Saturday, June 28, 2014

Good Advice

Sometimes challenge drops a huge heavy invisible veil around us. It can be suffocating and stifling.
It accelerates drama and raps a huge band around us. Actually, it is a dark bubble that needs to to pop. I always could quote 'Light dispels darkness', but when I finally decided to get after it in practice, I was amazed.  'Light dispels darknes!' It is that simple.
Proverbs 4:20-22 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings (listen). Let them not depart from thine eyes (focus); keep them in the midst of thine heart (put them at the center of your heart). For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Advice and Stress

Jethro was a Kenite and a priest of Midian. He was probably a descendent of Abraham through Keturah. He had seven daughters and had an extensive flock.  He is mentioned in Exodus 2:18-21 and  is referred to as 'Reuel'.
And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.
 Jethro reappeared later (recorded in chapter 18) when he visited Moses during the exodus and was excited about how God was helping the Israelites. He rejoiced in the God of Moses.

At that time Moses was burning the candle at both ends trying to take care of all those people. They had struggles and problems and there were a lot of them! Some people might ask the question: 'If God was delivering His people, why all the hassle?" Go back and read Genesis 3 again. In verse 19 God told Adam (among other things):
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,
In other words, He told Adam that because he has listened to the 'sneaky snake' there would be stress. Stress in our lives should come as no surprise. It is everywhere in this world. In the original paradise, in the garden of Eden, work existed but there was no stress because the tree of knowledge of good and evil had not been bought into. Fear of the loss of good and the presence of evil, changed idyllic life for Adam and Eve. Stress resulted and stuck around and was passed on. We have to deal with it.

Moses had a lot of stress. When Jethro observed his daily schedule of constant counseling all day, he offered some advice so he would not burn out turning well-doing into over-doing.  I have thought a great deal about this section, wondering why after all the great communication between God and Moses, a priest of Midian dropped by for a visit and Moses took his advice.  Jethro, to his credit, told Moses to run his advice through God:
Exodus 18:23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
Jethro's advice was a beautiful description for us (2 Timothy 2:2) of the type of people that provide examples worthy of seeking advice from:
21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear (respect,honour, revere) God, men of truth, hating covetousness (covetousness = susceptible to bribes) ......
Our reaction today to stress is to take it to God first because we have direct access. Just this morning I woke up thinking I had missed a small but significant detail in something I had done and I started to worry about how to find out if I did or not. In trying to figure it out, I could cause a big stir, so I shut off the 'worry voice' in my head and replaced it with thoughts of how willing God is to help and within seconds literally, God provided a very simple answer to check it out. There was no problem and I was given direct real tangible proof. Now all I can think about is how great God is!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Foot Washing

At the end of the 'last supper' Jesus launched out into a significant dialogue with his disciples. Chapters 13 through 17 of John are extremely important and worthy of our attention. Jesus Christ was about to leave. It is a gold mine in truth and teaching. The very first illustration he presented was 'foot washing':
John 13:5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.  
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.  
10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
Peter is a funny guy. "Lord, are you washing my feet?" Can you imagine what was going through his head? Dusty feet was a common problem in their dry sandy culture. Peter's reaction was: 'I'll take care of it myself.' Jesus told him there is something deeper behind what he was illustrating. The point  made involves caring for others. Jesus was pretty blunt with Peter. Peter overreacted and offered his head and hands to clean. 'Pete you are clean, it is just your feet.'

Walking through life we get dust on our feet. Our friends are the ones who help us dust it off. We do that for each other. Spiritually speaking, as we walk through his world we are bound to get dusty but we shouldn't let this contaminate our whole being. 'Shaking the dust off our feet' from this world is paramount and others can help us do that at times. Jesus also indicated that some individuals are totally 'dusty' from head to toe when he says "Ye are not all clean." He was referring to some who had bigger problems than dusty feet.

Jesus asked the disciples:
 Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. John 13:12b-16
Do we understand what he was illustrating? 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What is Pentecost?

The celebration of Pentecost originated in the Old Testament times during the Exodus.  It is the celebration of the end of Passover. It occurs 50 days after Passover. The word 'Pentecost' comes from the Greek-speaking Judeans and translates into the 'fiftieth day'.

It is one of the three major  feasts celebrated by Judeans. Interestingly, these feasts coincide with harvests: the barley harvest (Feast of the Unleavened Bread), the wheat harvest (Pentecost) and the final harvest of all crops at the end of the year (Feast of Ingathering).

Barley and wheat were planted during the winter months. Barley was harvested  in the first month of spring (Nisan 15-21). It was at this time that the Feast of the Unleavened Bread was celebrated which commemorated the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:15-20). During this 7 day feast, the firstfruits of the barley harvest were offered on Sunday, the day after the regular sabbath which was on Saturday. Jesus Christ as the firstfruit from the dead was resurrected on Sunday during this time.

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits (singular in interlinear)
 of them that slept. (I Corinthian 15:20)
Counting that Sunday as day one, the Hebrews would count 7 weeks plus one day to equal 50 days. On the fiftieth day Pentecost was celebrated. This coincided with the wheat harvest. This feast was also sometimes called the Feast of Weeks, Feast of Harvest, or Day of the Firstfruits (wheat).  In the Old Testament the Hebrews commemorated the giving of the law on Mt Sinai (Exodus 23:15-17) at Pentecost. Fifty days after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, the outpouring of the gift of Holy Spirit was given initiating the firstfruits of the spirit.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits (singular in interlinear); afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (I Corinthians 15:23). 
The feasts in the Old Testament were shadows of things to come.  A shadow projects and provides a vague outline of an image. Christ's resurrection  and what happened on the day of Pentecost  50 days later are no longer shadows but actual reality. The Word of God is a beautiful tapestry that fits together with an intricate view of God's heart to provide us with power  in our life to handle whatever we need to handle.

This weekend, this holiday will barely be noticed in Hallmark circles. There is no fat jolly ole bearded guy or cute little bunny rabbit to mark it out . There will be no easter egg baskets teaming with glucose and fructose taken to the altar to get blessed. 

The last thing Jesus Christ said to his apostles before his ascension says it all about our blessing on Pentecost and it's meaning:

But ye shall receive power, after that the holy spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8
To be 'witnesses unto me' is to manifest the prince of peace. The power of Pentecost goes beyond human will-power  It is a settling, calmness that overrides the storms. Think of the 12 apostles on the Sea of Galiliee in that horrible storm. Christ came to them and the first words out of his mouth were "Be of good cheer, be not afraid".  Paul describes this effect as the 'peace that passes all understanding'.  That is what Pentecost is really about.