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Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists ta...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Rich Young Ruler and Prayer

The Rich Young Ruler and Prayer

What was he ruler of?

No where in the text of Matthew 19:16-26, Mark 10;17-27, or Luke 18:18-27 could I find any indication that the man was a ruler of anything. He owned a lot of property and resources, so I'm assuming he got the title because of his wealth. Maybe he was the ruler of his own estate.

Some translations just call him a rich young man. Maybe that is a better way to think about him.

What did he want from Jesus?

He sought eternal life. Even though he was wealthy and had influence among other people, he recognized that there was something missing in his life. He knew that Jesus was a teacher and perhaps he heard him preach and teach. He wanted to share in the kind of joy and assurance Jesus talked about. 

Good Master

Jesus immediately challenged him on the title he put on him. "Why do you call me good? None is good but God." Then Jesus referred him to the Commandments:"Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor thy father and mother." In Matthew 19:19 he added "Love thy neighbor as thyself" 

The Young Man followed these from his teens

Both Mark and Luke stick to the original Commandments, but all three agree about the one thing the young man lacked. He was more concerned with his wealth than with eternity. 

Jesus Called Him To Be Perfect

Jesus looked at him kneeling, begging for eternal life and loved him at once.
"Sell your possessions and give it all to the poor and come and follow me. "
The young man was very sad for he had great possessions. 
Jesus invited him to take up his cross and join his company of followers. Giving everything away is a cross not easy to bear, at least for one who has a lot.

Is seeking information about heaven equal to seeking admittance to heaven? I don't think it's quite the same. We don't have any evidence he did more than that. But maybe some Disciple met him at a later time and proved the claims of Jesus and taught him the way of Salvation. What about you? Has anyone explained the Way of Salvation to you?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Elijah After Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel was the scene of Elijah's resounding victory over the priests of Baal. After the acceptance by fire of his sacrifice on the restored altar, he executed 450 of Jezebel's priests. Ahab returned home and shared the details of the challenge with Jezebel.

Jezebel's Threat and Elijah's Retreat

She sent a messenger to Elijah saying, "May the gods punish me and do so severely if I don't make your life like like one of them by this time tomorrow."

Elijah was struck with fear and ran for his life. He came to Beersheba and left his servant there, but he continued a day's journey into the wilderness.

Elijah's life had become very challenging and exciting. Now he was in hiding and fearful. He sat down under a Broom Tree and asked God to take his life.
Then he lay down under the broom tree and went to sleep. An angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." Elijah found bread baked on stones and a fire, and water to drink. After he ate and drank he lay down again and went back to sleep. The angel woke him again and told him to eat again because he had to go somewhere and the journey would be too much for him.

On the strength of that food he went to Horeb. It took him 40 days and nights. I hope he carried some of the bread and water with him. At Horeb he entered a cave and slept. The word of the Lord came to him and said "Elijah what are you doing here.?"
"I have been very diligent working for you. But the Israelites have abandoned you and killed your prophets. I am the only one left. Just kill me Lord." Sounds like a little kid who pouts, doesn't he?
God said "Go stand on the mountain." Elijah saw a mighty wind, and an earthquake, and a fire, But God was not in them. After this Elijah heard a soft whisper  in his ear, "What are you doing here:" Elijah repeated his pity party litany about Israel being unfaithful and begged God to take his life.

God told him to return by the way he came and anoint Hazael as king over Aram, and anoint Jehu king over Israel and Elisha as prophet in his place. And by the way, there are 7000 in Israel who have not bowed to other gods.

Elijah found Elisha plowing a team of oxen. He walked by and threw his mantle over him. Elisha ran after him and asked permission to bid farewell to his family, Elijah told him to go back. But instead of returning to his family, he killed the oxen and made a fire with the plow and cooked the meat and fed it to the others who were plowing. Then he followed Elijah.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Jesus Prayed for Us

Jesus' High Priestly Prayer

On the night he was arrested, Jesus prayed at least twice, first, after the supper, he prayed for himself, then the disciples, then the followers who would come to believe as a result of the disciples’ witness.

Jesus Prayed for Himself

For himself he prayed not for relief of the excruciating pain that accompanied crucifixion or for strength to endure, but that the events now in motion would bring glory to God, and that he may share in that glory and also be glorified in God’s presence.(John 17:1) It is difficult, on first blush, to think of crucifixion as glory. Hours of pain, burning thirst, and tormented muscles are translated into joy by the anticipation of reunion with God the Father.

Jesus Prayed for His Disciples

He prayed for the Disciples that they may be aware and understand the gravity and depth of what they have shared during the teaching and training and that they have known that he came from God and was ready to return to God. (John 17:3) He prayed that the disciples may experience the same unity and harmony that Jesus shared with God the Father.(John 17:13-14) He wanted them to be protected in the world, not taken out of it. He wanted them to be uplifted and blessed by his assurance of the Father’s love and presence. John 14:13 was the ultimate promise, that whatever they asked in his name, he would do. But John 17 is the upgraded and supersized version of that promise. Glory with Jesus in the name of God the Father is a promise to cherish and depend on. 

