A POINT OF LIGHT

When George H.W. Bush was president he pushed the concept of a thousand points of light and recognized people around the nation who were doing good things that helped others. The truth is we need far more than a thousand points of light. Every city, community, family and church needs at least one person that can be a point of light for them as a group. Into every group of people, no matter how large or small, religious or not, rich or poor, young or old or whatever mix of cultures one might have, there will be days and months when darkness invades the group and the need for a point of light will be clear to everyone. Darkness comes in a multitude of ways and for a vast array of reasons. Think about your family, especially the reaches of your family through multiple generations. How has darkness invaded your family in the last year or so? Has there been a death in the family? What about a major illness? Is there someone struggling with mental or emotional issues that darken the family? Has addiction issues hit the family? What about marriage break ups or sexual orientation differences? Sometimes the dark night of the soul comes because of a spiritual crisis in the family? It may be that one family member is doubting their faith or has determined that their beliefs on particular issues have changed. Whatever the reason, when darkness invades the family, it tends the drain joy, love, meaning and even the closeness of the family from it.

None of us can be the light to shine in every need and hurt in the city, country or even the local church. But, I can be a light to shine for whatever group I am a part of. By far the best known teaching on this whole topic is Jesus speaking to the people in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:14-16. He said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Jesus described himself as the light of the world and declared that he had come into the world as the light but people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. John in I John 1:5 said that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” The Psalmist tells us that the word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our pathway. All of those help us to see that being a light for our world isn’t something that solely depends on us. God and Christ are the light that shines like the sun. They are the light source. We operate as light like the moon in that we are the reflected light of the sun. We aren’t capable of producing the light. But we can spend time with God and Christ and absorb the light that comes from Him to share with others.

Notice, Jesus challenge to us is to “Let your light so shine that people may see your good works and glorify the Father.” There is a huge difference between “Letting our light shine” and “Shining our light.” It is the difference between a strong flash light being shined into our eyes and the glow of a candle sitting in the middle of a dark room. When I try to shine my light on others it tends to irritate and turn people away. But when I let my light shine it draws people to the source of the light which is the Lord. Jesus explained that the way we accomplish that goal is by good works we are doing.

In Philippians 2:14-16 Paul offered some other points on how we let our lights shine. “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” If I want to be a point of light for my family, friends, church group, work place or community it is vital that I just stop the grumbling and arguing. Why? Because grumbling and arguing are part of the darkness that already invades the group. If I start down that road I can’t possibly bring light to others since I am in the dark myself. You stop those things so that you may become, blameless and pure. This isn’t becoming sinless since we all sin. It is the refusal to live in sin and the determination to make things right when I have done wrong. One who is pure has unmixed devotion to the Lord. As children of God our sins have been cleansed, washed away and forgiven. We are innocent because of God’s cleansing us. When we live without the grumbling and arguing and become blameless and pure we stand apart from the dark world that is warped and crooked. It is then that we become a point of light for the group. You can’t light a candle and go light your world while living with the same actions and attitude as the dark world we are trying to offer light.

I can’t light the world. But I can be a light for the family, or group that I am in. If we all do that, it will provide the needed light for our world.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WHEN ALL HOPE IS LOST

What is it like to lose all hope? It is obvious people use the word “Hope” is a lot of different ways and most of them don’t fit the way the Bible uses the word. Probably our most common use of the word is about something we wish for. “I hope to find just the right person to marry one of these days.” “I hope I win the lottery.” I hope to live until I’m 100.” “I hope to retire when I’m 50 and have plenty of money to live on for the rest of my life.” These are all about wishes. The word “hope” means to long for something that I fully expect to have. It is an equal mixture of desire and expectation. Many things we desire in life we really have no hope of getting and many things we expect are not things we hope for at all. It is only when the two things are put together that we really have hope.

