Where are your accusers?

The Adulterous Woman

John 8: 1-11

 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]]

John gives us an example of Jesus’ love and compassion without too much action or commentary. The story is that of a woman who has been caught in the act of adultery.  From the previous chapter, the scribes and the leaders are trying to find a way to falsely accuse Jesus to get him to be executed.  While they are trying to find something on Christ, they find this woman who is guilty of adultery.   In Deuteronomy 22:22-30, the law that was given shows the “proper” way that the situation of the unlawful act should be handled, but the leaders are trying to use their intelligence to outwit Jesus.  Fortunately, Christ is able to use his peace and calmness to stop the confusion and calamity of the crowd and restore the woman to her whole self.

As we look at this particular situation, we can see it in a different manner.  We are the adulterous woman and we are presented to Jesus.  How many times have we been presented to Christ or gone to him with our shortcoming and sins?  How many times have we been presented with situations that we believe that we have created and Jesus will not save us from? How many times have we held our heads in shame in the presence of Jesus and we stop him from comforting us? Jesus is the only on that can judge us and make us whole.  He knows all the sins and obstacles that we allow the enemy to use to stop us from being close to him.  He knew the woman before she was presented to the crowd.  He knew each sin that she has ever committed (from the oldest to the newest). He knows all the things that makes us vulnerable and knows that the enemy will use these to stop us from getting close to Jesus and allowing him to heal our being.  What are the sins that are hold you and me back from the true love and compassion of Christ?

A little further in the chapter, Jesus states that he alone cannot make judgment on individuals, but he and the Father together can make judgment.  Jesus chooses to forgive us when we are submitted to his divine grace in spite of the sins that we have committed in the past and present.  He sees us without anyone to condemn us.

Mary Magdalene

Today’s Reading Luke 7:36-8:3

Who can say what has happened to another person?  Who has been in the shoes of the other person? How well do you know the person that you are the most intimate with? Do you know their inner most dreams, fears, and aspirations?  Do you know what makes them truly happy or creates the most intense hurt?  How can you comfort the ones you love the most? These are some of the questions that are the most difficult to answer.  Once a wise man told me that even after 50 and more years of marriage you are always learning something new about your partner, and that is the treasure of the commitment.

In the account of Luke, the apostle describes a scene that would have been typical for Jesus.  He has been invited to dine at someone’s house and take part in dialogue and discussions.  In this particular instance, there is a woman that comes in anoints Jesus feet with ointment and tears. The house is the house of an official of the synagogue: a Pharisee.  The woman uses an alabaster bottle, which is a specific type of material and high expensive. The woman uses her hair to wipe the tears and ointment from his feet. Jesus knows the woman’s past and all that that she has done.  By her act of faith, she is renewed and made whole again.

Earlier in the chapter Luke explains about the centurion, who request that Jesus speaks health and healing over his servant that is far away. Jesus then responds to the solider and beings the journey to his house some distance away.  Before Christ can get to the house of the centurion, Jesus is stopped by several friends of the soldier and Jesus is informed that the faith of the Centurion is so strong that he believes that Christ has the authority to speak the words and the servant will be made whole.  Jesus speaks and the servant is healed that moment.

With Mary Magdalene, Christ uses this opportunity to exhibit his authority over sin in the presence of others who believe that have the knowledge of all situations.  This was a town that Jesus was not familiar with from the perspective of the Pharisee.  The Pharisee believed that he had the authority and control over the situation.  He was allowing Jesus to be made a patsy for his enjoyment. But Christ was able to show his authority in a gentle yet effective manner.  He knew the woman’s past.  He knew the thoughts of his host.  He know how to ask the questions to bring the judgment.  He knew that he had the authority and power to rebuke the sins of the woman and create a new person in her.  He knew the inner most thoughts of the woman.  He knew everything about her and had compassion on her and allowed her to worship and give faithfully to his goodness and mercy.

 

Some of the hardest questions that we can ask ourselves are the questions that Christ can heal and mend. Some of the experiences and choices that we have made can allow us to receive a glimpse of the beautiful redemption that Christ has for us.  If we were perfect, Christ would not be able to use us for his glory.  Will we allow ourselves to open up to Christ and allow him to heal us through our faith in him who knows us the best?

