Friday, August 21, 2009

The Peril of Food (1 Corinthians 8)

Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.
(Rom 14:20 ESV)

Paul says similar things in 1 Cor. 8. We have freedom in Christ. Not freedom to Sin. Indeed, how can we sin any longer who have died to it. We have freedom from the strict dietary laws of the Torah. It appears that those in the Corinthian community were still offended by their non-Kosher brethren and this caused a rift in the church. Paul's point is that if someone so desires to follow Kosher than by all mean do not dissuade him. However, if someone feels compelled to eat any and every type of food but all means. It is often said, "I don't care what other people think." In this text it is vitally important to care about what other think. We all have different level of knowledge and faith. Thus, we bear with much grace those who are less trained in the faith.

Bones around the Alters (Ezekiel 6)

And I will lay the dead bodies of the people of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars. (Eze 6:5 ESV)

God has a wonderful plan for your life. A plan to destroy and tear down. A plan to annihilate and exile. The prophet Ezekiel must have been a depressed man. After laying on his side for so many days and than cutting off all his hair. Ezekiel is called to denounce the idolatry of the people in such graphic terms that would make your ears tingle. Yet like most of the prophets he does not leave the people in despair. In the midst of such horrific judgement he is given the promise of a remnant. Those who have escaped the sword and are now scattered among the nations. Even today ethnic Israel may have rejected their messiah but there is a remnant of the seed of Abraham faithful to Yeshua. The full cup of the Lord's wrath awaits his Day. When God tears down and uproots he always plants a small seed of restoration to give his covenant people hope and a future.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

She Left Her Waterpot (John 4)

Water is the life blood of any person. One can go weeks, perhaps months with out food but to abstain from water will spell a swift death. We often overlook the miraculous nature of modern society. All I have to do is turn a knob and I have almost a limitless source of water. This was not the case in the ancient world. People often traveled great distances just on a rumor of fresh water. Recall, that the Children of Israel were given water from a rock and the were given sweet water. Jesus in John 4 tells this woman who has lived a live of moral famine that she also, as a Samaritan, can have access to a source of perpetual living water. The water Jesus offers will never run out. Indeed, it will well up in a person unto eternal life. The scandal of this encounter consists of Jesus conversing with a woman and worse a Samaritan woman. The free gift of Living water is offered even to the outcasts of society. By the end of the encounter her thought of water from the well vanished and all she wanted to do was tell the men of the city of this marvelous man who told her exactly what she needed at the moment.

"So the woman left her water pot (John 4:28)."

Flee ! (1 Corinthians 6:18)

Joseph was a righteous man who endured some unrighteous acts. His moral integrity got him into more trouble than his sin. His masters wife attempted to seduce him and instead of lingering and having a rational conversation with her he fled

She caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me!" And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. (Gen 39:12 NAU)

Paul exhorts believers to Flee Immorality! Why? This sin is committed against the body as well as against the Lord. 1 Corinthians 6 spells out in detail how we are to relate to the world with our bodies. Being members of the Body of Christ our bodies are meant for the Lord not for the corrupting influences of the world. No matter how 'spiritual' you think you may be never trust your heart. Don't try to reason with you evil inclination it will win every time. Run! Forest, Run!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Is this What Ministry is About (Ezekiel 4)

Ezekiel was called to do some strange things. When I was a child one of my joys would be to build something using legos and than smash it to bits. Ezekiel is told to take a brick, write Jerusalem on it, and than lay siege to the brick. One can only imagine how silly this grown man would look with little ramps, small chariots, and battering rams attaching this brick yet this is exactly what Ezekiel did. His next requirement must have been extremely uncomfortable. He was told to lay on his left side for 390 days. For over a year he was to lay on his left side. One can only imagine the pressure sores. Was he allowed to get up to relieve himself. What about food? Did he have a pillow? The 390 finally passed but the object lesson was not over for 40 days he was to lay on his right side. It appear that he was unable to move during this time. Indeed, God himself was the one who tied him up (v.8). He is then told to make a type of bread and use human excrement to bake the bread. For all the other actions Ezekiel appears to comply without complaint. But not so with the request to use human dung! He protests to the Lord by saying that he has never been defiled. God graciously allows Ezekiel to use cow dung as a substitute. What was the purpose of all these object lesson? The life of the Prophet was also a message. Often the truth God want to communicate to us must come via a shock! As we progress in the Book of Ezekiel these shocks will become even more bizarre.

Eat this Scroll (Ezekiel 3)

The word of God must be consumed. Ezekiel is told to eat the scroll. The scroll is as sweet as honey. There is something sweet about the Word of God. It gives us precious promises which are wonderful to behold. But always remember that there is also a bitterness to the Word of God.
9 So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, "Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey." (Rev 10:9 NAU).

To John the Scroll was also bitter. Much of what the Word of God tells us is difficult to practice.

The Word of God can be sweet in reception and bitter in application.

