with His righteous and holy will for His own glory, He abounds in mercy and forgiveness; rewarder of those that seek Him. He is terrible in judgment because of his hatred for sin; not clearing the guilty. He has all things in and of Himself, He needs nothing and derives no glory from any of His creation, but manifests His own glory on His creation. He has complete dominion over all and does to, for, and by them, whatever he pleases. Knowing all, nothing is uncertain for Him. All He does is Holy.
3. How did all that exist come into existence?
Col 1:15, 16; John 1:2,3; Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; 33:4; Ro 1:20; Jer 10:12; Ps 104:24; 33:5, 6; Gen 1; Heb 11:3; Col 1:16; Acts 17:24; Heb 1:3
God created all things for His pleasure and the manifestation of his character. He created everything out of nothing. Everything whether visible or invisible, was created to be very good. Last of all His creation was first of all His creation. God created Man last and set him up as head of all the rest of creation. The Godhead performed creation as a unit; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
4. After creating all, what involvement did God have with His creation?
Dan 4:34-35; Ps 135:6; Acts 17:25-28; Job 38-41; Matthew 10:29-31; Pro 15:3; Ps 104:24; 145:17; Acts 15:18; Ps 94:8-11; Acts 2:23;
God is in control of all that happens to His creation. From the greatest to the least, nothing happens to his creation without His knowledge.
5. What was the nature/character of man as God created him?
Gen 2:7; Ecc 12:7; Luke 23:43; Matt 10:28; Gen 1:26; Col 3:10; Eph 4:24; Ro 2:14-15; Ecc 7:29; Gen 3:6; Gen 2:17; 3:8-11, 23; Gen 1:28
Man, the last being created by God was created in the image of God with an immortal soul, capable of reason. God gave him knowledge, righteousness and true holiness in His image. On man’s heart God wrote His law and gave him the power to fulfill this law. God left man with the ability to sin; the liberty to transgress against his own creator. Along with the law written on his heart God also gave man a command; to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. While they kept this law, they were happily in communion with God and had dominion over the creatures.
6. Did man stay in this state of righteousness allowing communion with God?
Gen 3:13; 2 Cor 11:3; Ro 11:32; Gen 3:6-8; Ecc 7:29; Ro 3:23; Gen 2:17; Eph 2:1; Tit 1:15; Gen 6:5; Jer 17:9; Ro 3:10-18;
The first man and woman (Adam and Eve) sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. God allowed this sin in order to use it for His own glory. In committing this sin, Adam and Eve lost communion with God and fell from righteousness. They became dead in sin and every part of their bodies and souls were defiled.
7. Did this corrupted sate affect all of mankind?
Gen 1:27, 28; 2:10, 17; Acts 17:26; Ro 5:12-19; 1 Cor 15:21, 22, 45, 49; Ps 51:5; Gen 5:3; Job 14:4; 15:14; Ro 5:6; 8:7; 7:18; Col 1:21; Gen 6:5; 8:21; Ro 3:10-12; James 1:14-15; Ephesians 2:2, 3; Mat 15:19
Being the root of all mankind, Adam’s and Eve’s sin was imputed to all of their decedents; and with the sin, death. All of mankind is in a state of opposition to all that is good; inclined toward all that is evil. It is from this complete corruption that all transgressions precede.
8. How does sin affect man’s state before God?
1 John 3:4; Ro 2:15; 3:9,19; Eph 2:3; Gal 3:10; Ro 6:23; Eph 4:18; Ro 8:20; Lam 3:39; Mat 25:41; 2 Thess 1:9
Every sin,, being contrary to the law of God, brings guilt upon the sinner. This guilt binds man to the wrath of God and the curse of the law. Man is made subject to death by this sin; with all anguishes whether spiritual, temporal, or eternal.
9. Is man capable of restoring his relationship with God?
Isaiah 40:13-17; Job 9:32, 33; 1 Samuel 2:25; Ps 113:5; 100:2, 3; Job 22:2, 3; 35:7, 8; Luke 17:10; Acts 17:24, 25;
The distance separating man from God is so great that man can never breach it through any amount of obedience or good works. Only through God’s grace can the separation be eliminated.
10. How did God breach the separation?
Gal 3:21; Ro 8:3; 3:20, 21; Gen 3:15; Isaiah 42:6; Mark 16:15-16; John 3:16; Romans 10:6, 9; Gal 3:11; Ez 36:26-27; John 6:44-45;
Man by his fall broke the first covenant between him and God, so God was pleased to make a second covenant. This covenant of grace was based on Christ alone; His death, burial, and resurrection. God, through the Holy Spirit makes those he has divinely called able and willing to believe and turn back to God.
