A Prophet Like Myself

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by Jusben
by Jusben

 

Deuteronomy 18:15-20 
Psalm 111
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Mark 1:21-28 

 

Moses reassures the people that they will always have someone like Moses to lead them.  Up to the terrible time in Babylon the Hebrew understanding of Moses’ promise was that God would call upon judges or kings to guide them, but the new understanding focused more on the promise of the coming Messiah.  The early followers of Jesus, who were all Jews, never doubted that Moses spoke specifically of the Messiah.

Most of the religious authorities in Jerusalem believed that Moses did promise the Messiah.  But they could not accept his coming from Hicksville, Galilee.  He had to be a priest or king or prophet or mighty warrior.  While Jesus was all those, they could not see it.

When Jesus commanded demons to leave a man, they failed to see God controlling the Father of Lies choosing instead to attack the timing.  Why did he not wait until sundown when the Sabbath ended?  The Messiah would never heal someone on the Sabbath; therefore, he must be an imposter.  We must do as Moses instructed:  But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to deathNIV

We who are religious, who are Christian are just as prone to see people around us violating the rules as we understand them.  We are quick to condemn their actions and usually to avoid them.  We are not so quick to seriously consider the rule itself and make sure it really is God’s command.  Everyone knows God ordered us to never touch pork, so why do we eat it?  Why do we eat shrimp when it is an abomination to God?  Why do many protestants avoid using wine for communion when Jesus told us to drink the wine, not Welch’s grape juice?

Many of the church at Corinth understood Jesus’ teaching to mean that all the old rules were thrown out.  I can do what I want.  Paul has to remind us that it is not about us, it is about what God wants and God wants us to serve one another, not hurt one another.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Time is Short

Clock fleur de lis    by Melodi2

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62: 6-14
1 Corinthians 7: 29-31
Mark 1:14-20

 

This is one of the passages that people have for centuries accused Paul of getting wrong.  He said the End Times are here; nearly 2,000 years later we are still waiting.  If Paul was so wrong about that can we believe him at all?

We must never forget that the church at Corinth was in serious trouble.  Paul gave them as much leadership as he could through his letters (at least one of which is lost to us, probably more).  Starting in chapter seven, Paul is answering specific questions the church has given to him.  Verses 1-2; Now let me deal with the questions raised in your letter. It is a good principle for a man to have no physical contact with women. Nevertheless, because casual liaisons are so prevalent, let every man have his own wife and every woman her own husbandPhillips

Read that again.  Paul was writing directly to churches in America.

As you read on in the chapter, look at verses 26, 29, 31, therefore verse 26.  We Christians are facing great dangers to our lives at present; our remaining time is very short; the world in its present form will soon be gone. TLB  Therefore: you would do best to remain just as you arePhillips

You know that Paul did not mean for us to remain opposed to God.  Even the reluctant prophet Jonah had to do what his Master gave him to do.  After a failed attempt to run away from God (there is a lesson for us right there) God again spoke to Jonah: “Go to that great city, Nineveh,” he said, “and warn them of their doom, as I told you to before!” TLB

Saul, Andrew, James and John all turned away from their fishing boats to follow Jesus.  Not so much leaving their boats as following Jesus.  That is the key to all these readings.

When we turn back to God, good happens.  The entire country of Nineveh repented and turned to God who forgave them.  Jonah did not forgive them, throwing a temper tantrum instead.  Jonah believed in God, but did not want to follow God, the condition of many church goers today.

What did Jesus preach?  The time has come at last—the kingdom of God has arrived. You must change your hearts and minds and believe the good newsTLB

Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken
NIV

The time has come for us to hold fast to that Rock.  Time is short.  We do not want to die outside the Fortress.  We do not want our names erased from the Book of Life because we were unwilling to focus our lives on God’s business and allowing our own desires to move to the background.

 

Be righteous and do good.

God Knows

 

by Cohdra
by Cohdra

 

1 Samuel 3:1-10(11-20) 
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 
John 1:43-51 

 

You know what I am going to say before I even say itTLB

God chose Samuel as His representative on earth and in this reading God speaks for the first time to the young prophet in training.  The message is troublesome for both God and Samuel.  Samuel’s teacher, the prophet Eli, refused to condemn his sons for their grievous sins in the Tabernacle, so God promised their deaths.  To his credit, Eli accepted what he had not been willing to do.

Jesus had a more pleasant task of calling his Apostles.  It is clear in this reading that Jesus could look into the hearts of humans and know their secrets.  He knew at once what they were capable of accomplishing and called them to the task.  When Jesus said I saw you while you were still under the fig tree NIV he meant that he came to know Nathanael, his secrets, his potential, his willingness.

God know us more completely than we know ourselves.

As Paul put it, Have you realised the almost incredible fact that your bodies are integral parts of Christ himself? Phillips  To take baptism is to be buried with Jesus and to rise a new person, to accept the servant hood of Jesus the Son of God.

A servant cannot do his own thing, he must do as his master instructs.  We are called to service.  We must bring justice into the world; that is our duty.  It is just when every human has food and no longer worries about starvation.  It is just when every human is treated with respect, given an equal chance for housing, education, and medical care.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Power of the Spirit  

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Genesis 1:1-5

Psalm 29
Acts 19:1-7
Mark 1:4-11

 

When we look at the center of the first sentence of Genesis, we find God.  God fills the first chapter, causing all of creation.  Notice that creation does not come from nothing.  The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deepCJB and in verse 3 the deep is described as water.

But that is not the important point for today.  The Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the waterCJB  We stress God said forgetting that the Spirit was there to do the work.  There was no sun or moon or stars but there was light.  It is the Light of God delivered by the Holy Spirit.

The voice of Adonai is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
Adonai over rushing waters,
the voice of Adonai in power,
the voice of Adonai in splendor
CJB

That voice, that Word of God is the power of the universe.  The Word fills the Spirit with its power, the Spirit does the work of God.

When John was busy baptizing repentant people, he was surprised to see the Lamb of God come to him for that same baptism.  Matthew has John say, I ought to be immersed by you! CJB  But Jesus must be fully human and take on our sins in a kind of reverse baptism, so John agrees to do the baptism.

It is then that the Word shatters the barrier between us and God and the Holy Spirit visibly covers Jesus with God’s protection.  We all have that same protection, but we choose not use it all too often.  It is like an umbrella, we have to decide to use the protective covering.

We can go to church, say all the correct words, be baptized, but still not have the presence of the Holy Spirit.  We are like those in Acts who were baptized according to John.  When they received the True Baptism the power of the Holy Spirit came over them just as it did for Jesus.

We cannot be satisfied with token Christianity.  Jesus called us to follow him, not recite John 3:16.  We must become doers of the Word.  Anything less is the baptism of John.  Like the men in the picture above, we must step out in faith.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

God Has Saved His People

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Jeremiah 31:7-14 

Psalm 84 or 84:1-8

Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a 
Matthew 2:13-15,19-23 

Why does God bother?  We turn against Him routinely.  Satan seems to have more fans, gets more likes.  Even when we are nice it often turns naughty.  Maybe God should develop a new, improved model, one that can actually live the way He wants us to.

As Jeramiah writes, I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn sonNIV  Being our Father puts God in a different and difficult role.  Yes, He created the universe and He continues to create new stars, planets and black holes, but he is also a parent.  Like human parents, He works 9 to 5 but He does not give up being a parent.  And like human parents, he sometimes has to punish his children who do wrong.

All God’s children sin.  Proverbs 10:16, the earnings of the wicked are sin and deathNIV  Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is deathNIV  This is not a ten minute time-out; not grounding for a week.  Death.  Not death, then resurrection.  Death, then resurrection to be thrown into the lake of fire with Satan for eternity.

How does God deal with that as our Father?  No earthly father wants to kill his children (even as we sometimes think it); nor does God.  So, He has designed a universe in which we are protected, as the Psalmist wrote:  he will not withhold anything good from those whose lives are pure. CJB  He has been protecting us since we came to exist.  For example, the strong magnetic field that deflects the harmful radiation from the sun while letting in light; the abundance of life-giving water that also creates our weather, including rain.  The list is long.

But most importantly, God decided to protect us and save us at the same time by taking on our punishment Himself.  He somehow came into the world as a human, lived and died as a human, went into Hell, took the keys away from Abaddon, released the prisoners, and returned to Heaven.  It is the stuff of legends, a fantastic story.  It we think on it too long it is hard to accept.

Oddly, rereading Genesis 2 can clarify the fantastic part.  God was perfect and he created perfect humans with his own hands.  Everything else was created with the Word.  Humans are unique in the universe.  All that God did was create another perfect human whom we called Yeshua, with the help of Miryam.  Unlike Adam, that child remained the perfect Son of God.  He was God in every respect while being Adam (Hebrew for human) in every respect.  He was, in other words, exactly like you and I are supposed to be.

We see in Matthew how God carefully protected Yeshua as a child and later as a man on a mission.  That protection did not cover temptation.  Yeshua was tempted all through his life, right up to the moment of his death.  By doing what Adam failed to do, that is, refuse to listen to the voice of the Deceiver, Yeshua defeated sin.

Today, we can live with the protection of God by accepting Yeshua’s sacrifice.  We can take on the life style he lived and in doing that we come closer to being the perfect human we were first created to be.

No, it is not easy, if it were Adam would have succeeded.  Ephesians 18:  I pray that he will give light to the eyes of your hearts, so that you will understand the hope to which he has called you, what rich glories there are in the inheritance he has promised his peopleCJB

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence