Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

Jesus – the man’s touch

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

He lived with the stigma of illegitimacy.

Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:3)

At that time, boys were known as their father’s son – not their mother’s. He was about 30 years old, but the town still judged him by it. How would that have affected him. How was he treated? What difference did it make when he was in class in the synagogue? How did it affect his business? How many times did he have to deal with them “taking offense at him.”

And did it make a difference in how he dealt with others? Could that be one reason why he touched people? He didn’t need to touch them to heal them. He could heal from a distance – like he did with a centurion’s servant.

Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
(Luke 7:10)

But outcasts – like lepers – he touched. They may not have been touched for years. Even those who loved them didn’t get close enough to touch them.

But Jesus did.

I wonder … could that have meant as much as the healing?

Jesus, the man

Monday, August 19th, 2013

As I look at Luke and read Mary’s story. And look at Matthew and read Joseph’s side of the story. Some interesting things strike me.

Both Mary and Joseph believed what the angel said to them. I guess, if I actually saw an angel, I wouldn’t doubt what he said either. But what he said to each of them was so big – and they were not. They weren’t royal. They weren’t rich. They weren’t even the top tier in their own village. They were ordinary people.

Jesus – on the outside – seemed just as ordinary. He didn’t seem any different from any other child. (Except, maybe that it says he was obedient!) He had a family tree – a line that could be traced. He learned and carried on the family business.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.(Luke 2:51)
Isn’t this the carpenter? (Mark 6:3a)

He seemed so ordinary, that when he began his ministry, his mother forgot the bigness of the promise:

“When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:21)

So many times I’m stopped. I try to argue or correct and end up in a totally different place – with what I wanted to do undone. He didn’t get distracted. He didn’t leave those he was talking to and try to convince his family. He just said:

“Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35)

His brother ended up the head of the church in Jerusalem. Is there a lesson here?

More thots on Eve

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

We don’t know a whole lot about Eve. Her personalty. Her lifestyle. Not even exactly how many children she had. But there are some things we do know. She failed big time. It turned out not to be just a bite of fruit. Her whole life changed. And, when Adam followed her, everyone else’s life changed too. But I read something interesting recently:

“Eve lived with the consequences of sin in her home but she was not paralyzed by the past. She accepted God’s forgiveness and lived in expectation of the promised Savior.” (Women of the Bible, Eunice Faith Priddy)

It’s so easy to be paralyzed by the past. To relive it. To punish ourselves over and over. Her sin was so big – so far reaching. Why wasn’t she paralyzed?

Everything she heard about God before came though Adam. But after the fall she heard God for herself. She heard his voice. She heard his word – his promise spoken for her. And she took God at his word. She focused on that promise and held on for dear life.

But, to do that, she had to accept God’s forgiveness. Sometimes that’s the hardest part. How can God forgive us when we can’t forgive ourselves? And then how can we hold on to a promise that rests on his forgiveness?

Consequences and sorrow follow sin. God’s forgiveness doesn’t mean that there won’t be any. And it doesn’t mean you’re not forgiven. But he will not leave you alone to deal with them. Focus on promises not the pain.

For Eve, it meant that leaves were not clothing enough – she had to watch animals slaughtered – death was required. And one son killed another. But she didn’t stay focused on the consequences, she focused on the promise.

When Cain was born she said: “I have gotten* a man with the help of the LORD.”  (Gen 4:1). When Seth was born she said: “God has appointed* for me another offspring instead of Abel…” (Gen 4:25) It makes me wonder if she said something similar every time a son was born.

She continued to look for that “he” of the promise:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring* and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”  (Gen 3:15)

Follow Eve’s example:

  • focus on his words – they are true – regardless of our feelings
  • then live in expectation
  • put one foot in front of the other and follow where he leads

 

Eve

Monday, April 18th, 2011

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be the first. I walk through the produce section and some of that stuff looks really strange. I wonder who it was who had the courage to eat it that first time.

Eve was first. Everything she did was a first.

She began at peace. At peace with everything around her. Creation. Her husband. And God. Imagine what that was like. She had everything she needed. Even the animals were her friends.

Then it all changed. She ate the fruit from the one tree God had set off-limits. She listened to the serpent’s lies—that it would make her wise.

Instead of wisdom, she got embarrassment, blame, hurt, grief and guilt. She would give anything to get a do over. To just go back in time and say “No!”

But faith was also one of her firsts. God had talked to Adam in the garden each night. It doesn’t say that she was with them. But she heard the curses—especially the one to the serpent:

And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

Imagine that first pregnancy. Imagine watching her body change. Feeling the child move. And only Adam to help when the pain started. I wonder how they knew what to do during that first birth. There were no mid-wives or doctors to tell them what to expect or what to do.

But she was focused on the promise of a Savior—someone to crush the serpent’s head. When Cain was born she said:

“With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.”

Cain was not the promised one. He went on to kill Abel, the son with faith. When Seth was born she chose a name that meant “restitution” because:

“God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.”

Eve had a strong and simple faith in a Savior to come. I’m looking forward to meeting her one day!

Sarah

Friday, February 18th, 2011

She has always amazed me. I know it was a different time. I know that living was different then – that women roles were different. But she still amazes me.

Her husband gets a call from God and leaves civilization to camp out in the wild. For a weekend that might be ok – but they lived that way always. He was rich, so I guess they had whatever “amenities” were available in a tent. But still …

But the thing that amazes me most about her came when they traveled to Egypt then again in Gerar. Both times Abraham asked her to say she was his sister (so “that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake”). Twice!

She was his half-sister, so he wasn’t telling her to lie, exactly. But he was leaving her totally alone. To the point where she had to become other men’s wives.

