Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Buying The Field

In the time of Jeremiah, the Babylonians had already exiled some of the people of Israel.  Jeremiah was very unpopular at the time in the nation because he was the one who had said that the Babylonians were going to come, take over and that Israel should submit to them or it will be even worse.

So Jeremiah sits in jail, and God wants to declare to the people that one day He will restore the people to Israel and rebuild Jerusalem. The way God illustrates this point is in the following way:

Jeremiah 32:1-19  (ESV)  – The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar.  2 At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah.  3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him, saying, “Why do you prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall capture it;  4 Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye.  5 And he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I visit him, declares the LORD. Though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed’?”

6 Jeremiah said, “The word of the LORD came to me:  7 Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.’  8 Then Hanamel my cousin came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the LORD, and said to me, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.  9 “And I bought the field at Anathoth from Hanamel my cousin, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver.  10 I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales.

11 Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions and the open copy.  12 And I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my cousin, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard.  13 I charged Baruch in their presence, saying,  14 ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware vessel, that they may last for a long time. 15 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.’

16 “After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD, saying:  17 ‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.  18 You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts,  19 great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds. (…then the rest of the section Jeremiah praised God)

It takes time to do all of this.  It costs money to make such a purposes.  God’s intention in making this illustration through His prophet was to visually declare to the people of the land that God remained committed to His promises.  Though they had broken His covenant and turned to other Gods, He was still faithful to the words He had spoken to Abraham, David & those who trusted in Him.  So God has Jeremiah buy a field to show that God has not given up on the place.

You think that’s something?! What about what God did for you to declare His commitment to His word?

1 Peter 1:18-19 – …you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,  19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

Revelation 5:9-10 – And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

1 Corinthians 6:20a –  For you have been bought with a price…

How sure is God’s commitment to His covenants and His word – He declare the seriousness of His investment through the cross.  In Jeremiah we see a man who buys a field declaring that the land is valuable to God.  In Jesus we see that mankind is valuable as he is offered on our behalf.  I bet Jeremiah’s buying of the field caught some people’s attention at the time.  May the amazing love of God shown through the cross woo us from the world and towards the merciful one who gave himself for us all.

2 Corinthians 5:21   21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

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Sabbath Day Thoughts

The people of God are not to be like the people of this world.  They are to be worlds apart – in their love, actions, thoughts, words, heart. Imagine looking at the same situation as another but yet having a totally different perspective than they do on the same circumstance. That’s how your whole life should be verses how it used to be and how the world still is.

Think about the difference of perspective between these two groups during the same event.

The people
Exodus 14:11-12 – They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?  12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

Moses
Exodus 14:13-14 – And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.  14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

A major difference between Moses & the people at this point is that Moses had come to see and know the LORD. I imagine the people of Israel were still being introduced to the very God was was currently leading them out of slavery. Moses had seen first hand how God had worked from the burning bush to the final plague.  Though the people had probably become integrated in Egyptian society and life at this point, one thing we certainly know from Moses is that he maintained his identity as a descendant of Abraham.

When you take a long journey, you often forget an important item after you’ve left home already.  Sometimes its your toothbrush, extra socks, or a particular bag.  You probably forget to take this item with you because of the commotion often involved in leaving the house quickly.  You thought your spouse or child was going to get the bag perhaps.  Whatever the reason it is because you are thinking about leaving and arriving at your destination more than you are about making sure you have all of your things.

Moses we see was not like this.  In all of the commotion of his own exodus from Egypt, appearing before Pharaoh, and gathering together all of the people of Israel, his mind is still fixed on the great promise of God towards Abraham.  We see this in the fact that he did not forget a most important item:

Exodus 13:19 – Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.”

May our minds be fixed on the world to come to the point that it marks us out as different from the world around us now.  May today be a day where we practice the life of the age to come today.

Shabbat Shalom.

GOD Saves Bad People

Kind of a humbling and insightful reminder to me of who we are, and how great GOD is.

“GOD rescues us (bad people), to reveal the glory of HIS grace and the expansive boundaries of HIS love…”

So many times in my life, I would try to earn GOD’s grace by works or believe that because of my Christian up-bringing that I was placed in an “automatically saved” group.  It wasn’t until GOD showed me through my sin and iniquity of how bad I was, that I realized how HIS salvation rests on how great HIS love and grace is and not on how good we (think) we are.

“Why are some saved and not others? (those who aren’t saved can’t come to terms with the fact that they’re bad… ironically, they spend their lives searching any and everything of the world they feel will make them better).  When you understand that we are all guilty, the amazing thing is not that GOD saves some and not others, the amazing thing is that GOD saves any.”

If GOD’s desire is to save all men (1 Timothy 2:3-4), and all men are bad (Romans 3:23 and Matthew 19:17), then “GOD saves bad people” isn’t all that enlightening  of a statement to most Christians.  However, taken a little further, and this belief can be easily argued to defend Universalism.

Christian Universalist believe that, GOD, in a “display of HIS infinite love, sent Jesus the Christ to die so that ALL of humankind not just can be saved but will be saved, regardless of faith and actions.” – sounds good huh.?. especially if you want to flow through life doing what you want and still be saved in the end.

http://www.christian-universalism.com/ – Here you can see E. Stetty proclaiming the gospel of, “no man left behind” (I think he stole that phrase; isn’t that the marine’s motto.?. or from an x-men cartoon or something)?  Anyways, you see that Christian Universalist claim that ALL men are being saved by GOD through Christ, and this is the “good news”.