The Final Mercy : Joseph of Arimathea

Today’s Reading

Matthew 27: 32-61

The story of the passion has been told countless times.  Sometimes when we hear the same story and recounting of the facts we can become complacent and not taking the full experience as it was originally felt. Over the last several weeks while preparing for the person of the week, I have had the chance to really meditate and revive the passion and the full breath of Joseph of Arimathea.

In today’s passage, the first person that we are introduced to is Simon of Cyrene.   This is a man from the Northern part of Africa who has come to Jerusalem for the Holy Feast of Passover.  He and his family are casually walking in the streets or marketplace and he is forced to take Christ’s cross.  Let this sink in for a minute.  This man was celebrating the highest of holy days with his family, then the armed guards takes him away from his family.  He is probably dressed well and ready for celebrations.  He is then taken and forces to carry a “criminal’s cross”. At this point Christ has carried the cross for some time and his blood has soaked into the wood.  By Simon being forced into the role of cross-carrier, he grants Jesus the first Mercy.  He has helped in a visceral way to complete the Passion of Christ.  What if he had not obliged and granted the request?  Who would have been the cross-carrier?  Who would have given Christ some rest before his final hours?

The next several events are show the true sacrifice and pain that Christ endured

  • Verse 34 : they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.
    • This was a typical antiseptic – to help easy the pain of the Crucifixion
  • Verse 3 : And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.3
  • Verse 37: Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
  • Verse 38: Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.
  • Verse 39 :  And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
  • Verse 40: 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’
  • Verse 44: 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

 

After Simon has given Jesus a piece of grace, Jesus is being assaulted with some of the most vile and cruel items that would have broken many of us.  This is the price that he cared for us.  Then the Joseph gives Jesus his final earthly Mercy: Joseph took the body, prepared the body, and placed the body.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. – Matt 27:57-60 

Joseph took the body:

  • Joseph breaks an important rule of Jewish law: he physically touched a dead person on the Sabbath, but prevents the curse of a dead man on the tree. Number 19:11-13 and Deuteronomy 21:22 -23
  • Being a Pharisees, Joseph knew the letter and expanse of the law, but he knew the person of Jesus and understood the reward for his discipleship is greater than the punishment of man.

 

Joseph prepares the body:

  • Joseph is the only that is mentioned in the gospels to have direct contact with body of the dead Christ. The other disciples were not at the crucifixion and the women were not allowed to be close to the body.  Joseph was the last person to clean the wounds of Christ.  He is the last one to apply balm and ointments to the body.  He is the last one to wrap the body in clean swaddling linens.  This preparation is one of the most intimate and profound responsibilities that one can have.  Christ made the ultimate sacrifice by giving his life, Joseph had given Christ the best response by gently and compassionately preparing his body for the next phase of the Passion.

 

Joseph places the body:

  • The final act of Mercy is that Joseph placed Christ in his tomb. This was a very powerful and meaningful gesture and example of his love.  In the earlier centuries, there were not a lot of tombs for common people or people without means.  Joseph had enough wealth, that he had this tomb prepared for himself many years of his expected death.  Many times people would use tombs of their ancestors, similar to catacombs. But this tomb was fresh cut and had not had any pervious occupants.  This was Jesus place of peace for three days.

 

Joseph, who shares the name of the step-father of Jesus, gives Jesus the same compassion and gentleness that Joseph did when he came into the world.

 

God has reveal many things in this passage:

  1. We may experience someone taking our cross when we are in the weakest parts of our journey
  2. While we are going through the midst of our hardest days the onslaught of worries, pain, defeat, criticisms, & meanness God has relief for us
  3. When we have finally gotten to the end of our journey: Christ will take our body, prepare our body, and place our body in a beautiful place where no one has been before.

Be Blessed

Into the fire: Hanahaiah (Shadrach), Michael (Meshach), & Azariah (Abednego)

Into the fire

Today’s Reading Daniel 3

The story of the Three Hebrew Men : Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is one of my favorite stories of the old Testament.  It is a story of faithfulness until the brink of death.   But as I become reacquainted with the story it has brought some new ideas to light.

