Archive for April 18, 2012
Tags: Books of Kings, Elijah, God, Israel, Lord, Olive oil, Widow, Yahweh
“Elijah said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land’.”— 1 Kings 17:13–14
Tough times are nothing new. Since the beginning of recorded history, there have been times of plenty and times of famine. During one such famine in the land of Israel the prophet Elijah encounters a widow with just about nothing left. And he gives her advice that we can all benefit from in our times of need.
When Elijah meets the widow he asks her for some water and bread. She explains that she doesn’t have any. She has only a handful of flour and a little olive oil — enough to make one last meal for her and her son. After that, she expects that they will both perish.
In response, Elijah tells her: “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said.” In other words, there is no sense in worrying. Go on with your life and do what you need to do. Then Elijah gives her another set of instructions: “But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.”
In other words, share what you have with others. It’s natural to want to hold on to all that you have when your supply seems to be slipping away. Yet Elijah reminds us that there are always those with less, and it’s important to share “from what you have.” Everyone can give something.
Then comes the kicker: “For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land’.” Finally Elijah announces the miracle that this woman’s oil and flour would never run out. With God by your side, anything is possible. We don’t always understand how, but somehow we are able to go on even in our most challenging times.
What a great message for difficult times — Don’t worry, share, and have faith.
Now here’s the thing. God didn’t deliver twenty jars of flour to the widow the next morning. She didn’t open her pantry and find twenty jugs full of oil either. The widow would not be able to see where her sustenance was going to come from. Instead, she would have to learn to trust in God for His provision.
In difficult times, we all would like to look into our bank accounts and know that we will be OK because we can clearly see that we have enough to last for a very long time. However, no matter how much you have in the bank today, at some point it has an end.
But there is no end to what God can do for us. So take heart and don’t ever give up. In God we trust!
Tags: American Decency Association, Detroit, Detroit Free Press, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, Fremont Michigan, Parent, Post-office box, Reality television
Grieve for the kids who took the lives of their parents.
Because of this I write.
I caught an article this morning in the Detroit Free Press that brought this home to me. I know it comes out of Detroit but sadly such phenomena is far too prevalent across our troubled and needy land not – just in Detroit.
“A 19-year-old man is suspected of killing his father with a baseball bat. Police say a 14-year-old boy shot his mother to death. And another 15-year-old boy is accused of fatally stabbing his father. …
Among the issues, she said: Some children spend hours each day playing violent multi-player video games; the economy is forcing both parents to work, sometimes long hours, and pop culture, such as reality TV shows, has given children the wrong messages.
In some households, not enough time is spent just being a family, she said.
‘I think that parents and kids don’t spend as much time together,” said Shepherd-Look, who also has a private practice where she sees primarily children, teens and families.
Though cases of children killing a parent are rare, Boesky said they need to be studied.
‘Kids who kill their parents,” she said, “is one of the most unthinkable, terrifying and tragic things that can happen in our society.” http://www.freep.com/article/20120417/NEWS05/204170387/Experts-link-teens-killing-parents-family-meltdowns-pop-culture-violence
We can only can do what we can do, yet there will almost always be those things that we can do and be. (1) Spend time with your own children and/or grandchildren. Read to them. Take walks with them. Help them to see you love them. (2) Get them back into church if you’re not in church. (3) Pray and ask God to give you His peace and His mind and lead you back into what you can and what you should do. (4) Love one another. That’s what marital experts often say that is the one best thing for children to see is love between their mom and dad – lived out day in and day out!
These tips are only the tip of the iceberg.
We all know that the vast majority of children are not going to murder their parent(s) but there are untold numbers of households where love and nurturing and new energy, enthusiasm and prayer are desperately needed!
Here is but one resource that is merely a “starter” tool.
If you haven’t seen the movie Courageous as yet, it is available in most Wal-Marts, for example. It can help touch a heart and see how a husband/father has damaged his son through his own broken heart.
If only we could just click a link and bring remedy to lonely, lost, needy children.
