Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In the Shadow of Thy Wings


Recently, we flew to New England for the holidays. After all the hustle bustle of the week, sitting way up miles above the earth flying seemingly suspended and motionless, it was like somebody had pressed the mute button on the clatter of the holidays. Flying is something I enjoy. Amazingly you can fly through the skies (in this case the friendly skies) with a pilot that puts it all in motion and a fuselage that protects one from the elements and balances the pressure so we don't explode as we climb into areas of thin air.  The pilot gets direction and instruction from the airport tower ( I like to listen to the pilot channel on the head phones during flight to hear the conversation back and forth between the pilot and the tower). It is really a great analogy on God's provision for us in providing His son the pilot and indwelling spirt of God. Not that the inside of the plane is exactly like the throne room of God. but it offers a relatable analogy.

It really was through God's provision of His son that we can claim the wings of God.
In Acts 3 Peter explained it to the Judeans what was  newly available from God from the day of Pentecost.
Acts 3:19 (Amplified Bible) So repent (change your mind and purpose); turn around and return [to God], that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air) may come from the presence of the Lord; 
The same thing is true for us today.  When we acknowledge the final sacrifice for sins in Jesus Christ and that the victory of that sacrifice emerged as  he rose from the dead, we are ushered into the times of refreshing in the presence of a very loving God that we love to turn to. Like the psalmist said in Psalm 36:7:
How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ok It's Crunch Time! Joy Joy Joy!

Don't worry, be happy! Our culture has concocted all this hoopla! The fresh smell of pine and chestnuts roasting on the fire have become symbols of the good life! Yet this is the time of the year you see people who are tired, stressed and maybe a tad bit isolated. Even gift-giving frenzy has moved to a new level. We get daily reports of how the sales are going and influencing the economy. If you are frustrated you haven't found the right gift yet or  feel enticed to spend a lot of money to get it right, stop! Whoa Rudolf!


I have talked with several wonderful people this week about "purpose" in life and what it is.  These same people are some of the most purposeful people I know. They have blessed my life in so many ways and they will continue to do so forever. I am surrounded by some of the most enjoyable people and family to be around. They love God, they don't limit Him; they think outside the box. They just know the moment to call, post a link on Facebook, or throw a snowball on Farmville or remind me to feed the sheep! They invite me to Starbucks and shopping, help me land a volunteer job at the local college, or quote Kenyon and Psalm 119 to me. They send notes about what  friendship means. They listen when I am excited about something and add their own excitement. They help me figure out plans for the holidays. They bring over the cutest little kids to play with. They send me pictures of rainbows that remind me how big God is. They tell  the truth and love in the best way possible. These are the greatest gifts.


Ok,  Jesus Christ was actually born on September 11, 3 BC. It was in December the magi visited. Those are true points. What he brought was his "purpose" in life and is the most important point to get. He said it himself:
John 10:10b I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
We can abundantly live blessing others in the most significant ways, just being who God called us to be and not being afraid that we are doing something wrong.  In Micah 6:6-8, God says:
Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Now that is "purpose"!  

                                                         

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Who Are Those Guys? Very Wise Men!

Who were the wisemen? It was the the magi who figured out exactly where to find the child, Jesus.  How did they know who he was, when the political and religious leaders of the day didn't realize who he was? It is interesting that these men who were 'Gentiles' saw a pattern in the stars and saw  significant events involving the planet Jupiter and knew to follow it's path to Judea. They were astronomers. Astronomy can be a precise science when it pertains to the motions of the planets and position of the stars in relation to the earth night time sky.

Magi were advisors to the oriental kings. They carried tremendous power and influence in there own kingdoms, that often they were influential in the designation of a king. We can read about them during the time of Daniel when certain ones of Judea were carried away captive to Babylon and became part of the Persian court where the magi served. Daniel exhibited tremendous spiritual insight as he listened to God and spoke for Him among these people. The king respected and gave glory to the God of Daniel and made him president over the magi. Daniel would have taught them the Word concerning a coming Messiah. Daniel had a huge impact on these men as they watched him believe God in some very severe challenges.

Several years ago, I taught Astronomy at the local high school and the deeper I got into studying the stars and planet motions I knew there was no accidental design involved in their display. It is  a truly humbling experience. I imagine those magi saw and understood the same thing. Can you imagine the great conversations with Daniel they had. It must have been exceedingly rich interaction.

On one occasion at an Astronomy teacher's conference, someone asked about the Bethlehem star. At that moment we were looking at a computer program that could come up with the exact replica of the night time sky, once you programmed in latitude, longitude and a range of dates. So I told the computer operator to type in August/September  3BC over Bethlehem and up came a representation of the sky  around the time of Jesus Christ's birth.  The sky spoke for itself. There had been a couple of beautiful conjunctions involving the constellation Leo (the king constellation) and Regulus (king star in the constellation located between the feet of Leo the lion) and the planet Jupiter (the king planet). It was beautifully represented!