These men had lost some major identifying elements in their early life: their home, their name, and their God.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family[a] and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Daniel 1: 1-4

In the first chapter of Daniel, we are introduced to the scene with the capture of Jerusalem and the children are taken away from their home. The children are place in a type of assimilation servitude to make them into the image of the conquerors.

The next possession that these young men had taken from them was their names.  As was mentioned several blogs previous, the naming of the children in ancient Jewish times was a major deal.  Nebuchadnezzar changed all of their names.

And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. Daniel 1:7

Daniel (which means ‘God has judged’) becomes Belteshazzar (‘keeper of the hidden treasures of bel’).  Hananiah (‘Jehovah has been gracious’) becomes Shadrach. Mishael (‘who is like God?’) became Meshach – a name that refers to Venus.  Azariah (‘Jehovah has helped’) became Abed-nego (‘the servant of Nebo’). These names were very powerful names and the meaning behind each has been hidden even until today.  The names that I have known these men by are the names that were forced upon them without their consent.  This could have robbed them of their blessings if they were not strong enough to maintain their faith.

The last possession that was attempted to be taken from the Three Hebrew Men was their God.  These men were known for their faith and their commitment to God from the beginning when they were instructed to have the same diet as the other trainees.  But it was evident after they had been appointed positions of authority that there were some individuals who disliked them and wanted harm for them.  

Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared[b] to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”Daniel 3:8-12

 

The king had created an image of him and demanded that all the subjects bow down and praise and worship the image.  The Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were the only ones standing and not following the commands of the king.  They stood up for their faith and were punished for their insubordination.  They were condemned to perish in a fiery furnace that was at such a temperature, the guards that placed them in the furnace dead from the heat.  But in the midst of the fire, God stepped in an protect them and released them from the fire.

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.  Daniel 3: 26-27

Some points to gain from the Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego:

  • No matter what has been taken from you, no on can take away your faith unless you submit to them.
  • In the midst of a world where everyone wants to conform, if you keep your values and will stand up for them when you are pressed: you will be rewarded.
  • God is already in the places that you are not aware of or certain.We have to be ready to see Him perform the miracles that he has promised.

Wisdom not by age

Elihu

Job 32-37

There are many people that create a lasting impression and impact on my life, but there is one that stands out from others, my Nanny.  Nanny was my mother’s mother and I spent a large amount of my life with her in general and traveling with her to numerous church events and functions. I started to travel with her at the age of seven or eight.  Around this time, she broke her foot at a grocery store and this led her to need more assistance than before. The broken foot was complicated by diabetes, created this new relationship and companionship that would shape me into the person I am today.  I would accompany her because her health had started to fail and she would need assistance with getting around.

During these trips and church meetings, I would be surrounded with seasoned individuals who were my grandmother’s peers: Pastors, Pastor wives, Missionaries, Church Stewards, and many others that were influential in the church.  I had the fortune to be in presence of these powerful and spirit-filled conversations, meetings, and prayers.  This was really a great experience for me.  I was granted access to wisdom and knowledge that I was not aware of at the time.  I had the chance to absorb my osmosis countless years of prayer, praise, downfall, turmoil, pickups, and glorifying that I am just now able to fully understand and grasp.

In the book of Job, which is the one of the oldest books of the Bible, we are able to have a window into the question of the goodness and providential aspects of God.  To recap the book of Job:  Job has 10 children, many camels, sheep, oxen, and servants.  He is a wealthy and righteous man in the eyes of God.  Within a day’s span, he losses everything (all of his possession and his health) and became dismayed and disheartened.   In the midst of this his wife tells him that he is foolish to continue to keep hope in God.  Then his three of his closest friends (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite) comes and attempts to console him.  The friends sit with him for seven days in silence. Throughout the entire book if Job, these friends are trying to compel Job, that he has done something wrong and deserves the misfortune that has fallen him.  But after 30 chapters, we have this younger individual that starts to speak, Elihu.  Elihu brings wisdom to the group and gives insight into the mysteries that God has revealed to him.  Elihu shows that God is just and there are somethings that cannot be explained by man, but only with the Spirit.  It is this new realization that allows Job to be ready for his revelation that God presents himself.

