Be Attitudes

The eight beatitudes are nearly the first thing Jesus says in the Gospels. They reveal His heart.

These are the types of people God has time for:

The poor in spirit. People with this attitude are the opposite to the pushy, showy type that is always in your face and who is full of self importance.  We all know someone who is “poor in spirit” but filled with the Spirit.  That’s because the Holy Spirit is, like Jesus, humble and gentle at heart.  These are the type of people that get into heaven.

Those who mourn.  In this life there will always be mourners.  At some stage we all are likely to mourn the loss of someone we love.  Jesus knows that and says He will comfort us.

Those who are humble.  I’m not sure what the difference between these are and the poor in spirit.  Nor do I know why they inherit the earth specifically.  Perhaps there isn’t supposed to be a difference.  The lowly in heart get both heaven and the earth.

Those who hunger and thirst for justice.    Jesus knew these guys would be satisfied.  He also knew at what cost that would be to Him.  There will be justice also for those who refuse to receive the grace of God and create injustice.

The merciful.  This is something we should all do. We will all need mercy.

The pure in heart.  These will see God.

The peacemakers.  Peacemakers are not looking out for their own wants, but are involved in reconciling opposing parties.  Everyone can see that they are children of the God of peace.

Those who do what is right.  You don’t have to explicitly do something in the name of Christ for this to apply to you. Anyone who stands up for the oppressed or does what Jesus would do might be persecuted for it.  These also are the types of courageous people God wants with Him in heaven.

Jesus’ followers.  Be prepared to be mocked, persecuted and lied about.  But be very happy about it when you are!

Empty Space?

As the KJV of the bible quaintly puts it (in 1 Corinthians 13), when it comes to heavenly things “we see as in a glass darkly”.  Or as the NLT puts it more clearly (pun intended): “we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror”.

I wonder, though, which unseen world we see more clearly, this physical one or the heavenly spiritual one?

The reason I ask is because scientists tell us that the world is mainly empty space.

Even the most solid of things contain more emptiness thanatoms-spaced-2 substance.  The main guy to find this out was Ernest Rutherford.  We can probably trust him and the others who have observed and proved this for many years now

The bible says that God fills all in all.

So what are you seeing?  The world as it is, filled with God’s Spirit and not much else?

Or just the really, really insubstantial physical things around you?

And what are you trusting in?  The evidence of your eyes or the Truth?

Jesus said:  “I am the Truth…” (John 14:6)

Creation Order

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The opening account of the creation in Genesis 1 is surprisingly non informative when it comes to the creation of the heavens.  On the fourth day an aspect of the first heaven is mentioned – sun, moon and stars – but there is no mention at all of the second and third heavens (2 Cor. 12:2).  The emphasis in Genesis 1 is almost entirely on the earth.

In v. 3 Light is spoken into being and that is that as far as the first day is concerned.  The chaotic and dark substance that everything earthly will be created from is water.  Water is not spoken into existence but just seems to be there when God created the heavens and the earth.  Time starts with the first day.

blue_wave_of_water

Water is such an important substance that Day 2 is taken up with separating it into two and thereby creating the air and sky and nothing else.

On Day 3 the waters are gathered together into one place and by that action the dry land appears.  It is as if the land was always there but just needed to have the waters moved out of the way for it to be seen.  Another way of looking at is to see the original ball of water as having suspended in it all the dust needed to produce the earth (and perhaps also the other planets).  Once a lot of the water is put into the pre-flood water canopy and the clouds on Day 2, the ball of water and soil is less diluted.  When the waters are gathered into oceans and seas on Day 3 the muddy material is sufficiently coalesced to form dry ground and to bring forth the vegetation that appears to have been scattered through it in the form of seeds which now sprout.  When it comes to understanding this in the light of our knowledge about the structure of the earth, I think it is helpful to think in very large terms.  There is no sun at the centre of this ball of water vapour and the other planets are not mentioned so they could all have spun of this earthly creation process.  In Second Peter chapter 3, he says: “God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.”

On Day 4 God creates the sun, moon and stars which establish times and seasons and festivals.  Light was there before the sun which seems strange but perhaps if the sun, moon and stars were extinguished we might be surprised at how much light was still present (cosmic background radiation perhaps?).  Also the planets could have been formed on this day since they were always understood to be wandering stars.

On Day 5 God creates the sea creatures of all sorts and sizes and the birds.  Amazing imagination.

