Archive for the ‘Meditations’ Category

Fulfill your vow

January 27, 2013

Have you ever read numbers chapter 30. I’m sure I’ve read it more than once, but today it really jumped out at me, in part because I recently talked with a friend on this subject. It puts a lot of responsibility on a man.

A man is always bound by his oath/vow/word. Whatever he says he must do. On more than one occassion in scripture we see rash promises, made by God’s people, that He requires them to fulfill. (The Israelites covenant with a people group in the Promised Land that they were supposed to destroy. Jephtah made a vow to sacrifice the first thing he saw upon returning home if God would give him victory in battle. The first thing he saw was his daughter. He fulfilled his vow.)

If a vow is not fulfilled, it is sin. A woman is bound by her word as well, but with a couple of exceptions. If the woman’s father or husband, which ever she is under the authority of, hears about her vow and forbids it, then she is no longer bound by it. But, if he hears and remains silent then she is still bound to her word. If he hears and remains silent at the time, but later forbids it, then he is the one held guilty. But if he does not forbid it and she does not fulfill her word then she is the one who is guilty. A single female who is under no mans authority is held to the same standard as a man. A man is responsible for his family, to the point of being able to retract the rash or emotional declarations made by his wife and children. He can also take their guilt on himself if he does not override their promises right away, but waits until later. He is responsible to govern both himself and his family.

That is a lot of responsibility. As a husband and a father, it places a lot on me to be aware and active as the head of my household. It is also a picture for us of the relationship that we have with God.

God is pictured both as a father and as a bridegroom to Israel and the Church. What Christ did on the cross is what is pictured here. He took upon Himself the guilt that we should have had to carry and He paid the price for that guilt.

Matthew 9:10-13

January 13, 2010

“Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means; “I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.””

I was reading this and it jumped out at me in a way it never has before. We often hear quoted the verse about the healthy not needing a physician, what I’ve never heard is the command that Jesus gives at the end. So what does it mean?

Here are a couple definitions of compassion.

  • a deep awareness of and sympathy for another’s suffering
  • the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it
  • a human emotion prompted by the pain of others. More vigorous than empathy, the feeling commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering.

It is much along the same lines as mercy, which is often how the Greek word used here is translated. We see this repeated in the scripture that Jesus is quoting.

Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

The Pharisees were great at keeping the law, but at the expense of compassion and mercy, at the expense of reaching those who are lost. They got so busy doing the right things and hanging out with the right people that they lost sight of those around them that needed to meet God. Instead of being moved to action by the plight of those around them they moved away to keep from being polluted. Jesus wasn’t saying that He wasn’t there to help the Pharisees, He was saying that the Pharisees also needed to be helping those around them who were sick/sicker. The Pharisees already knew what they needed to know, they just weren’t applying it and teaching others. Jesus was come for those who didn’t know.

An additional thought that came to me just now is this, who is more likely to have compassion on those who need to meet the Lord? A righteous man? Or a sinner? Jesus came to call those who would produce what God desired, compassion, not sacrifice. When you truly recognize yourself as a sinner, saved by a compassionate and merciful God, you will be moved to compassion for those who have not found Him. The Pharisees had lost sight of what they had been rescued from and so had nothing to do but perform sacrifices and be righteous. They were no longer moved by compassion. Brandon Heath sings, “give me your eyes for just one second, give me your eyes so I can see, all of the things that I keep missing, give me your love for humanity.” (As a side note, I truly believe that Brandon Heath is one of those artists who really lives what he sings) I truly believe that the key to seeing people the way that God does is to see what He saved us from and want that for them. But it can’t just be a clinical exercise, it has to move me to action.

In looking at the meaning of various words in the verse, I also examined the term sacrifice. One of the definitions of the Greek word used is “victim.” You could almost take what Jesus said as a kind of double meaning. In a sense the Pharisees were making to kinds of sacrifices. The first was the religouse sacrifices. In a sense though, the sinners around them became a second sacrifice. In their effort to not pollute themselves by associating with sinners and tax collectors they were making those people victims of a quest for righteousness. How many sinners could have been called if the Pharisees had not been so concerned with their own righteousness?

How often do I get so wrapped up in my righteousness and sacrifice that I forget about those around me in need of a moment of compassion that could open up thier minds to a God who loves them and is waiting to show them His great mercy?

I AM

December 8, 2009

“I AM.

When you can understand that you will be ready for the next step in your walk with Me.”

God spoke this to me sometime around the end of October. It prompted me to begin searching and seeking to understand. I pray that what I have been learning would also encourage you, that you might walk closer with Him.

Did you know that God has a name? Most people refer to him as God, but god is not His name in the same way human being is not my name. God’s son has a name, I figured he needed one what with living on earth and all, but I used to think that God himself had no name.