As I read this, I could imagine, my grandmother and three of her close friends in a grand debate about the circumstances that they are going through.  Then in the midst of the hours long discussion, my youngest daughter, Nadya who is five, comes in a delivers some wisdom that completely changes their mindset and their understanding of God.   The main point of Elihu in the story is to show: Wisdom is not given by age, Wisdom is a gift, and Wisdom has to be used with discretion.

  • Wisdom is not given by age.
    • Many times in our society, we believe that the older a person is the wiser this person.This passage shows that it is not the age or length of time here that predisposes us to wisdom, but it is the Spirit of God that reveals the mysteries that He holds. Elihu was much younger than the other individuals, but has been given this insight.
  • Wisdom is a gift
    • Wisdom cannot be earned or bargained for, it is something that is only given and sustained by God. I have seen many wise persons that have been able to accomplish many things, then health or circumstances happen and the wisdom that they possessed is not accessible. It is a gift and needs to be cherished.
  • Wisdom has to be used with discretion and humility.
    • Until I slowed down and re-read this passage, I was unaware of the presence of Elihu. I though he was one of the other three with a different name.  He remained observant and thoughtful, until the right time.  He could have come in at any time, but his time was patience in practice.  Wisdom is not to be given with haste, Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”  Proverbs 17: 28

Jabez

Today’s Reading :  I Chronicles 4:9-10

What is in a name? When Jillian and I were expecting our children, we wanted them to have names that would reflect some part of their history and heritage.  We felt that the name that they had would create a personality or presence that would continue with them.  After long hours of discussions and deep thought we decided that the children would have specific names that would be part of our families’ histories and a reflection of them.

Oliver, was named from our grandfathers.  Upon research we found that Oliver has many possible linkages:  Latin term/name olivarius “olive tree planter”, or the Old Norse Óleifr (Ólaf); or a genuinely West Germanic name, perhaps from ala- “all” and wēra “true” “ All true” , or from alf “elf” and hari “army, warrior” “ Elf Army” .  As Oliver has grown up into a young man, I can identify that the name and the person that he is becoming are true and I am excited to see where this “army of elves” will go.

Ruby, was named in memory of grandmothers.   Her name meaning is associated with the precious stone that ultimately derived from Latin ruber “red”.  Ruby is also considered the short feminine form of the biblical name, Reuben, meaning, “behold, a son” in Hebrew; behold a daughter.  This is name seems to fit her from birth, as she was the first daughter that we had, but also due to her personality.  She is my spicy and passionate child.  She is also one of the most precious and tenderhearted individuals I know.

Nadya is the French form of the Russian Nadya, a nickname form of Nadezha, which is directly derived from the word meaning, “hope”.  Nadya was named for the true namesake of hope.  Hope for the peace and joy of God in our lives.   Jillian and I had experienced many highs and lows as parents with Oliver and Ruby through countless hospitalizations and health issues that we purposefully and intentionally gave her name with a specific blessing.  Nadya has been a true inspiration and joy to our family and continues to give us hope daily.

 

In the reading we are presented with a different naming process:  I Chronicles 4:9-10

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez,[a] saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

 

After much research, I was unable to find the direct mother and father of Jabez, but he is known as a direct descendant of Judah and his son Perez.  This would have been a big deal in the ancient times.  The lineage of the person would direct your path in life as well as your name.  Jabez was of the same line of David and Christ.  He knew that he was blessed through God’s anointing his forefathers Israel, Judah, and Perez.

He knew that the name that is given to you does not determine your outlook.  He would have been familiar with the story of his forefather Jacob being converted to Israel.  He would have been familiar with the story of his forefather Perez and how was conceived and how he preserved through these obstacles.  Jabez was aware of his name, it was rooted in sorrow and pain, but he was determine that God would create a blessing in the midst of the anguish and turmoil that he produced in coming into the world.

With the knowledge of whose he was (God’s, YHWH, Jehovah) and the circumstances that placed on him from his name, Jabez knew he had to speak it into existence and create a new direction for his life.  Jabez spoke such power that he is known today for his courage and faith.  He was known to an extent that there was a place: either a city or region that bore his name I Chronicles 2:55.

The example that Jabez has made for us is that no matter the situations that we are born into or have created ourselves, we are still God’s children and we are able to change the situation when we acknowledge God’s presence in us and that we are worthy of his blessings.