On Day 6 God creates all the land animals and man.  This seems to have been a busy day since, unless Eve was created after Day 7 which seems unlikely, Adam gave names to the animals that day also.

And on Day 7 God, satisfied with His work, rested.

Resting in light and water is nearly everyone’s idea of a holiday.

Exodus 32 – The Golden Calf

Everything changes for the people of Israel after Exodus 32.  God’s anger is clear and more, and more detailed, laws are added in after this incident.  Before that we have the Ten Commandments, some instructions about altars and goading oxen and how to treat Hebrew love slaves.  After this incident we have 600+ others.

GoldCalf

One refrain that occurs throughout the incident is that “the people cast off restraint”.  The advantage of giving up an all knowing, all seeing God for a blind and inanimate idol is that there is no sense that it is watching you.  So you can do what you want.  Unfortunately for a lot of weak and vulnerable members in the Israeli society at the time what a lot of bullies and too many stronger members wanted was to exploit them – egged on by the demons behind the idol of course.  If that had been left to take its course then the all too repetitive and tragic pattern of oppression, corruption and lawlessness played out in too many societies before and since would have been their lot too.  God, and Moses, weren’t about to let that happen.

I’m thankful that I have a God that watches over me.  I’m also thankful that His character is relentlessly unchanging.  Faith in Him and these facts about Him – I know what He is like and what He wants – keeps me pure.

Priorities

Pierce my earI was speaking recently with a good friend about the law and he said to put the word “instruction” where you see the word “law” and that gives a better sense of the meaning.

So what is the next instruction that God puts in Exodus after the Ten Commandments?  Actually it is about altars.  But what is the one after that (in Exodus 21)?

“If you buy a Hebrew slave, he may serve for no more than six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave, he shall leave single. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife must be freed with him.

“If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave and they had sons or daughters, then only the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I don’t want to go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God.[a] Then his master must take him to the door or doorpost and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will serve his master for life.”

I don’t want to go free, God has given me everything.  Pierce my ear to the door of your house, O Lord!

Doing away with law

law-books1So here’s the thing:  any law gives sin power and fallen human nature being what it is as soon as we see a law we long to break it.  To make things worse, there is great pleasure in breaking laws.

But I’m not living on that planet.  Well I am but my spirit isn’t.  I’m somewhere else.  I died to the law when I was born again to a new life in the Kingdom of Light, the one where the great Lover is king.

I recently asked a friend to quote the 10 commandments.  She began by saying: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength.  And love your neighbour as yourself.”  Just like a true Christian should.  It’s all about love.  We have died to the law (all laws including the ones in the bible) and now we live in a love relationship with Yeshua (Romans 7).  Of course, being in love, all our thoughts are wrapped up in Him and what we can do to please Him.

There is a problem – we are in a long distance relationship.  We are in love, so He lives by His Spirit in our hearts, we know what He wants, we can hear His voice in our hearts and follow in His ways.  But He is not here bodily, He is in heaven.  Thankfully He sent us a lot of good love letters over the ages which tell us all sorts of His/stories about how He deals with people and what pleases Him and what doesn’t.  Included among them are a lot of commandments, laws and prescriptions for life.  We don’t have to do them of course – we are not under law – but if we do them we may find that that pleases Him depending on the law and the heart with which we carry it out.  Laws are also a good way of checking if we are still in first love.  If they are a burden to carry out then it is probable that we are not in first love.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Sacrifice doesn’t feel like sacrifice when it is done in love.

So recently I’ve been challenged to think about doing those laws that please Him like keeping the Sabbath holy.  For me the Spirit in me is indicating that that means sitting around all day reading the bible, which is nice.  He also has shown me that (again for me- we are not under any law in these matters) that it starts at 6pm on a Friday evening and ends at 6pm on a Saturday.  The great thing is that you can take it or leave it, I on the other hand, have so enjoyed the extra fellowship and time with my first Love that I can’t wait to do it again.  Well I can but you know what I mean.

The Spirit and the Bride

It is no coincidence that in Abraham’s life Genesis 24 follows Genesis 22.  Ok, I know that sounds obvious but what I mean is in Genesis 22 we have that – how can I say it- astounding act of obedience by Abraham to God’s command to sacrifice his son.  I deal with this in another blog but suffice it to say here that it, of course, is a foreshadow of God the Father going though the death of His own Son on the cross a couple of thousand years later.

