Good Gifts

www.bible.com/1713/luk.11.13.csb

I think I know better than to give my children things they can’t handle. Jesus says you would not give your child a snake or a scorpion if they ask for an egg. We know better then that. If my child asks for some food, I don’t give him a spider. We are not that cruel. Even cruel people don’t do that to their own children, at least I hope not. There are always exceptions.

But Jesus’ point here that that even we, who are evil by God’s standards, are not so cruel to our children so that we willingly hurt them when they ask for a gift. We may not give that exactly what they want, but what we think they need, in order to help them. My kids would ask for carbs and sweets, but they get proteins and veggies because that’s what they need. But as a father, I know them well enough to give them what they really want on occasion. And that’s a key point. If you know your kids, you know what gifts make their heart sing. And if I know my own children in this way, God knows us even better.

So when we ask God, He knows what we want and what we need. He also knows how to bless us that truly satisfy us. I believe God will occasionally bless us in a way that doesn’t necessarily exalt Him, But is something that makes us really happy. Sometimes God gives because He wants to see us smile, not for His own glory but for ours. Mind you this doesn’t happen often, but I believe it does happen.

What have you asked for lately?

Advertisements

So What’s the Promise?

www.bible.com/1713/eph.6.2.csb

We have a lot of Scripture to thank the Apostle for. We can attribute much of our daily practice and theology to him. Which is why this passage presents us with a problem.

Paul has written elsewhere that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the law, and that we are no longer under the law, but under grace. That said, he presents this text “Honor thy father and thy mother”, the fifth commandment, complete with its context, for this commandment contains a promise “that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land” the Lord God is sending you to, i.e., the land of Israel. Here’s why this is a problem.

The promise of the fifth commandment is to the people of Israel, so that they could occupy and inhabit the land of promise indefinitely. The promise involved a particular piece of real estate. However, Paul does qualify this promise in its original context. Instead, his quote ends at ” land”. The problem, one might argue, is that Paul is appropriating the land promises made to Israel and passing them on to the Christians of his day. In a greater argument that Paul is extending the promises (and obligations) given to Israel are also to Christians. That’s a lot of weight to put upon one verse, especially taken out of context of the rest of Paul’s words.

Rather, Paul is extending the promise here made to Israel by observing a different focus. His focus is on the promise of “long life” rather than the land. The land here really could be anywhere Christians find themselves. The strength of this promise comes from the authority of God Himself. So why do Christian children, who have honored this commandment, still die young?

Let me present the third possibility. That the land of long life promised here isn’t eighty years and dying of old age. What’s in view here, a child that honors his father and mother by clinging to the God that saved them is a child who is promised eternal life in the land God has prepared for them.

If we are honoring father and mother, we are working out God’s will in our lives. We are honoring those He chose to bring us life, and this is important, whether we actually respect them or not. Being able to honor them is to fulfill the commandment, and to honor the God that maybe even despite them, brought you to Himself.

Not every parent is perfect, and many don’t come close. But the commandment of God is non-negotiable. Honor means respect, both in life and in memory. Honor can be honest, but it must be respectful. If you have good parents, this is easy. If not, this is one of your greatest challenges. But know that we are all in this together. If you need help, ask. Let us pray with you.

I hope you can have a happy Father’s Day. God bless you all!

His Holy Dwelling

www.bible.com/1713/psa.68.5.csb

Does God Care? He doesn’t have to. God exists in His Holy Dwelling infinite, eternal, needing nothing. In His palace He reigns supreme over the universes, the realm of the spirit and our own realm. He also exists in His own realm, the realm of uncreated Being, where He alone exists. His Being unveiled in His fullness would destroy all created realms and beings. Therefore, God chooses to reveal Himself in veiled form, dwelling as a “King” in His Heavenly palace, or a s a “Father” to His “Son”. The truth is that God is so much more awesome that we can imagine that we could not have invented Him, because we don’t know what He is, really, for that knowledge would be too much for us to grasp.

This is the God who cares. He cares for those so far beneath Him as to be microscopic. Why? Because we contain one unique quality in all of creation: He made us in His image, a concept that we still argue over today.

This verse points his care for widows and the fatherless. These two groups are considered because in the culture of Psalms, these groups are irrelevant because the culture was tied to family relationships. Broken families such as these were second or third place in that society. We still carry some of that water in our own culture.

By caring for those considered least, we know that God cares for the whole. God cares for us all equally, as He is often a father to those whose father is unavailable. He is a husband to those wives who feel alone. God fills in the gaps in your life. In a very real sense, He does this through HIs people, which is why I encourage you to attend a local congregation if possible.

Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you. God bless you today.

Seeking Counsel

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.14.26.csb

The Silent Partner of the Holy Trinity is the Holy Spirit. Today on Pentecost Sunday we remember the birthday of the church and the role the Holy Spirit played on that day. Like tongues of fire the Holy Spirit descended upon those disciples of the early church and caused them to speak in various tongues so that all around were amazed, speaking of the works of God in their own language.

This remarkable event marked the beginning of the Church, the beginning of God’s mission of inclusion by faith of the peoples of the world by offering the “gift of the Holy Spirit” to all who would received Him by faith, repentance, and baptism. It was no longer exclusive to the Jews to know the Presence of God, to have a singular Temple where God resides. No, the presence of God is offered to all!

In one of Jesus final teachings with His disciples the night before He died, He told his disciples about the Holy Spirit, who would be a Counselor and a Teacher to them. This forms the basis for the teaching of the rest of the New Testament beyond the gospels. The Holy Spirit would and did guide them into all truth. That ceased when those disciples died, and those they directly discipled, like Mark and Luke. Paul was given special dispensation as an Apostle called directly by Christ and so too was given authority to write Spirit-inspired Scripture.

So what does the Holy Spirit do for us, if His purpose in this verse was to inspire Scripture? We aren’t writing Scripture anymore. No. But the Spirit is the same. He need only guide us to what is written, remind us of what we’ve read. The wisdom of the Spirit is already written for us to consume, but we may not always understand what we read when we read it. The Spirit works within us to help us understand it. The Spirit is just as powerful and effective for us in seeking wise counsel as it was for Solomon.

Celebrate today the birthday of the Church, and give place to the Holy Spirit every day as He points us to the Son and the Father.

God bless you today!

Before Time

www.bible.com/1713/2ti.1.9.csb

I can’t even fathom what this verse means. I have no reference for “before time began”. But God could see into the world He was about to create and extend to me grace, salvation and a calling through His Son, whose work to save me was determined already.

God must think a great deal about us. From eternity past, He was able to see all of our time in a moment, down to the very thing you are doing right now. Every life was before Him before He had even uttered the first “Let there be”!

But God has both seen all our doings and still called us to salvation by His grace. You are not insignificant. But you matter to God, and since before time began.

God bless you today!

Woe

www.bible.com/1713/rom.8.18.csb

In a shot across the bow against the Health and Wealth Prosperity Gospel, we have this verse that very clearly says suffering is for the present time. Suffering? You mean like pain and sorrow, grief and loss? All the above.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all pain and suffering. There are times of great and surpassing joy that cannot be compared. God is good and He is good to His children. But the promise here isn’t for health and wealth. The promise here is not made dependent on your faith. The promise here is that we can expect suffering in this life because there is incomparable glory waiting for us. We must be tried and tested in order to shine. We must be polished and refined before we can reflect Him. All of our rough edges need to be worn away.

An ordinary piece of gravel is nothing to admire. It’s a rock. It’s common and ordinary. You take that same piece of gravel and put it in a streambed for 30 years, or in a rock tumbler and turn it for a week, what emerges is a smooth stone, a shiny stone that you will want to admire. It’s fine crystalline structure will dazzle your eyes with detail you couldn’t see before. That is the power of trial and suffering.

This present life is filled with such trial and testing. We don’t what we will look like, but it will be amazing. If we balk at God everytime bad things happen, if we complain and resist His change, will we be as stunning? All the beauty we will ever receive in this life or the next comes from God.

Let God work in your life today. Trust Him for the outcome. God bless!

Feeling Down

www.bible.com/1713/psa.34.18.csb

Are you feeling down today? Do you feel like your heart is broken? Working in the medical field, being broken-hearted is an actual medical condition. This surprised me when I found this out. A person can suffer from a broken heart, especially when experiencing profound loss. My belief is that doctors didn’t really have a better explanation than this significant emotional-physical connection, so they call it broken-heart syndrome.

But this verse holds a profound promise. These weep in the presence of God. Do you have a feeling come over you when your child weeps? Anger at those who caused it; dismay and empathy for the plight of my child. How do you think God feels when we weep? A God who knows every detail, the location of every quark and neutrino of our existence? Our God transcends our reality, but is able to be with us at all times. God is able to see the plane of our existence and be present at every point.

God cares for us. That is profound. The ultimate infinite God cares for us. He cares about the infinitesimal speck that we are to Him in the vastness of the universe. He cares for us. Let that sink in. Of all the things He has to think about, we are on His mind. His presence seeks us out. He cares for me.

Wow.

God bless you today.