11. What is the benefit of this new covenant and the renewed relationship with God?
Heb 9:15-17; 7:22; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; Heb 8-10; Ro 4:11; Col 2:11, 12; 1 Cor 5:7; Gal 3:7-9,14; Col 2:17;
Man is no longer responsible for any part of the covenant. God does it all. It is through the messiah and the messiah alone that man receives full remission for sins. With this covenant, man’s relationship with God is restored and with this restoration, he receives the everlasting inheritance as a son of God.
Knowing that mankind was unable to find God, even with the signs He placed in creation, God gave to man the scriptures which He inspired men to write. The scripture, being the words of God, are most necessary for man to understand salvation and to be protected from the snares of Satan. Only through scripture can man truly understand God, the universe, man, morality and ethics, evil and suffering, man’s state after death, and the meaning of history.
There is only one, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection. His is a spirit, entirely pure, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, completely wise, thoroughly holy, entirely free, utterly absolute. He works all things according to His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory. He is most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. He is the rewarder of all who seek Him diligently. To all men, He is completely just, and terrible in His judgments, hating sin. He will by no means clear the guilty.
God has all life, glory, goodness, and blessedness in and of Himself; and is alone all sufficient, not needing any creature which he has made, nor deriving any glory from them. He instead manifests His own glory in, by, and upon them. He has sovereign dominion over all things, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatever He pleases. He sees all, His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent, so nothing is contingent, or uncertain to Him. All His counsels, all His works, and all His commands are completely holy. He is due all worship, service, and obedience from every creature.
There are three persons in the unity of the Godhead, consisting of one substance, power, and eternity: God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Father is begotten by none and proceeding from none; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holly Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son.
All that makes up the universe is created by God, out of nothing. All things whether visible or invisible were created in six days and declared good by God. Nothing came about of its own will; nothing was made by any other besides God. Everything God created reflects all that He is. His power, His size, His creativity, all that God is, is reveled to man through his creation. Every aspect of the universe is unique for each part is formed by God to be distinct.
After creating all other beings, God formed Man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls. He endued them with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image. He wrote His law in their hearts, and gave them power to fulfill it. But He gave them freedom under their own will and possibility of transgressing. Beside this law written in their hearts, God also commanded them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. While they obeyed this command they were happily in communion with God. But on breaking this command, they would become separated from God and suffer the humility and pain of this separation.
Man being created above animals was given dominion over them. He ruled over them and protected them. But on disobeying God’s command, this changed. Enmity was put between Man and beast.
Morality and Ethics
God alone is good. He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. He is a faithful God who does no wrong. He is upright and just. He is our only paradigm. To discover what is right and what is wrong, God’s character must be studied for his character is goodness.
Evil and suffering
At the moment of Man’s disobedience to God, everything changed. Immediately separation came into every relationship. Man was separated from God; separated from man; and separated from animal. From that first sin against God, man has been wicked. Though created righteous, man had the ability to sin and he gave into the temptations placed before him by Satan. Evil entered the world with that sin. The perfect world that God had created was corrupted by man’s disobedience. And as a result of this corruption that permeates the world, suffering is everywhere. This suffering could be taken away by God, along with the evil. For the two are inseparable. But the only way to take away the evil and suffering is to destroy all that is living, for evil resides in the hearts of men. So instead God made a different solution. Rather than destroying all that He had created, He paid the penalty for the sin Himself. The suffering and evil are still here, but for those that are saved, there is joy and peace in God.
Man’s state after death
Man was created with an immortal soul. Even after the body dies, the soul lives on. God created two destinations for the souls of men: Heaven and Hell. Heaven is where all those found righteous will spend eternity after their earthly death. Hell is the destination of those found unrighteous. All men, being corrupt and wicked, have the eternal destination of Hell.
God, however, did not wish for men to perish so He made a way for man to be saved from eternal damnation. He sent His own Son, Jesus Christ to die for the sins of the world. After His resurrection on the third day, Jesus ascended back into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God where He acts as our mediator. It is only through trusting in Him that any man can be saved from Hell. For Jesus is the only way to the Father.
Man, however, would never choose to put his faith in Jesus; he sees no problem with himself and desires to be the master of his own life. So there is still no eternal hope for man by himself. It is only through the effectual and divine calling that man will ever come to God. God draws men to Himself and gives them their faith in Christ so that they might be saved. It is in this way and in this way alone, that man can be found righteous in God’s sight. It is not man’s own righteousness but the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
If, however, man is not called to belief, if he lives his life in his own way, doing as he pleases, he will be found guilty in God’s sight. The righteousness of Christ will be found nowhere near him. And he will spend eternity in the burning fire of Hell, where worm does not die, nor is thirst quenched. There is nothing but misery; the gnashing of teeth and weeping of tears.