Imagine just how alone she must have felt. God was her only hope. She had to trust that he would save her. There was no one else. No husbandly knight was going to come over the hill – armor glinting in the sun.

And her trust was not misplaced. Each time, God intervened. She was saved.

What I learn from her:

Husbands can’t meet all our needs. It’s not fair to expect them to. They were never intended to. Husbands and wives are designed to work as a team. Building a life – building a family. Reflecting Christ to each other.

But God is the only source of help. Of strength. He is everything we need. When we try to make our husbands take God’s place everything falls apart. They have to fail and we have to be disappointed – it will never work.

Look to God – his armor always glints!

Treasure

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

For God …  made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  (2Cor. 4:6-7)

Paul says we have a treasure – the knowledge of God. Not everyone can say that. God made his light shine in his children’s hearts. That’s the only source  – only God.

And it’s in “jars of clay.” That word in Greek is used for an every day utensil. Not the kind of decorated ones that archeologists find. More like paper cups today. They don’t last long, but when they break you aren’t out much.

And then Paul goes on to say:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (8-9)

He knows us. He knows our weaknesses. He knows his treasure is in very fragile cups. If you think about, it doesn’t make much sense. Why put a treasure in something so flimsy?

To show his all-surpassing power. How else would we continue? If he were not all powerful? If he were not with us? If he were not faithful? The power is not from us – we could never do it on our own.

We have this treasure in paper cups to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are may be crushed – we are not destroyed!

Soaring

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind. (Is. 40:30-31 MSG)

This is a well known piece of Scripture. It can become one of those Ya, ya, ya, kind of verses. We don’t hear the words anymore because we think we know them.

Look at it again – as if you never saw it before.

I did that this morning. And I saw … those who wait upon God will get fresh strength – and soar.

Usually I think of birds madly flapping their wings to stay in the air. And I do the same thing. I flap madly, flying in one direction and then another.

But, think about the last time you saw an eagle soar. What was it doing? When I thought about it, I realized that the eagle wasn’t doing anything at all. Its wings were basically motionless. It was resting on an air current.

Think how beautiful that eagle looked. God wants the same thing for me. Quit flapping and rest on him – then I’ll soar.

Beautiful!

Proverbs 31 #6

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. … She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. (Proverbs 31:21-22, 24)

This part of her description shows us more about the kind of work she does. We already knew about her wool and flax and about her weaving it into cloth. Here we go again. So why do we need our faces rubbed in it some more?

This part adds quality. She doesn’t just get by. She makes quality cloth so she doesn’t need to be afraid of the snow. Her family will be warm. She makes bed coverings that will keep them warm at night. And her work is of such quality that those looking for merchandise to sell come to her.

In those days, scarlet and purple were special. She didn’t just get by and clothe her family. She added special little touches like color. And linen was an up-scale fabric, too. This whole piece adds up to a well cared for family and more …

Caring for physical needs is necessary. She did the kinds of little things that made each person feel special – to let them know they were in her thoughts. And that’s timeless!

Proverbs 31 #9

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:30-31)

We’re at the end. Here is where Lemuel’s mother summarizes everything she’s said.

Our society has us trained to believe that it’s the outside of a person that’s important – the charm. This verse says that charm is deceitful.

That word deceitful can also mean disappointment or falsehood. We’ve all operated as if that new haircut or those new shoes will make the difference. But did it? When you think about it the idea is false. And the thing itself is always a disappointment.

The word vain can also be translated as vapor or breath. It doesn’t last.  It fades when the sun hits it.

BUT… The woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Not her clothes, her hair, her wrinkle-less face. A woman who respects and worships the Lord grows in beauty – on the inside. The kind of beauty that doesn’t fade. That people recognize and want to be around.

That kind of woman produces fruit/works that will praise her. I don’t usually think of my work praising me. There are just things that I do. But, as I think about it, the things I do build a reputation. A reputation both for me and my Lord.

This woman trusts the Lord, makes good use of what He’s given her and treats others well. Pretty good reputation I’d say!

Proverbs 31 #8

Monday, July 7th, 2008

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (Proverbs 31:27-29)

It may not look like it a first glance, but we’ve got more army pictures here.

Looks well can also be translated keeps watch. And ways can also mean traveling company. So, when Lemuel’s mother said that this wife looks after the ways of her household, she was painting a picture of someone who guards her family even to the way they go and who they go with.

She doesn’t just meet physical needs – clothing and food. She’s on guard. She keeps watch – guarding them from evil as well. That’s not to say that nothing will touch them. We know that’s not true. Living in a broken world means that some of that brokenness is bound to touch us. But she is on guard to keep her family as safe as she can. Not eating the bread of idleness tells us that she doesn’t stop.  She stays on guard.

And she gets what we all hope for! Her children rise up and call her blessed. Notice there’s no time frame given. Her children may be grown and have children of their own before she hears it! But she hears it.

Her husband, too, he praises her. And the word excellently is that same word used in the beginning. It means strength, efficiency and army.  That word excellent is used of armies – when they are the best kind of army – courageous, noble, honorable and fighting for right. He recognizes what she’s done but more than that. He recognizes her character.

I read recently that modern conveniences have actually made more work for us – because they mean that more is expected from us all the time. We look at the things this wife does and it’s overwhelming because we imagine adding those same things to our already full schedule.  In that time period those were the things that had to be done and a lot of what we do now just never even entered the picture – there wasn’t time for them.

This lady isn’t praised just for doing the things listed here. She’s praised more for her attitude and character. Look at some of what we’ve seen: she’s trustworthy, she does good and not evil, works with delight, helps the poor, strength and dignity are her clothing and kindness is on her tongue. Those are all things we can cultivate, too.

The stuff we do is important, but it’s who we are that makes us excellent.