Archive for the ‘Religion’ 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.

Advertisements

Something To Do On A Friday Night

Gather your friends…I hope this is good.

John Piper @ Mars Hill tonight @ 10pm EST

better than getting sloshed.

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.

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.

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.

What’s Your Fantasy?

Fantasy: an unreal, imagined or conjured up image fulfilling a psychological desire.

Mark 4:18 & 19 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

In going over the parable of the sower recently, one aspect of the seed sown on thorny ground intrigued me the most. It’s crazy that the desire for wealth and other things would be a topic needed to be directed towards Christians who are already finding their joy in someone as great as the LORD. However, it seems to even a self-proclaimed “Christian”, that the LORD simply isn’t enough for us. In our pursuit to find joy from the things of the world, our joy in the LORD and HIS salvation gets diminished, choking us away from a fruitful faith, and ultimately HIS coming Kingdom.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

I hate to give the devil credit for anything at all, but he really has had his way in presenting this fallen world as a tantalizing substitute for the joy of the LORD and HIS salvation through Jesus.

So what’s your fantasy? Fortunately our GOD is way greater than this satan and has equipped us with scripture to inform us of which treasure is worth striving after and which one will one day perish (and wouldn’t mind taking us with it).

1 John 2:15-17  Do not love the world nor the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

I Timothy 6:6-19  But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time–He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

Amen!

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.