Friday, October 26, 2012

Freedom of Speech and 'Babeling'

In Genesis 10:8-10, there is a record about Nimrod, a great grandson of Noah born after the flood.
And (Noah -> Ham -> Cush -> Nimrod) begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before (in the face of) the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before (in the face) the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."
Nimrod was a 'mighty man' and loved it. He became quite powerful and settled in the land of Shinar.  E.W. Bullinger, in Apendix 28 of the Companion Bible, Josephus (Ant. Jud. i. c. 4. 2) says of Nimrod :"Nimrod persuaded mankind not to ascribe their happiness to God, but to think that his own excellency was the source of it. And he soon changed things into a tyranny, thinking there was no other way to wean men from the fear of God, than by making them rely upon his own power."

Nimrod was a very powerful man. Cities are convenient for totalitarian-like governments desiring  control over and dependency of the people. it was a perfect set-up for Nimrod.
Genesis 11:1-4 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar (Babylonia); and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
The Tower of Babel construction project was based on human pride as was Cain's offering. God was not blessed by it. The unity that developed was not good. When we think of the word 'unity' we usually see it as a positive force. However, unity for the wrong reasons and out of alignment with God's heart towards man, can be very evil and not easily restrained. Here in Genesis we see the first record of big government.
Genesis 11:5-9And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
God's instruction to Noah was to replenish the earth (Genesis 9:7), not hunker down. Control, fear and the building of religious edifices was not what He had in mind. Their actions resulted in a scattering abroad and a confounding of their language. Uh oh! What about freedom of speech? People have their own free will choice to say whatever they want, but  it is wise to remember that words can be used to promote good or evil.

We live entwined in systems of the world that can trace its footprints of pride and power in the records of the cities of Cain and Nimrod. There is nothing new under the sun today.
Psalm 63:11But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Anger of Cain

The record of Cain in Genesis reveals some sad details of the fallen nature. When Adam and Eve got into trouble about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a chain of events started that allowed evil to gain a foothold within the hearts of men. Both Abel and Cain brought offerings to God.  Both carried out a practice showing allegiance to God.  Abel brought his firstlings of his flock and God accepted his gift as an offering from his heart. Cain's offering was from the fruit of the ground produced by his own labor. Cain's offering was not respected by God and Cain got angry. God's discussion with Cain is interesting:
Genesis 4: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
God asked Cain why he was angry and he warned him that his anger unchecked was an opportunity for sin.  Anger in and of itself is not sin. There is such a thing as 'righteous anger' and it would be sin not to react in anger to things that are evil. But we are to be the master of the anger so that it doesn't carry us away. All relationships aren't perfect. We do things that anger others and others do things to anger us. It is inevitable. To let anger seethe and foment is wrong. We must deal with it and 'not let the sun go down on our wrath' (Ephesians 4:6).

God asked Cain why he was angry and Cain's response was indignation and more anger because he was focused on himself. His anger started to control him and it became his master.

And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
This is the result of out of control anger and vengeful indignation.

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

William Blake

How do we deal with injustice so that anger doesn't control us. The other day an incident really hit into my sense of justice. I had all sorts of ideas on how to deal with it. There are many options to taking care of things in a wise as well as unwise manner, but I decided to give it to God and asked Him to show me the best way. God is a God of peace and solutions are right up His alley, we just have to have patience (and I'm not talking about swallowing it- repressed anger is the worst!). We believe that He can show us the best route, and He does!   The resulting action could be like the example of Jesus Christ and the money-changers or it may be as simple as giving a soft answer. It is His call. Cain wanted to call the shots so it ended badly for him. He ended up being the earliest designer of a very ungodly worldly system.

God is a wellspring of peace, love and restoration. For people who love God and respect his way, these opportunities are an excellent way to see how big God's heart is to us.  When listen to Him and respond, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of how loving our Father truly is when we let Him work with our heart! This is the effective use of anger!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

God Bless America

1 Samuel 12 

And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you.

And Samuel said unto the people, It is the Lord that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.
Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord of all the righteous acts of the Lord, which he did to you and to your fathers.
When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place.
And when they forgat the Lord their God, he sold (idiom of permission) them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
10 And they cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee.
11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe.
12 And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the Lord your God was your king.
13 Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you.
14 If ye will fear the Lord, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the Lord your God:

19 And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.
20 And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart;
21 And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.
22 For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.
23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:
24 Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Listening is More Than An Art

One morning right when I woke up, I had an 'aha' experience on something I wanted to pursue in the Bible. Then the radio alarm went off and my mind shifted towards other things. Later  my first thought of the day in all of its richness became a fleeting thought. The same thing happened this morning, only this time I sat down immediately with my coffee in one hand and pen in the other, and wrote down all the details. Then things started to really roll and I was entwined with several things to look up in the Word.

Both times God was answering prayers on questions I had. The first time I was too busy, but the next time I was determined to listen. Listening is an art in communication between two people. Between a person and God, communication is more than an art. It is a very real reality that is something to fight for (martial arts? Hi-ya!). The noise of life which includes, fears, condemnation, apathy, opinions, doubts, religious ritual chatter and many other things can cloud our thinking. You can't hear God in a crowded mind.

I fellowship with God-lovers on a daily basis and it is pure joy.  I have nothing really valuable to contribute to another person when I don't keep my listening relationship with God white hot. When I listen to Him, I am better able to listen to others and see God working in their lives also. That is what 'praising God and having favor' (Acts 2:47) together is all about.
I John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
God's love is infectious when we share it with others. A couple of months ago, a friend told me that a great opportunity had opened up at work that it was a great benefit to his family. As I listened, I recognized it immediately as God at work and an answered prayer. It was a great conversation loaded with thankfulness! We remind each other of God's incredible love and the results are compounded!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pray Without Ceasing! It's Exciting!

 One of the most freeing moments in my life was when I found out that prayer was not a repetitive, memorized, knee-crunching activity that was more like a job than a joy. Common misconceptions of prayer engender a boring, tedious and unresponsive prayer life. I can understand why people have to be reminded to pray.

Prayer is active, ongoing, exciting and peaceful. It is something to look forward to, and maintains ongoing peace. There is a constant parade of stressful situations in our lives looming around every corner. This world is far from perfect because God is not running it. People who know God and are on talking terms with the Father of all good, however, can change the world's effects.
Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
 The Greek word from which the word 'prayer' is translated from (especially prayer to God) is 'proseuche'. Koine Greek is very expressive. The first part of that word 'pros' means 'face to face' or 'together with'.  The rest of the word means 'desire' or 'want'.  When we are face to face with God with the desires of our heart, we learn that He is all good and loves us beyond anything we could imagine.  It becomes pure joy to look at His answers. Prayer is a simple and continual conversation.

Recently I was praying about a specific situation I had a picture in my mind of holding up a platter  to God upon which rested all the things I was thinking. God cleaned off the platter immediately and replaced everything a beautiful answer to sit back and enjoy.  I could sense an excitement in how the prayer was answered. God does get excited!  There are other times answers don't come as fast. It is God's business how He answers. Peace is immediate, the rest of the answer may not be. I had another experience a couple weeks ago involving a prayer that had been around on my plate for a long period of time. The answer just dropped unexpectedly out of the blue. It was no big dramatic moment. God is full of surprises.

We don't have to wear out our knees, whine, beg or bargain when we pray. We can pray for everyone and everything with genuine thanksgiving. We can pray for family, friends, enemies, good weather, bad weather, our country (I Timothy 2:2) or whatever else is on our minds. We just grab the peace and run with it desiring  His "will be done on earth as it is in heaven!"

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Unbelief -Deal With It!

There is a great record in Mark 9 when Jesus was asked to heal a man's son.
23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
24And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
Verse 24 says the man reacted straightway or immediately. Just reading what the man said about believing and unbelieving appears confusing. In Greek there are two words in the New Testament for unbelief: apeitheia and apistia. Apeitheia is an obstinate opposition to something, whereas apistia is a word meaning distrust, lack of faith, weakness in faith. (Apeitheia and apistia link). In this record the word for unbelief is apistia.

The father said he believed but evidently something was holding him back. It wasn't an adamant refusal to believe God, it was a lack of faith or trust. He did say he believed, yet he knew he didn't fully trust God in every area of his life. So he asked for help. He dealt with his weakness in believing.

It is a great lesson to learn to say "Lord I believe, help my distrust!  The spirit of God doesn't control us. The other god tries to do that. The adversary works throughout the systems of the world to get us hooked  and controlled by  his solutions. His systems and methods surround us. It is in the acknowledgement of where we can obtain help, that brings solutions. By our own free will, we choose to believe God, His word and what He accomplished in Jesus Christ. Our minds become refreshed with love and hope and that brings strength.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
That is the way God designed us.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

God's Best?

Recently I read a preacher's remark telling Christians to ask God to show them His best today. I thought it was an odd statement when I read it.  If God has a best, does He have a worst?  Certainly not.

God is good always. Darkness occurs when there is no light. They don't co-exist. Wherever there is light it can be seen,
John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
James 1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

God shows us His best everyday. Are we looking?