I Want to Know

Sodom GomorrahSo I’m reading the story of Sodom and Gomorrah again this morning (Genesis 19), when a sentence stopped me in my tracks.  The angels warn Lot in the latter part of verse 13, “The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

Wait a minute!  The outcry to the Lord . . . Who cried out?  I’ve read this story – without skipping this verse – many times.  Before, I simply accepted that an outcry happened, without considering its source.  Today, I didn’t want to read further without tossing around a few possibilities.

Surely the people of the cities weren’t crying out.  The Lord seemed to be the furthest thing from their minds.  Could it have been Lot?  I doubt it.  He had chosen to live there and had obviously remained for a long while, despite the rampant sin.  On the other hand, it could have been such a great burden on his heart as he sat at the city gate day after day that he did cry out to the Lord.   I suppose it is also possible that Abraham knew about the gross sin and interceded, even before the Lord told him of His plans.  Who else cared enough to cry out to the Lord?

I don’t have the definitive answer to this question, and may never. Then again, there may be an aha moment when Holy Spirit reveals it to me. If that happens, I’ll come back to share His answer.

What Do You Know?

Matthew 27:51  NIV  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. . .

As I listened to the minister describing this amazing proof that Jesus was Who He said He was, my memory transported me back to a large sanctuary on a Wednesday morning many years ago.  I sat among many women from all walks of life with whom I gathered weekly for Bible Study Fellowship.   Our focus that year was the book of Matthew, and we were nearing the end of the study.  On this particular morning, we had already met in small groups for discussion of our individual lessons, and were now assembled corporately for a summary lesson the overall leader would deliver.

Somewhere in the lecture, the speaker addressed the above verse, noting that the curtain was torn from top to bottom – not bottom to top – indicating it had to have been done by God.  What?!  I never noticed that detail in my Bible reading, nor had I ever heard anyone mention it.  I was amazed, surprised, and excited, all at the same time!  This revelation was probably new and exciting for a few others in the auditorium that day, as well.  At the same time, it was possibly a repeat for the majority.  The leader may have hesitated to mention it, for fear of boring her listeners.

But everyone didn’t know.  I didn’t know, until she pointed it out.  I needed to hear what she knew of our Jesus!  Though it was in black and white on the pages of my Bible, and I had read it many times without really seeing it, I needed it specifically pointed out to me by someone else who already knew it.

As I thought back on that event, I saw it clearly for today – others (even brothers and sisters in Christ) need to hear of the Jesus I know, all of the Jesus I know.  The leader at that Bible study wasn’t sharing her superior knowledge.  She was revealing Jesus.  That’s what we do in Christ.  We simply live and share Jesus Christ revealed to us – me to you and you to me.  Knowing Christ and making Him known – one to another.

So, please tell me what you know . . . of Jesus?

Israel 2012 271

Of Fruit, Vision, and Other Such Things

Another one of those “stop and think about this” moments interrupted the minister’s sermon for me.  I’ve always known the devil told a lie about not dying.  The one Eve believed, though I could not understand how.  As I stopped and thought, I realized there was much more to it.

Before going further, two things must be established.  God is Truth and the Spirit of Truth.  In Him is no lie.  He speaks only what is True.  (John 14:6, 17, 15:26, 16:13, Numbers 23:19, etc.)  On the other hand, the devil (serpent) is a liar and the father of lies.  Lying is the only language he can speak. (John 8:44)  Since he cannot tell the truth, he twists it as much as needed to make it sound believable, so as to deceive those who will listen to and serve him.

Genesis 3:4-5 NIV   “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.   “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

fruitThese verses contain not one lie, but four – all concerning the consequences of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Eve believed all four.  How many of the four lies have I believed because I failed to consider who spoke?

  • He told Eve she would not surely die . . . but he lied.  She died immediately in her spirit.
  • He said her eyes would be opened . . . but he lied.  Instead, she instantly lost her vision and became spiritually blind. What she saw when her eyes were opened was her sinfulness (v.7).  She could no longer see God, being consigned to hearing Him only (v.8, 10).
  • He told her she would be like God . . . but he lied. Because Eve was created from Adam, who was created in the image of God, she was already like God.  When she ate of the fruit, she actually took on the sin nature and became unlike Him.
  • He told her she would be like God, knowing good and evil . . . but he lied again. Eve had intimately known perfect Goodness before.  God knows evil only from afar, not as a part of His nature.  After eating, Eve knew within herself a sin-corrupted counterfeit of good.  She had tasted and received evil and its effects.   In reality, she now knew only anti-Good, anti-God, anti-Christ.