Real hope is based on evidence. When Paul said that we are saved by hope in Romans 8:24 he was talking about our salvation in Christ, based on our faith in him as the Christ, the Son of God and on his promises to save us and bless us not only in this life but also in eternity. In I Corinthians 15 Paul was discussing the resurrection from the dead when he said, “If it is only in this life that we have hope, we are of all people most to be pitied.” Why would it be a pitiful situation for us to only have hope in this life?

One reason is that our hope is laid up for us in heaven where we will have an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled ( I Peter 1:3-5). But it is also true because when we look clearly at this life, it is often the case that the very people who are totally devoted to God go through the most difficulties, persecutions, rejections and pains in this life. If this life is really all there is then we have built our whole life on something that has no real future to it. Think about men like Paul and Peter who went through major agonies in this life, and were executed because of their faith in Jesus, if there isn’t reward beyond the grave, they lived rather pitiful lives. When Peter wrote his second letter to Christians who were scattered abroad because of their faith he challenged them to lean into the great and precious promises of God by adding to their faith, courage, to courage, knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness, brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness love. He said that adding such virtues would make us fruitful in God’s service and in doing so it would lead to our calling and election being sure. He declared that all who followed that path would have an abundant entrance into the eternal kingdom of the Lord. (2 Peter 1:5-11)

We develop hope as our trust in God grows and in living for him we believe His promises to us about the future and about how he works in us even when we are going through difficult times in this world. The closer we walk with Jesus and the more we trust him the deeper out hope goes and the more that hope will stand even when things go in the wrong way for us.

So, what happens that causes a person to lose hope? In Acts 27 Luke tells us the story of Paul being shipped to Rome as a prisoner to appear before Caesar. They sailed in the middle of winter and during the worst storm seasons. They were on the Adriatic Sea and hurricane force winds were sweeping them along. The sailors had no control. They were fearful of the ship breaking apart and all being lost. “On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun or stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved” (Acts 27:19-20). After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up and urged them to keep up their courage, “because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you. So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me” (Verses 21-25).

Paul not only encouraged them to eat something since it had be 14 days since they had eaten but he took food and ate before them so they too began to eat. They did have a shipwreck and the ship was lost with its contents, but all the people were saved. Notice, they lost all hope of being saved when all they could see was the storms, the winds and each other struggling. How could they regain hope? It would come through believing the promising words of one man who expressed faith and courage because God had sent an angel to encourage him. Notice that Paul offered them hope that was shown by eating and encouraging them to eat, but he tied it all to believing God. “I believe God that it will be just as he said.” In reality this is the basis for hope in every situation. When we focus on the winds, the storms of life, the people around us who are struggling and afraid, our hope drains out and we are left empty. Hope only builds when our focus changes from us and circumstances to God. It isn’t enough to believe in God or to believe there is a God. It is vital that we believe God that it will be just as he said. When I trust God and His great and precious promises, hope builds and changes our entire focus in life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

YOU ARE MY SON, WHOM I LOVE

Recently I had the pleasure of a dad with his adult son coming by my office for a visit. I had known the dad for some time but hadn’t ever met his son. What was amazing to me was the glen in the dad’s eyes as he presented his son to me. He was obviously proud beyond measure of his boy and what he was doing with his life. I was thinking later about the meeting and conversation and it hit me that this is what every boy longs for from his dad. We want to have our dad look at us with admiration in his eyes and to say to a friend, “This is my son and I am very pleased with what he had done with his life.”

Think about another special occasion when a Father made such a statement about his son. Matthew records the story in Matthew 3:13-17. It all began with the story of John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness a message of repentance and telling those who heard him to be baptized to have their sins forgiven. He promised the kingdom of God was coming soon. John was a powerful preacher and people were coming out into the deserted area to hear him preach even though it was far from a convenient trip to make. People came from all Judea and Galilee to hear him and to be baptized by him. When Jesus was thirty years old, he came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. John resisted saying he needed to be baptized by Jesus rather than baptizing him. Jesus said, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” John then baptized Jesus in the Jordan. It wasn’t for the forgiveness of his sins, since he hadn’t committed any sins. But to fulfill God’s righteous plan and prepare him for the mission given him by the Father.