To visit our resource page: click here
American Decency Association is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
Tags: Christ, God, Jesu, Last Judgment, Lord, Nazareth, Pharisee, Son of man
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory–Mat 25:31
I fancy our other profound difficulty is this. How can God be love? How can God care and be a Father and wish us well and have the power to give us the best, and yet forever have creatures in hopeless misery? Again there is no answer, but again does not this present world suggest that it may be possible? Is not God love today? Is not God infinitely kind today? And yet today are there none who have committed the unpardonable sin which can never be forgiven, neither in this life nor the life to come? May there be forgiven, neither in this life nor the life to come? May there not be a fixity of heart, a deadness like that of the nether millstone, owing to our free will working as well as the love of God? There is not one of us in pew or pulpit, who does not long with all the passion of his heart for universal restoration; there is not one who does not crave that ultimately all should be blessed; but the Lord has been our light, the Lord has been the Revealer of the Father, and it is the Lord who says, “Where their worm dieth not and the fire is never quenched.” It is the Lord who says, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment.” I want to speak in the right tone, I don’t want to speak harshly. I am like a man groping in the dark, but with one hand I grip Christ, and I say, Brother, would not it be awful to awaken and find that you were wrong and the Lord was right? “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him.”
Christ Himself Will Be the Judge
The next thing which our blessed Saviour tells us is that He Himself is going to be our judge: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory.” Our judge is not God, the Father; our judge is Christ, the Son, and you know that is as stupendous as it is beautiful. Think how stupendous it is. Here is Christ, born in a manger, living for thirty years in a little cottage, going about among humble people, doing little deeds of kindness, and then He says, “I am going to judge mankind.” It is either arrogance raised to the point of madness, or it is the truth, and I do not think that any fair review would ever charge the Lord with arrogance. And if it is the truth, your Carpenter of Nazareth is God, and you have got to bow before Him and say, “My Lord and my God.” All well enough to say, I love the Carpenter of Nazareth; I like to watch Him talking with the children, watching the sparrows, moving through the harvest; but mark you, your only source of knowledge of that Carpenter tells you that He said, “I am going to judge the world.” Then how beautiful it is that you and I are going to be judged by a Man, by One who bore our burdens, by One who knew our frame, by One who understands us perfectly. The other day there came into the vestry a man who again had given way to drink. When I asked him what was the cause of it, he answered something like this: “I was down and out, my business tottering, my home unhappy, and I gave way to drink.” If I had judged him, what would he have said? He would have said, “You do not understand; you never had a business that was tottering; you were never unhappy at home.” But if I could have said to him, “Brother, I have been down and out, I have come through all that you have, and yet God brought me through,” my very presence would have judged him. It is so with the Lord. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. He was down and out when every disciple forsook Him and fled; and He is going to be our Judge. I could imagine some daring soul on the Day of Judgment, if the judge was God the Father, saying, “Thou who dwellest yonder, far away in the light that never fades, you do not understand.” Nobody ever can say that to Christ; I think just His presence will be the judgment.
Our Judgment Will Depend on the Discharge or Neglect of the Common Charities of Life
One thing more I have got to say, and it is this, that our Lord–apart from the figure altogether–teaches us the principle of the Last Judgment, and the principle is this: it is the discharge or the neglect of the common charities of life. May I say it again? It is the discharge or the neglect of the common humanities of life–visiting the prisoner, cheering the sick, giving bread to the hungry, clothing the naked; and that is but a short and swift summation of what we call the charities of life. Are you not surprised? You thought character was going to be the test in the Last Judgment; you thought the Spirit of Christ was going to be the test–”If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His.” But what is the spirit of Christ? It is believing and experiencing what He said about the new birth and proving it by doing what He did. It is the Spirit who brought Him to the manger, it is the Spirit who kept Him quiet in Nazareth for thirty years, it is the Spirit who made Him move among men, teaching them, healing them, helping them, doing them good; and if that is your life, you have got the Spirit of Christ. You do not know it ? Of course you don’t; none of the saved knew it, they were all amazingly surprised when the Lord told how He reckoned them (see Mat 25:35-40). And you may have the Spirit of Christ if you go out and be kindly, charitable, helpful; and yet you may never know it till the judgment comes. You say, I am going to be judged by my relationship to Christ. Yes, you are. When the Lord was here, with whom, tell me, did He identify Himself? Was it with Herod? “Go tell that fox.” Was it with the Pharisees? “Woe unto you, Pharisees.” The Lord identified Himself with the poor, with the needy, with the last, with the least, with the lost; and He is the same yesterday and today and forever. And if the Lord is identified with all who are in need, then every time you help a man in need you are brought into relationship with Christ.
