Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Special Thanksgiving Season

Now that Fall is upon us Winter is fast approaching with it’s cold winds, rain and snow, the trees have shed their leaves, all the flowers have died, and all have dropped their seed. It is a promise that new life will come forth in time from what is now dead and a reminder that we will again see those who have passed before us. It is a time of reflection, thanksgiving and communion with God as we wonder about the brevity of life. Walking up the steps of the garden path the lantern reminds us; “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”                     (Psalm 119 - 105)

Recalling this past Summer how little Blackcap Chickadees built a nest in the center of a plant basket hanging from the eaves just outside the bedroom window. 

My spouse delighted watching the birds taking turns keeping the tiny eggs warm that the female had laid. Soon there were little mouths to feed and the adults flew back and forth gathering things for the little ones to eat. 

Finally it came time to try their wings as the little birds cascaded out of the nest spreading their wings just in time to land safely. Sadly though, one little bird crashed headlong onto the concrete patio below, his little beak moving as he gasped two or three times, closed his eyes and died. The mother bird returned to have one last look and flew away. We buried the tiny hapless creature and thanked the Lord for him brief as his life was. Pondering what had happened one has to consider the brevity of our own lives and of those loved ones who have passed before us, sometimes in an untimely death, the Lord comforts us with these words; “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? (Matthew 6: 25 - 27)

With these thoughts in mind perhaps this Thanksgiving season will be more meaningful to those who honor the Lord trusting in His lovingkindness toward us as we consider the following…

O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! 
(Psalm 8: 1 - 9)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

What In The World Is Wrong With Us?

God gave Moses the law for the Hebrew people to live by at which time Moses reiterates what the leaders of the Hebrew nation had said as they requested that he ask God for rules to live by when they said, “Go near, you yourself, and hear all that the Lord our God will say. Then tell us everything that the Lord our God tells you, and we will listen and do it.”  
Now this is very important, and few people really notice it or pay attention to the significance of verse 27 of Deuteronomy chapter 5 which encapsulates the insufferable and deceitful arrogance of the human heart. Try as they will all human beings have failed to follow those ten laws perfectly. The prophet Jeremiah later puts his finger on it when he said; “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17: 9) 
Practicing Jews bind themselves to the law, whereas it has become the basis for civil law in all the nations of the world today and it is the law of the spirit in the Christian life which is encapsulated in what Jesus said; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22: 37 - 40)

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.”

Being brought out of the land of Egypt and the house of slavery is clearly a reference not only to physical delivery from slavery and harsh cruelty but to a spiritual delivery from an eternal death, the consequence of sin until Yeshua the Christ came to deliver salvation to mankind. However in spite of that all of humankind continually fails under the law by ignoring the following admonition; “You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God..…”

Unfortunately we have so many other beguiling interests in all the electronic devices, entertainment and toys, cars, boats just to name a few things that take precedence over our daily relationship and communion with God. These then are idols that we have allowed to come before Him, so we fail the very first commandment every day in so many ways without even realizing it. How much time do we give to God each day? Do we even bother to pray and then wonder what is wrong with our lives and why the blessings are so scant or the answers are missing?

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
How often have we had an outburst of temper and used the Lord’s name in vain, for some it has become a habit of speech that is not only very unbecoming but is a clear indicator of the corrupt matters of one’s own heart. We have all failed to keep this commandment.

Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.
There was a time when businesses were closed in honor of God’s admonition to make one day holy and abstain from work, everyone dressed up and attended a church or synagogue to honor the Lord either on Saturday or Sunday, for most people these things don’t happen anymore and God is not honored because of it.

Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
How often we have all failed and at times have dishonored our parents.

You shall not murder.
Some translations use the word “Kill” but the original word used was murder as in Cain's vicious murder of his brother Able which was a pre-meditated offensive act, whereas killing can be justifiable before God as a purely defensive act of self defense or in defense of another. But we are all guilty of breaking even this commandment as we are all swept up in the violence and murder produced by the entertainment business, we are complicit in the murder of millions of the unborn children in their mother’s wombs as we acquiesce look away and underwrite this egregious activity.

Neither shall you commit adultery.
We have all cheated in our minds and hearts many times over and we lie to ourselves to say otherwise. Our love of God is also adulterated by everything else that takes precedence over Him, so yes we are all adulterers.

I’ll not even bother to comment on the remaining commandments as we all know that we have all failed to keep them perfectly.

Neither shall you steal. Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor. Neither shall you covet your neighbor’s wife. Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Deuteronomy 5: 6 - 21) 

But know this, these following verses point out the problem and hold the answers to the conditions which we suffer from and the means of how God will deliver us from it's eternal bondage.

“Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10)

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. (Romans 3:23)
“The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

“Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39)

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” 
(Romans 1:16)

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” 
(Ephesians 2:8-9)


“I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2: 1 - 2)