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Remember this is the very beginning of Jesus ministry. At this point he had never preached a sermon, performed a miracle, healed a sick person or taken a stand against the religious hypocrisy of the day. For the last thirty years he had been at home in Nazareth serving faithfully as a son and brother. Jesus was the oldest child in a family of at least five boys and two girls but very possibly more than two girls. It seems likely that somewhere in his growing up Joseph, the father of the crew had died. Now, in reality he was Jesus’ stepdad, but the actual dad to the rest of the children. Joseph had been a carpenter and when Jesus returned to Nazareth to preach in their synagogue, Mark notes that the people said, “Is this not the carpenter?” indicating that Jesus had learned the business from Joseph and had carried it on after his death. We aren’t told why Jesus waited until he was thirty years old to begin his ministry. It could have been just the belief that he would have greater acceptance among the people when he was a little older. It could have been that Joseph’s death left the family in desperate need for him to stay and pick up the slack left behind in providing for the family and helping to bring up the younger siblings for the Lord.

Whatever the reason, at thirty he was baptized and God opened heaven to send the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove to light on him, showing his acceptance and place in the godhead. But that wasn’t enough. God spoke from heaven to say to Jesus and the world around him, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” So, before Jesus even started on his ministry of preaching and teaching people about the gospel and the coming kingdom, God was pleased with him and wanted him and everyone else to know of his devoted love for him and how pleased he was with Jesus life, so far. It seems to me that there is a powerful lesson in this event. God didn’t wait to express his love, joy and pleasure in his son until he had fulfilled his mission. He didn’t wait until he had preached to the multitudes or until he had healed many who were sick or hurting. He shouted the message of love at the threshold of Jesus’ ministry. It is a lesson for father’s to not wait for their children to accomplish something amazing to express your love, joy and pleasure in their life.

But it has a deeper message as well. We all become God’s sons and daughters when we out of faith turn to the Lord in baptism to begin our life in him. “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). When we begin our life for the Lord, entering his family and having Him as our Father in heaven and us as his children, his family, God loves us and claims us as his own. He is shouting to the world, “This is my son or daughter, whom I love and I am very pleased with them.”

One of the problems we tend to have as children of God is that we tend to think God will only be pleased with us and shout his love for us when we are able to do some big thing in the world in his name. Now, it is certainly true that God will express this same love later, after he had preached great sermons, healed multitudes of sin and performed amazing miracles. On the mount of Transfiguration God spoke up when Peter wanted to build three tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. God stilled Peter’s voice by saying, “This is my Son, whom I love, listen to him.” So God does show his love and pleasure for us as his children when we do something good in his name. But he also expresses his love and pleasure in us simply when we make our commitment of faith and dedication to him. When we out of that faith in the Lord are baptized into Christ and become his children.

Imagine the scene. You are there with God and He looks at you with love and says to Abraham, Hey, I wanted you to meet my son or daughter today. I am so pleased with him and their faith and commitment to me. I hope you will get to know them. God loves you for being his child. God loves me as his child, even though I haven’t done anything special. Amazing!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WHY DID YOU COME

Have you ever gone out of your way to visit someone who was sick or even near death and had them respond to your visit with the question, “Why did you come?” Perhaps it is part of the whole thing of being a preacher that has led people at times to ask, why I’ve come when I heard they were ill or even the degree of their illness. Sometimes it is obvious when you enter a hospital room that it is frightening to the patient. On more than one occasion I’ve had someone to way, “Am I about to die?” If the preacher is coming to see me things must be worse than I thought.