We Must Revise Our Lives
It has been very difficult–not difficult to speak the truth, but to speak the truth in the right spirit. I trust I have done it tenderly, and I simply want to ask you to remember that all of us have got to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and therefore should not we all revise our lives, lest at the end, when far off there is music, for us it should be wailing and gnashing of teeth?
Tags: Christianity, Forgiveness, God, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Opposing Views, Religion and Spirituality, Sin
A number of years ago I was hiking along the Salmon River and came across a grove of pine trees that had been partially stripped of their bark. I knew from a friend who is a forester that the Native Americans who hunted this area long ago had peeled the outer bark and harvested the underlying layer for chewing gum. Some of the scars were disfiguring, but others, filled with crystallized sap and burnished by wind and weather, had been transformed into patterns of rare beauty.
Some people, having tasted the bitterness of sin, now loathe it. They hate evil and love righteousness. Theirs is the beauty of holiness.
Others, knowing how far they fall short (Rom. 3:23), have tender hearts toward others. They rise up with understanding, compassion, and kindness when others fail. Theirs is the beauty of humility.
Finally, when acts of sin are freely and thoroughly forgiven it leads to intimacy with the One who has shown mercy. Such sinners love much for much has been forgiven (Luke 7:47). Theirs is the beauty of love.
Tags: Christ, Ezekiel, God, Hatred, Hebrew language, Israel, Lord, Philistine
In Ezekiel 25, the Lord reveals to Israel‘s neighbors that he will judge them for their bad attitudes toward and mistreatment of his people. After speaking of the Ammonites, the Moabites, and the Edomites, the Lord says concerning the Philistines: “When the Philistines set out to right the wrongs done to them, they enacted revenge with utter contempt and old hatreds” (25:15).
I’m struck by the phrase “old hatreds.” The Hebrew original could be translated literally as “everlasting enmity.” In the time of Ezekiel, the Philistines not only sided with the Babylonians against Judah, but also acted with “utter contempt” because of their historic hatred. As you may recall, the Philistines had been enemies of Israel for centuries. Their “old hatreds” clicked in when they had a chance to join the side of Babylon and participate in the devastation of the people of God.
In our world today, “old hatreds” continue to wreak havoc as neighbors attack neighbors, ethnic groups attack ethnic groups, and nations attack nations, often with a viciousness that comes from centuries of animosity. Political efforts to bring peace to the world stumble over historic divisions between peoples. It’s easy to feel hopeless in the face of such ancient hostilities.
Furthermore, many of us harbor “old hatreds” that infect our relationships and disturb our souls. These might be directed toward parents who abused us, former spouses who betrayed us, bosses who mistreated us, or neighbors who tormented us. Our hatreds may have their root in genuine wrongs committed against us. Yet, if we allow them to fester in our hearts, they can pollute our relationships and steal our joy.
What will set us free from old hatreds? A better question would be: Who will set us free from old hatreds? This is God’s work, as he forgives us and enables us to forgive others. The more we experience God’s transforming love, the more we will find the ability to put old hatreds to rest. The more we center our live in Christ, who forgave even those who crucified him, the more we will be able to follow him in loving our enemies.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever felt the power of “old hatreds” in your own life? What makes it hard to give up our “old hatreds”? What helps you to let go of them?
PRAYER: Gracious God, today I’m impressed by a phrase from Ezekiel 25 – “old hatreds.” I think of how historic animosity troubles our world today. I ask you to heal those who are ill with hatred, to set free those who are captured in the bonds of enmity.
Lord, as I reflect upon my own life, I realize that I can let “old hatreds” infect my soul. How easy it is for me to hold grudges against those who have hurt me, and how tempting to forget the evil that lurks within me. Show me, Lord, where I have “old hatreds.” By your grace, help me to forgive, so that I might live in the freedom and joy of your grace. Amen.