The Jews don’t say the name of God aloud for fear that they will inadvertantly take God’s name in vain. Instead, when they read God’s name, they say Adonai, which means “the Lord” or Ha Shem, which means “the name”. English translations of the scriptures have followed that example and where ever the name of God is used in the Old Testament they put “the LORD”.

God first tells His name to Moses when He speaks from the burning bush. He declares that His name is “I AM”, or YHWH (which we have anglicised to Yahweh or Jehovah.) He emphasizes it by saying it to Moses three different ways.

Exodus 3:13-15 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD (YHWH), the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.”

John Piper said, “So here is where we ought to spend a lot of time meditating. What does it mean when you ask your God, Who are you? and he answers, I AM WHO I AM? I hope you can begin to feel how important these words are. There aren’t any words more important than these. Any words that you think might be (important), are important only because these words are true. The more you ponder them, the more awesome they become.”

The French philospher, RenĂ© Descartes, said, “I think, therefore I am.” In other words, because I am conscious, I exist and I know that I exist. He said that even the thought of doubting his own existence proved his existence because he had the thought. Man needs a point of reference. We need the thinking or the seeing or the touching to validate our existence. YHWH is. No qualifiers. No conditions. No points of reference. Nothing came before Him, nothing made Him what He is and He needs nothing to continue to be. Plain and simple He can declare to all the universe, “I AM.”

On occassion I have heard a person say “I am who I am.” I may have even said it myself once or twice. I begin to realize that this statement is the height of arrogance. It implies: “I have decided to be the way that I am and I am not going to change it for anyone. If you don’t like it you are just going to have to deal with it.” What we fail to take into account is all that has come before: all of the events, interactions and influences that have shaped, altered and formed who and what we are. God on the other hand can say with authority, “I AM WHO I AM” because before anything else came into existence He was. There is nothing that now exists that was not created and set in motion by Him. (This is not to say that evil comes from Him. Click here for some thoughts on this.) What then can influence or shape Him, what event could occur that He has not already prepared for and can handle without altering who He is?

Now considering what God said to Moses, take a look at the statement Jesus makes to the Pharisees. John 8:58 “Jesus said unto them, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.'” Can there be any doubt that He was claiming to be God. Not only is he claiming to have been in existence before Abraham was born, but he also uses the key phrase, “I am”.

Jesus always directed us to the Father. In all that He taught He instructed us to pray to, worship, honor and glorify the Father. In all that He did He gave the glory to the Father and obeyed the will of the Father.

Mark 12:29-30 And Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments [is], Hear, O Israel; YHWH our God is one YHWH: And thou shalt love YHWH thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment.”

In the process of learning about YHWH I am also reexamining what I have been taught concerning the trinity, both the members of it and there relationship to each other. But I think I will save that for another post.

Genesis 1:9-13

December 7, 2009

Gen 1:9-13 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry [land] appear: and it was so. And God called the dry [land] Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that [it was] good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, [and] the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed [is] in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, [and] herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed [was] in itself, after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.

God is very much about order. With dry land He finished making a place where we could live and then He made it sustainable by adding plants. The plants needed light, land and water. With those in place He made plants to provide food and oxygen. Even the plants are ordered, with each kind producing it’s own kind to continue the sustainability. It’s not evolution, it’s order and design.

Genesis 1:6-8

November 23, 2009

Gen 1:6-8

Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

There is some debate as to what exactly the waters above were. Some believe that it simply refers to outer space. Others believe that it was an actual layer of water in or just on the edge of space. They connect this idea to the statement concerning the flood that says that the floodgates of heaven were opened. Either way, the important thing to note is that Yahweh made a place for us, where we could live and breathe, inbetween to very inhospitable places. This space here on earth was prepared for us, and He is once again preparing a place for us, but this time it’s a place for our eternal bodies.

Genesis 1:3-5

November 12, 2009

Genesis1:3-5
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

The spoken or written word is, in it’s most basic sense, simply an expression of thought. What power Yahweh has that He can express a thought and that thought becomes reality. And that reality is formed out of nothing but His thought.

That first light had no source, no source but Yahweh Himself. There was no sun, no flame, no light bulbs. I can imagine that the light was everywhere. Then Yahweh seperated light from dark and we begin to see the passage of time. I love that the Jewish day starts at sunset. It makes the most sense to me to start a day by spending some time with your family and then going to sleep. But the main reason they do it that way is because that is how Yahweh did it on the first day of creation.

The other thing I see here is that the passage of time is not reliant on the existance of signs (sun and moon) to mark it or man to observe it. That first day passed without either. Also, it stayed the same length. One day was still one day when there were signs to mark it and man was there to observe it, but more on that later.