The world is growing gradually worse and it will become no better. We see this in history. The purpose of history is to show us what to expect next. As we look at past empires and nations we can often predict what will happen in modern nations. We see the truths of the Bible unfold in history as well as in the present. And if we have a good idea of the history of the world, we will be well prepared for what will come about in the future.
So yeah, um, that's it. Nothing like the Westminster, I know, but I suppose they had several people to write it and it took them years, so I'm trying to be satisfied with it.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
"You shall not murder.
This commandment goes beyond what most people take it to mean. It doesn't mean to simply not kill people. There is a requirement of protection. Psalms 82:3-4 tells us to protect the weak, needy, fatherless, and oppressed from the wicked. Proverbs 24:11-12 Tells us that in standing by and doing nothing to protect those that need protection, we are essentially helping their oppressors. So we are no better than the murderers themselves. But then of course there is the more obvious part of the commandment. The part about not killing. In order to understand this, we really need to understand why we are told not to kill. Genesis 9:6 reminds us that man is made by God, in God's image. That is the only reason we need for not killing. So when commanded to not murder, not only are we not to be murderers ourselves, but we are supposed to do our utmost to stand up against murderers. To protect those weaker than ourselves. Because they are beautiful creations of God, made in God's image.
Monday, February 23, 2009
L. E. G. A. C. Y
How far we as a nation have fallen! By allowing worldly influences to seep into our lives, we Christians have lost sight of what walking with God truly means.Leaving behind the truths of God's word, we seek after all that worldly men have to offer. The Christian legacy on which our nation was founded is in disrepair and must be reconstructed. To repair a legacy, a plan must be contrived and pursued. The necessary steps in restoring a Biblical legacy can be demonstrated by the acronym LEGACY. The renewal of a Biblical legacy requires Looking at and Evaluating God's Word, so as to Grow in faith and learn to Apply this faith to our lives so that we may Coach our children and teach them to Yearn for God.
The L and E of the acronym LEGACY go hand-in-hand. It is impossible to look in-depth at the Bible without also evaluating its words. The psalmist speaks of hiding God's words in his heart in order to eliminate the sin in his life. He indicates that looking isn't enough. It is necessary to memorize scripture so that it can be brought to mind and pondered later. In thoughtfully going back over the words of the Bible, there will doubtless be a measure of evaluation and meditation on them.
The increased time spent studying the Bible is sure to cause a corresponding increase in the understanding of the true meaning of its words. In turn, we also gain a better understanding of God. This will lead to a closer relationship with Him and a greater dependency on Him in every area of our lives. Our faith in and our dependency on Him are really the same thing. That which we put our faith in, we depend on. So as we look at the Bible and evaluate it, our faith will grow.
Once we have a stronger relationship with God and a greater dependency on Him, it is important to apply it in our lives. It is easy to have head knowledge without the actions that should follow. Once we better understand who God is, and we see how the different parts of the Bible fit together, we can't leave it there. This understanding must lead to action. We must live out the Biblical principles in our day-to-day lives. This is what James was saying when he spoke of the relationship between faith and good deeds. While good deeds can in no way save us, they are a sign of our faith to believer and unbeliever alike. James tells us of the importance of bearing fruit in our lives. While trying to rebuild a legacy founded on the Bible, the importance of this fruit is crystal clear. For if our actions do not show others our faith, the reality of this faith will be difficult if not impossible to pass on.
A Biblical legacy is not like that of money or property. It is not a simple matter of writing a will and leaving possessions to a specific person. This legacy is immaterial. No matter how strong the faith of a parent is, it will not automatically be passed to the children. It must be cultivated from the time the children are young. Proverbs 22:6 speaks of this kind of coaching of young children. The phrase, "in the way he should go," leads to Jeremiah 6:16 where Israel was commanded to ask for the ancient paths, the good way, and walk in it. God's promise of rest accompanies obedience to this command. Hence we must instruct our children to yearn for the ways of God so their souls will be at rest, rather than having the turmoil of a soul that is fighting God.
This process of Looking, Evaluating, Growing, Applying, and Coaching to Yearn, does not happen overnight. It is a lifetime task that each Christian must dedicate himself to accomplish. The secular world we live in too easily ensnares the young. So we must do the work necessary in our own lives so that we will have something worth passing on, but then do the work necessary to impress our children with that which has previously impressed us. This will draw us away from the influences that have seeped into our lives, and bring back into focus that which is important. Herein lies the true meaning of walking with God: having Him be the head of our lives.