Exif JPEGIn response to this insight, I have compiled four of my own corresponding statements of Truth.

  • I started out this life dead because of Adam and Eve.  Only because of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for my sin and rising again in righteousness have I received eternal life.  I had to be born again.
  • I was blind because I descended from Adam and Eve, who passed their chosen blindness along to me.  What I see with my natural eyes and mind is counterfeit, twisted, and perverted, for it comes from the liar and father of lies.  When I ate of the Tree of Life, receiving Jesus Christ, I lost that blinded sin nature and received His sight.
  • Only in Christ Jesus am I like God, not by any self-effort to be like Him.
  • God is all Good.  What I see with natural eyes that seems good doesn’t even begin to compare to His Goodness.  Only in Christ Jesus, and with His eyes, do I see true Goodness.  Only in and through Him will Goodness be made known to others through me.

 

Could it Be?

Another journal entry jump-started my heart as I moved it from paper to computer.  Once again, I was reminded of my amazing and awesome Creator, Who alone knows the answers to all the questions I can ever ask.

I’m still seeing that Francis Chan video where the camera begins with a focus on earth and continues pulling out till you can no longer see earth, moon, sun, or even the Milky Way galaxy among all the other galaxies.  You created them all (and more?).  Is there actually infinity in the created universe, Lord, not just in time?  Wow!  That’s a thought!  And is it possible that only on earth did You create life to have relationship with You – out of all the infinite creation?  You created the heavens and the earth.  Wow! 

If that is the case, I’ll ask more, though You certainly don’t have to answer.  Why would You create such expansive heavens and galaxies and worlds beyond what we humans can ever know or see or explore?  Do those galaxies and stars and non-life planets that humans will never see bring You glory?  (I’m not asking with accusation here, Daddy, simply wondering.)  Do they bring You pleasure?  Will we make note of them and enjoy them as You do, once we are home with You?

Lord, thank You for the peace in my heart and mind as I consider these things and contemplate what Your hands have made – what You have called into being.  Things like this used to make me uncomfortable – especially the thought / question of what existed before in the beginning.  I mean, I know You existed, because You are I AM.  But, since when?  My finite mind so needs a specific beginning that I cannot grasp infinity past, but it no longer frustrates or confuses me to think along these lines.  I know You have the answers, well, You are the answer!  I trust You, Lord, and I rest in You and in Your Word – even when I don’t understand.

Here is the YouTube video that caused such reflection.  May you be wowed afresh with the bigness of our God as you watch!

Don’t Add the -es

The prayer request was simple enough.  We were to pray for unity between denominations of churches.  Unity of believers is certainly the Father’s will, so I had no problem with that part of the request.  Beyond that, it got pretty murky.

As long as there are denominations (and non-denominations), there will be division.  They are set up to separate one group of believers from another, based on beliefs that are different from other groups.  Christians are quick to identify themselves by their denomination (or non), often more readily than Christian.  (See I.D. Please, for more.)  That was the first of my struggles.

The second came with a suffix.  That’s right.  The -es suffix added to the word church to make it plural caught my attention in a negative way.  While the great majority of Christians readily give lip service to the idea of there being only one church in Christ, that’s really as deep as it goes.  Despite what we say, we believe a group meeting in a specific building is one church, and another group meeting in another building is a different church.  So, even in a very small town, we have multiple churches.  And we hope all the churches will get along, despite how “wrong” some of their beliefs are.

How do we ever expect there to be unity of the Spirit when we believe divisively – no matter what we speak out of our mouths?

Ephesians 4:3-6 NIV  3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Will it ever change?  Can it change?  As long as we still have flesh on, the struggle will exist as we lean on our own understanding, or that of our parents, grandparents, those in pulpits, friends, et al.  Yet, we are promised transformation as we renew our minds, focusing on Jesus Christ.  It is then we will be in agreement with God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will – a will that isn’t fragmented, divided, confused, or pulling against itself.  This is when we will know what it is to be His church – no -es added!

By the way, despite my struggles with the way it was written, I did pray – just not quite as requested.  Instead, I prayed for my brothers and sisters to know and experience Jesus Christ and His love beyond anything they could ever ask, hope, think, or imagine.  In this we find the unity of the Spirit.  In this is the church of Jesus Christ.