My final thought is that the light was good. Yahweh brought the light into the world and has continued to do so throughout all of history. Light shows us our path and allows us to see. It has often been used to represent truth because truth guides us and opens our eyes. At each step along the way He has given us light to show us the path of the journey that we are on. He is the light and the bringer of light, seperated from Him we are seperated from the light and left in darkness, stumbling, lost and alone.

Thank you Yahweh for light and for the Light who brings us to you.

Malachi 1:6-14

October 27, 2009

Mal 1:6-14 ” ‘A son honors {his} father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ “{You} are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the LORD is to be despised.’ “But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts. “But now will you not entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts. “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle {fire on} My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you. “For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name {will be} great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering {that is} pure; for My name {will be} great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts. “But you are profaning it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’ “You also say, ‘My, how tiresome it is!’ And you disdainfully sniff at it,” says the LORD of hosts, “and you bring what was taken by robbery and {what is} lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I receive that from your hand?” says the LORD. “But cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord, for I am a great King,” says the LORD of hosts, “and My name is feared among the nations.”

Israel had lost sight of who God was. Instead of honoring him as Lord and Master they had begun to treat him as just another god who demands sacrifice but does not answer. They had begun to treat as common the King of kings. They had lost sight of the fear of the Lord. They had begun to offer as a sacrafice what they did not want or was not theirs, yet they still wanted God to answer their prayers. And the suposed spiritual leaders encouraged and approved these actions.

When I say fear I do not mean afraid. There is another sense to that word that is lost in our culture. Websters dictionary defines fear as profound reverence and awe, especially of God. This definition of fear is rare in our society, as is this type of fear itself. As a people we have reverence for very little and are awed by few things, and neither the reverence nor the awe is profound. As we lose sight of who God is and what He requires we lose our honor for Him and begin to treat that which is most holy as common. In a society that does not honor it’s elders, rulers or authorities does it come as a shock that it does not honor God.

Genesis 1:2

October 22, 2009

Gen 1:2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

It seems to me that God is very deliberate here, like an artist or a potter. He starts by creating the raw materials and once those are gathered and in place He considers them before beginning to shape them. Our creative/artistic nature was certainly given to us by our creator.

God is a spirit, but not entirely a spirit. We see this from the way scripture is worded here. If I were to say, “The hand of Kirk gripped the iPhone.” You wouldn’t think that I was just one giant hand. The phrasing simply indicates that it is my hand and you know that it is a part of me. In the same way, this is God’s spirit and is a part of Him, but is not the entirety of His being.

Genesis 1:1

October 21, 2009

Marilyn Laszlo once said that there is sufficient information within the book of Genesis to lead a person to salvation. A professor of mine once suggested a zero base theology. What he meant was to take everything you have been taught about theology and forget it. Go back to scripture and build your theology from scripture under the leading of the Holy Spirit.

So how much of a true theology can be built from the book of Genesis alone? To my mind it is impossible to examine something without my perception of it being colored by other information that I already know. Is it possible to start from the book of Genesis and build your theology from scripture, without that little voice in the back of your head constantly reminding you of what you have been taught is true? The reason this concerns me is taken from Mark 7:6-13.

And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them,

***You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.***

“For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER'; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH'; but you say, ‘If a man says to {his} father or {his} mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given {to God),} you no longer permit him to do anything for {his} father or {his} mother;

***{thus} invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down;***

and you do many things such as that.”

How accuratly does this describe the church today. How many traditions have been handed down that twist and invalidate the word of God? How far are we, at this point in history, from where the Pharisees were at the time of Christ or where the Catholic Church was at the time of the reformation?

Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

So the first point of theology in all of scripture is that God exists. And the second is that He created the physical plane that we exist in. Sounds like He is someone I might want to get to know.

Who do you pray to?

August 31, 2009

Some might call this splitting hairs. A few might even consider it heresy. Others would claim that there isn’t any difference at all. Too be honest I am not entirely sure how important I think it is. I think it is important, I’m just not sure how important.

When you pray do you pray to Jesus or do you pray to God? In view of the teachings on the trinity and the fact that Jesus was God, some would claim that it makes no matter whether you pray to one or the other. But if Jesus was our model and we follow his teachings then perhaps it is important to look at what he did and taught. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Jesus prayed to the Father and instructed the disciples to do the same. Now he did say that we could and should ask in his name, but ask of who in his name. My thought is this, have we become so focused on the Son that we have forgotten that he came to show us the Father?

Jesus never told us to seek him. He told us to seek God and his kingdom. Jesus never told us to pray to Himself, He came to teach us that we might have a better relationship with God the Father. Please don’t mistake me, I am not in any way claiming or proposing that Jesus was not God, I am however saying that He took a particular role within the relationship of the trinity and perhaps we have lost sight of that. We are assigning to Jesus a role above the Father that He did not claim or desire.

So who do you pray to?


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