David's Major Weakness (1 Sam 25)

Nothing so hypnotizes that heart of a man like the beauty and form of a woman. In 1 Samuel 24 David overlooks the murderous threats of Saul and spares his life. Contrast that story with the story of Nabal and Abigail. Nabal, the fool, is married to Abigail. The text tells us that Abigail was intelligent and beautiful. A combination hard for any man to resist. David sends men to Nabal to greet him in peace and Nabal insults the men. Upon hearing this news David and his men gird up their swords and go to see Nabal (with the intent to kill him). Abigail hears this turn of events and rides out to meet David and intercedes for her foolish husband. David recognizes the righteousness of Abigail and spares Nabals life. Some time would pass and Nabal would die of natural causes (the text states that the LORD struck Nabal). David praises the Lord at this news and immediately takes Abigail to be his wife. One would think that David would now be content with his new wife but this is not the case. The text states that at that time David also took Ahinoam as his wife. Polygamy is the natural state of man, even a man "after God's own heart' like David.

Returning Good for Evil (1 Sam 24)

Saul had continually tried to slay David. Yet David did not act in kind. Saul is practically offered to David on a platter. David finds himself hiding in a cave and Saul just happens to enter the same cave. David and his men are in the recesses of the cave and think: Now is our chance let us arise and smite Saul. David cuts off the corner of Saul's garment and even this act bothers David's conscience. You must remember that the Children of Israel were commanded to place tassels on their garments (Num. 15:37 - 41) to symbolize the commandments and to remind the people to perform the commandments. By cutting off the corner of the garment David symbolizes that the Torah has been removed from Saul. Saul is acting on his own desires not the commandments of the Torah. David spares Saul's life that day. David proves that he is a better man because of his ability to rise above the petty difference he has with Saul. Let us put aside our difference and learn to love those who persecute us. Always Remember:

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Rom 12:20-21 NAU)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Help a Homeless Apostle (1 Cor. 4:11)

To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed, brutally treated, and without a roof over our heads. (1Co 4:11 NET)

Yesterday I volunteered at a Homeless shelter. The majority of the folks were men who look poorly clothed and were hungry. This morning I was reading 1 Corinthians and saw this passage in a new light. The men who were privilaged with the revelation of the Incarnation of Yahwah were hungry, thirsty, poorly clothed, roughly treated, and homeless. What a contrast to the modern purveyor of American Christianity. Today's modern preacher full of pomp and glory. Boasting of his private jet and luxury car. Clearly the Apostles were not living their best life now! Indeed, if you are living your best life now heaven will be a letdown. But what about me! I have a nice home, a full stomach, a working car (just barely) nice clothing, etc... What about me? Have I renounced all things to follow Christ? I don't think so! Let us examine ourselves to see if we are worthy of the call.

Paul would go on to refer to himself, and the other apostles, as the scum of the earth. Than we are told to "be imitators of me." (1 Cor. 4:16). How do I imitate Paul? Go hungry, become scum, wear poor clothing, become homeless? These are hard realizations. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.

John the Baptist was not an Inclusivist (John 3:36)

Peter speaks of Jesus being the only way to the Father (Acts 4:12). John the Baptist states that those who do not obey the Son have the wrath of God abiding on them. Wow! You could not get more narrow-minded than that. May we take fully the offense of the Gospel to a world full of false idols and religions.

The Conscious Water, Saw its Master, and Blushed (John 3)

The first miracle that Jesus did was turn water into wine. To describe this event Alexander Pope wrote: “The conscious water, saw its Master, and blushed."

Another Glimpse Behind the Veil (John 1 - 2)

John provides us with a tremendous glimpse of the True nature of the Christ. He is co-equal with the Father yet distinct. A seeming contradiction. He is the Logos. In greek intellectual circles the logos is the controlling reason of the universe. This logos was with (pros) the father. This relationship indicates a face-to-face interaction. The logos and the father shared an intimate connection. The logos would become tabernacled in space and time during the incarnation. John than gives us a facinating statement of the status of the Logos. He is monogenes Theos, the only-begotton God. We are not polytheists. Yet here in John's gospel we are presented with two distinct persons the Father and the Logos yet they are one. A profound mystery to be sure.

A Glimpse Behind the Veil (Ezekiel 1 - 2)

Ezekiel was given an awesome privilege. He was given a brief view of the celestial throne room. He struggles to find the adjectives to describe this vision. Jewish Tradition mandates that a person must have mastered Torah before studying Ezekiel. He is trying to describe the indescribable.

Ezekiel has an intimidating call. God tells him that the people will be rebellious, they will not listen, they will not fear the Word. In spite of this, he must preach the Word faithfully. God then tells Ezekiel to eat the scroll. The Word must become a part of him. You are what you eat, so to speak. The Word of God must become the very warp and woof of our being. So that all our experiences and thoughts are under its purview.

A Life Consumed by Envy (1 Samuel 20-23)

King Saul found himself in a sad situation. Forsaken by the Lord, by Samuel, by his son, and by the people. His only consolation was found in the death of David. Saul's own son, Jonathan, seems to have forgotten him as well. In his rage he kills the priests of the Lord (22:21). Things became so bad that David's only source of refuge was found in the Philistines. The lesson we can learn from Saul is the peril of comparison. Fix your eyes on Jesus not on other people.