I remember going to see a person who was obviously near the end of their life on this earth, but when I entered their home and was escorted back to the bedroom where the person was, the first thing that was said was, “Why did you come?” We had gone through a disagreement some years earlier about something at church. Honestly I don’t remember what it was and never really gave it much thought. But it was obvious this person had thought a whole lot about it and as they continued to talk it became clear that he felt that he had been so unkind during the last visit we had that there was certainly no good reason for me to come see him now when the end seemed to be very close.

When Jesus thought about his reason for coming into the world, he knew that most of the people didn’t see it the way he did or the way things really were. Since he came into the world with the very power of God at his disposal, it must have seemed to the people that knew him that he came to destroy his enemies. He had the power both to kill and to raise one from the dead. He had power to give life or take it. He was able to withstand every attack Satan could point in his direction. There was not a single illness nor injury that was so bad or person so far gone that he couldn’t heal their sickness and give them new life. It seemed to those who watched him and saw the power at his disposal that he had come to reign as king over everything. After he fed the crowd with a little boys lunch and then had the apostles to pick up what was left over, each of them had a full basket of leftovers. They started with one little boy’s lunch, fed 5,000 people with it and then had twelve basket’s full left over. No wonder the crowd began to talk about how they could make him their king.

But Jesus was clear on why he came. It wasn’t about some physical power or rule over the nations. In Mark 10:35-45 James and John were under the impression that Jesus was getting ready to start his reign as king. So they made their appeal to him that he would allow them to sit on his right and left hand when he came into his kingdom. Jesus explained to them that it wasn’t his to give and that they weren’t really prepared for such a place. When the other ten apostles heard what James and John had asked they were horribly angry at them for trying to take on this place of authority. Likely, each man in the group felt they were the logical one to sit on his right or left in his kingdom. He explained to them that such places would be given to whoever the Father had prepared for such roles. He explained to the whole group that it was the way of the Gentiles or the unbelievers to exercise authority over each other, not the way it was to be in the church. He pointed out that in the kingdom the greatest among them would be the servant or slave of all. Then Jesus made this statement that stands out. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus is king of kings and lord of lords. He is the first and the last, the alpha and omega. But he is a servant. He came into the world to serve and to make servants of all who follow him. When we picture following Jesus as being a success journey for rulers, we miss the point. One of the most amazing scenes in Jesus life on this earth was the night when he gathered with his disciples to eat the Passover supper. They were reclining at the table, but no one was about to admit they were any less than the others so that they would serve each other. Even though their feet were dirty and the thought of gathering to eat with their dirty feet sticking out is distasteful, they were ready to do so. Jesus arose, laid aside his outer garments, took a towel and a basin of water and begin to wash the disciples feet. He concluded by telling them he was their teacher and lord and if he as teacher and lord had washed their feet then, they ought to wash one another’s feet. His actions were an example for them to follow. Jesus came to serve.

But the ultimate of all service is to lay down one’s life as a ransom for many. When he went to the cross he took on himself the sins of the world and took on him the punishment for our sins, so we can be totally forgiven and given a new start, a new life in him. If Jesus, our teacher and lord left us such an example, we ought to be ready to serve, to give, to share with others to help them. If Jesus came to serve, then all who follow him have also come, not to be served but to serve.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HE WAS FULL OF IT

It is very possible that in the next couple of weeks you will be sitting with family, probably either preparing to eat or after having consumed a great meal.  As you sit and talk, if there are young children running and playing, enjoying every minute of being with cousins and siblings, it may will be that someone will offer the comment about a young boy or girl, “They are sure full of themselves.”  Usually, we mean that are active, alive and running full throttle.  We aren’t surprised for a child to be full of themselves.  As a matter of fact it seems to go with being a two or three years old. It is when one reaches adulthood and is still full of themselves that we become concerned.  It might be worth considering in every life, “What are you full of?”