What are your thoughts on the video and what are some verses/scripture that refute this growing Christian Universalist belief.

Evangelists Target Unreligious New England

CBS News: Evangelists Target Unreligious New England

In New England, we battle the hard hearts of skeptics while enjoy the open-mindedness of those searching.  Engaging our neighbors and communities is important – and there is a way to do it right.  Forget the marketing strategies or membership drives, get into conversations with the people you’re around.  I think that the challenge facing New England in regards to evangelism and outreach is not in the people who need the gospel, its found in the people who supposedly don’t.

Best line of the article – “That means outreach must be deliberate and personal.” And those reaching out need to move out of the comfort of our church building’s four walls and away from the safety have having our pastors teach those who don’t know the gospel.

Maybe if we stop the excuses – fear, busy-ness, selfishness, ignorance, newness, etc – and seek the LORD’s help, there can be some change.  I don’t know if there is going to be a revival in New England widespread (that’d be nice), but I know that there are people hurting and broken and self-deceived and searching and praying right in this city.  God is waiting for some willing hands and hearts.

There is no one like our God.  He’ll help us.

A More Beautiful You (Part 4)

I have been reading through Proverbs each day this month.  He’s a selection from the reading today.  How appropriate:

Proverbs 31:10-31 – 10 An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels. 11The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 13She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. 14She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. 15She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. 16She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 17She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.18She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. 19She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. 20She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. 21She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 22She makes bed coverings for herself;  her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. 24She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. 26She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

What a great way to end the book of Proverbs.  Though perhaps it seems as if some of the references are outdated and not clear because of the lives we live today – nonetheless this is a picture of a godly, virtuous and excellent woman and wife.

The qualities of this woman are beautiful.  She is caring.  She is self-sacrificial.  She is giving.  She is diligent.  She cares for her husband and family.

And she receives praise from God, her family, and friends because she fears the LORD.  This is the woman to be praised – the one who chooses to fear God and live a life of love.

A More Beautiful You (Part 3)

Galatians 3:27-29 – For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

There are a lot of reasons to love this section of Scripture.  The picture of being united with Christ.  The truth of being a descendant of Abraham by faith.  But one of the reasons I love these verses is because of what verse 28 says and when it says it.

Paul’s letter to the Galatian church was written during a time where there were not “equal rights.”   Men and women didn’t have the same status in society by any means.  It would be rare to find a woman who had a job other than taking care of the house and the kids.  In the Jewish culture of the time the men could do things that the women couldn’t.  And right in the middle of this Paul says that the Christian – whether a man or a woman – are one in Christ Jesus!  There aren’t the distinctions that are found in the world:

“there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and femail, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”

Jesus is into leveling the playing field – through his gospel, barriers are broken that exist in this age.  This is good news!  Christian women, you are the daughters of God and the sisters of Christ!  You are heirs of the Abrahamic Promise!  You are filled with the spirit of Christ!  In just these four points you are given more than women of history have been given for a long time – and from the creator of heaven and earth.

This equality did not come by protest.  It did not come by social action.  It was not granted through legislation.  It did not happen because of the times changing.  It came because God is compassionate.  It came because God is merciful.  It came because God values your life.

God doesn’t have prejudices like the world does.  He is not impartial.  And because He has this sort of character – He values men and women alike.

Even in the Old Testament where some would argue that women are not painted in a favorable light, God used women throughout the narrative for His purposes.  Miriam helps save Moses and leads Israel in praise to the LORD.  Rahab is rewarded and rescued.  Deborah leads God’s people.  Hannah’s prayer is answered.  Ruth is cared for.  I could go on and on.  (Feel free to add more in the comments section)

This is not the story of man (as in “males”).  The Bible contains the plan and purposes of God for the earth and it’s inhabitants – man and woman.

So my beautiful Christin sisters, praise the LORD for imparting this mercy and offering you the chance to be a part of His family!

(and guys, we’ve got a lot of praising to do too for God’s mercy on us…but that’s another post for another day…)

A More Beautiful You (Part I)

I love this song.  I love that a handsome young man is writing a song to young women to tell them that they are beautiful because God says they are.  He sings that they don’t need to work to impress anyone other than the one who loves them already.  God is impressed by faith.  He’s not impressed by your looks, weight, waist, bust, clothes, or any other thing.

My sisters in Christ, I know that it seems to be getting harder and harder in our society for women to find their value in God.  The media is pummeling you with what you should look like, be or do.  Even though the image they present is unreleased and empty, subtly they trick you into thinking it’s worth attaining.

Sisters, Jesus died for you.  You are tremendously valuable to God.  He loves you.  He has planned for you to be with Him in paradise forever.

Don’t try to get your value from anything other than the value that God has ascribed to you because of the cross.

Don’t look for it from your husband.
Don’t look for it from your boy friend.
Don’t look for it from your friends.
Don’t look for it from your classmates.
Don’t look for it from your co-workers.
Don’t look for it from your neighbors.
Don’t look for it from that guy.
Look from it from the God.

What Johnny Diaz is singing is something for us all to consider – but especially for the women of God who are being tempted to thinking that it is the outward appearance which men value, other women value, or even God values.

I Peter 3:3-5b – “Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves”