|Joshua tree (Photo credit: Queen Esoterica)|
Friday, February 28, 2014
"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 1:18-20
In this scripture the prophet Isaiah addresses people who do not profess to be Godly, but their lack of recognition of God’s laws does not excuse them from His correction or His judgment. His promises are extended to them, and He calls them to righteousness. They will be judged by the same standard as Israel.
Our society promotes a multiple-choice attitude about religion and righteousness. We claim the right to judge what is good and bad, right and wrong, but God has never made that contract. He still demands obedience to a strict interpretation of righteousness. We will never be able to match his requirement with our behavior. We still fall short, like the people of Israel, and our sins are crimson; they are removed by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross; they are cleansed by His offering. God’s call to us is always “Let us reason together.” He has offered us redemption, salvation, righteousness, peace, and eternal life in Jesus Christ. We have an opportunity to pray and seek God and be blessed. If we are reasonable, we will take His deal.
Monday, February 24, 2014
|Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber to be an example of a charismatic religious leader. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Scholars say that Matthew 5-7, which we usually call the Sermon on the Mount, is really a compilation of the teaching of Jesus on the preaching tours he made in Galilee. It seems like it could be an old-fashioned camp meeting with people sitting on the ground in groups, ready made opportunities to discuss and explore his
He began with the section we call the Beatitudes. In the King James Version each injunction begins with "Blessed" or in some versions is translated as "Happy."
Jesus is trying to impress them with the idea of righteousness in the heart rather than adherence to the law. In each thought he presents the Pharisee's teaching, then contrasts the heart attitude that produces acceptable obedience. God is not impressed by "letter of the law" obedience when the heart attitude is not present.
In the Beatitudes, verses 3-12, he urges the characteristic that he expects us to strive toward, and then tells the reward we may expect. He does not put any limit on the number of occurrences or how long it will take to achieve the blessed state.
Verses 13-14 refers to salt and light but does not put a limit or definition of time. It just says that believers are to perform these functions. Salt is a preservative and light reveals forms and shapes and truth. The believers are to perform these services to the world. You should be conscious of your responsibility to preserve God's truth and witness to it and reveal it to others.
Perhaps there had been rumors that Jesus would destroy the law, but in verses 17-20 he corrected that opinion. "I have not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it," he assured them. Not even the dot over the i will be removed until God's Law is satisfied. You and I must be cognizant of the integrity with which we handle God's blessings and his word. He will not allow it to be mishandled.
In verses 21-30 Jesus equates anger against someone with violence. He calls for the same punishment against one who hates as against a murderer. If you hate another person you have begun to kill him. He warns that you must treat hate as a sin and reconcile with the person or God won't accept you sacrifice or honor your prayer.
In verses 31-32 Jesus takes a very hard line on divorce, but it is no more extreme than his stance on hate or obedience or adultery. Examine the thoughts and intents of your heart to find out if the sin you are denying is already lurking there.
He reproves all for taking an oath and swearing by God's name or heaven or earth in verses 33-37. Just stand by your word and be faithful to perform your job, keep your marriage vows, and pay your bills.
In verses 38-42 he addresses the issue of revenge against enemies. It was common practice to kill more than you suffered in battle, so the "eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth" was a measure of mercy. You were not supposed to take more lives or property than you have lost. Here Jesus says we shouldn't take revenge at all. Don't resist evil with evil. Overcome evil with good.
Beginning in verse 43 he says to love your enemies. Do good for them. To be called the Children of God we must use the standard he uses. He sends rain on the good and the evil and he makes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust. It is up to each individual what he does with God's blessings, but each will have the resources to make a crop. To be called Children of God means you must carry on his work and be shaped in his likeness. He is perfect: so should you be.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
|Italiano: Tempio di Apollo a Delfi in Grecia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Book of Haggai in the Old Testament carries a stern warning for this generation. We who ignore God's righteousness and denounce his name and his claims on us should read its short message with fear and trembling.
Haggai was a contemporary of Ezra and Zerubbabel and he prophesied in Judah during the period after the return from captivity. The time is described as the first day of the sixth month in the second year of Darius, but Ezra and Nehemiah had already brought about work on the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem and begun the rebuilding of the Temple. Then they got tired of all the work and spent their time living in their "paneled houses." Now the message of Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and Joshua son of Jozadak, the High Priest, was one of reproof. God sharply criticized them for enjoying the good life while they left the house of God in ruins.
The need for the Temple in their lives was emphasized in Haggai 1:6 "You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but they are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."
The key to abundance for the Israelites and for us is worship and thanksgiving. It wasn't even the magnificence of the Temple, but the quality of the worship and labor God sought. "'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house," says the Lord Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace, 'declares the Lord Almighty"
Read Haggai and learn his lesson and hear the promise to Zerubbabel that he will be the Lord's signet ring. What has God promised to you?