In John 1:14-18 the apostle John offered his account of Jesus coming into the world.  Matthew and Luke had given versions of the birth of Christ in Bethlehem.  But John, who was writing about thirty years later offered a totally different approach.  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John bore witness about him, and cried out, ‘This is he of whom I said, He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has seen God: the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”  John had started his gospel account back in verse one by saying, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.”  He is speaking of Jesus, the Christ who came into this world as deity, sharing the same divine nature as God the Father.  But, he became “FLESH” and dwelt among us.  It is interesting that John, describing Jesus becoming a human, didn’t choose words like, “Man” or “human” but chose the word “flesh”.  As God he was Spirit.  But he took on human flesh and became a man with all the desires and challenges that go with being flesh and blood.  He felt pain, hurts, fears and loneliness like other people living in flesh. The reality that he was sinless demands that flesh not be seen as having sin in its nature.  He was flesh but sinless.

But it is in that flesh, that humanity, that John says that we see his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.  Instead of his flesh hiding his glory, John said, it was there that we were able to look at it and be drawn to his glory.  But what was it that demonstrated this glory tied to the divine nature of Jesus?  John points to two things that so characterized Jesus that he could easily be described as FULL of these two virtues.  His glory stood out because it was easy to see his grace and truth, even in the flesh and blood body that he was living in now.  John said we receive from his fullness grace upon grace.  Notice again the point of fullness.  Grace and truth so permeated the heart and nature of Jesus that it was obvious he was full of these things.  When one looks back on Moses the great man of faith in the Old Testament one remembers that he gave us the Law of God centered around the ten commandments.  But when you look closer at Jesus in his flesh and blood body, you see that grace so fills him that it comes out his every pore.  

It seems to me that John has now laid out the theme for this book and what he hopes all of us see in Jesus right here at the beginning and from this point through the rest of the his gospel account he will give story after story and lesson after lesson from Jesus that continues to demonstrate this whole theme.  When he is preparing to bring his book to a close he will say, “Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, that are not written in this book, but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ and believing you might have life in his name.”

From this beginning in chapter one, you could just about open to any part of John’s gospel account and see grace and truth standing out in the relationships Jesus developed. In chapter two, he, along with his mother and a few of the early disciples were invited to a wedding feast.  When the host ran out of wine, it seemed natural to his mother to ask Jesus to do something about it.  I have no idea what she expected him to do, but he solved the problem by turning water into wine.  You get the feeling in reading the story that most of the guest had no idea that the host had ever run out of wine or if he did what happened to solve the problem.  His grace saved a young bridegroom and his family from ridicule.   His truth was then presented as he went to the temple and saw that they had turned the house of God into a den of thieves and he took it on himself to cleanse the temple of these money changers and sellers inside the temple courts.  He helped a leader among the Pharisees to understand better how one becomes right with God by means of a new birth.  In chapter four he led a Samaritan woman with a spotted background to true worship of the Father.  It led to most of the Samaritan village being brought to faith.  Whether it was a man born blind, an invalid laying beside the pool longing to get in or raising Lazarus from the dead, the stories go on to show his grace and truth for all to recognize.  When John reaches the end of the book he takes lots of space to tell about the last days of his life on earth and his ultimate death on the cross.  He pictured the last supper with the disciples, but instead of focusing on the Lord’s Supper being instituted he pointed to Jesus washing the dirty feet of his disciples.  He declared that even with all their failures and one of them about to betray him for thirty pieces of silver, “Having loved his own who were in the world, beloved them to the very end.”   He challenged them of love each other as he had loved them.  That challenged still stands for every disciple of Jesus. Even as he foretold their failures to stand by him in the end, he told them not to be troubled but to believe in him.

His grace and truth stand out as he prays the longest recorded prayer from Jesus in John 17.  He prayed for God to keep them, to not take them out of the world but to protect them from the evil one.  He prayed that they would stay in the right way and for every disciple who ultimately followed the teaches of these apostles that they all might be one as he and the Father are one, so the world might believe that God had sent him.  He even prayed that all the disciples might ultimately be with him in heaven.  Grace and truth shined in all aspects of his life and in his death.

Think about it.  What if someone wanted to tell the essence of your life, what would they declare that you were full of?  

