Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Life for Life

They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it--men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

Joshua 6:21

Jericho is not the only place in the Old Testament that God instructed the Israelites to kill men, women and children. Why would a loving God require that?

The Israelites were far from perfect but God’s Spirit was with them. He guided them in the desert. He spoke to the prophets. He provided food. He even sent armies of angels. The Israelites lived by the Spirit around them.

I wonder… was God showing us throughout the Old Testament that physical life is nothing compared to the Spirit. John 6:63 says “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.”

In the Old Testament, God destroys those who threaten the physical and spiritual life of the Israelites. Just like in a movie today, the “bad” guys our killed off. The “good” guys survive. In this case, the only reason the Israelites are "good" is because Jehovah is their God.

In the New Testament, God takes us a step farther. A “good” guy is murdered. Jesus Christ, the only person without ever doing a “bad” thing is put to death as part of God’s plan. Wow. What a twist in the plot.

Could it be that God is teaching us again, that physical life is nothing compared to the Spirit? Only this time, he offers to give us the Spirit in exchange for what we think is life. That's an investment I would die for. How about you?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Matthew 6:21, 24

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I Want to See

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."

Mark 10:51

Yesterday I wrote some thoughts on mercy based on the blind mans plea in Mark 10:47-50. The next verse sent me into some deep reflection this morning.

After we recognize our wretchedness and we face Jesus responding to our plea, what do we want him to do for us?

Now a lot of sermons are preached on our need to reverse that question and ask Jesus what we can do for him. But we can’t do a thing for Jesus until he does this one thing for us.

“Rabbi, I want to see.” Rabbi is a teacher. When we acknowledge someone as a teacher we are indicating they have the ability to influence our lives with insight we don’t have.

My daughter loves to do for others. This week she has been trying to do the right things but seems to get herself into more trouble because of the way she does the task. She will do exactly what I ask but she fails to see the result I expect.

We can be that way with Christ. Our desire to do for him can be great but if we don’t see things the way God sees them, then there is little chance that our service to him will be meaningful.

Oh Lord, give us eyes to see what you see.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mercy, Me?

“When he heard that Jesus from Nazareth [was passing by], he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ The people told him to be quiet. But he shouted even louder… Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him!’ They called the blind man and told him, ‘Cheer up! Get up! He's calling you.’ The blind man threw off his coat, jumped up, and went to Jesus.” Mark 10:47-50 (GWT)

Mercy, in the above passage, comes from a Greek word that means “kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them.” Another definition referred to helping the wretched.

In our feel good about yourself culture, it seems we’ve lost the reality of our need for mercy. I hear a lot more about God’s grace than I do about his mercy. Oh, mercy is thrown in there but his grace is much more palatable.

Grace refers to that which gives pleasure. Mercy indicates our state of being.

We pat ourselves on the back for offering aid to those we see as miserable and afflicted. We want to offer them a more pleasurable existence. We live in a country of peace and can’t understand those who stir up war.

The truth is that we are as wretched as those who kill for political power or personal vengeance.

Maybe if we realized our position before God, we too would cry out “have mercy on me!” Then when he calls, we would throw off everything that slows us down, jump up and go to Jesus.

I want to have that much gratefulness for God’s mercy. Do you?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Life from a Tree

I’ve had a few great responses from my last blog. So I thought I’d add a few more thoughts.

John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came to give us Life. Was this the same “Life” available from the Tree of Life in the Garden? If not, how was it different?

In John 14:6, Jesus says he is “the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” I have always assumed that meant no one could ever come to the Father (past, present or future) except through Christ. Perhaps many religions have a problem with this for a good reason. Maybe there was (past tense) a different way but now Jesus is the way.

We constantly preach that Christianity is about relationship not legalistic acts of religion. Yet, we teach that sin originated with an act of disobedience.

Jesus points out to the Pharisees that God desires mercy not sacrifice when they are questioning his relationship with "sinners." Jesus quotes from Hosea 6 where the "mercy not sacrifice" statement compares Judah's unfaithfulness to Adam's sin. Unfaithfulness is an act of the heart not of the flesh - Jesus points that out as he talks about adultery in Matthew 5.

One thing that has puzzled me is why did God put the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden if he didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from it?

Imagine this: Ok, Son, let’s create people. I’m going to test them right from the beginning. And because I know everything, I know they are going to mess up. But that’s ok. I’m going to send you to suffer a gruesome death to give them Life.

Does that match God’s character? But isn’t that what we teach?

Now imagine this description from God the Father to his Son:

Son, let’s create people. I want to make them very much like us but obviously they won’t be timeless like us because we are creating them. I want to give them the opportunity to live forever with us in a perfect world. A perfect world requires perfect unity. To have that unity we must offer them our spirit.

I love all the creatures we have brought to life but we have given them instincts for survival. I want mankind to have more than instincts. I want to give people the ability to reason with us.

Therefore, they must have a choice in the matter. I want them to be able to ask me questions and learn. I want to dialogue with them just like I do with you.

If they choose to become one with us, they will see everything from our perspective. A perspective of love. Their hearts will be filled with joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. They will have everything we have because they will become one with us.

If they attempt to understand things without us, it will be very difficult for them. This saddens me to think about. I want them to know everything we know but they must first understand the significance of Life.

Without Love, their perspective of knowledge will cause them to hunger for control. Knowledge without love will block their ability to see life beyond their physical existence. They will become the center of their own world.

It breaks my heart to know that some of them will want to live independent of my love for them. Many of them, though, will realize that independence is unfulfilling.

When they are ready, I will send you to them, son. You will walk among them. You will live just as they live. You will experience the life of freewill. You will have the fullness of my Spirit in you while you are in this human form. You will show them how to live by my Spirit.

Many will accept your words and desire to live in the Spirit. They will see you empty yourself of the physical life. Your blood – the source of physical life - will be poured out. Those who truly desire to be one with you will have great sorrow in this because they will recognize that they have valued knowledge more than Life with me.

The source of true Life is my Spirit. You will also give up my Spirit so that they will worship me, not just their knowledge of me. I will give you all my glory and you will surrender it all so that they can experience my glory in them. You are the Prince of Peace.

When you return from death, they will recognize that Life is much greater than knowledge. Then they will be open to receiving true Life. When you return to me in heaven, we will send my Spirit to live in those who have surrendered their physical life because of the life you surrendered for them.

Because of your sacrifice, Son, I will again offer mankind Life through my Spirit and Knowledge through my Word. Once again, they must take of the Life first. For my Words bring only war and death without my Spirit.

It is my desire that all mankind will choose Life. But we have created them so much like us they will be easily deceived into thinking they are equal to us. They will assume their perspective is our perspective. But our ways are much higher than theirs. We’ll show them this through parenting. They will be mothers and fathers of precious children.

I’m having fun with this. I could keep going but I’m way past my intended word count for this blog. So you finish these thoughts yourself.

We haven't changed much since Adam and Eve. We still have a choice: Knowledge or Life. Which one is your priority?

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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