Archive for the ‘Jesus’ 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

We often hear Jesus speak about how the Jewish Sabbath got all mixed up in the mind of the nation of Israel by the time he arrived on the scene.   He speaks of how the heart of a man was more important that the outward action that he might observe in his religious service.

In light of that during my morning reading today I took note of something I haven’t seen up until now.  Matthew 25 is the great chapter on preparedness before the coming of the King and ends with the picture of the sheep and goats being separated in the end of the age based on the life of love, service, and kindness that they lived.  Jesus tells us that the judgment in the end of the age will be based on how we cared about people.

And then I noticed this:

Matthew 26:1-2  When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples,  2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

The very next thing that comes from the mouth of Jesus is the fact that he will be delivered up to be crucified.  We often think of the last supper sermon as some of the most important words of our Lord because they were spoken on the night he was betrayed.  You often tell your people what is most important right before the end of your time with them.

In light of that think about what Jesus has just said to his disciples in Matthew 25 and directly following that he tells them that he is going to die at the hands of the Romans! He must have felt that his words in Matthew 25 were important if he ends his time with them by saying he is doing to be crucified.

I was an interesting observation this morning I think which again stresses to me the importance of the record in Matthew 25.  We spend much time in our churches and homes talking about “the most important thing” or “what one must do to be saved” – certainly these conversations must be had and continue, but I offer this morning that we should include this great section of Scripture in our conversation.

Matthew 25:31-40  1 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

So as the new year approaches, consider what our lives must be about in anticipation of the coming of the King & his judgment of the world.

Shabbat Shalom.

Sabbath Day Thoughts

Our God is different.

He’s not found in the usual places.

He’s not known for His predictability.

He is known for His greatness & glory found in the unexpected.

This morning I have been pondering the Messianic Birth Narratives in Luke in preparation for tomorrow morning @ living faith. I’m trying to look at this section with new eyes, imaging what it must have been like for someone observing all of these events to go home and tell their family.  Hard to believe I bet.  Yet this is where we find God and where we find the beginning’s the Messiah’s life.

Not in the palace of Herod but in the stable.

Not born to the rich& famous but to the humble and faithful peasants.

Not announced to the religious leaders but to shepherds.

The way Jesus starts his life is certainly in line with the rest of the life he would live.  This shows me that God is not found in the things and ways of this world but by stepping out of those things we can see Him & His workings.  I’m trying hard not to quote the often used “His ways are not our ways” but it just seems so appropriate!

Isaiah 55:6-9  6 “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;  7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.  9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

He is found outside of our comfort zone.  He is found outside of our routine.  He is found outside of the workings of this age.  He is found in the things of the age to come that spill over to this age – things like love for enemies, forgiveness, justice, sabbath, prayer, care for those in need, and the like.

He will not be found in the world (including Christmas shopping).  So take time to seek after Him today.

Shabbat Shalom.

John 13:36 – Peter Following Jesus

John 13:36  Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.”

I received an email recently with the following question:

Can you provide me a good explanation of Jesus’ words in John 13:36 – I’ve looked up all my resources & can’t find a worthy explanation for that one. My Christadelphian source says it is speaking of the type of death Peter will experience… not sure? maybe. “where I go, you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow later.”

I would imagine that some would agree with the thoughts of my friend above.  I think that this explination may be just what Jesus was speaking about. I am sure othesIn light of the context of the disciples loving each other as Christ loved them (v34 &35) Peter says that he will follow Jesus wherever he goes – and Jesus says that he cannot follow Him where he is going – maybe it isn’t so much he he cannot die like Jesus will, but Peter will later, but the steps Jesus is going to take are not steps that Peter because of his lack of faith, but will be restored later.

I only say this because the next verse is in regards to Peter not following Jesus to the death but denying him. Compare this section to what Peter says in the other Gospels:

Matthew 26:33 But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.”

Mark 14:29 But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.”

Luke 22:33 But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!”

I think Luke gives us the best picture to what I think John 13 might be talking about – He wants to follow Jesus, but because of the fear that Peter has in his heart (which will be evident in the 3x denials that are about to take place), he cannot follow Jesus – but as we know, he will later.

What do you think?

Church: Getting In The Way

Sean and I attended a church service this past Sunday night which got me thinking about the role and function of the church.  Certainly we know that biblically, “the church” is not the building, but the people who gather together, be it in a building, a home or on the street who are joining together to worship God, encourage each other and take time to read Scripture, share a message, sing, pray, etc.  Different people have different experiences and what they consider the church and I’m not writing this to talk about which version is best, what should be included, removed etc.