Jonathan : Speak it. Believe it. Achieve it.

Today’s Reading : I Samuel Chapters 14 &20

Jonathan was the son of the first king of Israel, Saul, and the best friend and brother-in-law to David, the second and most known king of Israel.  Jonathan is a unique individual in that he defined the roles of his life through the Spirit of God and not through the prescribed doctrine of the culture. During his lifetime, Jonathan followed Jewish law, which held family bonds and relationships higher than any other bond found in the community.  He was both a devout son and friend, but through his actions he exhibited a connection more through spirit than blood.    I think that his life could be summed up into three phrases: Speak it. Believe it. Achieve it.

Jonathan was a great soldier and warrior, but he also had an amazing relationship with God.  He was able to discern and consult with God in some of the most profound adventures and journeys in his life.

Speak it. Believe it. Achieve it.

I Samuel 14:6-15

Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish.[b] Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them.If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.” 11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12 And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.” And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 13 Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him. 14 And that first strike, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, killed about twenty men within as it were half a furrow’s length in an acre[c] of land. 15 And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic.[d]

This is a great example of Jonathan’s mindset and spirit.  Jonathan has a plan and then he SPEAKS the words of how to proceed.  He gives two possible scenarios of how the conversation with the enemy might and states if the responds is “Come up to us” the Lord is with us and the Lord has given the enemy into the hands of Jonathan. Unlike his father, Jonathan gave God a way to show his ultimate authority and power.  There could have been many other possibilities that this interaction could have taken, but he had the foresight to provide a way that only God would know the outcomes.   Sometimes in our lives, how much better would the outcomes be if we presented two sides of the scenario and allowed God to work in the midst with the answer we seek.

Speak it. Believe it. Achieve it.

I Samuel 20: 3-11; 35-42

 But David vowed again, saying, “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he thinks, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.” Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the clan.’ If he says, ‘Good!’ it will be well with your servant, but if he is angry, then know that harm is determined by him. Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you. But if there is guilt in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?” And Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! If I knew that it was determined by my father that harm should come to you, would I not tell you?” 10 Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you roughly?” 11 And Jonathan said to David, “Come, let us go out into the field.” So they both went out into the field.

 In the morning Jonathan went out into the field to the appointment with David, and with him a little boy. 36 And he said to his boy, “Run and find the arrows that I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 And when the boy came to the place of the arrow that Jonathan had shot, Jonathan called after the boy and said, “Is not the arrow beyond you?”38 And Jonathan called after the boy, “Hurry! Be quick! Do not stay!” So Jonathan’s boy gathered up the arrows and came to his master. 39 But the boy knew nothing. Only Jonathan and David knew the matter. 40 And Jonathan gave his weapons to his boy and said to him, “Go and carry them to the city.” 41 And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap[f] and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. 42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.[g]

Again, Jonathan and David are speaking with the intentional purpose that the Lord is with the two of them. They don’t make large and arrogant claims, but humbly speak about the circumstance.  They speak with confidence and are in agreement with each other. They are not fighting and upset with each other, they are at peace with each other over some very powerful and hard matters: the possibility of the King trying to kill David, Jonathan’s best friend and the son-in-law of Saul.

Some of the attributes that we can gain from Jonathan are:

Speak it.

  • When we are presented with major or minor life choices we have a chance to give God the opportunity to confirm his purpose in our lives. We have to speak boldly and intentional about the direction God has in our lives.

Believe it.

  • When we make a proclamation, we have to have faith that is will be completed. We cannot allow doubt to sway our thoughts.  There will be times when we are waiting on the answer, doubt or uncertainty will creep in, but we must remember the promise that God continually give us and has made.  He will give you the desires of your heart if you believe.

Achieve it.

  • Once you have made the proclamation and keep the faith, you will see the fullness of God manifested. He is awesome and amazing and through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, God will show his love to those who speak it, believe it, and they will achieve it.

Aaron

Exodus 32

 

As we continue our journey of the faithful people of our spiritual foundation we visit Aaron, brother of Moses and the first high priest of Israel.  Some verses that give us a glimpse of Aaron are

Exodus 4:14-16

14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him.

Aaron was the main spokesperson for Moses and God. Aaron had been gifted with eloquent speech.  God understood the weaknesses and strengths of his children and will properly suit individuals that compliment each other.  Moses was gifted in leading and directing the people of Israel and Aaron was gifted with speaking and instructing the people with assistance from God.  When the two of them were working in concert and under the leadership of God, they were able to create new and amazing things, but aside from God they brought folly to themselves and the people who followed.

In Exodus 28:1-3: God makes Aaron and his descendants the first official priest of the people of Israel:

“Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood.

This was the appointment and the promise that God had given Aaron to be the principle communicator between God, Moses, and the people.  Aaron was given a major appointment and blessing from God.  This was given to Moses to communicate to Aaron, but God made the promise.  This was not something that God had done without understanding responsibilities and remaifications of the office and duties.  This was God’s own choice.  God’s infinite understanding and particular specifications can be seen in the preparations of the priest’s garments and tools for the temple.  In chapters 28 & 29, God gives specific directions down to the particular threads that are supposed to be used in the garments.

Exodus 28:6-8

“And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and of fine twined linen, skillfully worked. It shall have two shoulder pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together. And the skillfully woven band on it shall be made like it and be of one piece with it, of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen.

Almost simultaneously, as God is given this blessing and decree to Moses, the people start to stir restlessly in the camp and pressures, persuade, or coax Aaron to produce a golden calf so that the people can have something tangible to praise and worship.  When this happens Moses is sent to the people and Aaron

Exodus Chapter 32: 21-24

And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” 22 And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

In the previous section, if God was like man and had the same inadequacies that we have, God would have taken away this appointed service and station and created another person in its place, but God is faithful to his promise and will remain behind them until fulfillment.

Hebrews 5: 1-5

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

Aaron gives us an example in several ways:

  • God will make a promise and plan for our lives, even when we are not fully aware that the Maker is at work
  • Even though we may commit unthinkable acts against self, others, and God; God still loves us and will help us to show his glory
  • When we acknowledge our shameful acts and turn way from those acts and allow God to bless us, He will be victorious over all the things in our past.

 

Enoch

Enoch

Genesis 5: 21

Time. This is one of the most essential human commodities.  The actual passage of time can be both subjective and objective.  It depends on the person and the situation. I have had the fortune to be present and witness the birth of all three of my children.  In the moments before and during, time seems to stand still. It is as if the whole world stands still to witness the birth of a new blessing.  In the clinical notes, you would probably see delivery at x:xx.  In my current role as pharmacist, I have to assist on Code Blue Response Team and I have experienced the later side of life on some of the responses.  In this situation, the time phenomenon occurs again: time stands still.  I have first hand knowledge because I am the record keeper. I have to announce the minutes until the next medication can be given and the other functions that are occurring in the room.  Every time that I have recorded codes, it seems like 5 minutes have passed, but in actuality only 30 seconds have elapsed.

The patriarch that we have the opportunity to review this week is Enoch.  Enoch was the son of Jared and father to Methuselah. Genesis 5:18-24. 

 

18 When Jared had lived 162 years, he fathered Enoch. 19 Jared lived after he fathered Enoch 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died.

21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God[a] after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters.23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not,[b] for God took him.

 

Enoch was sixth generation descendant from Adam.  His son, Methuselah, was recorded to be 969 years old when he died, 39 more years than Adam and the oldest in the line of Adam.  One interesting aspect of this family tree and lineage is Enoch was able to see and interact with Adam.  How awesome would this be?  Actually knowing your great-great-great-great grand father?

I personally was not granted the opportunity to meet either one of my grandfathers here on this earthly plain, but I have the memories of them that have been told by countless individuals that I can almost picture them: their smile, their laugh, and their smell.  It is funny how we can learn so much from the family that remains and capture a piece of the past.  My son was fortunate to see and meet his great-grandfather and two great-grandmothers. He was able to meet grandpa Mark and have him at his baptism.  He was able to visit grandpa Mark on the farm in Kansas several times and actually know him. This week marks the fifth anniversary that grandpa Mark made his heaven journey.

