Monday, March 27, 2017

Love

God is an 'equal opportunity' giver. God loves everybody, it is backed up in his word:
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
God has made so much available to us and yet he has never, never forced anything upon us. It is important to understand this point. God established the Lordship of Jesus Christ as head of his church. 'Church' does not refer to a pile of bricks on the corner, but the spiritual DNA building blocks in each of our hearts. The body of Christ refers to all those people who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and believe he took on the totality of the forces of evil only to be raised victoriously from the dead. That is huge. In doing so we have been translated into the kingdom of God's dear son (Colossians 1:13).

We have a concrete example of love in Jesus Christ. His leadership, the things he said, the things he did and everything associated with him show us so much about God. Combined with simply reading God's word and the 'nudgings' of the gift of holy spirit in our innermost being, we are fully equipped to enjoy all the benefits of God.

If someone wants to thumb their nose at God and do their own thing, have at it. It is a choice. It is sad, but loving God is a choice.  God's love never fails (I Corinthians 13).  However, some people define 'love' in such a way that it blows up on a moments notice because it is founded on the popular world view of things. The world is full of evil and pseudo philosophies and ideologies. The profound so-called wisdom of man is often tied into that evil.

God's hands are tied when people walk away from him.  He still loves them but really can't do much for them since they have turned away from him and are not listening. There are boundaries. God is not the author or promulgator of evil, he is good always and wants the best for every single person on this earth who ever was and ever will be.

Each of us can love in the same way. The world seems to be full of opines and worldly definitions of what it is to love these days. Love doesn't turn on and off like a light switch. Love is always on the "on"position. There is no darkness when someone truly loves God. If people don't want to be loved, that is their choice, the love is still there but they don't get the benefits because they don't want them.

Monday, March 20, 2017

'Projection' and Mis-'Judging'

This morning, I got to thinking about a wonderful verse in Ephesians:
1I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)
It had popped into my head when I was pondering a phone conversation I recently had with someone when she called me back after I left a message to have her call me. When she called back, she immediately started talking to me about something I had no idea about. All I could figure out was that she was worried about what I was thinking in regards to something that she was handling. It was not what I was thinking about at all!  When I realized what was going on and a significant pause opened up, I stopped her and explained what  I wanted and assured her that my brain had not gone that way. In the end each of us was blessed. It is great for relationships to work things out like this when there is misinterpretation.

'Projection' is an image in our mind that we 'project' on a situation when dealing with others based on our own thoughts within ourselves.  It happens a lot since we humans have busy minds. We can do it in both a positive and a negative sense based on the way we are feeling at the time. It is a form of mis-"judging". It is very prevalent in our news cycles, and all over political and religious circles. You can find examples of projection everywhere. 

This is a great reason to listen carefully to what people are saying and help free them from misconceptions about what they might be thinking if you get the opportunity. Sometimes people are so busy thinking thoughts they don't really have time to listen. What a great thing to pray for!

People often project their thoughts on God too! It is something to watch out for. It is possible to think God is mad at us, when he isn't. It is possible to think God doesn't even think about us or that we have no place in his heart. All you have to do is look at the beautiful spring gifts he has made to remind us of all the loving touches he put in this world to bless our lives.

The verse above in Ephesians came to mind and is very apropos to the spring cleaning that needs to go on in our minds periodically. (It's the first day of spring! Yea!). It is actually a prayer and it is a good one.  In fact it is beautiful! It is an effective prayer to pray and believe. Let in the light, open the windows, breathe and clear the cobwebs of our minds out!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Good intentions and Idolatry

In Judges 8:22-27 the record of Gideon continues:
22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. 23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you.
24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)25 And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. 26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels' necks.
27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.Judges 8:22-27
The Israelites wanted a king to rule over them. Notice in verse 22 who they said had delivered Israel. 300 men had accomplished so much, but it was God who brought the deliverance.  You would think they would would have been amazed and excited to have seen God work so mightily through so few. Gideon rightfully declined the kingship and told them that the Lord would rule over them.

The next thing he asked probably had good intentions behind it. Maybe Gideon wanted to have something to remind him of the victory. It does not say God told him to make the ephod, but as the old saying goes: "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". Eventually it became an idol and a snare because Israel went 'a whoring after it' (it became their object of worship) .

Back in Exodus, God had Moses fashion a brazen serpent to be lifted up to heal his people from the poisonous snakes that had they had encountered. People were healed when they looked at it. The incident is even recorded in John 3:14-16 as a type for Jesus Christ. The Israelites held on to this brazen serpent for several hundreds of years afterward and eventually Hezekiah had to destroy it because idolatry had developed around it. People worshiped it.

When a form, tradition, ritual, person or place stands in between our relationship with God, nothing good comes from it. When something we have trouble with or something comes at us we don't understand, often we run to someone else and unload and complain to them. Wow! we do ourselves such a disservice when we don't take things to God who is our sufficiency especially in this day and time when we have access to God through the work of Jesus Christ.  It is so tempting to call someone and dump it on them, or dumping a quote on Facebook or Twitter ~ anything but take it to the One who is ready, willing and able to help us out 'exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think'! (Ephesians 3:20)  It is certainly nice to know our thinking is the low bar and we actually have a right to the high bar. God goes beyond what we ask or think. Wow isn't that comforting?!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

God's Deliverance

After Gideon moved on from assuaging the Ephraimites in Judges 8:1-4, he dealt with the kinsmen of Succoth.  Gideon's 300 men were hungry and Gideon asked for bread as he passed through Succoth. As the men of Ephraim complained for a piece of the glory, the princes of Succoth likewise had their own issues and threw unbelief and fear in Gideon's face:
6 And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army? Judges 8:6
Did they believe he was going to win with 300 men? Did they support him? It was time to cancel Gideon's subscription to their issues! And this time he did!

God had spoken earlier to Gideon that he would take care of the of the battle, that they would be victorious with only 300 men. (7:2) The four princes, Oreb, Zeeb, Zebah, Zalmunna were, indeed enemies.  In Psalm 83, Asaph includes these names in a list of the aggressive enemies of the Hebrews:
11 Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna:12 Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession. Psalm 83:11-12
Gideon and his 300 men got the job done.  When it was all said and done, Israel asked him to become king over them and to establish a kingly dynasty in his family. 
22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.
23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you. Judges 8:22-23
The ancient Hebrews had a theocracy and they still wanted to appoint a King. Gideon continued to adhere to a theocratic government in which God was king. Gideon continued as a judge which was what God had called him to, and he reminded them of God's sovereignty.

Today, we don't live in a theocracy. God is not the elected President or the recognized King. We are subject to the human nature of those we elevate. This happens not only in politics, but also in education, entertainment, sports and in religion and other areas of culture. When people elevate a person, there is more often than not a big temptation to succumb to difficulties:
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. I John 2:15-16
This is all the more reason to pray for our country and listen to God in each of our own lives.

Saturday, March 4, 2017