Flying With God

 

Cockpit

Exodus 3:1-15
Psalm 63:1-8
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9

 

God is something of a historian. He points out events from which we need to learn lessons. We do the same thing as individuals and as nations. Every time an airplane crashes, we study it to find the cause and come up with some way to prevent it happening again. But, being human, we still find ways to mess up.

All modern jetliners have as many as five gyroscopes that tell the pilots where the plane is relative to level flight. There was a plane that crashed in South America a few years ago because the pilots followed one instrument, ignoring the other four that indicated they were gradually rolling over. Flying in clouds at night over unlit jungles, they had no other reference. The plane tore apart when it turned upside down. The pilots did not follow proper Instrument Flight Rules, IFR.

We all live in a world that requires IFR. We cannot see where we are going, which means we need external guidance. Far too many people choose to ignore the guidance and crash one way or another. If we can keep our focus on God, we can sail through the darkness without fear.

If. Those two letters describe our biggest problem as Christians. There are millions of distractions, millions of other suggestions from people about how to get through life. We can receive years of instructions on flying through the darkness, and still forget the lessons at the worst possible times.

One of the blogs I follow is by Jayson D. Bradley who wrote Jesus in the Desert: My Complete Fear of Silence. The premise is that Jesus had to escape the noise that is daily life, even in the first century, so he could focus on God while the Liar tried to win him over. Throughout his ministry, Jesus was able to get away from all the people, even the Twelve, and quietly listen for the voice of God.

We are not very good about doing that. Like Moses, we watch the sheep instead of listening for the great I Am. God had to get his attention by having an angel appear like fire in a bush.

Paul reminded the church at Corinth that the people who did agree to follow Moses, were not very successful at staying the course. Even Moses lost his direction a time or two.

Paul goes on to remind the church that we can learn from their mistakes. These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them didNLT

The reading from Luke is most important. Just then, some people came to tell Yeshua about the men from the Galil whom Pilate had slaughtered even while they were slaughtering animals for sacrificeCJB Notice the response of Jesus. Are you thinking that these Galileans were worse sinners than any other men of Galilee because this happened to them? Phillips The story from the people was a political story. Pilate did this, what do you think we should do in return? But Jesus did not come to the world to solve political problems, he came so that we could be saved from the consequences of our sins, political or otherwise. You will all die just as miserable a death unless your hearts are changed! Phillips

There is nothing in this world that can save us. We will sin, we will die. No presidential candidate can change that, nor can he or she do anything about our sins. When we are flying through the night, we must not look away from the one Instrument that can guide us.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Enemies of the Cross

OLD DOOR 10

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February 21, 20116

 

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Psalm 27
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Luke 13:31-35 

 

Paul begins his letter, literally, with: Imitators together of me be brothers…. United Bible Society Choosing to follow Jesus makes us family. However, there are those who announce that they are followers, yet they act as enemies and are: destined to be lost, NJB …because, the things they think important are earthly thingsNJB this world is the limit of their horizonPhillips

If we are brothers and sisters with Jesus, then we are also citizens of Heaven, but we still live on earth. We must learn to live like ambassadors of our King. Think of Shirley Temple Black who was appointed the US ambassador to Ghana by President Ford. She, in spite of her last name, was a white face in a black nation. It would be hard to select someone more opposite of the nation she worked in.

More importantly, she was a classic American and always stayed true to that heritage. She followed all State Department instructions as she also helped the Ghanaians through years of internal conflict. That is the model we need to follow.

Jesus weeps when we fail as ambassadors in this alien land. Our problem is that we do not have the advantage Shirley Temple had of clearly being a foreigner. For us, Heaven seems the alien culture. How do we change that? We must become naturalized citizens of Heaven.

It is never easy to move to a new country and become a citizen. It requires years of study, years of absorbing the new culture and new language (what is the language of Heaven?). Once we pass the test, we have to take an oath renouncing our former citizenship and pledging our loyalty to the new county. The process is much the same for citizenship in Heaven.

Why then does Jesus weep? While the answer is complex, in this lesson the answer lies in Luke 13:22-30. When you say, “Yes, I want to follow Jesus,” picture yourself standing before two doors, one very narrow and the other wide. To follow Jesus, we must enter the narrow door and remain on that narrow path.