In my imagination, I can see Adam talking to his grandson, Enoch.  Enoch is able to spend several centuries with Adam and learning about the time before and the current time.  Enoch was able to sit and absorb the wonders of the garden and the richness of the land.  He was able to see how despite the events of the past, God is truly faithful to his promise and he can see the first complete-hand made image of God, Adam. We have to remember that Adam was the first person made to live forever by the hands of God.  He was miracle and example of God’s awesomeness. Enoch was able to see all of these attributes and this allowed him to create and nurture a relationship with God that is unique and countless.  Enoch’s faith and relationship with God is an example of true devotion and love.  Hebrew 11: 5-6. 

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Heavenly Father, Please grant us the ability to have the faith as Enoch and create and foster a relationship with you that is pleasing in your sight.  Thank you for being outside of time and space and holding it all together. Amen

Walk the Talk

Walk the Talk

Todays Reading:  James Chapter 1

As we enter the heart of summer, I am reminded of the years of the past with the down home family reunions. Being from Texas, we would have big family reunions that would last for the entire weekend.  The reunion would start with a gathering of relatives on Thursday evening.  On the following day, we would have a fish fry that would be sponsored by a cousin who would have just caught the fish that morning.  On Saturday, we would have the big gathering and barbeque, where you met family that you scarcely, if at all remembered.  But this was the purpose of the gathering, to meet your family from two to three generation past, present, and future.

Some of my precious and memorable moments were the conversations that you would have traveling to the reunion or during the late nights around the fire or in your great-aunt’s living room or kitchen.  These are the times you hear about your father’s youth or the cousins’ shenanigans. You also gain so much wisdom just by listening to your elders. For instance, here are some southern nuggets of wisdom: “Don’t let someone else pick your shade tree” and   “Let’s sit down and chew the fat”.  These are sayings that mean to choose your own way of living and being and let’s sit down and chat.

As we have traveled through our Biblejournal journey, we can see a little of the family reunion unfolding. Jesus, in all the gospels, is the gentle father who gives us advice and teachings in many forms: parables, examples, and direct action.  Then we have the uncles: Peter, Paul, John, and James.   Each of the uncles will give you different advice at different times and in their own fashion.  Paul is the uncle that has traveled the world and has different experiences that will relate to everyone in their own specific way.  Peter is the uncle that is calm and tells you the stories of times with Jesus and how things will be to come.  Then we have Uncle James.  He is the uncle that gives you the stories and then tells you the truth of the matter. He is the apostle that loves yet direct to the point.  This is sometimes the favorite uncle because you always know what he is thinking. James is the uncle that forces us to “Walk to the talk”.

Everyone has the opportunity to grow and mature. Sometimes it is easy to comply with the rules and policies.  At other times, it is harder to follow the rules to the law.  James asks us a Christians to not only know God and Christ, but to actually live, as we love them.  Throughout the book of James, he is reinforcing us to take deliberate and intentional actions to live our lives so that others may see God’s love in us.

A couple of nuggets that James gives are:

  • Steadfastness: verse 1-4, 12
    • The true essence of a person is not discovered without some adversity or trails. When we are in the midst of hard, difficult, and challenging times this is the opportunity that we should be thankful and in awe of God’s presence in our lives.  It is once we have overcome that we are stronger and more capable of greater results.
  • Ask God for Wisdom: verse 5
    • God is a loving Father and will give freely all that he has, but we have to ask for the gift.He is ready to give wisdom, knowledge and peace when we ask it.  We have been conditioned from the exit of Eden to shy away from God, but this is the time that he wants to bless us and we have to be sure of our relationship that he WANTS to bless us
  • God is good and perfect and doesn’t want to tempt us : verse 17
    • We as humans and Christians are fallible and will fall often. It is not that God wants us to fail, but the desire of our hearts sometimes quiets the voice of God.  His presence is always there and he will give us an alternative whenever we are tempted, we just have to listen and be receptive.
  • Quick, Slow, Slow: Verse 19
    • This sounds like a dance routine, but it is the verse “Be QUICK to hear, SLOW to speak, SLOW to anger”.
  • True Religion
    • James puts the purest definition religion:
      • James 1: 27: religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
    • Doing good to those who are not able to provide for themselves is the Truest Religion

May we blessed to listen and follow these recommendations from James to bring God’s grace and love to those we interact with. Amen