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.

Sabbath Day Thoughts

As I have said before I realized early in my desire to take a weekly Sabbath that you have to work to not work, after a couple of weeks of out of town visitors, traveling, and stuff to do, I sit down again early this morning and enjoy time with the LORD (and my sweet 4month old).  We’re taking a Sabbath today again finally back to the normal routine that our family really wants and needs.

As I sat down this morning after realizing I could and I reflected on the fact that Israel eventually did not keep the sabbath that was commanded them by their God.

As I have said from the beginning of my own sabbath journey, I am not advocating that Christians keep the sabbath as a command of the LORD and if they don’t they are far from God – this is something that I have begun to see the value and importance of in my own life for my own life.  That being said, I understand what God commanded Israel as He did:

Exodus 20:8  “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Deuteronomy 5:15 – You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

This is something I have to remember to do – if not, my life, my schedule and the things of the world will pile up and overload me so that I end up doing work and being worked up when I need to rest.

Honestly, we need to have better control of our lives – doesn’t it seems that sometimes we go from one thing to the next and then to the next without thinking about what it is we’re doing?  We react and respond to things that come at us without realizing that our responses and actions are often without thought.  We make decisions by indecision.

I am understanding more and more that can’t be like this in general with  Christianity and regarding my sabbath taking specifically.  I have to remember throughout the week that I have been redeemed – I’m not living for this life, this job, this task, this errand, etc – I’m living free because of Christ in expectation of the coming Kingdom.  And then today, I am going to celebrate this expectation of rest in the future by resting from the normal routine of Sunday-Friday.

So, more thoughts in my mind today to consider, and I’ll do so today because I’m going to work hard to rest today!

Shabbat Shalom.

Black Friday: Perspective

Something to consider as we approach the winter holiday season.

[thanks to Burnside Writers]

Online Caution From NT Wright

I think Bishop Wright makes a good point for us to consider in the age in which we live. For the advantages that the online community does give, we must not neglect the real community around us – the one of our churches as well as in our neighborhoods.

What do you think of his thoughts?

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!