To be an ambassador for Jesus is not easy. There is great risk. The world does not like what Jesus stands for. Yet, we have been charged to stand firm in his ways. When we do, we can expect: He will re-make these wretched bodies of ours to resemble his own glorious body, by that power of his which makes him the master of everything that isPhillips

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

First Fruits

 

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Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Romans 10:8b-13
Luke 4:1-13

 

We Christians do not make much of the First Fruits, yet it is the very day of the resurrection of Jesus; he was the first fruit of the new Israel. Cain and Able gave the first fruits offering, so it has a long history before the Exodus. The day of first fruits is the first day of the week after Passover.

From God’s standpoint—as though I can really understand God—His people need to learn to be thankful for His saving them from a life of slavery, and to be thankful for becoming a part of the Nation of God.

We Americans, being rugged individualist, tend to ignore the importance of being part of Israel. Today, we increasingly turn away from any form of centralized churches or organized religion. We believe we can go it alone.

When we read about the temptation of Jesus, we like to slide past the first sentence: Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wildMSG Jesus did not face the Tempter alone, the Spirit led him. It was so important that we know that fact that Jesus told his disciples about the experience and Luke recorded it for us to read.

If I take on the Devil without any help, I will lose. No—repeat—No human can face the Great Liar alone. That is why God has given us His Word, His Spirit, and His Son. By putting our faith in God and His Son, we have a good chance of not falling into Satan’s grasp. When we do slip, the Spirit is able to nudge us back.

Paul quotes the prophet Joel on this point of having faith. Allow me to include a few verses of introduction. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and terrible Day of Adonai.” At that time, whoever calls on the name of Adonai will be savedCJB

 

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

The Veil is Taken Away

 

Holy_Place_the_Veil

Exodus 34:29-35
Psalm 99
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]

 

We do not know what Moses looked like when he came down from the mountain after receiving instructions from God. It is easy to imagine he appeared to be sunburned, but I suspect he was actually glowing, kind of a 10-watt skin.

There is something stranger than that; starting in chapter 19, Moses climbed up and down the mountain many times, and God spoke to him for forty days and nights, giving Moses the outline of the contract between God and His chosen people. Moses descended the mountain several times before he brought down the commandments, and there was no need for a veil.

In chapter 32, Moses came down to confront the corruption of the people, break the tablets and generally force them to repent and cleans themselves. Yet, there was no need for a veil. Not until chapter 34, today’s reading do we see the face of Moses shining forth. (The Hebrew word is drawn from the word for “horn”, indicating that the presence of God extended outward from Moses.)

The symbol is powerful. Until the people rebelled from God and took up idolatry, there was no need for God’s presence to radiate from Moses, and, thus, no need for a veil. That veil was duplicated in the Tabernacle and the Temple. At first, only Moses could pass the veil to enter the Holy of Holies, but after his death, that duty passed to the High Priest.

Now we turn to the reading in Luke, known to us as the Transfiguration. Jesus takes his three most trusted disciples, Peter, John, and James, up a mountain to pray. While praying, while the three amigos became sleepy, Jesus’ face changed. I looked at all the translations and only the Living Bible read, “his face began to shine.” The Greek reads, “The appearance of face of him different.” I do not believe that Luke dared to try to describe what he had heard from Peter, so he left at, “different.”

His clothes did shine so brightly it was like lightning. He talked with Moses and Elijah and Peter and the boys understood what they were saying. Notice that they also knew the two on sight. Hard to believe, unless you already have faith.

This is the good part. No veil was necessary. Moses and Elijah, directly from Heaven, talking with the Son of God, glowing brighter than a detergent commercial, and no veils were needed.

Jesus was all about tearing away the veils. It should be no surprise that Luke continues the theme describing the death of Jesus in chapter 23, verse 45: The veil in the Temple sanctuary was split in twoPhillips

Paul ties it up very neatly. We are not like Moses, who veiled his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing its fading glory. But it was their minds really which were blinded, for even today when the old agreement is read to them there is still a veil over their minds—though the veil has actually been lifted by ChristPhillips

Because of our rebellion, God protects us from his wrath with a symbolic veil. To put it simply, Jesus removed the veil.

But all of us who are Christians have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the LordPhillips

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence