Archive for August, 2011

Noah: 2 Reasons to Take Too Long

August 2, 2011

Noah, God’s righteous servant, spent (what would be for us) a lifetime building the ark. You have to wonder why. I mean, here is a farmer, asked to build a boat not close to any shore, in a place that has never seen rain, sur- rounded by great and powerful men with no respect for the God he proclaims. What a mission- ary. Not only is he given the task to build the ark but Peter calls him the preacher of right- eousness, given the message of the impending catastrophe. But why did God give him such a long time to complete the task? I just don’t think it was so Noah could have more time to round up all the animals.

First, Noah is having his righteous faithfulness tested and proven true. Every day, people are looking at him as if he’s lost his marbles – building a boat, waiting for rain. Could you imagine the hassle it was to go down to the hardware store and hear the men chuckle as he buys a couple more planks, some wa- terproofing tar and another box of nails? Or when he went to the market to purchase some bags of bird seed and lion food? The mockery, the jabs, the snickers and the violence against his person and his psyche… But he was proven faithful. After years of hard work and ridicule, he built the ark that would save his wife, family and a world full of animals.

Secondly, it gave the people a chance to see true faith and to respond. God has compassion on his people and will give them ample time to choose. They saw the man who worked under scorn, they heard his words of righteousness as he preached and prepared for the coming judgment. And yet, they chose their destiny, they chose not to repent.

What can we learn from this? 1) Take each test that comes your way as a chance to show yourself faithful to God. 2) You may work and preach and live righteously and in the Lord’s eyes, you are found faithful, even if the harvest you reap is only 7 humans. Ezekiel says when God brings judgment, even if Noah was among them, his righteousness would only save himself (Ezekiel 14:14). Your job is to preach the truth, prepare for the coming of Christ and live a righteous life. It is God’s job to save. So what task seeming like a lifetime of mean- inglessness to you – maybe it’s a test of your faithfulness and a testimony to others of godliness.

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Slow Down and Fast—Powerful way to Pray

August 2, 2011

Matthew 6:16 begins, “When you fast…” This implies we actually do fast. Ever wonder why we fast? What will going without a meal or voluntarily giving up something we love make a difference? Maybe it makes a difference in the way we pray for those who are in need.

I have spent this week with some of my favorite saints — the homebound who desire to be with us on Sunday but cannot physically be present. So many of them have been stripped of many privileges we take for granted like driving or getting a cold drink whenever they feel like it, or going to the bathroom without having to ask permission or hit a button for assistance.

I wonder if fasting, taking a day to feel like one who is unable to make the voluntary choices we do daily without much thought — I wonder if it will help us to pray with fer­vency, to love with compassion, to hope for their healing…

Fasting as Spiritual Preparation for seeing God.

Fasting is intended as spiritual preparation for an experience of deeper communion with God. Each person is a unity of body and soul. A right spiritual diet and a discipline of fasting go together and strengthen each other. Just as prayer benefits not only the soul but also the body so also fasting benefits not only the body but also the soul. Fasting and prayer make us more sensitive to God’s personal presence


Jesus & the Enigma of Healing (Luke 5:12-26)

August 2, 2011

The stories of Luke 5 about different encounters with the sick. Some have said Jesus heals for his glory to be known. But the leper was told to keep it under his mat (if you will). And some say healing depends on the faith of the person seeking; but the lame man got a magic carpet ride on the faith of his friends. in verse 16 though, after the healing Jesus withdrew – sometimes is just not time to heal.

We should come to receive his words and his deeds—he wants to heal, and he wants to teach us, and yes, sometimes he withdraws. Maybe He’s praying more for your heart than your healing…

The Power of the Lord for You, Luke 5:17

August 2, 2011

“And the Power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.” I wonder if this is not only a statement of fact (that Jesus heals) but if there is more under the surface. The Greek doesn’t mention “the sick” but says “them.” Who is the “them?” And the word “heal” can also mean “restore.” The verse (5:17) is about the Pharisees & Bible scholars. And the story is about the power of forgiveness more so than healing for the lame man.

I wonder if Jesus is healing more than one thing in this story of the lame man. To me it seems that the story is about 1) the Pharisees & the Bible scholars being taught that Jesus does it all—heals, saves, & sanctifies. For the lame man’s friends that 2) their buddy’s salvation is primary. And for the lame that 3) Jesus is able to heal wholly, even when you least expect it. Yup. Jesus has the Power of the Lord to restore in many ways.

Which is why they said, & we shall too on Sunday, “They were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seem remarkable things today.’”

Ps 124: Maybe Not Kept but Surely Not Abandoned

August 2, 2011

Psalm 24 is a song for the whole congregation to sing to­gether — “If God had not been on our side” The Psalmist even says it twice to get our attention — “Hey! Can I get a witness! – If God had not been on our side…” we would have been swal­lowed by the sea monster or drowned in the freak flash flood…

First, notice the plural “our side.” You are not alone; we are in this together. Your sea monster is ours; your flood is ours. We are a family, a church family, and we are all in this boat together.

Second, God never said being a Christian meant you were kept from calamity. You will see damage in your life. You will be surrounded at times by destruction. We are not kept from it… but we are surely never abandoned. “If God had not been on our side…” Do not ask “why does this happen to me?” Rather ask, “how can a person of faith sing after that?” Because no matter what happens we have the hope that nothing separates us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38).

Forgive 7×70 – Jesus reverses the vengeance of Lamech

August 2, 2011

When Jesus tells Peter that he needs to forgive 70 times 7 in Matthew 18:22. Where did he get that number from? Of all the numbers, why that one? Well, in my opinion I believe he is harking back to Lamech in Genesis 4:24 where right after the Fall everything spirals out of control. Brother kills brother for revenge, Lamech has an adulterous relationship and enters into polygamy to solve the issue and gives a stern warning of how he reacts to criticism: we will take vengeance more than Cain would – a ratio of 7 to 70. Jesus here is reconciling humanity. He is reversing the Lamech lifestyle by forgiving in the same amount as Lamech takes vengeance.

Forgiveness “Love keeps no record of wrongs”

August 2, 2011

1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love should “keep no record of wrongs.” True forgiveness does not ignore the sin – we are called to rebuke others when they sin against us (Lk 17:3-4) and restore them by the help of the Holy Spirit (Gal 6:1), but we are not to keep an account of every time and every amount. Forgiveness does not take – its not in the word — “give” is in the word. By holding onto our hurt takes away our joy and freedom and it takes away from the spiritual development of the one we are holding back by always checking them against their prior record. We need to seal the old records, expunge them even! But what about a pattern of behavior? Forgiveness and trust are two entirely different things (a post for another time) – but let us see what Jesus has to say on it.

When Jesus is asked by Peter how far his forgiveness should extend, Jesus made his a lifetime warranty. Some people are just plain unforgiving (Cf Lamech). Peter thought there should be a “Sin Debt Limit.” But Jesus says Peter’s approach of limited forgiveness falls short – we have been forgiven much, so should we forgive in exorbitantly.


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