Genesis 24 foreshadows God the Father (Abraham) sending the Holy Spirit (his faithful and intimate servant) to get a bride, the Church, (Rebecca) for His Son Jesus (Isaac).

Some points that stand out to me from this story:

  • All the servant’s master’s goods were in his hand, he just took 10 camels and off he went.10 camels
  • The servant didn’t even have to tell Rebecca what to do, she knew and did it.
  • The servant did nothing to help Rebecca water 10 thirsty camels.  I wonder how many times she had to run back and forth with water containers while he sat and watched?
  • The wait was worth it for Rebecca though.  She got some pretty cool gifts after she had passed his test.
  • Rebecca had no problem leaving her father’s house and going with this stranger to a land far away that she knew nothing much about.  Talk about trust!

It’s a lovely story with much to teach us about a right response to the Holy Spirit.  Have a read, you are sure to spot other things.

No Law!

Paul has said this a few times now:  When there is no law there is no sin.

This morning I woke and spent time with God.  Wonderful time with God.  This is always a good thing.

This morning I realised that any law anyone might have written or spoken against what I am is null and void.  I’m accepted in all my complexities and peculiarities.

I am consoled though that I am not alone in this.  We all need levels of acceptance and freedom from sin that only the cross can bring.  I’ve died with Christ.  The law doesn’t apply to me any more.  Go and take a run and jump accuser.

Jesus’ life better than Adam’s sin

In Romans 5 Paul states something a bit obvious – Jesus life is more powerful than Adam’s sin in its effects.

12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.  Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. 14 Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did.

Bad news, it only took one man’s sin for death to enter the world and for everyone to die.  We see that around us all the time.  The inevitability of death stares every man in the face no matter how good they are.

17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.

18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

I find it difficult to understand how the free gift of new life for everyone can be greater than Adam’s sin if, in fact, it doesn’t apply to everyone.  What I mean is, death applies to everyone so therefore life must also apply to everyone for it to be greater.  That seems obvious enough.

So I would argue from this and from Scriptures concerning the Book of Life, that the default position of every man is that they are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life because of Jesus’ death on the Cross.  You have to have your name erased from the Book of Life to lose that life.  Only Overcomers are guaranteed that that won’t happen to them (see Exodus 32:32 and Rev. 3:5).

However if you want to appropriate and see the effects of that life in this world then you need to receive it now.  Actually, if you are reading this don’t take the risk and presume you are there.  Make sure you are experiencing the reality of the love of Christ in your life now.  The only people who can really be assured they are in the Book of Life now are those who can hear God the Father’s whisper in their heart to which they respond: “Abba, Father”.  No amount of thinking it can give that assurance.

But let God be gracious in your heart, He is not willing that any should perish.  Who knows, perhaps the exclusive evangelical doctrine which says that every man must believe biblical-truththe way we do to be saved is not quite right after all?

Let us not think that everyone around us is going to hell just because they don’t go to our church.  God knows their hearts, very often we don’t.

Faith

“If we emphasize faith does that mean we can forget about the law?”  Paul asks at the end of Romans 3.  And then he answers himself:  “Of course not!  In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.”

It seems to me that the first 4 chapters of Romans are primarily about sin, law and faith and the relationship between all three.  And up to now we have learned that we all sin, that the law doesn’t help but instead just makes the sin more obvious and that faith is somehow the answer to it all.  Paul has also introduced the concept of grace/ undeserved favour. In chapter 4 Paul tries to explain faith using Abraham as an example.

First of all it is as well to establish that Abraham was a sinner.  He mistrusted God on at least two occasions we know of and put Sarah in a compromised position, he had a child by his wife’s servant – as well as several other liaisons.  He also committed murder on several occasions – or at least he was involved in war – and would have killed his own son if God hadn’t stopped him.  By the way, it looks like Sarah had had enough after that incident since we don’t see her with him again until she is dead.  You wouldn’t blame her for not wanting to stay with a man who said God told him to kill their son.

But the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”  Abraham, just like us, needed a saviour – a God who forgives sinners.  And it was the trusting relationship with God that enabled God to pass on that forgiveness to him.  There was no way he could be with God, believing God, and not be forgiven since he couldn’t stand before God’s holiness except in a place of forgiveness.

“Oh what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.  Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin!”  as David says.  Another man who needed a saviour.

The death of Jesus looks back as well as forward in its effects.