Jesus Prayed For Us

In John 17:20 he includes us, those who would believe because of the testimony of the Disciples; that’s all of us. He says he expects all of us to be one, as the Father is in Him. He wants us to share in the same experience and joy and communion he shares with God the Father. May we be one as they are one.  He seeks God’s glory for all of us. He claims it based on the love he shared with God the Father, and he included the Disciples and now us, too.

Prayer in the Garden

It’s easy to think of this as weakening and diluting the power of God. But I think, on further reflection, God’s glory is magnified as it expands and grows. One analogy comes to mind: Scientists tell us that our universe is expanding; I like to think of God’s glory in that way: It is expanding as it includes new believers, as more of us come together in this unity and communion, God’s glory is expanded to fall on more and more believers. May they be one, as we are one. (John 17:21). He calls us all to share in his glory and to be blessed by it.

After they left the place where they ate supper, they went to Gethsemane where he did pray for himself. If it were possible, he prayed God would intervene. After three times, he accepted the verdict. Crucifixion had been the decision since the foundation of the world. Now was not the time to change that, and Jesus accepted the choice. We should not think that it was an easy one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Elijah the Tishbite

Elijah the Tishbite

Elijah was not a "writing prophet" and it may have damaged his popularity since he didn't leave any written works to seal his name in the minds of Bible readers, but he was the prophet who met with Jesus and Moses at the Transfiguration of Jesus. Don't discount him. He was very active during his time as the prophet of record in I Kings 17 through II Kings 2. His successor, Elisha, was far more social than Elijah. But before you abandon him, check out his resume'. 

He faced Ahab the king of Israel and declared a three year drought. 
God sent him to at a muddy stream called Cherith where he depended on ravens for meat and bread. They brought him food morning and night until the stream dried up due to the drought.

Surviving the Drought

Then God sent him to a widow in Zarephath, a city in Sidon on the Lebanese coast. When he got to the city gates, he found a woman picking up sticks for fire wood. He asked her to get him a cup of water. As she was going, he asked her for a piece of bread also. She and her son had no food, but Elijah told her the flour jar would not be empty and the oil jug would not go dry. She sustained him until the third year of the drought. 

Elijah Goes to Mt. Carmel

Ahab called all the people and prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel hoping to rid himself of Elijah.

Elijah approached the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions. If Yahweh is God, follow him. But if Baal is God follow him." The people were completely silent.

Elijah addressed the people again. "I'm the only prophet Jezebel hasn't killed, but there are 450 of Baals prophets here." Elijah issued the challenge. 

The prophets of Baal took the bull and cut it in pieces and laid it on the wood and began to call on the name of their god from morning till noon. About noon Elijah began to taunt them saying, "Scream louder. Maybe he's gone on a trip. Maybe he's taking a nap." They shouted and cut themselves with knives and spears. But there was no sound from their god and no fire fell.

Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he ordered it to be drenched with water three times and filled he trench around the altar.

Elijah's Prayer

Elijah approached the altar and said, "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that you are God in Israel and I am your servant and that at your word I have done all these things. Answer me Lord so that these people know that you are God."
Then Yahweh's fire fell. It consumed the wood, the sacrifice the stones, the dirt, the water in the trench, and the people fell on their faces and said "Yahweh He is God."

Have you noticed how Elijah prayed? He used very few words. Most of his prayer was listening, not talking. He heard God's instructions and obeyed them. He was bold in speaking to the people, the widow, and Ahab. Later he is equally bold in his other contacts, and he later suffers great distress, but God is with him. Read about his ministry in I Kings 17--II Kings 2. Study his prayers and learn from his example.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Prayer Series--2. Habakkuk

Habakkuk was a minor prophet, but he carried some major messages. Habakkuk revealed the central truth of the whole Bible in chapter 2:4b: The just shall live by his faith. This is picked up again in Paul's letter to the Romans 1:17, "The just shall live by faith."

Habakkuk's first prayer is found in Chapter 1:2-4. He questions God about how long he will tolerate violence and wrong-doing.

God's answer begins in 1:4. He will raise up the Chaldeans, a wicked people, who will chastise the land. Again Habakkuk is perplexed and wonders why God will use the enemy to bring Israel to repentance. But he does not accuse God. He said in 2:1, "I will stand my post, and wait for God to answer; then I will know what I should reply."

The Lord told him to record the vision he gave him. It's for the future. There are woes connected with the vision defining the sins and evils that God will judge. 

2:6 begins the list of woes. 1. Woe to the one who amasses debts he can't pay.

2. Woe to him who unjustly gains wealth.
3. Woe to the one who builds a city with bloodshed and injustice.
4. Woe to the one who pours out drink with evil purpose, to engage in sex.
5. Woe to the one who makes an idol from wood or stone.

In chapter 3 Habakkuk's third prayer begins with a recital of God's majesty and continues with descriptions of God's vengeance in terms reminiscent of the aftermath.

3:16 Habakkuk records his response to God's power: He heard, trembled, his lips quivered, rottenness entered his bones. Then he waited quietly for the day of distress.

In verse 17 he begins his statement of faith: Though the fig tree does not bud, and there is not fruit on the vines, and the olive tree fails, the land produces no crops, there are no sheep in the pen, and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will triumph in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. Yahweh is my strength. He makes my feet like those of a deer, and I will walk on high places. 

We can share Habakkuk's testimony. Even in the worst of times, God is still faithful, and we must trust in him when all else is failing.