It is also beautifully spoken of in the Word in Genesis 49:9-10
Genesis 49:9-10 Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
God is the designer of the universe. In Psalm 147:4, the psalmist says:
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
Who were the magi? They not only journeyed to see him, they also provided wonderful gifts to support the new king. I'd say they were very humble, respectful men of action.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fellowship

Recently, we welcomed a large number of friends and family into our home for a family celebration.  There were some people that were there that we had met at various showers and weddings that I didn’t know very well. I was pretty busy taking care of putting out food, answering the door,  refilling coffee etc, so I did not have much time for the proverbial chitchat. As the party started to wind down and people started leaving, I walked a woman to the door and talked to her as she gathered up her children. It wasn’t a very long conversation, but the gist of it was about how much we have to be thankful to God for! It was instant friendship! How quickly and easily friendships are started on, “We have a lot to be thankful for!”

The book of Acts is a book about the life in the first century. In it’s records are snapshot views into people lives after Jesus Christ’s ascension to the right hand of God.  Even the last 40 days of his presence on earth was remarkable (and you can imagine how many people were remarking to each other about all that had happened!) He died, arose, walked around for 40 days and took off. Then to top it off, a phenomenal event happened on the annual feast of the day of Pentecost in the temple with the 12 who were left behind along with all the others who had followed him. At the end of the second chapter of Acts we see a summation of how some people handled it. (See 'Fellowship' in 'Digging Deeper')
Acts 2:46b-47a They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. (NIV 2010)
Thankful people are thankful for thankful people. Thankful people like to hang around thankful people.
Acts 2:47b And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
It is not hard to understand, I like thankful people, especially people who are thankful and recognize how God has truly blessed them.

In the book of Galatians some of the first century citizens lost sight of this and Paul wrote to remind people who love God about this thankfulness in their dealings others. The Galatians had forgotten God's abundant grace and had focused on their  works, judgement, and lofty comparisons. Paul reminded them that it is God's love that we love each other with.
Galatians 6:10 (Amplified Bible)So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God's family with you, the believers].
God's family is huge! We don't have time to be anything but thankful!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Unity of the Spirit

When Jesus was alive he said  “I and my Father are one” and then later prayed in John 17: 20-21; 
Neither pray I for these [apostles] alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
 Paul later taught in regards to the unity of the spirit of God:
Ephesians 3:4-6There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
In the first century, life was physically very different from the life we know today. Yet the major happening on the day of Pentecost right after the ascension of Jesus Christ brought the unity of the spirit of God into the lives of willing people. Peter was the first to speak about what had happened. He did not have the whole picture yet but what God showed him he shared. The people had gathered from all across the known world at that time to celebrate one of three yearly feasts.  Jerusalem had a huge population at this time of the year. Many of the people who responded to Peter’s magnificent sermon drastically changed their lives.
Acts 2:41-47 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear [respect] came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
 Our culture is different today, but the unity of the spirit is the same. We don’t travel to the temple in Jerusalem to the feasts. We now have a written record of the apostle’s doctrine. We have the seven church epistles by Paul explaining the gift of holy spirit and what we are to think and do about it. We too can praise God and share in God’s grace in one  with the thinking of the first century church!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What difference does it make if you’re a dork? What difference does it make if you are Joe Cool? We were all given access to the same measure of faith by way of Jesus Christ.  A new cable line was laid down on the day of Pentecost in the arrival of holy spirit when God poured out His very essence to those who believed. It doesn’t matter how old, what nationality or culture you are, whether you are male or female, or even whether you are a democrat or republican. Believers have high speed access to God.

Just look at the record of that notable day way back in 3 BC.
Acts 2:5-13 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meanest this?
Almost two months prior to the day of Pentecost, the veil in the temple had been ripped open from top to bottom (Who did that? Think about it, top to bottom?) I’m sure people had questions about that!.
Exodus 26:33 And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.
It takes looking at the fine details in the Word like the torn veil, the multitude gathered at the day of Pentecost, to see the perfection of God’s communication of His heart and of His desire to have fellowship with man. Believing God comes from looking at the Word.
Since that day of Pentecost a person who chooses to believe is no longer isolated from the presence of God. Prior to that event, only the high priest could enter into the holy of holies. Now every believer regardless of his credentials has the right to enter into the holiest of holies. Why would anyone lack confidence or feel inferior with that kind of privilege! It doesn’t matter who or what we are, people who believe can confidently walk and help others in our own unique way because the spirit of God within. 



R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend and we got to talking about respect and the current culture. He made a statement to me t...