One of the things that struck me during this past Sunday’s fellowship was the pastor’s lengthy and descriptive apology from the church to the world, the church, the lost, the Christians and more.  He shared his heart with the congregation about the flaws that have persisted in him, and the leaders of the particular section of the church.

And here’s what it got me thinking – we must work hard to be transparent.  People have been offended, rejected, turned off, upset, hurt and the like by this thing called “the church” and some of that has been their fault and some of that has been the fault of the people of the church.  That any of this is the fault of the church is really sad – we need to represent Jesus and point people to the Father like he did.

Our worship services can’t be about us.  They need to be about God.
Our method for teaching the Bible can’t be about us.  It needs to be about God.
Our discipleship can’t be about us.  It needs to be about God.

And where there is some of “us” still existing in how we are doing things, we need to decrease and let Christ increase by the spirit.

The pastor’s apology ended with a sobering plea.  He said something to the effect of “if you’re one of those who have been pushed away because of the church, our flaws, our sins, or whatever – please do not give up on God on account of us.”

I join in with his words – Please do not think that God is like us.  God is great and merciful and just and loving and compassionate and wise and forgiving and faithful and powerful and more and more.

We need to stop making God like us and we need to be like the God who is.  When we make God in our image, people come to know Him and then they hate a God who is critical, judgmental, over opinionated, under involved.  And then they will go on having experienced what they were told God and Christianity was like and it had little to do with God or Christ.

So lets do church this way – get out of the way.  Lets be like Jesus so that when they see us – they see the Father.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church… [Ephesians 3:20-21a]

For a great picture as to what the church should be about, click here to listen to Sean’s message “A Beautiful People”

Putting the tough questions in perspective

As we go through life exploring and developing our faith deeper and deeper we are bound to come across questions and crises of faith.  Sometimes those questions do not get answered in a way that we like, if at all.  Questions like:

“why does evil exist?”
“Is God subject to what is Good or is Good whatever God says it is? and can make evil good?”
“What about contradictions in the Bible?”
“What about evolution?”
“Why did God demand Genocide in the Bible?”
“why does god permit atrocities to children in this day?”
“why doesn’t healing occur today like they did in the bible times?”

Fortunately there has been much progress in apologetics and philosophy in christianity in the last couple of decades. One of my personal favorite people in this field is William Lane Craig. Actually the pic of me that Victor chose for this site is of me and Dr. Craig with the Good doctor cropped out (after much protest to victor from me.)

What is the question that would or should cause us to lose our faith? What is out faith dependent on?

There was some very recent comments on this board where some statements are made about why certain people don’t believe in the God of Jesus Christ, or don’t have faith in scripture.

While some of the content of these comments are valid concerns, a lot of them have been wrestled with for the past two millennia and there are answered readily available with simple internet searches.
But even if these questions were still not answered, would it be cause to lose our faith?

According to 1 Cor 15:15, our faith seems to be to be very dependent on the resurrection of the dead, and in particular, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And what is our hope for the future? That Jesus Christ is coming back to establish the kingdom of God here on earth.

And why do we have hope to take part in this future kingdom of God?
Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

When struggling with the tough questions that cause doubt’s and crises of faith, i ask myself if the questions

Does this mean that Jesus was not raised from the dead?

Does this mean that Jesus is not returning to earth to establish God Kingdom?

Does this mean that Jesus’s death on the cross was not the sacrifice for my sins?

I have never really found anything that causes me to answer either of these questions in the affirmative, especially the first one. There has been much work done on the historical accuracy of the resurrection, especially by Dr. Craig and N.T. Wright.

This is not to say that all other questions are not worthy of response or consideration, but I personally have found these questions to be the Biggest Big picture questions that trump all others and to not be overwhelmed to the point where I question my faith in God.

The Great Emergence – Phyllis Tickle

I think she’s got an interesting description of what’s going on right now.  I don’t know how universal this is, but certainly in America and some European countries I think this is true.  I’m happy that people are willing to reconsider and examine whether or not their version of Christianity is actually based on the teachings of Jesus.  This is important – however, the downside of this is being so open to being wrong about whether or not we’re following Jesus is that we allow things we shouldn’t as we’re investigating where to go next.  Is this something that can be avoided?

What do you think?  Pros/Cons about what this video presents?  Is she nailing it or missing something?