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WHAT A TREASURE!

Do You buy lottery tickets?  What about when the power ball contest reaches into the multi-million dollar range, are you tempted to go out and purchase tickets to get in on the possibility of winning?  How far would you be willing to go to obtain some huge treasure in your life?  I see these post on Facebook of some small cabin in the woods somewhere with the caption, “would you live in this cabin for a year for a million dollars?”  When you think of such treasures, one amazing thing is that when studies are done of those who win such huge amounts of money, the results are seldom good.  Most of the people within five years have lost the entire amount or declare that they are miserable and that the whole thing had been more a curse than a blessing.  I wonder why that would be the case.

Perhaps Jesus’ message that we ought not to lay up treasures on this earth but to lay up our treasures in heaven where they can’t be destroyed by the parasites of this world should be kept in mind.  

In Matthew 13 in the middle of several stories Jesus told about the kingdom of God there are two very short stories that tell us a whole lot about treasures and what makes them worth having.  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for find pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

Both these stories involve the kingdom of God as the great treasure in life.  That kingdom is the whole realm of people who make Jesus the king of their life and live under his standard.  The Bible had been promising the coming of God’s kingdom for a long time when Jesus came on the scene and took up the message of John the Baptist that the kingdom was very near.  He even challenged us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness so that other things we need might be thrown in for us.  But notice in our two stories that some people find the kingdom of God when they aren’t looking for it at all.  Some are like the man who happened upon a treasure hidden in a field.  He wasn’t out searching the field for treasures but simply, by accident, found it.  Many find the kingdom of God who aren’t searching for anything and don’t even realize their need for the kingdom until they happen to find it.  But others are like the man searching for fine pearls.  They are searching for the kingdom, knowing that something vital is missing in their life.  They may not even know about God but they know there is an emptiness in them and are longing to find something or someone who can fill that void.  So, when they find the kingdom, they know what they have found and its tremendous value.

Notice in the two stories Jesus told there is a common thread.  No matter how one finds the kingdom of God, if they are to possess it and become citizens of the the kingdom with Christ as king over them, it requires something from them.  The man who found the treasure in the field, had to go and find out who owned the property and then sell everything he had in order to purchase the field that had the treasure.  In our day the man’s actions would have seemed underhanded and taking advantage of the lack of knowledge of the owner, but in their day when people often hid treasures in fields and then died and no one knew the treasure was there, it was seen as the right thing to do to purchase the field and then own the treasure rather than simply taking it without going through the whole process.  The man who was searching and found the beautiful expensive pearl, had to leave the pearl and go home to sell everything he had to be able to purchase the pearl of great value.  Becoming a part of God’s kingdom demands of us that we be willing to leave our old life and ways behind us to become part of God’s kingdom.  Jesus called it a new birth or being born again to enter his kingdom.

The other thing that stands out in these stories is that after they had paid the price and now owned the field and the pearl they were filled with joy.  It was with joy that they went and sold what they had to purchase the field.  When the thought of entering the kingdom and what is required of me to be part of it, seems like too much to pay for us, we don’t grasp at all the value of the kingdom of the Lord.

This is the one kingdom that goes right on when this world and its wealth, power and treasures are completely wiped away.  In 2 Peter 1 as he described the life of a Christian in adding the graces needed to be like Jesus he said if we did that and made our calling and election sure we would have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The writer of Hebrews in chapter 12 and verse 28 said we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be destroyed so we ought to serve God reverently and with awe.  

Think about it.  When we are willing to risk money and things to try to win a lottery that the actual chances of winning are slight, why would we be hesitant to make the sacrifice necessary to obtain the kingdom of the Lord that is of greatest value and you get the kingdom every time?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GODLY REBELS

It is so easy to read the Bible regularly and suddenly notice something that really you had seen all along, yet it hits you in a whole new way, than it has before.  Usually when we think of rebels it isn’t with great admiration for their stance.  We can become so accustomed to going along to get along that any one who refuses to do so and takes a firm stand for what is right, seems out of step to us.  

In the first chapter of Exodus, the Israelites have been in Egyptian bondage for a long time.  They have been in Egypt for over 300 years now and we aren’t sure at what point leaders arose who didn’t know Joseph or appreciate what he had done for Egypt.  But somewhere down the line the Israelite nation was growing so rapidly that their numbers frightened the Egyptians and the rulers sought for ways to stop their massive growth.  It started with slavery that turned into brutality to try to wear them down.  When they kept right on growing in the midst of such, the Pharaoh made the decision to murder all the boy babies that were born in the land.  There were two well-known midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah.  The king of Egypt met with them and said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is girl, let her live.”  “The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let he boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, ‘Why have you done this?  Why have you let the boys live?’ The midwives answered Pharaoh, ‘Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.  So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous” (Exodus 1:15-21)

This story will continue and tell of Moses birth and how his mother hide him for three months before putting him out into the Nile River in a basket where some of the Princess of Egypt’s servants saw him and rescued him.  From the time of the birth of Moses until God delivered them from the Egyptian bondage would be 80 more years.

But I want to focus on the midwives.  We are given their names, but really know very little beyond that about them.  We aren’t even told if they were Hebrew women themselves or if they may have been Egyptian women who had come to know and fear God.  What we know is that they were living very busy lives delivering babies among the Israelites who were growing with God’s blessing all the time.  Imagine being in their shoes for a little while.  They don’t have high standing in the country.  They are great servants but like the doctor who delivers babies today they were not likely well known personally and seldom appreciated for the work they were doing.  It must have been an honor for these working women to be called to come before the king of the whole land.  Under such circumstances most would want to agree with the king and simply honor him by doing whatever he said to do.  However, these women feared God!  That one thing changed their whole outlook on life.  It changed their sense of mission.  It led them to put being obedient to God so far above obeying the king of Egypt that there was no comparison in their minds.

I don’t know if they had to think about it or talked about the whole thing on their way home.  I don’t know if they went home to talk with family and friends about what had been asked of them or if their faith was so secure in God that it didn’t even take any such conversation for them to know what they had to do.  Fearing God and obeying God always go hand in hand.  They knew the Israelites were the people of God and that he was blessing them by the growth in numbers.  So, instead of saying to the king, “Sir, we respect you as king, but we have a higher ruler in our lives.  We worship the God who made the worlds and everything in it and as a result we cannot do that which would be abominable in His sight.”  Instead of making any speech about why or what they would do, they simply went on their way and refused to obey the Egyptian rulers.  They helped mothers give birth and spared the lives of both the little boys and little girls.

I’m sure they knew there was coming a time when they would be called to give an accounting of how they had failed to obey the king.  But they chose to do right and face the consequences later.  Of course the king called them to asked what was going on.  The boy babies were still being born.  Had they not obeyed his command?  They explained that the Hebrew women were different from Egyptian women.  They were vigorous and would often give birth before they could even get there.  SO, God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.”

Focus on the word, “SO”.  So God was kind to the midwives.”  Obviously he was very pleased with their actions.  Yet they had disobeyed the laws of the land.  It illustrates this fact, while obeying the civil laws is important, obeying God is far, far more important.  They didn’t need to carry banners declaring their actions.  They didn’t have to lead any marches against the authorities of the land.  They simply did what God led them to do and didn’t make a big scene out of it.  

Even though they disobeyed the law of the land,  even though they didn’t tell what was exactly true to the king with regard to the women giving birth before they could arrive, God blessed them and appreciated what they had done.  God is concerned about heart, motives and the will to do what He wants us to do.  There may be times in life when it will be necessary to disobey the laws of the land to please God and obey His laws.  There may be a time when it is all right to not tell the whole truth on a matter to show honor to God above all else.    These ladies were truly godly rebels and we are always in great need of more such ladies all the time.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment